The President’s Conspiracy Theories Get More Whacko than George Papadopoulos’

Perhaps because the entire legal establishment is pushing back against Bill Barr’s wholesale politicization of DOJ, the President is disturbed on Twitter. After launching a 3-tweet tirade against juror Tameka Hart and Judge Amy Berman Jackson based off a Judge Andrew Napolitano appearance on Fox on Friends (that perhaps unsurprisingly neglects to remind his followers that Napolitano made a case in favor of Trump’s removal by the Senate). he then launched a 3-tweet tirade against the Stone prosecution more generally.

I’m interested in it because of the way Trump attempts to deploy all the other conspiracy theories he has against the Russian investigation to the Stone prosecution, to which they simply don’t apply.

Start with the way Trump claims that 1) the Mueller investigation was “illegally set up” based on the Steele dossier and 2) “forging documents to the FISA Court.”

This is a conceit that has worked well since Paul Manafort, fresh off a meeting with an Oleg Deripaska deputy, suggested Trump could use attacks on the dossier to attack the Mueller Report.

Except one glaring fault of the dossier is that Roger Stone, who had already made comments that suggested he had a direct role in the operation by the time FBI opened investigations on the four initial subjects of it, doesn’t appear in the Steele dossier.

Moreover, whatever else the DOJ IG Report on the Carter Page FISA applications showed, it also showed that the predication of the investigation had nothing to do with the Steele dossier; in fact, Steele’s reports didn’t make it to the investigative team until about six weeks after opening the investigation.

Further, the suggestion that Kevin Clinesmith’s alteration of an email in June 2017 to claim that Page was “not a source” for CIA had anything to do with Roger Stone’s investigation falls flat given that Mueller’s team obtained the first warrant targeting Roger Stone on August 4, 2017, and there’s no insinuation anywhere that Stone ever spoke with Carter Page. (Indeed, in spring 2016, Stone was bitching to Rick Gates that he was not in the loop of foreign policy discussions.) In fact, had Roger Stone been more closely associated with Trump’s freebie foreign policy team, than both Page and George Papadopoulos’ claims to know nothing of campaign efforts to optimize WikiLeaks’ releases would be anything but exculpatory, as DOJ IG treated them, since Stone was doing just that in the time period when they were asked by informants.

Plus, Robert Mueller testified under oath that his team didn’t have anything to do with the Carter Page FISA order. And the investigative record shows that the investigation into Page was largely done by the time Mueller took over.

There’s simply no tie between either the Steele dossier or the Page FISA warrants and Roger Stone’s prosecution.

Trump continues to claim that Mueller interviewed to be FBI Director, even after evidence showing that Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus, and Don McGahn debunked this in real time, not to mention Rod Rosenstein’s 302 that shows that Mueller specifically said he did not want to be interviewed before he met with Trump about Jim Comey’s replacement. That is, a bunch of witnesses — all Republicans — say Trump is wrong.

The most interesting accusation is that the prosecutors who won a conviction against Stone “were Mueller prosecutors.”

Two were: Aaron Zelinsky and Adam Jed.

But two weren’t. Jonathan Kravis (the sole prosecutor who quit DOJ entirely) and Michael Marando were career DC prosecutors brought in to prosecute the case after Mueller shut down. These were, pointedly, not Mueller prosecutors, and the case still went off without a hitch.

In fact, in his interview the other day, Bill Barr made quite clear that this prosecution happened on his watch, and he believes it’s a righteous prosecution.

BARR: Well, as you know, the Stone case was prosecuted while I was attorney general. And I supported it. I think it was established, he was convicted of obstructing Congress and witness tampering. And I thought that was a righteous prosecution. And I was happy that he was convicted.

If Trump has a problem with the guy who prosecuted the case against Roger Stone, he has a problem with his Attorney General Bill Barr.

Which may be why Trump — who shouldn’t be affected by mere lies by Roger Stone to Congress — is threatening to “sue everyone all over the place.” Of course, he is affected by Stone — Stone is going to prison to protect the President, to avoid describing the multiple conversations they had about optimizing the WikiLeaks releases. And suing (whom?!?!) won’t help Trump suppress that.

The President sounds crazier than George Papadopoulos in this rant, and his conspiracy theories are just as unhinged. Which is, I guess, what happens when all the conspiracy theories you’ve been using to undermine the prosecution implicating you turn out to be utterly irrelevant to the most important firewall to protect.

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49 replies
  1. Mister Sterling says:

    Trump knows that if he blends events together, he will muddy the waters, confuse everyone, and retire a free man in Florida. Macy is able to keep track of it all on her conspiracy wall. But that doesn’t matter. Trump and his 60 Million supporters have won all of these battles.

    • John Forde says:

      That’s ridiculously fatalistic. Trump’s 60 million have only won the unthinking allegiance of Trump’s 60 million. Are they going to win in ABJ’s hearing an hour from now? Are they going to win the National Judges Association emergency meeting today? Are they going to win Trump vs Vance, Mazars & Deutsche bank in next months SC arguments?
      The tide is beginning to turn. Fatalists will get no love when democracy prevails.

      • Yargelsnogger says:

        To paraphrase Stalin – how many divisions does the National Judges Association field? IANAL, but I am not aware of any institutional power of this association other than shaming the DoJ under Barr. We all know how well shaming works on this administration… I don’t see the OP as being overly fatalistic, merely realistic.

        • OldTulsaDude says:

          I fear you are right. It appears as if a large portion of America has been waiting patiently for an administration worthy of their total commitment, for whom worthy of going to the mat, so to speak. Their heroes are now entrenched, and no amount of shaming, hand-wringing, realism, logic, or disdain will penetrate their shield of faith. There is no corruption, scandal, crime, or alliance that is beneath them as everyone outside the realm is the enemy, and everything done inside the realm in the the holy name of what is right – whatever the hell they think that is – is justified.

          How quaint that people who preach absolute morality find a big enough hole in their own argument to park Trump Tower inside.

          • Katherine M Williams says:

            That is the nature of a cult. How does one deprogram 60 million people, if it really is that many?

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      I think it’s more that he* believes this in his addled brain, which sets up a feedback loop where the frothy right recapitulates it on teevee. The grievance is endless, the urge to act on it boundless.

      This is a side-issue. Better to look at the hierarchy of concern. Papadopoulos and Page were peripheral figures looking for influence and finding Russians; Manafort is still in prison (though apparently pulling levers from his cell); Flynn and Stone are the ones he cares about, and Stone perhaps a little more than Flynn.

      What underpins his character? Keeping his own secrets secret and learning what others keep secret.

      It’s a tell that he feels personally wronged by the Stone prosecution, but we got a hint of his personal involvement from the indictment. He knew more about Stone’s activities than the international side-hustles of Manafort and Flynn, and Stone’s loyalties were less mixed.

      * “he” meaning him and his amanuensis / word-arranger / mini-me Scavino.

      • Ruthie says:

        He believes no such thing – he can’t, because he knows the truth that Stone’s silence is covering up. It’s literally unbelievable that Trump doesn’t know what he’s saying/tweeting is complete bullshit.

        Rather, it’s what he *pretends* to believe to further the obfuscation and coverup.

      • orionATL says:

        the “secrets”business may be part of trump’s power acquisition and retention game, but if one were to break down his communications day into, say, hourly intervals, i think one would discover that a great deal of our resident’s time is spent in a high state of agitation and aggressive defense of himself. this does not suggest a confident personality, one secure in his relationships with others as appears to have been the case with most other presidents. it suggests a president who feels perpetually threatened despite the power he holds.

        and then there is the “hunger for grandiosity” side of his personality.

      • Tracy Lynn says:

        Hi, @pseudonymous… Where have you seen/read that Manafort is “…apparently pulling levers from his cell.”? I would like to read more about that, since it dovetails with something I’ve been thinking about lately. Thanks!

    • RealityCheck says:

      No, bickering PTA parents “muddy the waters” when they call on teachers to adopt the “no homework” model while in the same breath they bemoan their school’s low test scores and readily admit they’re ill-equipped as parents to fully educate their children.

      What we have here is someone throwing the judiciary into the sewage system and taking a shit on it.

      We passed bullshitting long ago in 2016.

  2. Skilly says:

    I have always believed that Trump was rational but malicious. The conspiracy theories are nothing but a way to create an excuse to deny, and avoid accountability. Only a small percentage of the 60 million, I suspect, care about the wacko theories. The balance justify the means as an unfortunate but necessary evil to their goals: 1) Maintain Minority Rule; 2) Control Judges; 3) Obliterate all traces of the Obama Presidency. It is the last one I find most irrational. Obama did great things for the oligarchs; preserving the banks, and the bankers. He enabled them to raise huge sums of Money for overtly racist reasons. He allowed them (or at least did not fight them) to not confirm his judges. Obama paved the way to use of recess appointments and Legislation by Executive Order. All these things should have endeared them to Obama.
    My point seems to have wondered off a bit. Trump may not be sane, but I think he is very calculating with his conspiracies.

    • PeterS says:

      Is there much evidence that the Trump of recent years is rational? It seems to me, listening to and reading his words, that there’s no difference between his feelings and his thoughts, which hardly presents a definition of rational.

    • dude says:

      Trump is ‘rational’ only to the extent he can construct or participate in transactions (deals) to get what he cannot otherwise take outright. Now he has the means to take just about anything. Than, there is the delight he experiences in hurting and humiliating people. I find precious little in all this that is rational.

  3. Monica Jerbi says:

    This is the first I read that George Papadopoulos claims to know nothing of campaign efforts to optimize WikiLeaks’ releases. Do you have a link confirming that? If so, can you provide? Not that anyone cares what my gut says and why, but my gut says that probably can easily be proven as a lie. Wondering if even possible he pitched the idea? Something is not adding up here?

  4. Vicks says:

    The problem with Trumps ability to shape the narrative is terrifying.
    I’m far from an expert, but I am sure I follow the story of Trump closer than the average American.
    For whatever reason this is the first time I am hearing that Mueller interviewing for FBI director was a total fabrication.
    It is etched in my brain as the truth complete with details including a meeting with trump days before Mueller was selected to head up the investigation.
    How the fuck does that happen?
    A seed was planted way in advance in case they needed it.

      • BobCon says:

        The Mueller interview claim was so bogus that it deserved the grant of anonymity being revoked, or at a minimum statements by CNN and NPR’s Carrie Johnson (who also reported it) that those sources would be shut out of future reporting.

        Not that they would, of course. News organizations have been grossly complicit in disinformation campaigns, to the disservice of their customers, and they will never admit it.

      • Vicks says:

        Actually now that I read it again it still comes off as fuzzy so I probably didn’t look at it close enough the first time and just moved on. (Page 80-81) on EW’s link to Mueller Report https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/6002293/190322-Redacted-Mueller-Report.pdf
        One of the few occasions that I don’t feel any relief knowing that it’s not just me being a bonehead ..
        I don’t get it. How many times did the MAGA machine tell this lie?
        Mueller knew he didn’t interview for the job.
        How holy is this man that he didn’t have a “spokesperson” gently correct this for the record?

            • Katherine M Williams says:

              These days most of Trump’s lies come from Fox news. Fox has gone from influencing, to outright control of the presidential agenda. And who controls Fox news, what is their agenda? What does R Murdoch want? Is there a long term goal, or is he just a petty, evil bastard who wants to destroy the planet?

          • Vicks says:

            I was referring to the wording in the Mueller report seeming fuzzy to me.
            I missed it when I read it the first time and when I went back today and gave it a second look, i realized I probably wrote off the word play changing a “meeting” to an “ interview” as backpeddling muck.
            Needless to say I’m not giving up my day job any time soon…

            • Burt Berman says:

              As I recall,there was some kind of financial dispute not involving vast sums between Mueller and and a Trump golf course which led a Mueller to terminate his membership. This was one of the trumped up”conflicts” TeamTrump would go back to time and again.

              As to earlier discussion of trump hatred of Obama, I’ve oftentimes felt that the Trump’s loathing was permanently tuned up several notches when Obama took Trump apart at the WHCA dinner..

              • vvv says:

                Actually, he sought a membership refund because he and his family were not using the membership due to location; he was put on a waiting list for the refund.
                h*t*t*ps://www.cnn.com/2019/04/18/politics/mueller-trump-golf-club/index.html

  5. klynn says:

    OT sort of:

    EW do you think Stone’s lawyers failed to file a formal motion to delay sentencing because they might have had word of a “this will all go away” promise perhaps related to Barr?

    Or they just plain failed?

  6. Fran of the North says:

    A key feature to the never ending Confraud US is that it IS never ending. One investigation blends into the next in an evermore convoluted mess, worse than a couple of pounds of spaghetti in a colander – starchy and congealed. Facts co-mingle and players move in and about.

    It is difficult to untangle the individual strands, even for those who work to stay informed. The average Joe and Jane don’t have a prayer, what with the comingled scams, dozens of players, and foreign intrigue. Not to mention the constant bleating of ‘I didn’t do it.’ ‘Witch hunt!’ and ‘Fake News!!’

    Add the cacophony of lies from a multi-billion dollar media conglomerate, a disinformation operation by foreign nationals, and the constant reinforcement of the social media echo chamber and it is no wonder most are confused and turn away.

    Thankfully we have EW to painstakingly document and elucidate for mere mortals.

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I don’t suppose the DeBartolo pardon has anything to do with an expectation that the ueber-wealthy former federal inmate will pony up a few campaign contributions. Or that the rumored Blagojevich pardon has anything to do with professional courtesy among con men. Or that the US has a two-tiered criminal justice system or anything.

    https://www.rawstory.com/2020/02/trump-signs-surprise-pardon-for-felon-convicted-of-failing-to-report-extortion-and-bribery/

    • ernesto1581 says:

      No surprise with Blagojevich. Just another gratuitous attempt to piss on Obama, on anything remotely associated with his name. And maybe play a little yo-yo again with the ex-governor at the same time.

      • bmaz says:

        I think the Blago commutation was absolutely righteous, though not for the reason Trump probably did it for.

        Blago has served nearly eight years in prison. He was, in light of the McDonnell decision, WAY over sentenced. 14 years was asinine. Eight is enough. I am glad Trump did Blago. Kerik is far more problematic, but who cares at this point. Same for Miliken.

          • bmaz says:

            Not sure why anybody cares about him at this point either.

            Frankly if Trump could pardon Robert Kraft (he cannot, that is a state matter), I would urge him to do it.

            People that long ago served their time, are repentant and doing positive things in society are fine. My objection to Kerik is that he has done nothing positive for society, unless you count being an asshole on Fox News.

            • Molly Pitcher says:

              Well, as wacky as Trump appears, there is usually something behind why he does things. I don’t see Eddie D giving him money.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Agree with your reasoning that Blagojevich’s sentence was overwrought and that he should be released, and that Trump’s reasons were probably not related to equity and justice. Those do not motivate him, except as concepts that make his opponents more vulnerable.

          More likely, Trump liked the cut of his jib. Plus, his wife could be seen keening of late on the social justice network, Faux Noise. Plus plus, it allows him to stick a splinter into Obama’s reputation. All good from the Jolly Orange Giant’s perspective.

          • vvv says:

            The “cut of his jib” has him claiming to have been a “political prisoner”.
            h*t*t*ps://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/rod-blagojevich-says-he-s-freed-political-prisoner-after-trump-n1138606
            (I hope the way I post links is OK?)

            • bmaz says:

              Why are there asterisks in the link rendering it completely unusable? That is fine if linking to some completely bogus source, but is silly if linking to NBC News. The purpose of a decent link to a trusted source is to be able to click on it.

      • MelB says:

        It’s Trump thinking he is pissing off the Patrick Fitzgerald (Comey, FBI, etc). Remember Fitzgerald, the Prosecutor in IL, was also the Special prosecutor in the Valerie Plame case and got a conviction against Scooter Libby (who Trump pardoned).

    • Tracy Lynn says:

      Eddie D?? The Eddie D received a pardon from his Orange Highness? Perhaps Trump did receive a contribution of some kind from Eddie. I don’t see Trump doing it just because he likes Eddie D. He *hates* the NFL and anything that reminds him of his failure to buy the Buffalo Bills and Eddie D was one of the more successful owners of an NFL franchise.

      • Molly Pitcher says:

        Exactly. That’s why I asked what is behind this. Additionally, Eddie D’s team is the San Francisco 49ers. Trump has been taking jabs at the Bay Area for months.

    • orionATL says:

      trump does not give a rat’s ass about any of these people. the quality of mercy is not something he would consider of value.

      all this pardoning charade is being done to create an atmosphere of compassion and “pardoning normality” so that when trump begins the serious business of pardoning his co-conspirators like manafort, flynn, stone, and the lesser lights, he will have this brief history to provide a fig leaf of “just a charitable guy” cover.

      there’s nothing more.

      • orionATL says:

        trump pardons public corruption !

        fair sentencing is an important issue, but what is far more important is the public corruption our president pardoned. vox has some thoughts:

        “… on Tuesday when President Donald Trump pardoned or commuted the sentences of a veritable who’s who of corrupt public figures.

        Trump commuted the sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D), who was convicted of fraud and conspiracy charges related to his efforts to basically sell a US Senate seat. He pardoned former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, who pleaded guilty to tax fraud and lying to investigators. He pardoned billionaire financier Michael Milken, who pleaded guilty to insider trading. He commuted the sentence of Judith Negron, who, according to the Justice Department, “masterminded one of the largest fraud schemes ever prosecuted by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force.” Also receiving a pardon was former San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr., who was convicted of failing to report a bribe.

        Those names highlighted the list of 11 people who were suddenly granted pardons or commutations. Each of them, with the exception of two women whose sentences for drug-related crimes were commuted, were implicated in corrupt dealings…”

        https://www.vox.com/2020/2/19/21142836/trump-blagojevich-kerik-milken-negron-debartolo-pardons-corruption

  8. Zinsky says:

    Thanks Marcy for another incisive takedown of the Liar-In-Chief. Vicks makes a great point upthread regarding Trump and his minions ability to inject false stories into the public narrative to skew the discourse towards their point of view. I also thought Mueller had interviewed for that job but Marcy pointed out that statement is a lie, which destroys Trump’s argument utterly. This is troubling how toxic the disinformation has become that it is getting harder and harder to recognize!

  9. sand says:

    Remember that time on Romulus when Trump kept insisting there were five lights when there were obviously only four?
    And half of the country readily agreed there were five?
    And the other half was stripped and beaten for saying there were four or wondering why it even mattered?
    Good times.

  10. Savage Librarian says:

    Styx and Stone’s

    Hope for all the hicks
    resides in dirty tricks,
    and a persistent nix
    on what can be the fix.

    For wise guys & their chicks
    who thrive in brutal cliques,
    it comes to throwing bricks
    and whatever that inflicts.

    That’s the politics
    of all these derelicts.
    We know who it depicts,
    all oily in their slicks.

    This gang of lunatics
    are in it for the kicks,
    just a bunch of pricks
    hung up on their dicks.

    They dream they will transfix
    while mired on the Styx,
    stuck for all their licks
    even after they deep six.

    We’ve seen it in the flicks,
    and in all the Nixon pics
    where history still predicts
    what narcissistic fates affix.

  11. Monica Jerbi says:

    Your comments are closed on the Project Rasputin story, but I am wondering if you have noticed that Vladislav Surkov, Putin’s secretive adviser dismissed today, has a nickname of Putin’s Rasputin. Your writeup didn’t mention this interesting factoid. Connected?

Comments are closed.