Mueller’s Language about “Collusion,” Coordination, and Conspiracy

The answer to a key question — what did the rest of the sentence William Barr censored when declaring Trump’s innocence by quoting a sentence in the Mueller report that says, “the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities” — is, in one instance, this:

Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts,

The Attorney General was censoring Mueller’s judgment that Russia was trying to get Trump elected, and the campaign recognized that Russia’s help would benefit the campaign.

There’s another key passage of the report that addresses this language in particular. It says two things. First, when Mueller says the investigation “did not establish particular facts does not mean there was no evidence of those facts.”

The report describes actions and events that the Special Counsel’s Office found to be supported by the evidence collected in our investigation. In some instances, the report points out the absence of evidence or conflicts in the evidence about a particular fact or event. In other instances, when substantial, credible evidence enabled the Office to reach a conclusion with confidence, the report states that the investigation established that certain actions or events occurred. A statement that the investigation did not establish particular facts does not mean there was no evidence of those facts.

In other words, while the report says the investigation did not establish certain things, it means there was evidence of it, but did not establish it to reach a conclusion with confidence.

Immediately after that passage, the report makes it clear it is not addressing collusion because — as I’ve pointed out over and over — it is not a crime.

In evaluating whether evidence about collective action of multiple individuals constituted a crime, we applied the framework of conspiracy law, not the concept of “collusion.” In so doing, the Office recognized that the word “collud[e]” was used in communications with the Acting Attorney General confirming certain aspects of the investigation’s scope and that the term has frequently been invoked in public reporting about the investigation. But collusion is not a specific offense or theory of liability found in the United States Code, nor is it a term of art in federal criminal law. For those reasons, the Office’s focus in analyzing questions of joint criminal liability was on conspiracy as defined in federal law. In connection with that analysis, we addressed the factual question whether members of the Trump Campaign “coordinat[ed]”-a term that appears in the appointment order-with Russian election interference activities. Like collusion, “coordination” does not have a settled definition in federal criminal law. We understood coordination to require an agreement-tacit or express- between the Trump Campaign and the Russian government on election interference. That requires more than the two parties taking actions that were informed by or responsive to the other’s actions or interests. We applied the term coordination in that sense when stating in the report that the investigation did not establish that the Trump Campaign coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.

Then, in defining how it uses “coordination,” it says that coordination requires more than “two parties taking actions that were informed by or responsive to the other’s actions or interests,” which might be one definition of collusion and of which the report provides plenty of evidence.

So for all the people claiming this report says Trump didn’t collude with Russia–it says anything but.

261 replies
  1. ros says:

    In the last paragraph, referring to the coordination between more than two parties in reference to election interference, how did they reach that conclusion if there is evidence of coordination in other parts of the report?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I think the statement means that it takes more than two parties acting in response to each other, but without a tacit or explicit agreement to so act. One might argue from antitrust laws, which were still much in vogue in Barr’s youth, that tacit agreement can be inferred from that conduct.

      • ros says:

        I guess my confusion is they say there is no coordination when Marcy said there is evidence of it in the report, so how is it there and not there? I guess I need to read the darn thing, but I’m no lawyer so I’m relying on snippets and interpretations.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          It’s a long read, but from what I’ve seen so far, Mueller’s people did a good job. There’s a certain amount of diplomatic/academic understatement. With experience, some of that becomes the equivalent of a shout to do something, as in the several places that Mueller talks about an indictment of the president interfering with another constitutional process. One that has not happened yet, which is an impeachment investigation.

          To your point, Mueller’s report lays out evidence of two or more people acting toward an apparently common goal. The argument is about whether there is sufficient evidence of an agreement, which is a required element in a conspiracy charge.

          Mueller acknowledges that an agreement can be left unsaid or be explicit. In the criminal context, the agreement is almost uniformly verbal and has to be implied through conduct.

          Mueller spends more time arguing that the evidence did not seem sufficient to indict and assure a win. The latter is a political as well as legal calculation. It’s obvious which side of that Barr comes down on. Mueller, instead, frequently implies that Congress should assess the evidence through an impeachment inquiry.

        • PieIsDamnGood says:

          I believe there’s evidence of Russia and Trump acting in response to each other to achieve similar goals (election of Trump). I guess this doesn’t meet the definition a tacit agreement (why? I have no idea)

          There is not evidence of an agreement between Trump and Russia. For example, if there was communication that laid out a plan to leak Hillary’s emails when something damaging to Trump was dominating the news cycle that would count as coordination.

          In short, Marcy and the report are using different definitions. Marcy’s is sensible while the report’s is, something else…

          • Mainmata says:

            One of the things that frustrated Mueller’s team and that he explicitly discusses in the report was that witnesses incriminating testimony couldn’t be documented because of the use of phones/other communication devices with encryption technology and other technology that allowed messages to disappear after a short time. Also, Trump doesn’t use any tech except his phone. Classic mafia technique.

        • cnote says:

          barr also limited the conspiracy to election interference i.e. dnc hacking which no one ever alleged the campaign helped with.

          the campaign did coordinate with trolling and rallies and ira.

          jr coordinated with wikileaks to shut down an opposition website.

          stone at the direction of djt coordinated with guccifer and assange to release hacked emails.

          manafort at the direction of djt shared critical polling data but wouldnt answer if he knew what it would be used for.

          only bad memories and encrypted apps and manafort and stone lies prevented conspiracy charge.

          plus theres all of the trump putin meetings for which we will never have the notes or any insight

          • cnote says:

            plus the quid pro quo is the sanctions relief for deripaska who is now building an aluminum plant in mcconnells district

          • Yargelsnogger says:

            “manafort at the direction of djt shared critical polling data but wouldn’t answer if he knew what it would be used for.”

            Did they say it was at his ‘direction’. I read through that section over lunch and didn’t catch that tidbit.

      • DMM says:

        This is an excellent point, but I think the difference in the comparison to antitrust is that any significant responsive actions would also be policy positions (campaign phase) and, later, policy actions (or inaction). There are always, inherent in policy and politics, some plausible other motivations for most actions, or at least some significant element of plausible deniability for a particular motive.

        The report’s conclusion was precisely the fear that struck me that night I read Marcy’s “call and response” post explaining the conspiracy — that it just wouldn’t be enough to sustain a legal conclusion (or what would be a charge for anyone else) against djt or his campaign.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          We’ll have to disagree. Criminal conspiracies are almost always proven by implication through the parties’ conduct. Vito and Manuel do not put criminal orders in writing, nor does anyone able to follow them sign them except by following them. Elizabeth de la Vega and bmaz have made similar points.

          • InfiniteLoop says:

            I think the problem is more that we give the President much more latitude to set policy than we give companies to set prices. You never hear anyone talk about “predatory policy”.

        • bmaz says:

          Yeah, that is not quite right. As Earl says, intent as to conspiracy is proven every day in every trial court across the land based on circumstantial evidence. It is nowhere near as hard as some of the clacking people in the media say. It is an everyday thing. In fact that is by far the most common way it is done.

          • ros says:

            How do we prevent a foreign country from interfering and electing a leader who is beholden to that foreign country rather than our own? I think we need to keep our eyes on the prize here. I get caught up in the details too, because it keeps me sane, and I have to make my mind think differently to understand. We need to focus on the super structure of this.

          • Thomas Paine says:

            bmaz, I think you are correct – Mueller clearly found collusion and he may have found significant circumstantial evidence of conspiracy, but the standard for indicting Trump or any of his family was deemed by the DoJ regulations to be much higher for the Special Counsel, than an ordinary prosecutor would face against a common criminal. In addition, the nexus for any such conspiracy would necessarily include Trump himself. Therefore one should not discount the possibility that the same questionable OLC opinion that prevented a Mueller investigation to indict Trump with Obstruction also set the bar so high, that, for all practical purposes, any normal conspiracy charge would require a written contract to be discovered and signed by the indictable parties as opposed to the reams of evidence on conduct that would make a prima facia case.

            This all points back to need for the INDEPENDENT PROSECUTOR statute with the unique capability to indict the President, independent of the DoJ.

            In my opinion, seeing what Putin and Trump pulled off in 2016, such Statute should include one unique penalty for any such offense by the POTUS – drawing and quartering for four stout draft horses, in public view in front of the Capital building. Such conduct should never be countenanced again.

  2. Vern says:

    Digby: “… Impeachment has to be on the table now. If it isn’t, our democracy is gone. It means that there are no impediments to a lawless president. We might as well remove the impeachment clause from the constitution.”

      • cat herder says:

        But it might screw us out of a real shot in 2020! Plus, our Republican colleagues might get mad and come up with some vindictive response! WE HAVE TO MAKE THEM LIKE US, why don’t they like us, we have to at least try one more time, pleasepleaseplease….

        • Loki says:

          Exactly. What do the Democrats not understand about the 2018 election results? To me, this was a call to arms. Unless McConnell somehow spontaneously bursts in flames, bipartisanship with the current GOP is a complete waste of time. Virtually all republicans with *any* integrity are long gone or dead. Barr seems to operate under the illusion he can protect the power and prestige of the Presidency while Trump occupies the Oval Office. These are irreconcilable conditions, a fantasy needle he wants to thread. Impeach The Fucker. If the Democratic leadership lacks the political wherewithal to do what their Republican counterparts would have done instantaneously, then they clearly don’t grasp why most eligible people don’t bother to vote.

          • Tech Support says:

            Just a quick check here: Which Democrats who won House seats in 2018 ran on a message of impeachment? Of those you can identify, did any of them run that message against a Republican opponent? Or did they run that against a primary opponent in a safe democratic district?

            (Hint: The answers to these questions are readily available over at FiveThirtyEight).

            Personally, I believe that the House should move forward with an impeachment investigation eventually. Senate Republicans should be forced to vote to defend their corrupt president. However the Dems are still struggling to construct a specific and generally accessible public narrative to drive impeachment proceedings forward. As much as I value EW, if you *have* to read EW (or Popehat or whatever) in order to have a clear understanding of the wrongdoing, then it’s never going to have the political weight you’d hope it would.

            • elk_l says:

              Re: “Which Democrats who won House seats in 2018 ran on a message of impeachment?”

              That, of course, was before we had even the redacted Mueller Report.

        • david says:

          If they don’t impeach now there may not be an election in 2020 at the rate Trump is consolidating his power. I don’t need to see people being rounded up in the streets to know Trump is a dictator in waiting with two more years to cement his control. The democratic frog is close to boiling and once done can’t be brought back.

          • Geoff says:

            This is one of the points that tilts me toward the camp of taking the risk of impeachment proceedings that the Senate fail to follow through on. We the people need to know enough of what is happening to be right well fully scared to death, and that has to push turnout higher for anyone that is not Trump in 2020. (be they not a Republican, of course.)

            I think many have been lulled into a sense of complacency, that it can’t happen here….the IT being losing our democracy to a dictator. I do hope, and sort of depend on it, that if this eventuality were to occur, the armed forces would stand on the side of democracy…but then where would we be? It’s all quite frightening that we are even talking about this, which makes it that much more plausible, that we can mention it and not sound like raving lunatic conspiracy theorists. Another couple years of mental deterioration in this guy is a LONG time. And he is clearly not well.

          • P J Evans says:

            This report is the opening they need to start the process: FIRST the hearings investigating what happened, THEN the impeachment (the trial in the House) – you need really good evidence to get that, and especially to get the Rs in the Senate to decide they have to cut Tr*mp loose: they’re not even close to that yet.

            • ANZAC Friend says:

              I hope you are right. But as an outsider it seems that trump continually wins the propaganda war (aided by Murd**ch, the desabilizer of democracy). Trump’s base seems to continually hover around 40%. They don’t appear interested in the truth or the law. It’s a cult – they just love trump. It seems Pelosi’s strategy of putting impeachment “on ice” before the 2018 election and concentrating on voters issues (eg healthcare, immigration etc) and getting voters out made for the “blue wave”. Of course trump should be impeached, of course it should be rule of law, but how do you defeat the trump propaganda machine?

            • Molly Pitcher says:

              I agree with PJ, hearings first. I want to get to the point where the Senate has to go on record supporting the Electoral College President before the election, but that is only useful if all the dirt has been brought to light in House committee hearings.

              I’m just wondering how long it will take the ECP to read the Mueller report…….hahahahahahahahahaha

            • Loki says:

              This strategy seems sound, but as above, what worries me is Pelosi’s apparent assumption that impeachment won’t be necessary, that Trump is so transparently awful that his defeat is foregone. Despite her battle smarts, this strategy seems to assume political norms that Trump has long since destroyed. I am old enough to remember the machinations of Watergate: this is far worse. Trump’s closest confidante for years, Michael Cohen, has testified that Trump will not leave office peacefully. His maniacal rantings at rallies, his deteriorating mental state, coupled with a cult-like following armed to the teeth, 90 M people who don’t vote (either because they don’t feel threatened economically or are simply too cynical), and a thoroughly corrupt Senate majority leader, all set the stage for a perfect political shitstorm, for which we are terribly unprepared and have little precedent, at least in our lifetimes. In the end, all this leaves me profoundly depressed and fills me with dread.

              • Rayne says:

                90 M people who don’t vote (either because they don’t feel threatened economically or are simply too cynical)

                This is an incredibly privileged perspective. How do the disabled vote? Why should people who have to stand in line for hours to vote do so when they have multiple jobs and/or no daycare for children? Or what if it takes an hour-long bus ride to register? I could go on about all the permutations that make it difficult.

                Meanwhile, the states’ GOP has been systematically undermining citizens’ right to vote — like Tennessee seeking to ban voter registration rallies.

                • Savage Librarian says:

                  Oops. Hey, Rayne. I hope I didn’t mess something up. I goofed a minute ago. I’m moving along now. Thanks!

                • Loki says:

                  Rayne, thanks for the reply, and you are right. And despite my careless use of these data, I’m not attacking those who are effectively prevented from voting — particularly thanks to the GOP’s efforts (voter ID, no early voting, playing games with precinct locations, etc.) to zero out voter participation by minorities, the disabled, the poor, the elderly. State voter participation rate by county correlates inversely with poverty rate: all of this sucks and needs to end. My frustration is with those who actually have no physical or economic impediment to vote, but in the end simply don’t turn up.

                • ros says:

                  It appears that the voting infrastructure could have been tampered with through the hacking, pp.50-51 of Mueller report they left it up to state and other entities F.B.I., H.S., to investigate results unknown.
                  This seems overlooked in responses to report.

      • Vern says:

        Doesn’t matter. Impeachment needs to happen and then run against the Senate Rs in 20. I’d say start with Barr. That establishes a really strong predicate for an unredacted report, among other things.

        • AitchD says:

          Maybe begin an impeachment inquiry on Justice Kavanagh, do a dry run, prove he lied under oath years ago first, months ago as a federal judge, and then impeach him. Really, a lying, dishonest judge or justice must never be a judge or justice. Then hear what the Senate says about it. It’s also an excellent and wholly absorbing educational process (especially for the House and Senate).

      • Peacerme says:

        I don’t think it matters whether the senate indicts. Iran/contra, plame, all allowed for the truth to come out. The American people remain in the dark about the lead up to the Iraq war, Vietnam, the financial crises, torture, and privacy. Legal proceedings give an air of importance and at the very least inform us for the future. Even OJ came full circle eventually. (We learned a lot is better than not learning at all). I still feel that speaking truth to power, using our laws and constitution to hold accountable is more important than just winning!!

      • Geoff says:

        Given the current state of evidence, you are correct. They are going to stick with this floating turd even while it is half way down the drain, because it could go still further, and pop right back up.

        However, this brings up an important question. IF impeachment proceedings were started, what is the likely that any additional evidence would be brought forth that could change enough of the minds of the Senators that the behaviors (or crimes) are beyond the pale?

        Also, related, what would it take? We laugh about the having to shoot someone on Fifth Avenue criteria, but is it really that bad? What would he really have to be caught doing at this point, and how could that evidence appear, if it hasnt already? I suspect decrypting some of the phone info would help, but I doubt that can happen.

        Personally, I am still unsure as to whether its good or bad for the country to go down this road. OTOH, its the right thing to do, but we have to keep the most important goal in mind, and that is, we cannot have this criminal re-elected. And right now, its about 50/50 that happens. How do we tilt the balance? Is the risk of trying to make him look worse for 2020, or up the evidence to impeach worth it, or is the downside of failing to impeach just more ammunition for the base?

        Im obviously quite conflicted, but I feel like we can’t let this stand. Perhaps the hope is that we focus on winning, and let the state courts handle his and his ilks criminality. This is soooo frustrating.

        I will say though, I feel not as depressed today as I thought I would feel, given that there is a fair bit of interesting information even in the redacted report. But it is dispiriting that Barr has redacted so much to his own advantage, spun it beyond belief, and also coached the WH response. Pretty ugly day for Democracy.

        Ultimately, I agree with Vern and Peacerme that the truth must come out. We can’t keep papering over the ugliness that keeps happening on so many fronts, and then hold no one responsible.

    • John Crandell says:

      POTUS’ limo runs over the Constitution on Pennsylvania Avenue. Trump jumps out and begins yelling ‘No Collision! No Collision!

  3. Kelly says:

    First – thanks for the searchable report link, Marcy. So appreciated!

    Next – I’m so glad you are helming this report curation like you are. It’s so weird that even though you can see the report coming, with a sense of what’s in it, that upon seeing it, it is STILL disorienting that such crimes are happening so blatantly. Even when you already have had a sense that they are happening/did happen.

    I still think of that Prague memorial, Památník 17 and that picture I took there, thinking “Man, Marcy is going to have a role in something similar back home in the States someday.”

  4. Jonathan Schmitt says:

    If I’m reading it correctly – and I just skimmed it a second ago – coordination, though it has no stable prosecutorial meaning, was being used in the investigation as a threshold for conspiracy. That is to say, I think, that if collaboration (and the more than two parties is key here I think) can be established, then conspiracy, thus criminal charges are on the table.

  5. Margo Schulter says:

    Three cheers for this blogger Digby — and also the Lord Digby who in 1641 argued in the Long Parliament against the use of bill of attainders to impose the death penalty for ex post facto offenses. At the time, his speech was condemned; but in a sense, Lord Digby was ultimately vindicated by the United States Constitution with its provisions against bills of attainder and ex post facto laws.

    However, that same Constitution definitely kept and creatively adopted the institution of impeachment to the new republic; and now is the time, with Barr’s spin exposed as anticipated, when that institution should be as relevant as it was in 1974.

    • Willis Warren says:

      I’m the only one talking about this, apparently, but information about the June 9th meeting was given to a grand jury in a criminal context and I think that’s pretty fucking important

      • Tech Support says:

        Why is the GJ flag bullshit? Isn’t that actually cause for optimism, because anything the DOJ redacted for GJ reasons is available to be unsealed by the GJ themselves, right? And if they aren’t willing to unseal it, then doesn’t that mean that there is the potential for more criminal indictments to be dropped based on that information in the foreseeable future?

          • Tech Support says:

            Sure, sure. But for example, I think it would be immensely dumb of Barr to mislabel something as a GJ redaction that isn’t. I mean if someone petitions the GJ to unseal something that wasn’t something the GJ cared about in the first place, giving their permission is a no-brainer. And since the GJ belongs to the judiciary branch, Barr has no juice to influence their decision making.

            I mean, he could certainly file a motion asking the GJ to not unseal something because it pertains to an active investigation, but I’m guessing here that the GJ would be able to figure out the validity of those claims.

            IANAL so maybe I’m looking at this entirely the wrong way, but I’d assume the most dangerous retractions from a transparency standpoint are those that are “privacy” driven because that is super-subjective and the “sources and methods” part comes in as a close second.

              • Tech Support says:

                I don’t see anything in my reply to you that was disrespectful or in any way justified your ad hominem attack.

                I’d also observe that at the end of the report, there are a list of investigations that continue based on what was uncovered by the OSC. There are FOURTEEN investigations still ongoing. Twelve of them were redacted.

                You’re welcome to engage in whatever conspiratorial thinking you need to in order to feel like you’re more clever than those around you, but mostly you’re just fooling yourself.

  6. Jockobadger says:

    Many thanks Marcy. Great work here as usual. Don’t know where we’d be without you, Rayne, bmaz and all of the Commentariat.

    As for today, I can’t believe what I’m reading and hearing. History is not going to look kindly on Bill Barr for shilling for this scoundrel and his brood. Other nations are just hooting at us (or are aghast) and the RF is leading the pack. Putin is “getting his own back” as they say across the pond. He has achieved what the old Soviets could not – emasculation of the US in front of god and everyone. Somehow or other Putie owns tr*mp. I hope that someday we find out what he has been using as leverage. Also, even though he’s been convicted of multiple felonies, I’d like to hear from Cohen on some of this stuff. I’m sure he’ll be happy to oblige – Lanny already said so! JHC

    • Bay State Librul says:

      Barr lied repeatedly.
      Someone tell me how he won’t kill or obstruct the remaining
      12 investigations.
      I need reassurance.
      The fourth estate is doing their job..
      Great work, Marcy.

  7. viget says:

    Aha… so coordination DOES NOT equal Call and Response, which Marcy has shown abundant evidence of here on this blog.

    Mueller is pretty much tacitly admitting there was a conspiracy, it’s just that conspiracy laws do not allow “indirect” evidence of coordination such as call and response (or the use of cutouts like Wikileaks) to prosecute.

    Now, if they can ever break that encryption tho… hoo boy, I am sure the incriminating details are right there. That’s the “key” to deciphering the call and response language.

    Is it possible to get a search warrant or court order from a judge that forces a GJ target or indicted person to turn over passwords such that the FBI can decrypt the info?

    • apotropaic says:

      Isn’t this what RICO is for? To get past that need for intent on any given charge. I’m not a lawyer but I don’t see why congress couldn’t use RICO theory as an impeachment article. Am I crazy?

    • viget says:

      Why did you invoke THE RICO?

      Let the record show that I did not use the phrase “RICO” in my comment. I know better than to invoke the wrath of the *bmaz*.

      • Ruthie says:

        Hahaha. Hopefully he (?) will be too busy today to go full apesh*t.

        His ire is part of what kept me out of the comment threads for so long – although I want to note that I fully respect the contributions of the moderators, and shudder as I imagine what happens behind the scenes to inspire such passion.

        Today I spent the day with an adult niece, her 3 children 5 and under, and my twin niece and nephew of 8 – almost 9, as they would insist! What a tonic! I was supremely grateful for an excuse to ignore the release of the Mueller report. Then again, as soon as I got home and made a start on dinner, my first stop was to my computer…

  8. John B. says:

    Sing, O Muse, of the rage of Bmaz, of Peleus’ son, murderous, man-killer, fated to die, sing of the rage that cost the Wheelers so many good men and sent so many vital, hearty souls down to the dreary House of Death.

  9. Jenny says:

    Thank you Marcy. You are so skilled at putting all the puzzle pieces together. EW staff -stellar.

    What I do not understand is how Trump asked Flynn to find Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails then engaged GOP operative Peter Smith (who later committed suicide) and Senator Grassley’s staffer Barbara Ledeen to get the emails from hackers.
    This is a continuation of “getting dirt” on an opponent.
    Is that legal? Would that be obstructing justice?

    Pandora’s box is wide open.

  10. Margo Schulter says:

    A couple of important although obvious points on reading the Introduction and Executive Summary for Volumes I and II — evidently the summaries which the Mueller team had prepared for prompt public release, but which Barr argued would have required substantial redactions, so that he preempted with his “nonsummary” instead.

    Having read these summaries, it’s clear to me that they were essentially read to go, and that the redactions could have been done very quickly, just as reported around April 4 when stories about dissatisfied Mueller team members apppeared in the New York Times and Washington Post. And the clear and informative presentations of issues in these summaries would have had a vastly different effect than Barr’s spin.

    Also, a point at Vol. II, p. 3 that might be relevant to both the campaign and obstruction aspects of the investigation: “After WikiLeaks released politically damaging Democratic Party emails that were reported to have been hacked by Russia, Trump publicly expressed skepticism that Russia was responsible for the hacks at the same time that he and other Campaign officials privately sought information [redaction: Harm to Ongoing Matter] about any further planned WikiLeaks releases.”

    Question: could the statement that Trump himself sought information about future WikiLeaks releases tie in with the statement in the Roger Stone indictment that a senior campaign “was directed” (by Trump?) to seek out such information.

  11. Ed Walker says:

    As I read this, by defining “coordination” as requiring something overt between the parties, Mueller defined away any possibility of reporting that there was coordination unless one of the parties fessed up. That seems surprising.

  12. MattyG says:

    The last paragraph quoted leaves you wondering what exactly proof of a “tacit” agreement would look like, if not copious evidence of actions by each party taken in “response to” and “informed by” the other party. Are they “politely” saying Congress might judge the evidence differently than they felt constrained to? Or are they admitting their constraints on the standards of evidence for a “tacit” agreement are not beyond reproach, and more of a self-imposed limitation colored by the DOJ policy against indicting a sitting president?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I think he was acknowledging that any DoJ run by Sessions, Barr, et al., with Trump in the WH, was never going to aggressively pursue indictment and trial, even if the courts ruled in their favor. Congress has a valid basis to act, and is not constrained by narrowly construed limits of the criminal law. “High crimes and misdemeanors” is a political definition that, like Humpty Dumpty, means what enough voices in Congress say it means.

      What it means now is that the House has control over whether to commence a preliminary investigation of whether charges of impeachment are in order. The Dems are worried about the inevitable GOP claim that this is all “political.” It is. It is supposed to be. But it is not partisan. If they can’t distinguish in the public’s mind investigating Trump for this litany of wrongs from investigating Clinton for abusing his power as an employer and having sex with an intern, they don’t deserve to be in office.

      Mueller goes out of his way to help them. He makes abundantly clear that there remain bases for substantial further investigation of Trump. He offers many reasons why Congress could conclude that he is unfit for office. Trump’s daily conduct reveals legislative and regulatory gaps that need to be filled, which only Congress can do.

      • MattyG says:

        Yes. I speculated a few times that the report might turn out to be an invitation of sorts for a way forward to a constitutional remedy, even if the investigation itself balked at the task for various reasons. Clearly the report needs exhaustive review to judge just how justifyable the claim that a case for conspiracy *was not* “established” – this time with specific consideration given to third parties acting on behalf of Moscow. The distinction between official Russioan government vs intermediaries is irrelevant in assessing a tacit agreement.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Short of an engraved invitation, I’m not sure what more Bob Mueller could have done to invite Congress to pick up where he was constrained to leave off. Bill Barr is doing his damnedest to discourage that.

      • Vinnie Gambone says:

        Russia has conquered us. Deripaska got his sanctions lifted, and got his money. I’d spend my money educating Americans about Russia’s murdering of journalist and crimes against their own people. I’d continue to dig on the Katie Johnson story. Get off the “hopium” that Americans will see the corruption before their very eyes. Dems ain’t winning shit with this story. It’s dead. You are picking at splinters. The SPCDA is going to be knocking on your door if you don’t stop whacking this horse. (society for the prevention of cruelty to dead animals.) In the public’s wee little mind this story is way up there with, wait, what’s that guy’s name- Ava. Ava. Ava somenting. Avanatti. Victory can’t just have scandal as it’s driving force. Save some of the Hopium for the satellite investigations though.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I think it makes an argument for why antitrust law gave Mueller a way into a conspiracy charge.

        “Trump and Russia’s public statements could also provide circumstantial evidence of an agreement. It is no defense that Trump and Russia may have communicated through the media and public speeches rather than through covert channels. Antitrust law recognizes that such public “signaling” can also facilitate conspiracies because conspirators can use public means to reach agreement just as they can private ones.”

        I think it overstates where it says Mueller had to exclude ANY possible non-collusive motivation. The defense will always think of one, and proving a negative is impossible. That’s where arguments about the totality of the evidence come in. And there are, of course, examples from the prosecution of organized crime figures, expertise that Mueller’s team had.

        Based on Mueller’s several implied invitations to Congress to continue his investigation, I think Mueller concluded he had as big a problem convincing the DoJ and OLC’s Trumpian leadership as would have convincing a jury of Trump’s peers.

        • InfiniteLoop says:

          I don’t disagree, but I get the feeling Mueller played conservatively on the criminal charges — probably for exactly the reasons you cite.

          Although I haven’t made it to Volume II yet, it would be no surprise if obstruction forms a stronger basis for impeachment proceedings than conspiracy.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            It’s a frustrating read. He rattles off example after example of what looks like repeated obstruction, then veers off into not being able to completely exclude possible innocent motives that might have given a jury reasonable doubt.

            The contrast suggests that other issues were controlling: political resistance to indicting a sitting president generally, the massive resistance expected from the White House, the equally strong resistance from the OLC and AG’s office, the outraged whelps to come from Fox and the GOP and their patrons, the uncertainty of winning appeals with a newly-staffed DC Circuit and S.Ct., all on top of a difficult prosecution.

            • Marinela says:

              This is where I think Mueller team dropped the ball. I see the monumental, almost impossible task they would face if charging Trump with obstruction, but it would be in his power to do so.

              Sometimes just need to do the correct action, and forget about how is going to play out.
              Almost looks like Mueller team played as if they were gun shy.

              With Mueller charging Trump with obstruction, there was nothing to prevent the House to also impeach Trump.

              Now we are left with impeachment of Trump by the House, and already talking about possibly of not impeaching Trump.

              The dems are going to play it safe. I hope not.

              Every single step of the way, there is somebody in the system that drops the ball, and Trump gets away.

              Not an inspiring message.

              • P J Evans says:

                Barr wouldn’t have allowed charging Tr*mp for anything, including shooting someone in the middle of 5th Avenue. Mueller had to deal with people lying and covering up for Tr*mp. He did what he could, within the limits that were set (and apparently narrowed considerably from that original, public, letter).

              • Marinela says:

                Yes, I agree Bill was going to overrule Mueller. But we would at least have the record of it.
                Being friend with Barr should not play here, or being worried of being over ruled.
                Make the charge as you would do if the offender name isn’t Trump.
                Why even investigate in the first place, if you are going to decline to prosecute?
                There are people that obstructed justice that were charged in the course of this investigation.

  13. Rugger9 says:

    Some of this would be covered in the hearings to come. I think AG Barr will come to regret the marker he laid down today (even if it is not under oath) and Ghouliani’s rebuttal will also backfire. Apparently issuing such a document that relies on insider communications invalidates attorney-client privilege, but IANAL.

    I’m reminded of an old Dilbert cartoon where Alice rages at the PHB for being wrong every single time, to which PHB responds the he was right, initially. That’s good enough for Kaiser Quisling, the Palace and the MAGA tribe.

    So with the press attention fully deflected, what will be the dump-o’-the-week from Mulvaney / Pence / Wheeler / DeVos / etc. that will be wretchedly bad for America?

  14. laura says:

    some may believe this to be a trivial point but here goes – I feel strongly the tv newscasters and radio broadcasters should say the actual profane words uttered by the president and his minions – the American people need to have the jarring words ring in their ears. As a friend said to me – “so true. It started with shielding the public from grab them by their pussy. If our privileged white sisters had to hear that time and again….. maybe just maybe they would have “heard” it.”

  15. viget says:

    Ok, I realize all of us are quietly reading the report right now, I’m kinda slow, but I am astounded in the IRA section that they did not redact a FBI case file # ! Why? The footnote specifically says this is “law enforcement sensitive.” Why do they continually keep citing it unredacted? Has it been declassified and authorized for release? If so, will we see this information? I doubt it, because the underlying text that cites this file is redacted as part of an ongoing matter.

    I just don’t understand what purpose not redacting this case file would have.

    • P J Evans says:

      Did they leave only the case file number in, or did they include material FROM the case file? Because the number doesn’t tell anyone anything useful about its contents. (This isn’t clear in your comment.)

      • viget says:

        Just the number. I agree, it doesn’t tell us anything per se, but the footnote goes to great pains to indicate that the case numbers themselves are “law enforcement sensitive”. So why not redact them? What public good is possibly helped along by including this info?

        I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m glad they didn’t. I just find it odd, is all.

    • Dean says:

      I’m wondering if the follow part of the Mueller report helps answer Bill Binney’s mystery?
      “GRU officers gained access to the DNC network Via a virtual private network (VPN) connection between the and DNC network between April 18, 2016 and June 8, 2016, Unit 26165 compromised more than 30 computers on the DNC network, including the DNC mail server and shared file server.

      Unit 26165 implanted on the and DNC networks two types of customized malware, known as “X-Agent” and “X-Tunnel”; Mimikatz, a credential-harvesting tool; and rar.exe, a tool used in these intrusions to compile and compress materials for exfiltration”. [p.46]

  16. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Good thread: []

    “The press need to stop saying there was no evidence of “collusion.” That’s Barr’s spin. The report is FULL of evidence of collusion. Mueller just said it didn’t legally amount to a criminal conspiracy.”

    I would refine that. Mueller said he did not have enough evidence to have a slam dunk case to persuade a jury to convict on a charge of criminal conspiracy.

    In part, not having an underlying crime, that was because it would have been harder to persuade a jury on the issue of Trump’s criminal intent, in the face of so many presidential powers that gave him, theoretically, legitimate ends (however far-fetched those were in the case of Trump).

    In part, and impliedly, he did not have a strong enough case because so many witnesses stonewalled him. Witnesses stonewalled him in the context of Trump’s lawyers dangling pardons and their verbal encouragement of obstructionist non-cooperation. And, in part, he was working for a DoJ committed to the proposition that all Presidents might be created equal, but when it comes to the law, they are more equal than every other citizen and cannot be indicted while in office.

  17. Eureka says:

    Incidental note(s): I went searching for Peter Smith via “Peter;” incidentally also got Peter Baker NYT in the footnotes, then on to find 11 instances of Haberman in footnotes (many citing the same article (“Trump ordered Mueller fired…”)). But Trump needs the palace coverage as much as the beat must go on, and so it shall.

    Thank you in advance to EW (all the tweets with receipts!), Rayne, bmaz, and commenters for insights on which I am nowhere near caught up. It’ll be dayzzzzzzzz. Thanks also @TheViewFromLL2 and others for searchable copies– makes all the difference.

  18. Badger Robert says:

    Still have to consider that while it looks like Barr is protecting Trump, he is allowing the pressure to accumulate against and old man that can barely form sentences. Barr echoes Cohen’s take down of Don, Jr., so that was a long term position of the OSC. Barr did what the President demanded and stated he would resist any further disclosures, but it seems likely that the full report will dodge DOJ and be disclosed at some level.
    If the redacted report creates this much pressure, the unredacted report is certainly going to lead to impeachment.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Bill Barr is not a good guy. But I suspect his primary concern is to help the GOP. That Trump will personally benefit in the short-term is secondary to the GOP’s longterm survival. Having gone all-in for Trump, it’s a hard job, but somebody’s gotta do it.

      • Badger Robert says:

        He’s probably not a good guy. To the public, Barr is saying the Cohen’s warning is real. Trump is capable of far worse. On the inside, Barr is most likely saying the redactions will be withdrawn and more testimony will come out. Barr is still looking for a work around in which Jr. is protected and Ivanka/Kushner come out OK. Trump has conceded defeat in the past.
        Trump did not win a majority and if he runs slightly worse probably cannot win. If he falls apart the Dems could get a sweep election.
        As soon as a Dem consistently polls ahead of Trump, that’s the end. The Trumpist media is trying desperately to keep that from happening.

      • Ken Muldrew says:

        Trump may have enough dynamite to do some significant damage to the GOP on his way down, and he has probably made it quite clear that he will do his worst should they fail to save him. I would think their futures are firmly tied together at this point.

    • CitizenCrone says:

      This old man that can barely form sentences —
      It’s probably time we stop thinking of Trump as a moron and recognize him for what he is: a dangerous man.

      Decades in NYC real estate, rubbing elbows with both Russian and Italian mafia, schooled by Roy Cohn, a history of seeking revenge against perceived “enemies”, and a psychological profile that’s missing a conscience.

      Barr played to Trump’s “victim schtick” , but I hope that bs ain’t gonna cut it any more.

  19. Margo Schulter says:

    Maybe a good sign: Chair Jerrold Nadler of the House Judiciary Committee says that the Mueller Report “was probably written with the intent of providing Congress with a road map,” as the earlofhuntington has also argued ably and very persuasively here.

    I agree also that the language of the report on obstruction very much fits the roadmap interpretation.

    • P J Evans says:

      if they were the “cocktail” type that are wood and pointy on both ends – they could be very useful as weapons. (The plastic ones also have their uses. I once used one to pin on a nametag by sticking the pick through it and a buttonhole.)

  20. earlofhuntingdon says:

    C&L, sourcing to MSNBC’s Matt Miller, says that Sen. Richard Burr was “the” congressional mole for the Trump White House about the Mueller investigation, not Devin Nunes. I don’t see why Trump should have just one, do you?

      • Eureka says:

        PJ, I’ve been entertained imagining the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of those paranoid cabalers enrolled embroiled in their very own cross-check program.

    • Marinela says:

      Does it mean the WH knew what Mueller team was investigating all along?
      So all the talk about the Mueller team not leaking, it meant no leaks to the press, but leaks to the person being investigated about the investigation itself it is just fine.

      This seems like plain corruption. Somebody needs to resign.

  21. Strawberry Fields says:

    CNN reporting that Trump dodged Obstruction of justice by the fact that his aides didnt take his orders. That’s not what the report says though, it says the aides avoided obstruction of justice but Mueller couldnt prosecute.

  22. punaise says:

    Straight out of the Jangle(d nerves) Book:

    Look for the Barr complicities
    The simple Barr complicities
    Forget about your worries and your strife
    I mean the Barr complicities
    Of Mueller’s mature recipes
    That brings the Barr complicities to life

    Whenever I wonder, whoever I phone
    I coulda been be fodder ‘cuz a my big loans
    Russkies are buzzin’ in my ear
    To make some honey just for here
    When you look under the rocks and plants*
    And take a glance at the fancy pants**
    Then maybe try a few
    The Barr complicities of life will come to you
    They’ll come to you!

    * Pappadopolous
    ** Roger Stone

  23. earlofhuntingdon says:

    As the House Chairs’ statement indicates, the House and the American people can consider the Trump-Russia connections and related behavior to be corrupt, disloyal and self-serving without requiring that such connections and related conduct be explicitly illegal and provable beyond a reasonable doubt. []

    For one thing, the consequence is loss of office or loss of electoral viability, not loss of freedom. That conduct need only be crudely and politically unacceptable in the minds of a majority of the Rules Committee, the Judiciary Committee, and the full House, and be demonstrably below the minimum standards expected of US government employees of similar standing.

    Trump is formally safe, owing to the requirement that the Senate vote to convict on impeachment by a two-thirds super majority. He is safe to the extent that it will take the House time to produce a vote and submit articles of impeachment to the Senate. But he is not safe from public opinion and the electoral will of the American people. He is not safe from the documentary record Mr. Mueller’s investigation has produced and that the Judiciary Committee may produce. For the first time in his luxurious wealthy existence, Donald Trump might be held accountable.

    • BobCon says:

      I think there is a fundamental misunderstanding by the Democratic leadership in how the majority of people will respond to impeachment hearings.

      I think the leadership expects the calling for testimony and the gathering of evidence to be seen as trodding over well travelled ground. I think the majority of people will see it as exposing new material. I think the leadership expects that they will be vulnerable to GOP attacks for being partisan — I know that anything the Democrats do will be attacked.

      They need to start the inquiry and build the case, and assume there will be more fuel for the fire — Trump’s taxes, his finances, his harrassment. Of course, he will stonewall and and fight everything in the courts. But that will mean the Democrats have even more reason to stretch out the inquiry and keep pummelling the GOP.

      This shouldn’t be an isolated issue. It needs to build on the general case that the GOP is unmoored, reckless, and assaulting the rights and livelihoods of everyday Americans. Knocking down Trump’s trustworthiness on Russia works hand in hand with knocking down his promises on healthcare. Knocking down the GOP’s blind defense of Trump knocks down their whining about fairness. These things are not mutually exclusive.

      • Rayne says:

        I was told back in 2006-2007 timeframe that the reason there weren’t impeachment hearings for Bush was that it didn’t poll well. I wonder if leadership (Hoyer specifically) is relying on similar polling methodology as a decade ago to formulate their opinions.

        When I ask community members to call their representatives, this is why: a multitude of angry phone calls from actual constituents is far more credible than polling data. Encourage friends, family, neighbors to do the same thing. Call.

        • BobCon says:

          I think it’s something Hoyer is assuming — how could he know how the people think when the report just came out? I think you’re right, though, that constituent pressure will make a big dent.

          Despite the media’s earlier fawning repetition of Barr’s claims, voter trust in Trump has dropped. I think the Democrats need to work harder at coming up with a coherent message that crushes trust in the GOP and Trump, and leaving an impeachment move in the box is a huge wasted opportunity.

      • P J Evans says:

        I think the committee chairs know this. I suspect Pelosi does, too. I’m not sure if Hoyer really understands that hearings are the start, not the end, of the impeachment process. (He’s been a weak reed for years. I remember he was pretty useless under both Shrub and Obama.)

    • Eureka says:

      …and be demonstrably below the minimum standards expected of US government employees of similar standing.

      The ease and value of illustrating this reminds me of those hiring-bias experiments, where equally- (or better-) qualified ‘candidates’ are presented as female (vs male), black (vs white), and so one.

      Except here, we could paper hypothetical candidate Trump with whichever degrees are appropriate, and even then he c/would never he hired and would certainly be fired* at any gov agency, from the Park Service to the IRS and back, given just his behavior.

      It’s such an easy case.

      *Yeah I know this is a tough call, but no one likes their employees harassing people on the twitter these days, that’s enough for cause alone.

      ETA: It’s the simple horrors that count.

  24. Tech Support says:

    I made a comment above about Democrats in the house being able to construct a narrative that would form the basis for public support of impeachment.

    The idea being, if you can’t get the GOP in the Senate to demonstrate any fundamental respect for democracy or the rule of law, then you need to get public opinion aligned. You need to find a way to get people who are not political wonks to understand these issues in spite of all the FUD, all the jaded fatigue created by the slow-drip of information and Trumps relentless effort to acclimatize people to his malignancy. You need a clear message that you can hang around the necks of the feckless stooges that will ultimately prevent Trump’s removal from office.

    “Oh, my God. This is terrible,” he said. “This is the end of my presidency. I’m fucked.”

    Thanks Don. I wasn’t sure the Dems were going to be able to get it done on their own.

  25. earlofhuntingdon says:

    “Please take a moment to appreciate that the President of the United States was shocked to learn that lawyers take notes.” [] [Citing Mueller’s report, fns omitted.]

    McGahn responded that…his conversations [as White House Counsel] with the President were not protected by Attorney-Client privilege. The President then asked, “What about these notes? Why do you take notes? Lawyers don’t take notes. I never had a lawyer who took notes.” McGahn responded that he keeps notes because he is a “real lawyer” and explained that notes create a record and are not a bad thing. The President said, “I’ve had a lot of great lawyers, like Roy Cohn. He did not take notes.”

    Donald Trump was born, bred and wed in NYC. He lost a lot of money there. It has more lawyers per square foot than any place in America outside of the Beltway. Trump used a lot of them. He used Roy Cohn for over a decade, an unusually long tenure for Trump.

    There are a lot of reasons why Roy Cohn should spend a considerable span of time in the Other Place. But Donald Trump’s inability to process his mentoring is not one of them. Cohn knew better than most what cold incompetent putz Trump is.

  26. AitchD says:

    Barr’s presser spiel was for an audience of one, who would not fire Barr for what he was saying. Anything honest or truthful, he’s fired.

    He was plucked out of retirement, I would suppose, to persuade the VP and Cabinet to agree to remove Trump. Zurich, if you’re listening, can we monitor the nano-pulse dimming of lights in your town?

  27. Eureka says:

    It’s a complete credit to EW’s comprehensive coverage that reading the Mueller Report is like cake to even a sleep-zombied person.

    And as if on cue Marcy just showed up on Chris Hayes.

    Anyway, Brava (and fuck GG et al.).

    ETA: this sentiment esp. cued by passages re Manafort: EW coverage of breach hearing, etc, with more detail than the MR, such that the comparatively outline-like elements being repeated in the MR allow the new details here and there to POP. Bas relief.

    • Anne says:

      Bill, thanks for that link. Reads like a Ken Follett novel! But to me it sounds like the stuff that went on when Andreotti and the Democrazia Cristiana (DC) were running the country. Except that this generation of right-wing buffoons are less professional than the DC mafia back in the ’70s and ’80s so (I hope) they won’t last as long.

  28. oldgold says:

    I would like Nadler to ask Mueller if the standard of proof was “clear and convincing” would his conclusion regarding Trump conspiring/coordinating with Russia be different.

    The reason for my interest in this is that the Constitution does not address the standard of proof necessary for the House to impeach or for the Senate to convict. And, the standard of proof that I had assumed to be the applicable standard, beyond a reasonable doubt, has been explicitly and recently rejected.

    In the Senate impeachment trial of Judge Harry Claiborne in 1986, his attorneys filed a motion to designate beyond a reasonable doubt as the applicable standard for the Senate in reaching its determination. Judge Claiborne’s motion was rejected by the Senate’s Presiding Officer, holding that the standard to apply was up to each Senator to decide individually. Senator Hatch then requested a vote on the Claiborne’s motion to establish beyond a reasonable doubt as the standard of proof. This resulted in Claiborne’s motion being defeated by a vote of 17 to 75.

    • timbo says:

      Basically, the Senators will rule as they see fit, not based on any legal standard imposed from without. Makes sense as that is one of the key powers of the Senate.

  29. Rugger9 says:

    Jeebus, Steny’s gotta Steny. If it’s one thing the senior D House leadership fails at, it is their love of tone-deaf political calculations instead of actual policy ideas. No one likes Chuck Todd because he is solely a political junkie and not a journalist, HRC realized that Bernie would beat her unless she stopped triangulating and moved left. As an aside, I would not be surprised at the end of all things to find out votes were flipped in addition to the rampant suppression.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Yea, Stenny gonna Stenny. But he’s a master triangulator and is likely trying to protect Nancy from criticism on the right.

      My perspective is we have never been on this ground before, not with Nixon, not with Poppy Bush over Iran-Contra, not with Clinton. Precedent is not much of a guide. Nancy requiring Republicans to jump on board with impeachment or an investigation is using the GOP’s predictable unity behind Trump as a shield for her conservative Democrats to do SFA. That’s not gonna sit well with the people who get out the vote and expect a responsive party in return.

      • Rugger9 says:

        Well, Pelosi and Steny need to play somewhat nice, but I do not see Schiff, Nadler, or Lieu (that take down of Candace Owens was priceless, see my post below about McCarthy) letting that triangulation status quo stand. The GOP marches in MAGA lockstep because they are more terrified of primaries than history. Given how gerrymandered many of their districts are, the primary is the main race to win.

        Rayne: I was linking to where I found the information first, and the sub-links can frequently send one behind paywalls and other limited access games (like the NYT and WashPo does), so unless you can point to a terms of service constraint on how I link articles I would politely ask you to drop the witch hunt. The “sourcing purity” of the link wasn’t as important as the fact it also provided the screenshots of Twitter taking Steny to the woodshed which was part of the point.

  30. fpo says:

    This comment is pulled from a statement my state (R) Senator issued today regarding the Mueller report:

    “The Special Counsel’s findings are a stark reminder that Russia’s goal is to undermine the trust the American people have in our democratic process and government.”

    I’m sure similar sentiments have been offered by many of his peers in Congress.

    I just wonder how many of them would comment truthfully on their view of the impact our own president has had on the level of trust their constituents place in our government, today. I’m sure for many that’s a question they won’t even touch, despite having offered sentiments like the one above.

    Very curious to see what the half-life of this report is with the MSM. It’s not an easy read, for sure. And absent sufficient attention, I fear few voters will ever appreciate the facts behind Trump’s “I’m fucked.” assessment of his situation.

    • BobCon says:

      I think this will have a long half life, actually. I don’t think Barr is expecting this to fade away quickly — I think he is conducting a fighting retreat in the hopes that he can keep Trump stable through 2020.

      I think he knows that Mueller will not stay silent forever, that more information is coming out on multiple fronts, and what he is trying to do is maintain GOP solidarity. He is not hoping for a knockout blow. He is hoping to play 19 months of rope a dope. This stuff will not go away — Barr is simply hoping to minimize it as much as he can.

      • e.a.f. says:

        It is beyond me how Barr would want to “support” Trump through anything. It is clear to me though that Barr and Mcturtle put their political party ahead of their country. Mueller’s report couldn’t be any clearer regarding Russia’s intent.

        Russia attacking American democracy, I get it. Putin isn’t keen on the U.S.A., but for Americans to “go along” with it, truly frightening.

        • Tom says:

          I saw a clip of Nicole Wallace the other day expressing her bafflement at William Barr’s blatant support of President Trump. She said she had been told by someone who knows Barr that he is ‘invested in having Trump be successful’, though this doesn’t really answer the question. Barr is acting like an old uncle having a late mid-life crisis who decides to leave his wife and family and run off to Las Vegas with a twenty-something-year old cheerleader.

          • Tech Support says:

            Yeah it boggles my mind. I still contend that the GOP has a better chance of salvaging 2020 by jettisoning DT and allowing an open primary. Not just in terms of the presidency but their wide exposure in the Senate. They’re rapidly pissing away any opportunity to do such a thing. It’s not like that would slow down their steamrolling of the judiciary either.

            • Herringbone says:

              I think their calculation is that “jettisoning” Trump means jettisoning his most ardent supporters. Maybe not all 40% of the electorate would stay home, but a large enough chunk that they’d get wiped out in 2020 and lose the House, the Senate, and quite a few governorships and state legislatures, all in a redistricting year.

  31. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Superb thread on impeachment. []

    “We shouldn’t impeach because it isn’t what the voters want” is an extremely blinkered vision of politics that presupposes a world where public opinion cannot be moved and political parties cannot shape the political landscape through coordinated action.”

    What happened to the party political boast that “we make our own reality?” Or does that power only exist on the right?

    “We shouldn’t impeach because the Senate won’t convict” is an instrumental vision of politics that treats it primarily as a tool for removal and ignores the importance of the PROCESS of impeachment as well as…that lawmakers have constitutional responsibilities.”

    A utilitarian argument, if one were needed is that the process will document the wrongdoing by a sitting president, with the full support of his party. That he commits his abuses in front of klieg lights is irrelevant to the need to forcefully object to them and make them out of bounds for any sitting officeholder.

    It will set up half the platform the party needs: what not to do as or accept in a president. The party will still need to sell its positive message: what are its priorities regarding jobs, healthcare, education and personal debt, and what will the party do about them.

    My suspicion is that conservative Dems like things the way they are and do not want to put a target on their backs for when they fail to do anything about the wrongs an impeachment inquiry would make so plain.

    • Rugger9 says:

      I would agree that now is as good a time as any for starting an impeachment inquiry, because we will get to see the following:

      1. Palace operatives taking the 5th or throwing up non-applicable claims of privilege.
      2. GOP partisan hackery and tantrums in the questions and statements in committee, making it crystal clear on CSPAN who the adults are in the room.
      3. GOP partisan hackery in various court filings (any news on Nunes’ suit against a Twitter cow?) and tortured explanations about all of this winning.

      For those who know their history, it was Joe McCarthy who did himself in, first by going after the Army (Ike’s turf) and by Edward R. Murrow’s mashup (as we would describe it now) of Joe being Joe at the UnAmerican Activities Committee. If the circus to come peels off any number of MAGA sheeple, it’s a plus. First Draft has a Freeperati column on Mondays (usually AM) and the signs are there that they think Kaiser Quisling might not really appreciate their worship and take the Freepers for granted.

      Let’s also not forget the inaugural committee, financing of the various properties and Chinese spooks at Mar-A-Lago, as well as the NYS investigation of the Foundation which KQ can’t pardon his way out of. Before we get too excited about the latter, Andrew Cuomo is available to do the pardoning deed for a price given how he engineered the IDC-GOP unholy alliance in Albany.

      Plus, we haven’t even talked about Felix or Cohen’s new evidence or Weisselberg or Stormy or the rest of the slime oozing out in a while, shoes are ready to drop somewhere in there I think.

    • fpo says:

      It’s gonna take a champion, someone with credibility and charisma – someone to go toe-to-toe with tRump, armed with the facts and not bound by the weight of opinion polls. Relying on the public to read a report and bump the #s isn’t going to get it done. The facts are right there with, as you say, more to come. They need a voice.

      To walk away from this elephant in the room would be one helluva legacy, one I sure wouldn’t want to be saddled with. Of course, if you’re comfy and cozy and the status quo suits, it’s easy to make that call. We’ll know soon enough.

      • Rugger9 says:

        Nadler might be just the guy to do it, plus he knows Kaiser Quisling and is not impressed by KQ. I do not see Nadler backing down any time soon.

        • Thomas Paine says:

          I agree with this. Chmn. Nadler has nothing to lose, and has faced down Trump before (Westside Highway relocation). I think the question of drafting and voting on the Articles of Impeachment is timing – there either is not enough time, or too much time. The smart strategy is to draw out the investigation on Trump and use Obstruction as only the FIRST Article, add in the Campaign Finance Violations with Cohen as the SECOND Article, and then whatever financial crimes (bank fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, what have you), that Cummings and Waters will inevitably find as the THIRD Article. Schedule the vote right before Labor Day 2020, and FORCE the Senate to take up the case right before the Election. Drag out the trail until AFTER the Election so that any acquittal is either in doubt or impugns McConnell and the GOP as being complicit. I see no political downside to this strategy.

          • Tech Support says:

            Seconded. I mean who knows, maybe Pelosi and Hoyer are deliberately floating these rationalizations as a hyper clever ruse. Lull the WH into a false sense of security while simultaneously keeping the impatient left flank busy by sacrificing themselves as human chew toys. That would create the space and time necessary for the Chairpeople to advance a more carefully timed attack plan.

            Sounds great, but I honestly struggle to give the Democratic leadership credit for playing that sort of 3D chess. I just haven’t seen evidence that they are clever enough to do that intentionally.

            • P J Evans says:

              I think Pelosi knows what she’s doing. I don’t think Hoyer does. He’s been a both-sides type for years. (We were wanting him out in 2010, for his weak support of ACA.)

  32. orionATL says:

    Mueller report

    executive summary:

    president Donald John trump worked for two years to kill, hinder, or discredit the office of special counsel work. he did so because he, his campaign, and members of the Republican party had in fact colluded at some points with members of the Russian government, and had at many other points colluded with wealthy Russians acting as agents for the Russian government, e.g., agalarov pere, prighozhin, katsyv pere, nikoklaev, torshin, and of course, deripaksa.

    the collusion involved trading relief from sanctions to be provided by the trump presidency for help from the Russians in defeating the democratic candidate, secretary Hillary Clinton, in the 2016 presidential elections.

    from the American side, the trump collusion was assisted by a number of low-level campaign operatives as well as republican political figures and American citizens operating from outside the campaign but for the benefit of trump.

    • P J Evans says:

      and it’s a good question how many of those “republican political figures and American citizens” were getting money from Russia via various non-Russian groups, knowingly or not.

      • Rugger9 says:

        I’ve been saying for a long time now that McTurtle’s refusal to let Obama sound the alarm makes it clear the GOP knew where the dirt was coming from, and their flat refusal to fix the problem between 2016 and now makes it equally clear the GOP expects Russian support in 2020. That’s why Lindsey, McTurtle, Burr, Nunes, Gym Jordan, Gaetz, etc., are working so hard to hide stuff, because they know the Russian finger points to them.

  33. orionATL says:

    the next step for the illegitimate trump presidency to try to save itself:

    trump and trump consigliere n the DOJ, the Congress, and the Republican party at fox news, such as attny general William Barr, senator mcconnell, and fox commentators will begin to attack, harass, and embarrass individual members of the Mueller team who participated in the investigation and trump and the White House did with e.g., Comey, ohr, mccabe, and strzok with minute and trivial details.

    trump and consoglieri will attack members of congress and congressional staff investigating trump with minute details speciously held up as consequential, as with the attack on the FBI officials investigators.

    • orionATL says:

      in the effort to manipulate the mainstream media and mislead American citizens and voters with respect to the OSC (mueller) report, which is extremely critical of his behavior and by implication his presidency, trump will create numerous mini-twitter-crises, as with threatening to send immigrants to democratic cities. this is pure prooagandist manipulation long well-known and used by demagogues and tyrants. it’s about time the normal media, who surely understand this tactic, stopped using it for their corporate benefit and income as click-bait.

  34. Strawberry Fields says:

    Time to bring back the White House Correspondent Dinner, the comedian was 1000% right about Sarah Sanders and we dont have to worry about crocodile tears anymore.

  35. Rugger9 says:

    Digby over at Hullabaloo has a post up now taking Mueller to task for not summoning Junior to the grand jury. She’s right of course, but I will also point out my First Law of Dirtballs: They always give you another shot for discipline. DJTJ doing the twitter happy dance will get him on someone’s radar like the NYS AG looking at the Foundation and they will make an example out of him.

  36. Eureka says:

    On “the battleground states” (MI WI PA MN, pdf 148): I’ve been bothered since the ides of March over the ‘duh’ implications of this MagHabs tweet (it was a second-item ‘thread’ attached to her Trump-to-Grand-Rapids announcement):

    “The Trump campaign is looking closely at his weakness in the Rust Belt and trying to find ways to bolster his numbers, or his 2016 map may be hard to replicate.”

    Donnie has never worked so hard to get elected.

    • Rayne says:

      That’s why he showed up here in MI last fall to stump for the two weak GOP House seats, and why he was here in Grand Rapids a couple weeks ago.

      What I’d like to know about the recent rally: how many attendees were from MI and how many from other midwest states?

      • Fran of the North says:

        The question of local support is a good one. The obstructionist was here in the Twin Cities earlier in the week and like MI, there was a sizable crowd supporting him. The numbers of rabid supporters is pretty fixed. While it is certain that non-residents attend each of his rallies, the crowd is probably a majority home-grown.

        However, an observation from two weeks ago is enlightening. While walking the beach in south west FL, a die hard Trumpista was zooming his skiff back and forth about 20 yards off shore, in front of hundreds of beachgoers. He had an 8 foot wide flag on a pole streaming out the back, emblazoned with the name of his favorite POTUS.

        What was telling was the reaction of the audience. No support, no frustration or anger, just complete and total indifference.

        With any luck, a solid majority of Americans are tired of the schtick and ready to move on.

        • P J Evans says:

          I wonder how much of the crowd is just there to see a president and really doesn’t care which party, how much is paid to show up, and how much is the true-believer crowd.

          (We know they issue more tickets than they have room for, that they go for the smaller venues, and that they do this so they can do crowd-filtering to get one that looks like what they want.)

      • Eureka says:

        Flip-side, same coin: What I’d like to know is why Bernie the other day had a Fox news special / town hall/ whatever tf they called it in Bethlehem (Northampton Co., PA; one of I think three counties that shifted D to R in 2016 vs 2012 for pres.).

        (Just checked their results for kicks to get a different comparable set, and e.g. for gov. in 2018 they went dem 57 to 41; in 2014 dem for gov was ~ 55 to 45.)

        (Aside: this county is in the new PA 07, Susan Wild’s district. She was one of the eight dems to get one of those weird $13 NRA donations.)

  37. viget says:

    Crazy Hot Take—

    Barr is there ONLY to protect the GOP. He has been stalling at the request of Trump and will turn on him. If his job was to really protect Trump, then he would not have let as much unredacted damaging info out, ESPECIALLY the “I’m F-ed” quote.

    That quote will be taken as a sign of weakness by his base. His popularity will drop if we keep hammering that point home. It will be interesting to see how Fox handles the next few days.

    The Barr testimony could be the turning point… he can claim he was only following orders by Trump. He clearly lied about the obstruction stuff. Is he really going to sacrifice his “integrity” for Trump?

    • Badger Robert says:

      Since Trump doesn’t read, and no one around him comprehends, Barr can say he is defending Trump at the same time he is beginning the disclosure process. The R’s are beginning to see there will be a post Trump world, soon.

      • viget says:

        Exactly. I suspect that Barr’s congressional testimony will be most enlightening. He clearly lied in front of the world during his presser. It wasn’t under oath, but it’s definitely not something an AG should do. I suspect that Mueller’s testimony will also make that abundantly clear.

        We need to be hammering Trump over his admission of guilt in the report. His base will be demoralized by that, and may start to cut and run. Why aren’t the dems bringing this up?

  38. e.a.f. says:

    Some time ago, former P.M. of Canada, Jean Chretien, said, “the American empire is dead”. One could now say the A.G. Barr, if not dead, must be close to it. His brain wasn’t functional. As I understand it Barr is the A.G. for the nation, not the President. Barr failed to do his job for his nation. Watched C.B.C. today, where they reviewed some of the report. I’m not a lawyer, but you’d have to be delusional to believe what Barr said.

    Mueller and his team did a good job. They are to be commended.

    I hope my country never winds up in the position the U.S.A. is in today. If we do, I hope we have some one like Mueller.

    Although many will want Trump removed from office, Pelosi may still be correct in saying, he isn’t worth the time, mostly because if the rest of the Republicans in the Senate feel as McConnell does, it wouldn’t go anywhere. On the other hand, to just give Trump a pass, just doesn’t seem right.

  39. Jeffrey Samuel says:

    Why are there so many preemptive surrenders in the report? Don Jr. solicited a thing of value from a foreign citizen for campaign purposes, but we can’t bring a campaign finance charge because of the $25k jurisdictional amount, and because some court might expand Citizens United to cover plots backed by foreign autocrats. Trump got in front of cameras and encouraged the Russians and wikileaks to do the hacking and the leaking, but a conspiracy requires an agreement and encouraging is not agreeing, so we can’t charge a conspiracy to hack, and never mind that encouraging is direct aiding and abetting. We know that the President did a dozen things that would be obstruction of justice if done by anyone else, and we reject the idea that the President cannot commit a crime through the exercise of his constitutional powers or for any other reason related to being President or because it was done in public, but we cannot put these propositions together and accept the resulting syllogism, because even though the conclusion is logically ineluctable, it is not ours to draw. These were all hugely consequential decisions, all completely unnecessary, all maximally deferential to the authority being investigated, and all destined to be exploited by that authority relentlessly and in the worst imaginable bad faith. What was the point of the exercise if every punch was to be pulled just as it was about to make contact? Barr is what we knew him to be, a crisis manager brought in at the key moment. Someone like him was an inevitability. But what, now, can we say Mueller is, or what kind of responsibility-fearer did he become through this process? Jaworsky is said to have been shocked into recognition of the scope and scale of his duty by contact with the evidence. Was there some such inflection point when Mueller found instead that he lacked the nerve, or couldn’t bear the prospect of apostasy? If it all ends up being taken for a whitewash, he’ll be to blame too, not just Barr.

    • Rayne says:

      Welcome to emptywheel. Please avoid long, continuous blocks of text. It’s the visual equivalent of rambling without taking a breath, very difficult to read on smaller mobile device screens.

      Mueller felt an overlong investigation, drawn out by fights over more information, would interfere with Congress’s ability to check the executive office. I suspect now this is why the SCO’s work ended as it did, and the appropriate next step is for the House to investigate the hell out of whatever was left hanging and then proceed toward impeachment.

      • Badger Robert says:

        Mueller had the advantage with respect to investigating digital information, because he has the IT experts. The remaining investigation is more dependent on witnesses and documents. Congress can handle those things. So the cost of continuing for Mueller, was not worth the marginal benefit of the SCO doing something that Congress could do.
        Imagine what would have happened if the Dems had not found 235 honest districts?

        • Rayne says:

          Did you notice the insufficiency of financial information like tax returns? Had SCO gone after them the investigation would have dragged out yet another year AND we’d still be right here, with an unindicted executive because of DOJ rules.

          The investigation ended when it did so the House can begin immediately on its investigative work AND impeach as quickly as possible.

          Our task is to hang the looming intransigence of the GOP Senate to remove Trump right around their necks before voters go to the polls in 2020. This has been in sight since Comey was fired and we the public did little in 2018 to prepare for it.

      • Jeffrey Samuel says:

        I am talking about self-undermining decisions made during the investigation, not the decision to end it.

        William Freedland quotes a big one in the Guardian this morning: the SCO decided not to take an approach that could potentially lead to a judgment that the President committed crimes. Breathtaking, as Freedland says.

        I’m for impeachment and I certainly don’t think the Dems should attack the report or Mueller. The report is packed with ammunition for them to use.

        But the weak bottom lines really are there, and they were determined to a shocking (to me, at least) extent by methodological decisions protective of the Trumps. It’s hard not to be dismayed by this.

        • Rayne says:

          What would be the point in applying a standard to an investigation aiming for an indictment when an indictment was ruled out by DOJ policy? It would be to prepare a case to hand off to Congress for hearings leading to impeachment+indictment+removal.

          One thing that has ticked away at the back of my mind as this investigation has crunched on: what if SCO found a clear-and-present danger now buried in that black ink which could only be addressed if Congress got to it sooner rather than later? Like Kushner selling nuclear technology without Congress’ express consent? Would you dick around and focus on threading the indictment needle or get it handed off ASAP? What if Barr’s appearance of partisanship including the protracted handoff yesterday was intended to smoothly transport the orange wanker out of DC and closer to his golf course before the worst part of report’s interpretation hit media, preventing a nasty narcissistic meltdown where it could have done danger to the country?

          • Jeffrey Samuel says:

            A judgment that the president committed crimes is not an indictment. The report could have said there was a prosecutable case (it comes close to actually doing so on obstruction) but the SC was not recommending the filing of charges in light of existing DOJ policy. We would be in a very different political situation now had the report said this.

            • Rayne says:

              Ri-ight. So Jerry Nadler would have filed that subpoena earlier than this morning. And Steny Hoyer would have kept his entitled old white man’s mouth shut yesterday.


              • Jeffrey Samuel says:

                Hey, be nice! You wouldn’t shake your head at me in real life, I bet.

                Anyway, Hoyer is like Biden: Centrism is his identity and he’ll move as the center moves.
                Something similar is true of people who are not centrists, too. Overton window and all.

                If the report had had straightforward conclusions of criminality, Barr would have had little to work with and the headlines would have been different. Warren and the progressive freshmen would have had more company. The Dem rank and file would have been more energized. And so on.

                The report release should have been a bigger moment, given the facts it contains. I’ll bet some of Mueller’s attorneys are muttering curses in their beer.

                I support optimism. I’m always telling my D coworkers to stop saying Trump is bound to be reelected. Doesn’t mean I can’t be disappointed in a government lawyer like myself when he loses his nerve and can’t say what the situation objectively warrants him in saying.

                • bmaz says:

                  The funny thing is, I think the Report does kind of say that, just in a rather oblique way. I am inclined to think Mueller and his crew were cognizant of, and a little cowed by, Trump’s relentless “18 Angry Democrats” bullshit. So, they were very conservative in fashioning the Report. And after doing so, Trump is still raining that crap at them. They should have been more blunt, as I think you are saying.

  40. Willis Warren says:

    At the very least, Mueller lays out a narrative where Trump obstructed justice so the SCO wouldn’t find out about multiple OTHER crimes.

    You seriously have to be an idiot to claim this is good for Trump.

  41. Rita says:

    Barr’s press conference and his other summaries of the Mueller Report were so blatantly misleading that they have become part of the narrative. And suggest that Trump continues to direct an obstruction campaign.

    Barr’s excuse for Trump’s obstruction was that Trump was frustrated because the investigation had started even before he was inaugurated. Excuse me, Mr. Barr, we are talking about an investigation into Russian interference in our elections. Trump impedes a serious investigation because he is a petulant child? This was supposed to be a defense of Trump?

  42. James says:

    Yesterday afternoon Laura wrote:

    some may believe this to be a trivial point but here goes – I feel strongly the tv newscasters and radio broadcasters should say the actual profane words uttered by the president and his minions – the American people need to have the jarring words ring in their ears. As a friend said to me – “so true. It started with shielding the public from grab them by their pussy. If our privileged white sisters had to hear that time and again….. maybe just maybe they would have “heard” it.”

    That will not happen under the regulations of the FCC, as amply demonstrated by George Carlin and Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction.”

    Doing that would be breaking the law, and every incident of that broadcast would wind up with stations getting letters (which they are required to keep on file) from people offended by broadcasting the words (not the person who said them), and letters to the FCC resulting in investigations, fines, and possible loss of licenses.

    • Rayne says:

      It wouldn’t get aired before we even got to the FCC’s obscenity code. Far too many TV and radio stations are owned by the same couple of right-wing corporations like Sinclair.

      • Rugger9 says:

        Sinclair is a problem. John Oliver did a segment on them a while back, and they have a habit of forcing “must run” segments with Boris Epshteyn spouting conspiracy theory BS pretty much weekly.

    • Strawberry Fields says:

      I hope people aren’t that dumb that they cant fill in the censored word. Not sure the the point of saying the expletive nor how that would be shocking, if the newscasters are saying it, it will just normalize the word, and make it less shocking.

  43. oldoildieldhand says:

    Thank you Marcy! Fabulous insight and evaluation, as usual. By the way, I really enjoyed your appearance on All In with Chris Hayes. It is heartening to see your analysis and erudition getting the prime time recognition it so richly deserves. Sending thanks to Chris Hayes and a suggestion to Ari Melber that he replace Butcher Bill Kristol with someone of your esteemed capabilities. We have seen enough Republican apologists, it’s time for real analysis.

  44. Willis Warren says:

    This is so damning:

    Other evidence, however, indicates that the President wanted to protect himself from an
    investigation into his campaign. The day after learning about the FBI’s interview of Flynn, the
    President had a one-on-one dinner with Comey, against the advice of senior aides, and told Comey
    he needed Comey’s “loyalty.” When the President later asked Comey for a second time to make
    public that he was not under investigation, he brought up loyalty again, saying “Because I have
    been very loyal to you, very loyal, we had that thing, you know.” After the President learned of
    Sessions’s recusal from the Russia investigation, the President was furious and said he wanted an
    Attorney General who would protect him the way he perceived Robert Kennedy and Eric Holder
    to have protected their presidents. The President also said he wanted to be able to tell his Attorney
    General “who to investigate.”

  45. bmaz says:

    FYI Announcement: For any that want to find me on Twitter, I changed the new account name from ShitSquare to @DiceyJustice seemed necessary now that it is no longer a joke account.

  46. Philip Rhodes says:

    I wouldn’t put it past William P. to adhere (without verbalizing it) to the highest possible ‘bar(r)’ to an indictment of Trump – i.e. how could any prosecutor claim an 85% or higher chance of conviction given that any jury (at least outside of D.C.) with probability > 0.99 would contain one or more die-hard Trump supporters that would never vote to convict Trump on any charge regardless of the amount of evidence!

  47. Tom says:

    Thinking about the international ramifications of the Mueller report, I’m sure its pages are being carefully reviewed in the halls of the Kremlin, in Peking, Pyongyang, and other foreign capitals. The report shows a President who collapses (I’m fucked!”) when facing a serious threat; looks for quick and dirty solutions–such as firing James Comey–to difficult situations without thinking through the next likely step, i.e., that the Russian investigation would continue undeterred under the SCO; and reacts impulsively on his own instinct for survival rather than relying on a team of experienced and sober-minded advisors to help him develop a coherent plan of action. The report also shows how often the President was saved from his own worst instincts by Don McGahn and others around him.

    To be sure, this will not likely be news to Putin and America’s other adversaries on the foreign stage, but it may embolden them to pressure this President more aggressively in the coming months. North Korea has claimed to be carrying out tests on “new weapons” and Kim Jong-un announced earlier this week that the next summit meeting with Trump will have to be on his terms. It will be interesting to see how the President responds to Russia’s interference in the 2020 campaign. Will he still maintain he has doubts that Russia is responsible? Does Putin still hold leverage over the President?

    • Eureka says:

      Important points, Tom. Glad you chose to telescope out. Commenters’ different foci make this a rich place.

    • bmaz says:

      Second Eureka, these are good points and questions. Sure the world kind of already knew this, but the Mueller Report really does bake it in.

    • Tom Marney says:

      I’ll take it a step further. The President’s most important duty is one that the founding fathers couldn’t have foreseen: commanding the nation’s armed forces when we’re facing a nuclear threat that’s imminent or underway. We saw during the 2017 North Korean crisis that Trump would was inclined to issue orders that the military would refuse to carry out because they were imprudent, illegal, or both. The Mueller report makes it clear that such imprudence is Trump’s modus operandi, even when he has plenty of time to think things out and even when his presidency is at stake. Fortunately, the Korean crisis wasn’t so fast-paced that there wasn’t time to explain to Trump why he shouldn’t issue foolish orders, but our future enemies might not always be so accommodating.

  48. orionATL says:

    re eureka 04/19@01:09am

    in Wisconsin and michigan I am reasonably confident Republican votes were added as needed: votes were actually added:

    Republican votes in 2016 in Wisconsin were 1405 284. trump’s margin was ~22750.

    22750÷1405000 = .0162 or 16 in every 1000 votes would have needed to be changed.

    if done at all, this would have been done in selected counties and so would have been bunched up. it’s a bit more complicated than this but this gives magnitude of needed “changes”.

    there was also a matter of newly enacted ID requirements that locked out 300,000 voters, likely many democratic voters as occurred in Florida in 2000, but in another “wooden headed” analysis politifact focuses on a the narrow twitter claim and downplays to trivia the wider issue in front of their long, twisted nose:

    Michigan was a more populous state with 2279543 Republican votes and 2268829 dem votes yielding a difference of ~10 700 votes, a much closer contest:

    10700÷2280000 = .0047 or about 5 votes in every 1000, a very, very doable cheat.

    as I recall jill Stein’s requested recounts were rejected in both states on legal grounds.

    • orionATL says:


      with regard to wisconsin my “as I recall” is not reliable (from wikipedia):

      On November 25, 2016, with 90 minutes remaining on the deadline to petition for a recount to the state’s electoral body, Jill Stein, 2016 presidential candidate of the Green Party of the United States, filed for a recount of the election results in Wisconsin. She signaled she intended to file for similar recounts in the subsequent days in the states of Michigan and Pennsylvania.[22] On November 26, the Clinton campaign announced that they were joining the recount effort in Wisconsin.[23]

      The final result of the recount confirmed Trump’s victory in Wisconsin, where he gained a net 131 votes.[24] Trump gained 837 additional votes, while Clinton gained 706 additional voter…”

      • orionATL says:

        Wisconsin has 71 counties. 22750+ Republican votes spread over 71 counties would be 320+ votes added per county if done equally which I think a highly unlikely event. bigger vote counties would be wiser targets. there one would need merely to add a few for likely precincts. I suspect rayne has a really good handle on how this game is played.

        • viget says:

          The other possibility is that you don’t need to add votes, you just take them away from Clinton. Making sure there are enough viable 3rd party candidates make the covert influence operation all the more powerful, as it’s very difficult to detect (many possible 3rd party options, no reliable historical data)

          Stein did a good job of that. And then we have *no* handle of how many votes were lost to write-in Sanders. Full disclosure: I did that, but it was not in a battleground state, and this state was going to go 100% Trump anyway, so I figured it didn’t matter much. But looking back, I fell into the Russian propaganda trap hook, line, and sinker.

          I think Wisconsin was likely not hacked. Michigan is questionable and PA, I am very concerned might have been.

          • P J Evans says:

            Wisconsin might not have been hacked, but the word could have been passed to that one county clerk with the poor work habits that problems with her county would be overlooked. I suspect that the propaganda was enough, for many voters.

          • orionATL says:


            these are important additions to get a handle on what hapoened. they add opportunities and sosphistication. the numbers above just delineate the magnitude of the “opportunity” :)

            one should not even whisper this suspicon, let alone write it, but I do not see why senator Sanders should remain free of suspicion for some connection, however indirect, however merely implied, possibly european, to a Russian welcome. with or without his understanding, the Russians certainly used his candidacy against clinton on facebook.

            • Eureka says:

              orion, I just made a ~’Bernie in 2019′ comment above that harkens back, one might say, to 2016 underpinnings.

        • Rayne says:

          In MI the win margin was roughly 10K votes which worked out to 2 votes per precinct. MI also had a record undervote of 80K — no vote at top of ticket but votes down ballot. We had problems with broken machines in predictable locations — Detroit, in particular. What stands out is that undervote, especially considering Sanders’ primary performance here. My guess is a month’s long social media effort targeting swing voters most likely to dislike Clinton. There wouldn’t have been too much they needed to do in Detroit because the MIGOP had helped starve it of resources under GOP-majority state legislature and a GOP governor. I don’t know how turnout was in Flint but you can imagine it was likely lower than in 2012 due to urban flight.

          WI was very different and would be more difficult to diagnose because the state’s voter ID was jacked around in the courts during summer of 2016:

          [6] Wisconsin enacted in 2011 a strict photo voter ID law. It has been implemented, even as legal challenges have proceeded through the courts. In July 2016 a federal court ruled that the law was unconstitutional, and that an alternative to showing an ID, such as signing an affidavit attesting to identity, must be permitted. Then in August 2016 an appeals court ruled that the law could be implemented as long as the state keeps its pledge to provide temporary free IDs to those in need, and to publicize the law. Until the state says otherwise, NCSL will leave Wisconsin in the “strict photo voter ID” category. [source: National Conference of State Legislatures]

          Voter ID alone could have caused enough damage in WI particularly in blue-voting areas like Madison, already heavily affected 2008-2012 by foreclosure crisis.

          But the numbers during recount attempt didn’t make sense. I haven’t spent more time on WI, worth looking more closely at the problems. And then ask why this month’s special election for a state supreme court justice was 6K votes shy for Dems — what’s the problem with turnout? Lingering suppression? Poor GOTV? Other?

          • orionATL says:

            thanks, ryne.

            this adds a lot more useful complexity and understanding to the problem. I, and I’m sure others, don’t want to be crying over dastardly deeds never done, but I read recently a summary article covering the nation over several years and discussing some millions of voters, many with lower incomes and poor transportation, who have been affected, if not actually disenfranchised, by Republican demands for ids. this is most definitely calculated voter suppression engineered by Republican legislators rather than ernest regard for fairness and getting rid of impactful fraud.

            georgia, with it’s long history of black civil rights repression thru violence, has turned to the law as a optically better way to suppress. one of the nation’s first and most stringent voter Id laws was put in place by then sec of state Karen handle in 2006 following republican takeover of the legislature in 2005. handle was subsequently the victor over Jon ossoff in the 2017 election to replace trump’s sec of state-to-be tom price. handle was kicked out of Congress this last November by Democrat Lucy mcbath.

            • P J Evans says:

              IIRC, all the people that “voter ID” was put in place to catch have turned out to be GOP-T voters, and white. Voter fraud is very, very rare. Voting fraud – like that in NC last fall – is more common, and ID doesn’t fix that problem at all. Nor does taking away early voting and Sunday voting, shorter voting hours, or fewer polling places, all of which are how the GOP-T has limited voting by everyone not like them.

              • orionATL says:

                good points all, but as we understand, it is not really fraud the republican legislators and judges are going after. “fraud” is the aegis under which subduing voting is pursued – voting by the wrong kinds of people, politically bullying those people to not vote, knowing that they typically do not fight back.

                making voting as difficult as possible in all possible ways is the name of the game when your side has many fewer players and the game scores are often very close.

          • Tech Support says:


            “My guess is a month’s long social media effort targeting swing voters most likely to dislike Clinton.”

            I don’t want to dismiss the notion that vote tallies could have been altered out of hand. However knowing that the Russians had access to:

            1. Cambridge Analytica data on Facebook users
            2. Trump polling data
            3. DNC polling data

            means that the IRA had access to an incredibly high-resolution picture of the electorate not just in swing states, but individual districts and zip codes. Take that information and feed it into Facebook’s (and by extension Instagram’s) ad-targeting apparatus, and you can see a much easier path to manipulating an outcome than trying to go at the votes themselves.

            • Rayne says:

              I’m now at overload, can’t recall where I read that Facebook ads weren’t used for microtargeting. But I suspect that other forms of messaging were manipulated — like fake news outlets pushed into Facebook feeds, fake accounts doing the pushing, alternate entity ad buys that weren’t from Trump org. IIRC, there may have been some coordination of NRA ad buys with other campaign ad buys; this has not been studied appropriately, nor has how other political ad buys may have fit hand-in-glove with fake news outlet content to heighten microtargeted audience fears of Clinton.

    • Eureka says:

      In my view, PA was at least a quad-cane effort, where the parts interacted to produce higher-order results: local county ratfuckeries (which I don’t recall writing up here in detail, so may jot something later), campaign propaganda (freely spread by MSM), RW-RU media coordination, and IRA trollery.

      I wrote at length about some of the worst campaign propaganda and vote suppression efforts, with some notes on RW-RU media interaction, and cites in replies, here:

      Trump rallies, Rudy relentlessly on the teevee, all the bad sheriffs and white supremacists and Roger Stone (now that this all rushes back, I think some other content/cites are at another comment link. It’s been a long week, je suis fatigue).

      The Gen-X of cities, nobody gives a shit about Philadelphia (ask any Philly sports fan); the fact that they used it as a national talking point should have been our first clue to outright electoral chicanery on an international scale (as opposed to simple racism).

      PA was both used for and hit by IRA trollery (one set of PA rallies cited in MR, pdf 39); lots of working groups cover the IRA content. One, the NewKnowledge whitepaper ~’Tactics & Tropes of the IRA,’ addresses how they used the rigged polls/voter fraud crap to got(RW)v generally. i.e. using the Philadelphia meme elsewhere to scare racists into voting.


      As to the *other IRA report produced for SSCI in December along with the NewKnowledge one, it would be interesting to rework their data on “swing states” reduced from the broader category they used, to the narrower category Manafort used. I imagine lots of outfits are working on that now…


  49. Kick the darkness says:

    I thought Politico’s piece soliciting legal feedback on the Mueller report has some interesting takes ( I would be interested in hearing what some of the legal people here think of the following, coming from a guy named Rick Pildes, who writes:

    The obstruction analysis begins with a statement of four principles… most consequential of these… “We determined not to apply an approach that could potentially result in a judgment that the president committed crimes” (emphasis added)… what was the point of the obstruction phase….to “preserve the evidence when memories were fresh and documentary materials available.”… the report assessed whether each event….could be considered obstructive…leave(ing) the impression that the special counsel evaluated each event and concluded that one could argue either way about whether it could be part of an obstruction crime. There is a large difference between saying (1) it is not our role, it is only for Congress to decide whether a crime has been committed, and (2) we are indeed evaluating the merits and we conclude the case could go either way.”

    In other words, at least as I read it, in trying to lay out a road map for impeachment Mueller was also constrained in a way that could be viewed as equivocating, thereby potentially making the rationale for impeachment more difficult to make. So it would be interesting to hear any takes on that. I suppose one counter is that in a Rattlers vs Eagles political world impeachment was always going to lead to all out warfare anyway.

  50. Ed Walker says:

    Maybe Pelosi would agree to appoint a committee to look into the allegations of the Mueller Report Unredacted. She could put a bunch of those moderates and neolibs who think they are electorally safe on it. They could conduct regular hearings and weaken the President with steady disclosures and reminders and data about the actions of the Russians (and maybe Israelis and Saudis and others). They could claim to be working on a report on impeachment, but immediately start reporting out legislation based on the findings. A steady stream of current and former administration figures being publicly examined would counteract the baying by Trump of his complete exoneration.

    • orionATL says:

      is this angry cynicism all you got, ed?

      how about a committee evenly split between the neolibs and centrist on the one hand and a bunch of inane donkeys braying about “Capitalism” on the other, abstract concepts that most voters, if they understand them at all, understand them as dog whistles like “socialism”.

      the term “capitalists”, like “socialists”, is a word with a long negative connotation in this country. both are of European origin and equally as useless and troublesome to this new world nation as are old world Catholicism and old world judaism. maybe we will have a 2020 election with Republicans propagandists on one side of the creek screaming socialists and dem propagandists on the other side screaming capitalists. very educational.

      in the meantime the portion of our society and economy easily and concretely identified to and by voters as corporations, corporate executives/boards, or the hyperrich made so by corporations, have acquired excessive political and judicial power damaging to our economy, most importantly to wages and income, which are essential to citizen political good judgement and political stability, and to regulation, essential to protect the commons in a complex modern society.

  51. Jockobadger says:

    I just re-read the Oct., 2018 New Yorker piece Enigma Machines re: alleged comms between the Trump Org, the DeVos crew and Alfa Bank in the RF. I’ve skimmed through the Mueller Report and searched it using the search function (thanks Marcy!) and I haven’t found any mention of it yet. Has anyone seen it mentioned? Whatever was going on wrt that weird DNS traffic, it sure seems suspicious. I bet it has something to do with shady $, but that’s just a wag of course. It’s a great article. Please don’t punish me for the Rank Speculation, bmaz.
    Keep up the great work EW and all of you. Many thanks.

    • Jockobadger says:

      Did some more looking and found this bit in Vol I, pg. 147. Petr Aven heads up Alfa Bank in the RF, though he spends most of his time in London.

      Aven told Putin he would take steps to protect himself and the Alfa-Bank shareholders from potential sanctions, and one of those steps would be to try to reach out to the incoming Administration to establish a line of communication

      Maybe this is how/where the real quid pro quo deal was made? Alfa Bank pinging the Trump Org could have been backchannel comms traffic using something like foldering to discuss sanctions relief, etc. Once the watered-down NYT piece on Alfa Bank was published, the Trump Org end of this two-way channel vanished.

      Also, Vol. I, on pg. 149 there is a para that is almost entirely redacted except for the final sentence which reads:

      wrote to Dmitriev, “Putin has won.”

      Hmm. Sounds a bit conspiracy theory-ish I know, but there’s something extra fishy here (in this gigantic pile of fish offal.) Curious I am.

      • Savage Librarian says:

        Me too, I confess. Been trying to piece it together. And there is also the weird connection to Rudy and his hospital administrator girlfriend in New England where there are vast amounts of data pinging around. Don’t tell bmaz this, but sometimes I wonder if Kushner was trying to extend the Alfa connection to Kislyak’s office when there was all that talk about back channels. Uh-oh, gotta go. I think I hear bmaz coming ;-)

  52. Bradley L Mayer says:

    Congress can impeach a President on non-criminal charges such as collusion with a foreign power. However the Democrats have made it abundantly clear that they have no intention of impeachment of a manifestly unfit character. Hence the entire RussiaGate effort is nothing but a stream of empty words, white noise taking up precious political bandwidth. Its net effect will be to assist in the reelection of Donald Trump in 2020. Indeed RussiaGate can be re-spun as The Committee to Reelect the President 2020.

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please be sure to use the same username each time you comment so that community members get to know you. Thanks. /~Rayne]

  53. orionATL says:

    tech support 4/19@ 4:43 pm

    read the remarkable Ted talk by Carol cadwsldr, reporter for the observer and the guardian. it was cited I’ve forgotten where in comments from harpie (i think) these last few posts . it is about the effects on political good judgement of ads by the cambridge analytica and Facebook team, ads that mislead the people in her native village and valley in cornwall.

    the key point she made as a reporter is this, disappearing propaganda:
    that the propaganda (there is no other term for it) prepared by the brexit subversives (my choice of terms) headed by nigel farage was read and then disappeared. it could not be traced by reporters like cadwaldr who are able to review print media reporting, videos, movies, and ads. with this ad material appearing in individual Facebook newsbook feeds, only Facebook has a copy of the material and it refuses to release it. this is a frightening, abusive, and subversive use of an apparently benign technology. but when you have folks like the dishonest, intensely competitive Zuckerberg at the helm of a powerful technology you are in a situation not unlike the u.s. is with trump.

    the end result was that those good and simple people in that corner of Wales, having been individually targeted to manipulate their minds, came to believe that leaving the e.u. was a desirable outcome for them. cadwaldr presents physical and social evidence that this is not the case at all, but rather severely misleading brexitv propaganda. trump pals nigel Farage and Aaron banks played key roles in propaganda machine, this as did robert mercer.

    “Brexit was the petrie dish for the intervention in the u.s.”vcomments cadwa ldr.

  54. Rollo says:

    Maybe we should be calling the Mueller report The Exoneration Report, or “ExonRep” for short :)

  55. Digimoi says:

    I know he used the word in conversation, but seeing Rosenstein use “colluding” in a quoted section of the official August 2 scope memo is still disconcerting, especially in the context of the same document as the Mueller quotes in your article.

  56. Sodesuka says:

    I like how Mueller first explains that “did not establish” does NOT mean “no evidence of,” then concludes the very next paragraph by stating he “did not establish” that team Trump coordinated with the Russian government. Playing pitch and catch with the reader, I gather.

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