Three Things: Big Day, Big Top

[NB: Check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

It’s going to be a big day under the big top. Attorney General Bill Barr has planned quite the circus, beginning right now with his so-called press conference. But first, three things, one of which includes hygiene for the day ahead.

~ 3 ~

Let’s face it: it’s Maundy Thursday, the weather in West Palm Beach is supposed to be partly sunny tomorrow and Saturday, and sunny on Easter Sunday. Which means Trump will likely be on Air Force One this afternoon, winging his way to Mar-a-Lago and the promise of golf at one of his courses because that’s about all he can focus on for more than the time it takes to send a tweet.

This is likely why he wants to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to golfer Tiger Woods after winning his latest green jacket at The Masters this past weekend. Trump said,

So shallow and self-centered, recognizing a fellow marital cheat and a golfing buddy, one who designed a Trump-branded golf course in Dubai.

And yet par for this pathetic hole.

~ 2 ~

I don’t write often about Trump-Russia because it’s Marcy’s beat — there’s little she hasn’t scrutinized and picked apart during the course of the Special Counsel’s investigation. But this one thing has stuck in my craw, especially after all the hubbub this past week about Julian Assange’s removal from the Ecuadoran embassy and arrest by Metropolitan Police-UK.

It’s in this email exchange from October 2016, about WikiLeaks’ 10th anniversary when Assange was supposed to have made a big announcement and didn’t. The following

Tuesday, October 4, 2016
FROM: Steve Bannon
TO: Roger Stone
EMAIL:

What was that this morning???

Tuesday, October 4, 2016
FROM: Roger Stone
TO: Steve Bannon
EMAIL:
Fear. Serious security concern. He thinks they are going to kill him and the London police are standing done.

However —a load every week going forward.

Roger stone

Tuesday, October 4, 2016
FROM: Steve Bannon
TO: Roger Stone
EMAIL:

He didn’t cut deal w/ clintons???

Why did former Trump campaign chief executive and former White House adviser Steve Bannon express surprise that Assange hadn’t cut a deal with the Clintons?

Was it a given that Assange would have attempted to extort money from one or both of the Clintons to halt the release of hacked emails?

Why would Bannon in particular have thought this? Was it common knowledge in certain circles that Assange would use blackmail? Or has blackmail been one of the other unaddressed methods by which targets have been compromised and evidence simply hasn’t been shared because it’s classified?

Did Special Counsel’s Office ask any member of the Clinton campaign or Bill Clinton or any Clinton family support staff whether they had been contacted about hacked materials in an attempt to extort money or performance from them?

It seemed like odd hyperbole at the time in early August 2016 that Assange would accuse Hillary Clinton of electoral extortion, claiming she tried to scare the electorate into voting for her. But was it really a form of projection to muddle possible leaks about other extortion attempts? (Yes, the source at that link above is a right-wing outlet, but that’s the point: they carried water for this effort.)

Ecuadoran official said they are investigating whether Assange attempted to blackmail President Moreno. It looks more like a pattern of behavior based on WikiLeaks’ handling of Vault 7 and if Bannon’s email assumed an earlier attempt on the Clintons

~ 1 ~

Okay, I’ll skip a third non-Barr report item because we’re all a little short on patience. If you need something to preoccupy your time you can focus on taking action.

See Celeste_pewter’s Twitter thread for calls you can make, or check her TinyLetter site; once again she’s done the heavy lifting and prepared scripts for you.

She’s also laid out the anticipated schedule today for AG Barr’s three-ring circus:

9:30 AM: Barr and Rosenstein will hold a press conference on Mueller report

(Mueller not in attendance)

10:30 AM (approx): Trump will issue a rebuttal

11:00 – 12:00 PM: DOJ will provide hard copies of the report to Congress

TBD: Trump MAY give a press conference at this point

2:00 PM (approximate): Report posted on special counsel website (https://www.justice.gov/sco)

I’m setting up a list in my Twitter account to follow folks for analysis and feedback on the Trump-Russia investigation including today’s Barr report.

(And yes, I’m calling it the ‘Barr report’ because the method of its reception will have been substantially shaped by Barr.)

~ 0 ~

Lastly, the matter of hygiene: this site will be busy. Trolling may be heavy depending on what’s visible in the report and what is pointed out by Marcy in particular. If the site bogs down, please be patient.

If necessary, reach one of us via Twitter though you may not get an immediate response because we’re going to be busy.

Moderation will be firm and aggressive. We don’t have time for temper tantrums, trolling, or for internecine squabbles.

Keep all off topic discussion to this thread; if it gets too deep, like more than 200 comments, I will open a new thread for off topic material. Posts Marcy opens related to the report should remain on topic.

This is going to be a long day. Pace yourselves. Drink water regularly. Take a break from social media when you’re getting worked up. Digest this pile of elephant one bite at a time.

We have plenty of time after the circus’s acts have finished to sweep up and dig through the animal poo they leave behind.

This is an open thread.

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59 replies
  1. Rayne says:

    I hate it when I miss an open HTML tag. I don’t like Twitter’s new embed tool, adds too much extra crap making it easy to clip a tag. Not a good start for this particular day.

    Listening to the report via NPR. What a crock of shit.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Yep. Or book it as a campaign contribution. He did not provide legal services as the Attorney General.

      Nicolle Wallace is livid, other commentators are openly disbelieving everything Barr said.

  2. Jockobadger says:

    Embargo time.

    While we wait, Barr is doubtless scuttling back to the WH to kiss tr*mp’s you know what with grima. I’m w/Norskie – we are so f-cked. JHFC

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Good 5-point summary from Ari Melber. Two of them: Barr and Mueller obviously disagreed strenuously on matters of “policy,” which Barr admitted for some reason, presumably to get ahead of what will be in the unredacted report. It would also be one reason Mueller’s not there. (So why is Rosenstein?) Barr’s response to the latter was that Mueller worked for him, it’s Barr’s report, is arrogant, king-of-the-hill schoolyard bullshit.

    Barr’s “the president was justifiably angry defense” doesn’t hold water. In fact, it’s a zinger. If it were a valid defense to a criminal prosecution, or if it precluded a finding of intent, imagine the violent crimes that could never be prosecuted. For starters, who could prosecute spousal and family abuse, murder, oh, hate crimes?

    Barr has established the case for Congress to conduct an impeachment inquiry on him. Democrats, please wake the fuck up. You are in uncharted constitutional waters. Because you ordinarily fish for tuna does not allow you to ignore the great white whale about to ram you broadside.

  4. Bri2k says:

    “And yet par for this pathetic hole.”

    Absolutely brilliant! Writing like this is the main reason I come here.

    Thank you for making the pain a bit easier to take.

  5. Oldguy says:

    At least Barr put out the theory he and the President’s lawyers are using:

    1) Since obstruction culpability is based on state of mind, Trump is not guilty because he was pissed, feeling he was unjustly accused.
    2) He fell he was unjustly accused because his flunkies were too stupid to conspire and he himself had no idea what he was doing.
    3) Anyone who questions these two statements is a boogerbrain.

    • P J Evans says:

      Point 1 would also seem to apply to Barr himself. Too bad that it isn’t how the law actually works.

  6. jaango says:

    The Latino Perspective, has already spoken, and is calling for a tad of Truth-Telling, in that today’s announcement is in addressing, “The President’s Report on White Collar Crime.”

    Therefore, upgrading the Muller Report, and placed into the political arena, opens the door for a “Get Out of Jail” free card. Consequently, the Latino Perspective’s of an “infallible democracy” has been diminished due to the ongoing ‘disasters’ that defines this, today’s Democracy. Perhaps, the Indigenous notion of the “natural” Democracy should be given a ‘second’ look?

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Marcy points out that the WH has had some version of Mueller’s report since March 29th. That left Barr little time to redact more than the title or a few inconsequential items. There have been many public denials to the contrary.

    Trump, his lawyers and damage control experts have had just shy of three weeks to craft defenses and rebuttals, prepare a pattern of news releases and talking points, and schedule how to bleed out the news that will inevitably become public. Given the games Barr has played and still plays with denying Congress access to various items in the report, I find that timing reprehensible.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    MSM commentators saying that this behavior from Bill Barr takes away from his long career of public service have not been paying attention. Barr made his bones with Poppy Bush doing exactly this sort of thing.

    • Jockobadger says:

      Yep Rayne, I’m heading home early, grabbing the MR and a bottle, and settling in for a long afternoon of getting even more po’ed and frustrated than I am now. Maundering into the blear as night falls on a fucked up day.

  9. Badger Robert says:

    Barr is defending the President to keep the President tottering near sanity for awhile longer.
    Barr states the unredacted report will never get out: so he is challenging Congress and Mueller to go around that. He is threatening both Congress and Mueller, but I doubt the threat will succeed. With the republic in peril, someone will take a risk.

  10. Badger Robert says:

    Barr’s performance is an indication that Trump is unhinged. Why mention anger unless there are full fledged screaming fits?

    • Geoff says:

      The anger is to signal his righteousness. How dare they? An innocent man? Their LEADER!!! Etc etc. I mean, who WOULDNT be angry at such an unjust situation. It all plays into the spying on the candidate theme. It’s part and parcel. Remember, they have had three weeks to get this PR stunt together.

      They know that when some part of this report gets out, it is going to look bad, so they have to spin it to make it reasonable that Trump would “obstruct” the investigation, ya know, accidentally, because look, you guys made him so mad he couldn’t think straight.

    • Rayne says:

      Yes — not unhappy, or discouraged, or disheartened, displeased, dejected, let down, so on. He spoke about anger. Not good.

        • Rayne says:

          That might be a bit broad. Or maybe we just haven’t seen him use the nuclear football while in the middle of a narcissistic meltdown — yet.

          • Badger Robert says:

            Iran, asylum concentration camps, secret links to alt-Right gun stockpilers. Private police forces. Barr knows more than he states. If he is willing to go this far, what is worse that he is not speaking about?

      • LeeNLP says:

        On the other hand, Trump doesn’t really display a normal range of emotions. Just anger (mostly with the fact there are other wills than his own in the world), paranoia, revenge and enjoyment of dominating others. Also undoubtedly true fear, although that just makes him madder.

        • Concinnity says:

          Yes, like a true narcissist, he cannot feel pleasure, he never laughs or smiles unless it is ‘in victory’

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      For someone already held as the leader of the righteous, anger is righteous and expected. After the Fall, all the world is corrupt except for the Saved, so righteous anger is a sign of the righteous, to the righteous that their cause is just and that only they are saved. The circularity would be funny, if its implications were not so dire.

  11. Rita says:

    So we now have the newest Barr Summary of the Redacted Mueller Report. This after Barr told Congress no more summaries.

    At least Barr didn’t try to hide the fact that Trump impeded the Russian investigations, in part, because he is a 10 year old who can’t control his emotions.

  12. Jenny says:

    A primal scream might be appropriate right now or a glass of wine.
    Barr’s personal comments about Trump inappropriate. Playing his violin for Trump. He was annoyed when called out about it by CBS Paula Reid.
    What caught my attention was Rosenstein’s deadpan face.
    WH probably celebrating with cheeseburgers, diet coke and 2 scoops of ice cream.
    More to be revealed …

    • Sandwichman says:

      Watch Rosenstein through the whole presser. A hostage to the conflict of own participation in the obstruction (Comey memo) and decision. He needs to be subpoenaed and grilled about his state of mind when he talked about wearing a wire and invoking the 25th amendment.

      • Badger Robert says:

        Rosenstein is caught. Barr does not want to be flying alone, because the plane has no engine speed left and is gliding to earth.

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    “[T]he Special Counsel’s report did not find that any person associated with the Trump campaign illegally participated in the dissemination of the materials.”

    As usual, Barr gives himself a few outs. He focused on dissemination of stolen information by those who did not steal it. That is frequently not a crime, especially if there’s a First Amendment defense.

    Even so, Barr limited the universe of people to Trump campaign staff. That leaves out a host of hangers on – working for “free” or being paid by others – who were working flat out to elect Trump, such as Roger Stone and, for a lot of the time, Paul Manafort. And it leaves out whether they did something unlawful other than disseminate already stolen information.

  14. punaise says:

    No need to edit Karn Evil 9 by ELP:

    Welcome back my friends
    To the show that never ends
    We’re so glad you could attend
    Step inside, step inside

  15. Savage Librarian says:

    Thanks for this, Rayne. Greatly appreciated, especially the Bannon, Stone, Assange problem solving suggestion.

  16. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The report is damning with regard to Russian interference to help Trump in 2016, contra Trump’s repeated view that no such thing occurred. That’s not a matter of opinion: Trump lied about it.

    “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

    It was Bill Barr who described that as “no collusion.” Why it could not establish that is important. Because the investigation was obstructed? In part, it was because it found insufficient evidence of an “agreement” to benefit the Campaign, as opposed to giving each other mutual independent aid without a tacit or express agreement.

    The analogy that comes to mind in antitrust law is when airlines conspire to fix prices indirectly, by constantly comparing published prices for tickets. The conspiracy is disclosed by what happens when an airline breaks ranks. OPEC used to maintain price discipline in a similar way.

  17. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I did not find reference to the appendices in the index to Volumes I or Ii, but it has Apps. A-D.

    App. C includes Trump’s written answers to Mueller’s questions. It took Trump and his lawyers eleven months to tell Mr. Mueller that the president had no memory and no recollection regarding the information sought.

    Mueller says he considered lengthy constitutional litigation to get Trump to testify, in lieu of the insufficient written responses. He concluded that he could “draw relevant factual conclusions on intent and credibility…without direct testimony from the subject of the investigation.” [p. C-2]

    That conclusion is likely to be hotly debated, including whether and how the discussion was weighted by Mr. Barr’s input.

  18. earlofhuntingdon says:

    One would think that the crime of obstruction is not dependent on whether the subject succeeds, but whether he tries to obstruct. Nor does the subject who attempts to obstruct need to have committed the crime the investigation of which he obstructs. The subject might not have committed that crime or any other crime except for the obstruction.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      This discussion on obstruction seems contradictory:

      “[U]nlike cases in which a subject engages in obstruction of justice to cover up a crime, the evidence we obtained did not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference.

      [V. II, p. 7]

      Mueller switches his argument. He starts by say that usually there is a crime and Person A tries to block an investigation into it. Then he switches to there not being an underlying crime (relating to Russian electoral interference) that involved the president.

      The meat of his argument, though, is this: The obstruction statutes do not require that the person who obstructs needs to be involved in the crime whose investigation he obstructs. But that disconnect, “affects the analysis of the President’s intent and requires consideration of other possible motives for his conduct.”

      In other words, as a practical matter, an investigator has a greater burden of proof to show why someone not directly involved in an underlying crime would attempt to obstruct an investigation into that crime. More tenuously, why would someone obstruct an investigation that found no underlying crime?

      The why seems obvious: it’s a longer chain of facts, but it boils down to Fear. The evidence is less obvious. As Mueller notes, the president was consistently and painfully afraid. He was worried that Mueller’s investigation – and Comey’s before that – threatened to impugn the integrity of his election. It threatened to implicate him in disclosures about how his close supporters worked with a foreign power to help him win the White House to further its and their own ends, and that the president was willing to reward those efforts through changing US foreign policy, changes that would allow Russian oligarchs to make billions.

      Mueller had evidence. But he seems to have concluded that he did not have a “slam dunk” case. In my words, weighing that against the awesomeness of the president’s power, the theoretical possibility of innocent motives, and the likelihood of a protracted scorched earth defense, he concluded against an indictment. His conclusion, however, is inseparable from his having accepted the OLC’s position that you cannot indict a sitting president.

      Add to that his implied requests for Congress to step up, and I conclude he thought Congress rather than the courts was the proper place to weigh Trump’s motives and actions. Mr. Barr, however, concluded that the evidence was lacking and that there was no case to answer.

  19. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Contra Barr, Mueller did adhere to the OLC guidelines regarding the DoJ’s inability to indict a siting president:

    “[T]his Office accepted OLC’s legal conclusion for the purpose of exercising prosecutorial discretion. And apart from OLC’s constitutional view, we recognized that a federal criminal accusation against a sitting President would place burdens on the President’s capacity to govern and potentially preempt constitutional processes for addressing presidential misconduct.”

    [Introduction to V II, p. 1, fn. omitted]

    Coming from Mueller, that is an invitation to Congress to impeach.

    He also explicitly recognized that a sitting president could be investigated while president, and could be indicted after he was no longer president. In addition, he might be the subject of congressional investigation.

    • Geoff says:

      This never fails to crack me up in that it is completely and utterly impossible to realistically believe this to be the case against a President who spends half of his time either playing golf (sorry, cheating at golf) or watching Fox News (sorry, Fox propaganda that he produces with Sean.) I mean, it’s really quite amazing that he wouldn’t have time, especially seeing how his response to any indictment would be another 11 months of zigzagging before saying “I don’t recall any of that.” You can’t really burden this guy with anything, since no matter what task you give him, if it isn’t leisure or grift, he isn’t going to do it.

      • Rayne says:

        IMO he’s got oppositional defiance disorder. Somebody told him recently his tweeting was a problem with women as a key voting demographic — instead of slowing or stopping his tweeting, he issued a double-digit number of tweets after that discussion.

        • Tracy Lynn says:

          I had to look this up — at first I thought you were joking. The description on the Johns Hopkins medicine website states “Children with ODD are uncooperative, defiant, and hostile toward peers, parents, teachers, and other authority figures. They are more troubling to others than they are to themselves.” It does sound like Trump’s behavior.

            • Rayne says:

              Clint Watts on MSNBC described how Trump ignored advisers about Russia in March 2017, doing the opposite of what they counseled (“DO NOT CONGRATULATE” comes to mind here). Classic ODD, so easily manipulated.

            • AndTheSlithyToves says:

              “For many children, Oppositional Defiant Disorder does improve over time. Follow up studies have shown that the signs and symptoms of ODD resolve within 3 years in approximately 67% of children diagnosed with the disorder. However, research has also shown that approximately 30% of children with ODD eventually develop conduct disorder. The risk is 3 times greater for children who were initially diagnosed at a very young (e.g., preschool) age. Preschool children with ODD are also likely to exhibit additional disorders several years later, including ADHD, anxiety or mood disorders. Overall, approximately 10% of children diagnosed with ODD will eventually develop a more lasting personality disorder, such as Anti-Social Personality Disorder.”

              So, who’s going to step up and become the adult in the room?

              • Rayne says:

                The man advocated grabbing women by the pussy. Hello, anti-social behavior much?

                His disorders are likely made worse by diet, inadequate exercise, and possible misuse of medication.

                • P J Evans says:

                  If they’d had this diagnosis in the 50s, he’d probably have been getting treatment before he was in grade school. (He’s been a behavioral problem that long, yes – and proud of it, like it’s a good idea to physically attack your teacher when you’re six or seven.)

  20. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Again, Barr took Mueller’s conclusion here out of context.

    Fourth, if we had confidence…that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment. The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

    [V. II, p. 2]

    Another direct invitation to the House to commence an impeachment investigation.

  21. Eureka says:

    Self care: this was on at the grocery store this am, and it pleases me and possibly also Rayne and I hope many more. No sleep for me tho I am loaded with melatonin, so facultatively several shots in. My dog had teef surgery today and he’s fine -whew- tho possibly very pissed at us and I gotta go get him.

    Meanwhile, Midnight angel, won’t you say you will—-

  22. Raven Eye says:

    Happily, the OCR conversion worked on the PDF. I got 1624 occurrences of the work “Trump”, 148 of “tower”, and 199 of “Jr.”.

    Not sure I want to attempt linking to a TOC…

      • Badger Robert says:

        Prince is the threat. Barr is essentially sustaining Cohen. The President is well past the point of restraint. How many lawyers have to quit before we conclude that Trump is a fascist?

      • Raven Eye says:

        132 for “prince” and 17 for “erik”.

        The posted report was a scanned document — so ugly. Not sure if that was from an excess of caution concerning the security of the redactions, or technological laziness.

  23. earlofhuntingdon says:

    As Marcy notes, the report lists 14 cases referred to other offices. Mueller’s work is not over. It is tempting to conclude that Barr helped shut down the formal investigation by diverting it to several different offices. Easier to manage the uncomfortable when there is no central overriding coordinator with a lot of juice. Plus, it would please happy fingers as he twits away the day. Bill knows how to manage his CEO.

  24. Margo Schulter says:

    Rayne, many thanks to you being there and focusing on self-care. I find that reading the Introduction and Executive Summary for Volumes I and II is a very healthy reality-testing exercise. As others have noted, Mueller in fact makes a strong case for obstruction, the applicability of the statutes to the President through action by Congress (i.e. impeachment), and the fact that the “corrupt intent” required for obstruction can include “avoiding financial liability” or “preventing personal embarrassment” (Volume II, p. 8.)

    So Mueller has made a strong statement, and invited Congress to consider the roadmap he has offered them. The trust that enough others will be able to see beyond Barr’s smoke and mirrors is something I find profoundly empowering, as well as a challenging call to action. Many thanks, Rayne, for your connection between the personal and the political on this momentous day!

  25. earlofhuntingdon says:

    On a different note, I’ve read recently of grocery store union workers striking and seen news coverage say something like, “Workers/Union still on strike….”

    If one learns nothing else from reading Howard Zinn (People’s History, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train), it is to challenge received perspective.

    In the grocery store example, it would be just as descriptive and probably more informative to say that “Management continues to stonewall,” or “refuses to compromise,” or “to meet its workers claims half-way.”

  26. Valley girl says:

    Don’t know if anyone is still reading this thread, but it’s the only place I can put this.

    People have been wondering about McConnell’s ties to Russia. I stumbled across the link below while reading the thread in response to one Carole Cadwalladr’s tweets: https://twitter.com/carolecadwalla/status/1118963611806896128

    I am by no means saying that this endorsed by Carole Cadwalladr. I am only explaining how I found the following. I am very wary about Reddit, but I checked this out b/c it looked interesting. I think it’s worth a look. It talks about Mitch’s brother-in-law, Jim Breyer. Has plenty of links.

    https://www.reddit.com/r/RussiaLago/comments/a34y7i/mitch_mcconnells_brotherinlaw_one_of_the/

    I checked out one of the links, and found this:
    How Putin’s oligarchs funneled millions into GOP campaigns
    https://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/commentary/2017/12/15/putins-proxies-helped-funnel-millions-gop-campaigns/

    Certainly some names (McConnell, Oleg Deripaska) terms (e.g. Citizen’s United) will be familiar
    to the EW commentariat

    === In 2015-16, everything changed. Blavatnik’s political contributions soared and made a hard right turn as he pumped $6.35 million into GOP political action committees, with millions of dollars going to top Republican leaders including Sens. Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham.

    In 2017, donations continued, with $41,000 going to both Republican and Democrat candidates, along with $1 million to McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund.====

  27. galljdaj says:

    I’m astounded by you folks! Not one of you has used the brain you were born with, Its not the Russians!
    Its soo Obvious that its China just being China. And. NOT ANYONE ELSE ‘influencing’ elections.
    Look around Our Nation! … .

    The Monkey is causing havoc in ‘Heaven’
    Good nite folks…

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