Bill Barr Risks becoming George Papadopoulos’ Coffee Boy

I’m not a conspiracy theorist. Everything I’ve ever tweeted or — probably, if that’s what you’re referring to, it’s just backed by things I’ve read in the media. George Papadopoulos

First, I testified against both Downer and Mifsud a year ago to help launch Durham’s investigation. Now, the fruit of that accurate testimony is exposing the global nature of the attempt to set up the 2016 campaign and interfere in the democratic process. George Papadopoulos

There has only been one roadmap that clearly identifies what AG Barr and John Durham are investigating abroad, it’s all in my book. George Papadopoulos

In this post, I noted that Attorney General Bill Barr had put himself in the role of an FBI line Agent and flown to Italy not so he could interview Joseph Mifsud — and so obtain information that might be useful in assessing the credibility of his Russian-backed lawyer’s claim that Mifsud actually worked for Western, not Russian, intelligence — but instead to sit in a room and watch a movie, the taped deposition made by Mifsud’s Russian-linked lawyer.

Not only had Barr flown to Italy without obtaining the real ask, a face-to-face interview, but he did so chasing claims that were laundered through one of the frothy right’s stenographers into the mouth of George Papadopoulos for his October 24, 2018 Congressional testimony, provenance so unbelievably sketchy it would be shameful for Rudy Giuliani to chase the conspiracy theory, much less the Attorney General of the United States of America on the taxpayer dime.

As a reminder, to try to help him avoid prison for lying to the FBI, Papadopoulos’ lawyers explained that in 2016, “To say George was out of his depth would be a gross understatement” and described his pursuit of ties to Russia as part of his campaign work as an attempt to, ” be at the center of a globally significant event.” They explained that he “lied, minimized, and omitted material facts” about the Russian investigation, “Out of loyalty to the new president and his desire to be part of the administration.” This is not a man you’d think anyone in government would take seriously.

I think, because Papadopoulos has so little credibility outside of the frothy right, traditional journalists largely ignored the role of Papadoulos and his Congressional testimony until it had already taken hold of the entire frothy right. That’s changing. Vox has a good post on Papadopoulos’ centrality in Bill Barr’s treasure hunt, and NYT tried to debunk the Italian part of it pertaining to Mifsud.

But I’d like to look at one more detail, that makes Papadopoulos’ obvious lack of credibility even more non-existent.

Most of the conspiracy theories he floated in his testimony didn’t even come from his first-hand information. Rather, they’re stuff he read, often from known stenographers for the frothy right, relying on sources that are fairly obviously either close to the President and/or close to Russian and Ukrainian sources who shouldn’t be trusted; where he relied on credible journalists, he misrepresented it. Papadopoulos, then, serves not as witness. Instead, he’s just an empty vessel being used by others to carry a concocted story.

Papadopoulos obtained his beliefs about Joseph Mifsud from the Daily Caller, La Republica, Fox News, and other unsourced reports

One of the few exceptions is that Papadopoulos believes that Alexander Downer recorded the conversation in which Papadopoulos told the Australian that someone had told him Russia had dirt on Hillary they were going to release material on Hillary to help the Trump campaign because Downer holds his phone when he speaks.

You know, at that time, I’m like, Wow, all these, you know, very senior diplomats and people want to just meet this 28-year old young aid who just joined the campaign, I think, or month or so before. But why not, you know. They could send it back to the campaign that I just met with the Australian diplomat. What I’m going to tell you right now is what I remember telling special counsel directly to their face, too. One, I felt like Alexander Downer — first, I felt the meeting was completely controlled. That he was sent to meet me by some entity or some organization, and that he was recorded my conversation with him. And what do I mean by recording my conversation? If I had my phone I would show you of how strange this character was acting. I sat down with him and he pulls his phone out and he starts holding it like this towards me.

Mr. Meadows. Here.

Mr. Papadopoulos. Here, I’ll show you. And I told the special counsel this over a year ago. I’m sitting down within 5 or 6, 7 minutes of meeting this person, I’m talking and he goes like this to me, stone-faced, just holding his phone like this towards me. And I didn’t know what to think except do I tell him Will you stop recording me, or, What are you doing? Because it was just, it just left such an indelible memory of how this individual was acting that I never forgot it, and I felt that he was recording it and the meeting was controlled. So he held his phone up like this.

But Papadopoulos believes that Downer is a spy, not a diplomat, because of something he read (he doesn’t say what).

Mr. Meadows. That’s correct. And so following up on the question from my colleague here about transcripts. Was there any other time that you felt like that you might have been recorded or surveilled in a manner, as you’re looking back on it now? Obviously, at the time, you might not have been aware of it. Is there any time that you said, well, you know, this just doesn’t feel right? Can you share that with the committee?

Mr. Papadopoulos. Certainly, sir, and thank you for your kind words. I was — let’s go to the Alexander Downer meeting, this Australian person, who I’m —

Mr. Meadows. And for the record, this is the Australian diplomat as it has been reported, at least, the Australian diplomat, Mr. Downer.

Mr. Papadopoulos. Mr. Downer, that’s right, who, it’s my understanding, is probably the top diplomat in Australia, or was before he retired. He was the head of what I think is the equivalent of the CIA in Australia for around 17 years. I think that’s what I read about him. Anyway, he’s a very unknown person, this isn’t counselor at the Australian embassy in London, okay. [my emphasis]

As for the source of that information, Papadopoulos told Congress he held two incompatible beliefs, both beliefs he took from something he read. Most critically, the belief that got Bill Barr to fly to Italy — that Mifsud actually works for Western, not Russian, intelligence — Papadopoulos cited to a Daily Caller article which itself relayed claims Mifsud’s Russian-backed lawyer made he had read the day before.

Q Okay. So, and Mifsud, he presented himself as what? Who did he tell you he was?

A So looking back in my memory of this person, this is a mid-50’s person, describes himself as a former diplomat who is connected to the world, essentially. I remember he was even telling me that, you know, the Vietnamese prime minister is a good friend of mine. I mean, you have to understand this is the type of personality he was portraying himself as.

And, you know, I guess I took the bait because, you know, usually somebody who — at least in Washington, when somebody portrays themselves in a specific way and has credentials to back it, you believe them. But that’s how he portrayed himself. And then I can’t remember exactly the next thing that happened until he decided to introduce me to Putin’s fake niece in London, which we later found out is some sort of student. But I could get into those details of how that all started.

Q And what’s your — just to kind of jump way ahead, what’s your current understanding of who Mifsud is?

A My current understanding?

Q Yeah. A You know, I don’t want to espouse conspiracy theories because, you know, it’s horrifying to really think that they might be true, but just yesterday, there was a report in the Daily Caller from his own lawyer that he was working with the FBI when he approached me. And when he was working me, I guess — I don’t know if that’s a fact, and I’m not saying it’s a fact — I’m just relaying what the Daily Caller reported yesterday, with Chuck Ross, and it stated in a categorical fashion that Stephan Roh, who is Joseph Mifsud’s, I believe his President’s counsel, or PR person, said that Mifsud was never a Russian agent.

In fact, he’s a tremendous friend of western intelligence, which makes sense considering I met him at a western spying school in Rome. And all his interactions — this is just me trying to repeat the report, these are not my words — and when he met with me, he was working as some sort of asset of the FBI. I don’t know if that’s true or not. I’m just reporting what my current understanding is of this individual based on reports from journalists.


Q And then at what point did you learn that, you know, he’s not who he said he was?

A Like I said, I don’t have the concrete proof of who this person is. I’m just going with reports. And all I can say is that I believe the day I was, my name was publicly released and Papadopoulos became this person that everyone now knows, Mifsud gave an interview to an Italian newspaper. And in this newspaper, he basically said, I’m not a Russian agent. I’m a Clinton supporter. I’m a Clinton Foundation donor, and that — something along those lines. I mean, don’t quote me exactly, you could look up the article yourself. It is in La Republica. And then all of a sudden, after that, he disappears off the face of the planet, which I always found as odd.


I guess the overwhelming evidence, from what I’ve read, just in reports, nothing classified, of course, because I’m not privy to anything like that, and considering his own lawyer is saying it, Stephan Roh, that Mifsud is a western intelligence source. And, I guess, according to reports yesterday, he was working with the FBI

Meanwhile, Papadopoulos explains away Joseph Mifsud’s mention of Hillary’s emails weeks later to a comment that Andrew Napolitano made on Fox News the day before (not, as he claimed to believe in the same testimony, that it was a big Deep State set-up), even though Papadopoulos believed Mifsud really believed in the emails at the time and didn’t know of the Napolitano link. Papadopoulos also mischaracterizes what he believed about Mifsud at that moment and even later, given his public emails from the time.

A Yeah. So my understanding, my current memory of this meeting was that he invited me to the Andaz Hotel in London by Liverpool Street Station, I guess on April 26, 2016. And at this meeting, he was giddy, you know, like he had something he wanted to get off his chest. And he tells me that the Russians have thousands of Hillary Clinton emails. I never heard the word DNC.


A And I’ve said this on TV, and I’m saying it here, I never heard the words DNC, Podesta, anything like that. I just heard “the Russians have thousands of Hillary Clinton’s emails.” And at that time, and we could look at the records, people were openly speculating about that, too. I think even Judge Napolitano on Fox News, the day before I met with Mifsud on April 25th was openly speculating the same thing. So my impression when he told me this information at the time was he is validating rumors. Because I didn’t feel that I heard something so different, like Democratic National Committee emails, WikiLeaks, I didn’t hear anything like that. So yeah, it was an interesting piece of information, but you know, by that point you have to understand, he had failed to introduce me to anyone of substance in the Russian Government. So he failed to do that, but now all of a sudden he has the keys to the kingdom about a massive potential conspiracy that Russia is involved in. So that was my mindset when he told me this.


Q So to the best of your understanding now, you know, how do you believe Mr. Mifsud would have known about these — you know, the Russians having these Clinton emails?

A My understanding now?

Q Uh-huh. A Well, one —

Q Or at the time or now, but —

A Well — well, one, as I stated, but I don’t want to be exactly quoted, I believe the day before Joseph Mifsud told me about this issue, I believe April 25, 2016, Judge Andrew Napolitano was on Fox News openly speculating that the Russians have Hillary’s emails. I don’t know if that’s true or not. Somebody told me that that’s what happened. I’m not sure. That he might have heard it from there. He might have been telling the truth that he heard it from people in Russia. He might have been working for Western intelligence like the evidence now suggests he was. I don’t know. That’s not my job to figure it out.


A My current memory makes me believe that he was stating it as a fact, and I took it as well.

Q And did you believe him at the time?

A At the time, yeah.

So to sum up the source of Papadopoulos’ congressional testimony regarding his beliefs about his interactions with Mifsud and then Downer, he’s relying on:

  • Excuses relying on a Fox News host
  • A Daily Caller story that relies on a Russian backed lawyer
  • Some other unsourced claim
  • Downer’s posture and mannerisms

Papadopoulos obtained his beliefes about the Stephan Halper meetings from Twitter, NYT, and John Solomon

A similar pattern emerges regarding his interactions with Stephan Halper, the FBI informant sent with a presumed undercover Agent using the name Azra Turk to interview Papadopoulos about how he learned of the Hillary emails. Papadopoulos’ testimony to Congress is that he believes Azra Turk’s name is fake (it almost certainly was) because of something he read on Twitter

So I get there. I get to London. And he introduces — or he does not introduce me to, but I can’t remember exactly how I came into contact with his assistant, this young lady named Azra Turk, which I think is a fake name, by the way. My —

Mr. Meadows. Why do you believe it’s a fake name?

Mr. Papadopoulos. Reading — reading Twitter and people saying that Azra in Turkish means pure and then Turk. So unless she has the name of pure Turk.

He testified he believes Turk asked him about hacking because he read it in the NYT (the NYT actually shows Halper asked about this).

Mr. Papadopoulos. Just who I am, my background in the energy business, because everyone was curious about my background in the energy business in Israel. And that’s another thing we’ll get to about what I think why I had a FISA on me, but I don’t know. She then apparently — I don’t remember it, I’m just reading The New York Times. She starts asking me about hacking. I don’t remember her actually asking me that, I just read it in The New York Times. Nevertheless, she introduces me the next time to Stefan Halper.

Mr. Meadows. She asked you about hacking?

Mr. Papadopoulos. I don’t remember it. I just — I think I read that particular —

Mr. Meadows. You’ve read that?

Mr. Papadopoulos. Yes, that’s what I — I think I read it in The New York Times.

And Papadopoulos believes (correctly) there is a transcript of these conversations and (falsely) that it is exonerating because of what John Solomon wrote days earlier.

Mr. Papadopoulos. I’m sure the transcript exists and you’ve probably read it, so I don’t want to be wrong on exactly what he said. But —

Mr. Meadows. You say a transcript exists. A transcript exists of that conversation?

Mr. Papadopoulos. That’s I guess what John Solomon reported a couple days ago.

Mr. Meadows. So are you aware of a transcript existing? I mean —

Mr. Papadopoulos. I wasn’t aware of a transcript existing personally.

Mr. Meadows. So you have no personal knowledge of it?

Mr. Papadopoulos. I had no personal knowledge, no.

Mr. Meadows. But you think that he could have been recording you is what you’re suggesting?

Mr. Papadopoulos. Yes.

Mr. Meadows. All right. Go ahead.

Mr. Papadopoulos. And after he was throwing these allegations at me, I —

Mr. Meadows. And by allegations, allegations that the Trump campaign was benefiting from Hillary Clinton emails?

Mr. Papadopoulos. Something along those lines, sir. And I think I pushed back and I told him, I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. What you’re talking about is something along the lines of treason. I’m not involved. I don’t know anyone in the campaign who’s involved. And, you know, I really have nothing to do with Russia. That’s — something along those lines is how I think I responded to this person.

As I have noted, if the transcript reflects what Papadopoulos says it does, it shows that he lied about ongoing connections to Russia; he had been planning a secret meeting with Russia for precisely that date during the summer, and would boast of a pro-Russian interview to Mifsud some weeks later (which got him fired from the campaign). Plus, Papadopoulos’ claim an action — optimizing the WikiLeaks releases, which Roger Stone was doing even as Papadopoulos gave this answer — would amount to treason explains why he would lie to the FBI about any knowledge four months later. That is, the transcript, if it says what Papadopoulos says, shows the deceit of a guilty conscience, not exoneration.

Papadopolous cites an article quoting his lawyer saying his arrest was totally legal to claim it was rushed

In addition to citing his beliefs about the Israeli that almost got him charged with being a foreign agent of Israel to a misreading of a WikiLeaks cable, Papadopoulos does this most hysterically in attempting to respond to Mark Meadows’ clear demands that he claim the circumstances of his arrest (and a border search of his briefcase the likes of which happens all the time to brown people who aren’t even being arrested) was improper. At the beginning of a colloquy where Papadopoulos repeatedly stops short of using the inflammatory language Meadows tries to feed him,, the former campaign aide suggests a Politico story suggested a deviation from the norm on arrests.

So everything was done in a very — I had never been arrested before. I didn’t know that was a normal procedure. But reading certain articles about my arrest in Politico and other newspapers, it seems like there was some sort of rush to arrest me and —


Mr. Meadows. So you didn’t say, Why are you arresting me?

Mr. Papadopoulos. The only thing I remember was something along the lines of — and I can’t remember if it was after I had the handcuffs on me that they told me this is what happens when you don’t tell us everything about your Russia contacts. But I don’t remember any formal charges, or them telling me You are under arrest for X, Y or Z. That, I don’t remember at all.

Mr. Meadows. They told you — I guess, they gave your Miranda rights?

Mr. Papadopoulos. I don’t remember that. I don’t remember that. I’m sure there might be the video or a transcript of what was going on. You have to understand, I had just come off a trans-Atlantic flight.

Mr. Meadows. Right.


Mr. Meadows. So that’s your testimony. So they basically take your briefcase and they start searching it? Did they ask you permission to search it?

Mr. Papadopoulos. My memory is that they put me in the room at the airport, did not ask me for any permission whatsoever, and then they began to search through my briefcase in a very, quite violent manner.

Mr. Meadows. By “violent,” what do you mean, just ripping it —

Mr. Papadopoulos. Just opening it, like that, putting their hands and just digging around. That’s, I just didn’t understand what was going on.

Mr. Meadows. And they didn’t indicate what they were looking for?

Mr. Papadopoulos. I don’t remember them indicating anything, no. And I don’t remember them actually formally, I guess, looking through my bag until I — I can’t remember — after we went in a car to another facility where I was processed. It was very strange.

Mr. Meadows. So did they show you a warrant to search those things?

Mr. Papadopoulos. I didn’t —

Mr. Meadows. Did they have a warrant to search your —

Mr. Papadopoulos. I don’t remember any warrant. In fact, the whole situation was very, it seemed very rushed and very chaotic.

Mr. Meadows. So you’re telling me that they searched your personal property without a warrant prior to you coming through Customs?

Mr. Papadopoulos. That’s what I remember, yes, sir.

Here’s the Politico report. While reporting that the arrest was likely done in an attempt to shock Papadopolous, it also cites his own lawyer saying, “What they did was absolutely lawful,” [Thomas] Breen said. “If I had a complaint, you’d know about it. I’ve got a short fuse.”

Mark Meadows allowed Papadopoulos to tell a less damning fairy tale by neglecting to get backup emails from him first

This charade, letting a witness testify to Congress not about what he personally knows, but what he read about himself, often what he read in propaganda outlets relying on sketchy sources, would be bad enough. It was made far, far worse because of a simple fact about the hearing: the Republicans who set it up (and this appears to have been run almost entirely by Mark Meadows) did not, first, demand that Papadopoulos provide the backup documents that would make such questioning even remotely worthwhile.

As a result, Papadopoulos responded to question after question that went to the substance of his sustained interest in working with Russia with vague claims about what he did and did not remember and a offer, instead, to share the emails that might pinpoint what he really knew and did. Over and over, he happens to tell a story that is less damning.

Whether out of forgetfulness or deceit, for example, Papadopoulos foreshortens two things about the campaign: first, the claimed date when the campaign started covering up its ties to Russia, which was July, not May.

Q You said also that you continued to suggest this Trump-Putin summit, but eventually, you found out that the campaign just wasn’t interested. Can you tell me the process by which you came to understand that the campaign wasn’t interested in setting up a Trump-Putin meeting?

A Yes. As I remember it, by the time Manafort took the helm of the campaign, I just emailed him, Are we interested in this or not? I think I forwarded to him an email from Ivan Timofeev where he’s asking for a letter to be signed by the campaign if this is a serious proposal or not, something like that. And I don’t think I ever received a response from Manafort. And you just put two and two together, no one’s interested, so stop it.

He also foreshortens the time he was in contact with Mifsud, which extended even after the election.

Q When was the last time you remember communicating with Professor Misfud?

A Off the top of my memory I think it was the summer of 2016.

Perhaps the most glaring instance of this, however, pertains to whether Walid Phares was involved in pursuing a secret meeting with Russia that would have taken place at the precise time Papadopoulos was in London getting interviewed by Stefan Halper. Papadopoulos answered a question about whether he discussed the secret meeting with Phares not by answering, but by saying he wasn’t sure it was in the emails.

Q You mentioned a number of emails where both of you would have been copied. Did you and Mr. Phares have any direct communication just the two of you?

A We met face to face at the TAG Summit. And then we obviously met at the March 31st meeting. And I can’t remember if we met another time in person or not. But we certainly were in correspondence for months over email.

Q Did you discuss your efforts to set up the Putin-Trump meeting with Mr. Phares?

A I’m not sure he was copied on those particular emails, but I could send whatever emails I have with him to the committee. It’s fine with me.

As the Meuller Report makes clear, very very damning details about precisely this topic were in Papadopoulos’ emails.

Papadopoulos remembered discussing Russia and a foreign policy trip with Clovis and Phares during the event.484 Papadopoulos’s recollection is consistent with emails sent before and after the TAG summit. The pre-summit messages included a July 11, 2016 email in which Phares suggested meeting Papadopoulos the day after the summit to chat,485 and a July 12 message in the same chain in which Phares advised Papadopoulos that other summit attendees “are very nervous about Russia. So be aware.”486 Ten days after the summit, Papadopoulos sent an email to Mifsud listing Phares and Clovis as other “participants” in a potential meeting at the London Academy of Diplomacy.487

This is what any hearing with George Papadopoulos should be about, details that would make any allegation that his claim, in mid-September, that he had nothing to do with Russia would be inculpatory, not exculpatory. But that’s not the hearing Mark Meadows decided to stage.

According to someone familiar with the aftermath of this hearing, Papadopoulos never did supply the emails he promised, at least not in a way such that they got shared with Democratic staffers.

Papadopoulos tells Congress there is no substance behind allegations that the main source for his allegations made

The whole hearing was absurd, which is why it is all the more ridiculous that the Attorney General of the United States is running around the world treating these conspiracies as if they have merit.

But don’t take my word — or the public record — for it. Take the word of the hearing’s star witness, George Papadopoulos. He told Congress that there was no substance to the allegations that Stephan Roh, the Mifsud lawyer whose conspiracies Bill Barr is currently chasing, had made that he, Papadopoulos, was a western intelligence operative.

Q Are you aware that in a Daily Caller article, Mr. Roh has referred to you as a western intelligence operative?

A I wasn’t aware of that, but I was aware he wrote a book where he speculated that I could be that, but of course I don’t know this person beyond a couple of emails and phone calls, so, of course, he has no substance behind any allegations.

So on the one subject about which Papadopoulos claimed to have first hand knowledge here, he said Roh was making stuff up.

And yet, Bill Barr still treats Roh’s other allegations — the ones laundered through propaganda outlets — as true.

90 replies
  1. Rugger9 says:

    The trouble with slime is that it oozes, and usually inconveniently. There are so many loose ends out of this administration that at least one of them will sing (and probably more) especially when they realize like Michael Cohen did that the boss isn’t going to protect them.

    That’s what makes the Kurdish sellout all the more interesting (Why now? A distraction was needed from the Ukraine and Russia scandals) and since it was announced late on Sunday makes it clear that some kind of desperation is in play at the Palace that it couldn’t wait to give the GOP any heads-up to develop talking points or start being “troubled” again. The scrambling explanations were comedy gold in a cynical sort of way.

    Real people are going to die, and to make it worse these are our allies that stepped up to wipe out ISIL when no one else (including Erdogan) would.

    • Rugger9 says:

      Interesting, how the Russians keep popping up in this scandal, even in Kurdistan. Reading EW’s retweet of Henry Foy (about 20 mins ago) we see that the Kurds are already working on a deal with the Russians, in part to keep Erdogan from getting too frisky.

      Nice job, Individual-1.

    • Maureen A Donnelly says:

      I wonder if Erdogan promised Trump he was going to release the tape of the killing of Jamal?

  2. BobCon says:

    This helps me understand now why the rush by Meadows to get Pap to testify before the GOP lost the House. They didn’t just want to undercut Mueller, they needed fuel for the Ukraine scam.

    • Rugger9 says:

      Plus, Papadopolous will whine that he already testified for hours before Congress and won’t anyone leave him alooooooone? What’s the legal term for an already decided point, res judicata? In the mind of the GOP trying desperately to bury this, it’s the same concept, test driven by Lewandowski last month.

      Maybe the fact that Papa doesn’t actually testify to witnessing this stuff changes the potential angles to exploit.

      Let’s see how Faux News handles this, I heard that “3 Dolts on the Divan” (h/t Charlie Pierce) didn’t like it so maybe this will be walked back. Let’s wait for Pirro and Hannity to be sure.

    • punaise says:

      Speculation for now: the TPM comment thread for that article refers to Ken Dilanian of MSNBC reporting on two, or even seven, additional WBs coming forward, but I can’t find any confirmation on that.

  3. Tom says:

    The only way to explain the slapdash and amateur manner in which AG Barr is carrying out his international investigation is that neither he nor the President really believe in the right-wing conspiracy theories they’ve been peddling. Recall that on May 30th of this year Trump sent out a tweet in which he acknowledged that Russia had helped him get elected. He quickly deleted the tweet, but I think for a moment Trump had allowed his real thinking on the matter to slip out. Similarly the story reported in media outlets on September 28th that the President had told Lavrov & Kislyak at their Oval Office meeting on May 10, 2017 that he wasn’t really bothered that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election. Again, this seems to indicate that Trump knows very well that Russia tried to help him get elected; moreover, during the May 10th Oval Office meeting he wanted Lavrov and Kislyak to know that he knew.

    Nevertheless, despite knowing the facts of the matter, upon which his own intelligence people have briefed him, the President has endorsed the various conspiracy theories involving the Deep State, a Clintonite cabal of conspirators, the Fake Media, and so on. The main objective of all these efforts seems to be to trash and delegitimize all the established intelligence and law enforcement agencies, news outlets, and organs of democratic government in order to persuade the public that only he–Donald Trump–and his assorted felons and fart-catchers can be relied upon to tell the American people the truth.

    Recent events in the Ukraine and now Syria have been beneficial to Vladimir Putin, and Trump seems very keen on rehabilitating the Russian president in order to get him back into the G-7 and be accepted by the international community again. So my thinking is that Trump, Barr, and Giuliani are putting on a show of buying into the assorted Deep State conspiracy theories and will manufacture evidence to support them, or obfuscate the established facts to confuse the unwary, in order to get Putin off the hook for sabotaging the 2016 election. As to why Trump should want to be so useful to Putin, hard not to think that Vladimir has something to hang over him.

    As for George Papadopoulos, it must be tough to be only 32 years old and know that it’s all downhill from here.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      He should cheer up. If he’d grown up in Youngstown, it would be all down hill after senior year football season.

  4. punaise says:

    I Melitta bit confused by Barr’s lack of a filter on this stuff. There are no credible grounds.

  5. klynn says:

    Sondland blocked for testimony by Trump.

    So the 30+ min gap in texting followed by the Legal ease statement is an issue.

    • bmaz says:

      Proposition A does not beget Propositions B. It may or may not be that “the gap” is an issue, but Trump has “blocked” everybody willing to be blocked. Sondland is a political stooge happy to be “blocked”. Don’t read more than that into it.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Indeed. From the public evidence, Sondland is probably worried about his own culpability and is happy not to testify under oath to Congress.

        The bigger question is what will the House do about it. This reaction from the least transparent executive since Al Capone is entirely predictable.

        • P J Evans says:

          The next move is a subpoena, I understand.
          I’m getting very tired of the Oval Office occupant whining about how it’s a kangaroo trial and he should be allowed to face his accusers and all that, without seeming to have any understanding is that this isn’t a trial – it’s an investigation. The trial comes after he’s impeached.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          When the law is against you, and the facts are, too, your only recourse is to claim the tribunal that would apply them is corrupt.

          The Great and Powerful Wizard’s problem is that the curtain has been drawn back. The entire country is now looking at the small man with little hands, trying madly to work all those levers that are too big for him.

        • P J Evans says:

          Elseweb, someone asked if he’d be required to show up in person for the impeachment/trial. I don’t know – but I’m sure he’d try, just to try overawing everyone with his magnificence.

        • punaise says:

          Josh Marshall:

          An hour ahead of testimony, the State Department orders Ambassador Sondland not to show up to testify and he complies. Subpoenas, fines, more articles of impeachment and jail are the only answers here.

        • P J Evans says:

          I should have been clearer – that was about the Oval Office occupant.
          I understand the committee has already issued the subpoena for Sondland – which suggests they weren’t surprised at all.

        • punaise says:

          We used to speculate (fantasize?) about Karl Rove being frog-marched out of the WH in cuffs. That’s a look that would suit Trump! (I know, not gonna happen…)

        • P J Evans says:

          Karl Rove wasn’t out of his mind, and that does make a difference here. I’m thinking not handcuffs (or zipties), but a straitjacket, possibly with a mask.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          I agree that the very long-sleeved white coat which buttons up the back is the better look for Donald.

        • punaise says:

          And they’re coming to take me away ha haaa
          They’re coming to take me away ho ho hee hee ha haaa
          To the happy home with trees and flowers and chirping birds
          And basket weavers who sit and smile and twiddle their thumbs and toes
          And they’re coming to take me away ha haaa

  6. Anne says:

    FWIW, I’ve been scouring the Italian media for anything about Barr’s visit.
    As far as I can tell, nobody has leaked anything, except that it apparently took the US embassy by surprise. All journalists do is cite US media and pose questions. If the Italian secret services helped Mifsud disappear, nobody else knows.
    Darn those paywalls! May have to subscribe to La Repubblica.

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    For bmaz, regarding the mahveluss ability of the press to forget all it’s learned about corrupt public figures, this aphorism attributed to Hegel: The only thing history teaches us is that we do not learn from it.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      To illustrate, Goopers – especially the Wash. Examiner and Breitbart crowd, to which I will not link – are trying to smear Elizabeth Warren. They are calling her a liar for claiming that she was forced out of a teaching job in the early 1970s when she became visibly pregnant.

      Where to begin? A quick tour, starting with a scarlet “A” for American. Its culture and media have long been dominated by greedy prudes, who find sexism both personally comforting and profitable.

      After WWII, elites specifically worked to recreate a mythic, white, male, homogenized immigrantless culture. Women were pushed out of the factories and offices – where they had helped win the war – and back into the home, were they were to stay, in the phrase resurrected during the Reagan era, barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen.

      New definitions of “clean” were invented as part of the movement to keep them there – and to fuel the consumer economy. Women were given marvelous new machines – which their husbands could buy with no money down – whose use would occupy their entire day, in order to achieve that blessed state of cleanliness.

      Pregnancy was a disease to be managed by white male doctors. In the 1950s, the wildly successful television stars Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were not allowed to sleep in the same bed on their television show – a comedy. When she insisted on writing her pregnancy and birth into her show, it drove broadcasters and sponsors crazy. Uniquely, she made it a hit.

      A toilet was not shown on screen until Hitchcock’s Psycho in 1960. Even then, Hitch had to reshoot a bedroom scene because dressed actors having an affair sat on the same bed.

      Women are still not paid the same for the same work as their male counterparts. People of color are not paid the same as their white counterparts. Women, unlike men, still see their careers disabled by childbirth and child rearing – and the culture war against their control of their own bodies. Like racism, the sexism is less obvious, but still pervasive.

      Before she went to law school, Elizabeth Warren taught school, c. 1970-72. It was an era, like all eras, in which older prejudices prevailed. Being visibly pregnant was disqualifying for almost every job: teaching, nursing, office work, retail sales, you name it.

      Ms. Warren and her supporters have another opportunity to show how far women have come – despite the odds – and how much more work there is for all of us to do.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          CBS did bury the lede. It devotes two-thirds of its story to parsing slightly different – meaning fuller – descriptions of the event that Warren used, as she became more well-known and established as a public figure and legal scholar. By the time she became a tenured professor at HLS, she could not be harmed by blowback from telling the whole story.

          CBS does not provide even that much context. It makes do with a quote about the sexist effects of “management practices of the time,” and notes that none of the school board were women. It cites board records as not supporting Warren’s version, but what board would be stupid enough to document its own discriminatory hiring and firing practices?

          It seems that the MSM does not want Warren any more than it wanted Hillary. But that lying bankrupt clown, he’s all right.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I find it sad that this Breitbart lie has any traction. If young people have not experienced what Warren did, their mothers or grandmothers did.

        After the sexual revolution of the 1960s and early 1970s, the right moved heaven and earth to undo it. Reagan made a career out of it. The ERA, for example, which seemed likely to be approved, was sandbagged. Laughably, one argument was that it was not needed. Europeans sometimes wonder what planet the US is on.

        • P J Evans says:

          They’re still trying to claim there’s no discrimination against women. As if it wasn’t obvious to women – look at the way women get treated in political campaigns!

        • Krisy Gosney says:

          My mother told me women who became pregnant were expected to quit their jobs. Not necessarily written in the employee handbook but that was just what you did. So women who needed to work would hide their pregnancy as long as they could. My mom also said ‘when was your last period’ was on job applications.

        • P J Evans says:

          how much things have changed – at some companies: I had a supervisor who got pregnant, and had a really bad time with it. She ended up on bed rest for about *six months*, and worked from home when she could – she had a laptop, so she could log in.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          It was a societal norm. I suspect Warren’s school board thought little about it. The procedures to obscure what was really going on were still hardwired.

          It was not until seven years later that the law prohibiting pregnancy discrimination came into effect.

          In between, there was a lot of agitation. And there was Vietnam, domestic opposition to it, its end, Nixon’s Watergate, the ERA, Ford and Carter, and so on. Society was bubbling with change. Reagan just put it into reverse.

      • P J Evans says:

        My fifth-grade teacher had to leave mid-year because she was pregnant. That was in 1960/61.
        in Jan 1980 a friend and I got to tour Diablo Canyon – it was still in the licensing process, so it wasn’t operating – and they said that the company wouldn’t hire women to work there.

  8. OldTulsaDude says:

    The Ukraine/impeachment disinformation campaign has begun – multiple sources are reporting Graham has invited Guiliani to testify before committee about “corruption”.
    I’m wondering how that testimony will be covered by the news media; hopefully, not as often and as breathlessly as Trump’s initial campaign rallies. The media has surely learned from that fiasco.

  9. viget says:

    Hmmm…. if Papa *WAS* a western intelligence asset that would certainly explain a few things. Firstly, how he got where he got with zero credentials, and also, why news of his talking with Mifsud about emails and the Russians would have caused the FBI to go into immediate panic mode and open a cointel investigation.

    Plus, his deal was the Leviathan gas field. If he was a US or British intel asset, the perfect cover would have been Ben Carson’s energy guy, to try to find out who Israel was interested in partnering with to develop it. We know far, far too little about his time with the Carson campaign, could it be possible that he was turned during that time to work for certain factions in Israel and/or Russia?

    It would also explain why so many spooked up folks were so keen in talking with him, and why he seems to know so effortlessly certain aspects of spycraft that “normal” folks wouldn’t necessarily have familiarity with at their fingertips. I get that sense from his OGR testimony.

    Also might explain why Downer sat on the info sharing regarding his convo with Papa for a while until July. Maybe he thought that Papa had already told US intelligence this info, since he was supposedly working for the Brits/US.

    Papa seems like the perfect mark for typical Russian sexual kompromat. I think he would be exceedingly easy to blackmail.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Your argument works better if Papadopoulos were a Russian asset. But given his apparent personality – he is profoundly ambitious, yet wholly unqualified – he is more likely to be an easily manipulated patsy. His acquaintance with the truth is about as close as Donald Trump’s.

      As for any delay in Downer passing on information about a single meeting with Papa, it is more easily explained by Papa being an overambitious nebbish and not very credible.

    • greengiant says:

      This comment reminds me of the commenter here defending everything Russian and Trumpian whose dialogue pointed directly at Tom Barrack talking points.

  10. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump has gotten himself into another pissing contest. This time, it’s with the mayor of Minneapolis, who is charging Trump up front about $530,000 for expected security-related costs for a planned Minneapolis campaign rally. (The amount is similar to the costs incurred by over a dozen other cities who have hosted such events.)

    Trump has stiffed at least ten of those cities by not yet paying bills for similar amounts, submitted after-the-fact (including El Paso). Predictably, he is responding to the mayor’s street smart demand by screaming extortion, politicking by a radical leftist, and violations of his free speech (by which he must mean, at no charge).

    The mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey, simply replied, “Welcome to Minneapolis where we pay our bills, we govern with integrity, and we love all our neighbors.”

    The mayor is absolutely correct to insist, like the Rolling Stones, for his money up front. Trump has spent half a century living high by not paying his bills.

  11. punaise says:

    As if we weren’t already in a constitutional crisis:

    BREAKING: WH Sends Pelosi Letter Insisting It Will Not Cooperate With Impeachment Probe

    • P J Evans says:

      Add another obstruction charge (or three) to that stack.
      They really don’t get that this is the investigation phase, and every time they say “nuh-uh”, it makes them look worse.

      • punaise says:

        A real Hail Mary: I guess it shows they know how bad it is. OTOH blatant obstruction has worked pretty well for them to date.

        • BobCon says:

          I’m curious when the Supremes weigh in. I heard a laughable line from Nina Totenberg today saying they hate getting involved in politics. What the conservative justices hate is finding themselves on the losing side.

          I suspect at least three of the conservative justices are so deeply lost to the Fox perspective that they don’t see any evidence of wrongdoing by Trump, and it’s going to take a lot more bad news for them to agree to do anything.

          I don’t see it in the Court’s interests to screw around and either stall or issue a deeply divided opinion, but I’m not sure the Ginni Thomas perspective will be easy to shake.

  12. Vicks says:

    So they are RSVP’ing?

    I realized last week when talking with a mixed group of adults that there are a LOT of people that do not understand the impeachment process.
    Many think because he was not removed from office, Clinton was not impeached. They also miss the fact that there is an impeachment inquiry before any decision is made to proceed.
    These were not stupid people, they just haven’t thought about it since civics class, or if they were old enough to remember the Clinton circus they misremembered why he stayed in office.
    Team Trump is out there making up the rules of impeachment as I am writing this, and (once again) if Dems don’t step it up immediately Trump will steam roll over them and they will be led to and then left sputtering in some rabbit hole or trap.
    Schiff’s press conference this morning did nothing to build my confidence.

    • BobCon says:

      Most of the press doesn’t really get it, so it’s not surprising that the public doesn’t either. The majority falls into one of two camps — they think too mechanically, and assume it precisely follows the limited steps spelled out in the Constitution, or they descend into sophistry and assume it’s all politics.

      I saw Nate Silver called out today for conflating impeachment and an impeachment inquiry when describing polling, and if he has been blurring the difference, imagine what your typical horserace reporter does.

      • P J Evans says:

        People hear “impeachment” and think only of Clinton’s. Which was actually more of a kangaroo court than what’s currently going on.

        • BobCon says:

          I think you’re right, and it’s weird. You could just read what’s on Wikipedia to compare Watergate to Clinton and be clear what some basic differences in approach could be.

        • P J Evans says:

          I had a copy of the Final Report of the House Judiciary Committee (on Nixon), and I think it got culled back in 1992. So I have another one on the way. (I’d recommend it to all the House committee chairs, and to Pelosi, but I doubt they have the time to read 800 pages of report.)

      • Vicks says:

        Yes, I meant to make a point about the strong negative reaction to starting an inquiry being related to people not realizing they didn’t understand the process, likewise the recent.
        When I get time I’ll go back and check the wording used in a few of the poll questions

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I’m still annoyed Pelosi has so far sidestepped Nadler and made Schiff the face of whatever it is she is trying to do. Nadler would be more direct and prosecutorial, he would make his meaning clear.

      Schiff, it seems, is there to be Kissingeresque, to avoid the direct statement and blur what should be clear.

      • BobCon says:

        The Washington Post had an article when this started to blow up about Pelosi choosing Schiff as the point person. They said that Pelosi felt the Lewandowski hearing was a PR disaster, and I think Nadler bears some of the responsibility.

        But Nadler was also hamstrung by the fact that the House still does not seem to have a strategy for dealing with White House stonewalling. And the blame for that falls squarely in Pelosi’s lap. Months ago there should have been a clear plan for how the House would deal with defiance, with a set of public talking points ready to be rolled out whenever they got to this point. Instead, there still seems to be a lot of uncertainty on the part of Pelosi on what to do.

        She should have seen what everyone else did — Trump was going to do something bad, and when caught was never going to cooperate. Instead, she thought the path forward was burying impeachment and hoping for the best.

  13. Effem says:

    Mifsud’s lawyer claims Mifsud worked for Western intelligence and we just hand-wave it away with “russian-backed?” I don’t like the feel of this…if it turns out Mifsud is even remotely connected to Western intelligence, every single Trump-theory is about to get a huge credibility boost in the eyes of the voting public. I wish Mueller had addressed it, but i’m not even sure he was cogent enough to know who Mifsud is.

  14. Molly Pitcher says:

    In answer to PJ’s posting Oct 8, 5:54.

    They are buying Sharpies by the caseload at the White House. Pat Cippolone has signed his ridiculous footnoted missive to the House with a sharpie. How professional.

    Here is a link to a paper from the Catholic University Law Review, analyzing just How Much Process is Due in Impeachment.

    It IS amusing to note that “cippolone” means Large Onion in Italian.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      His arguments seem so foreign to American law and practice, he should worry about a bar referral.

    • Nehoa says:

      I did a quick read of Cippolone’s letter. IANAL so I can’t comment as to whether that would have flunked him out of law school, but I think he would get an F in an American civics class. Impeachment trials are held in the Senate, the Senate makes the rules for the process, and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court serves as the presiding officer at the trial. That is all fairly common knowledge. Cippolone’s arguments ignore those basics.

      • OldTulsaDude says:

        Someone should tell Cipollone that the phrase “unconstitutional impeachment” is an oxymoron; but then, so is “President Trump”.

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Economist and lawyer Bill Black has an excellent essay about Ukraine, Joe and Hunter Biden, Obama and Holder, and the machinations of team Trump. (I found the comments harsh and unreadable.)

    Black was one of a handful of officials who succeeded in prosecuting the CEOs responsible for the massive 1980s savings and loan fraud, which threatened the entire US economy. One of the last times financial elites have been held to account. His specialty is white collar financial crime that threatens systemic harm.

  16. Vicks says:

    So all show and no go from our brave lawmakers on behalf of our friends the Kurds?
    Too busy practicing their lines and figuring out the best angles for the cameras this week I guess.
    Shame on all of them.
    I know a group including my congressmen just got back from over there and sent out a statement, but for craps sake these people are in trouble. Make it a big enough story that the media will quit rehashing today’s impeachment news

  17. Tom says:

    Maybe I’m looking at the situation too simplistically, but if foreign governments really had the sort of intelligence that Bill Barr is looking for–i.e., that Russia was not behind the sabotage of the 2016 election–would they not have passed on that information to U.S. intelligence long ago, in the way that Australia alerted American intelligence to George Papadopoulos’ conversation with Alexander Downer about the Russians having HRC’s missing emails? Or just suppose there is some sort of international Deep State conspiracy against President Trump, are foreign governments now going to tell Bill Barr, “Oh yes, Mr. Barr, now that you mention it, we actually do have some intelligence that totally undermines the Mueller Report, and here are the relevant documents in this lovely gift bag”?

    So unless Barr decides to make these foreign governments an offer they can’t refuse, in the same way that Trump tried to do with President Zelensky, he would seem to be off on a fool’s errand. And any evidence Barr claims to have found would have to be released to the public, because his ‘summary’ of the Mueller Report shows that he can’t be trusted to accurately describe what he might have found.

    • Rayne says:

      Five Eyes nations should have shared any indication Russia wasn’t hacking. Why would the Dutch have said Russia was responsible, at risk of being attacked (as they were afterward)?

      • Tom says:

        Precisely! Which is why I’m really curious to see what ‘evidence’ Barr comes up with, and if he claims it’s too sensitive to reveal or is part of an ongoing and ongoing, perhaps even never-ending investigation.

  18. klynn says:

    Did Bill Barr deliver the evidence of Assange being spied upon by UCGlobal on his trip to London?

    Is this how the charges against Assange will go away?

  19. Zoltar says:

    So the claim that Trump worked with Russia to hack the DNC and then with Wikileaks to coordinate the release the stolen DNC documents in order to win the election that HRC would have otherwise won…is not a conspiracy. BUT people who reject that theory and instead seek specific evidence that would tend to support and/or validate those claims… are conspiracy theorists. That’s interesting. I thought it was the exact opposite.

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