The Intercept Helps Protect Rudy Giuliani’s Lies about Ruby Freeman

I had ambitious plans to do four things today: write this post on what I’m calling the Roger Stone convergence, wash my walls in advance of priming them for paint, writing about how we’d all be better off remembering that Elmo (Elon Musk — like most nicknames I adopt, I wasn’t smart enough to make that one up) just entered a forced marriage, and explaining why this Intercept article is a piece of shit.

Lo and behold, as I was sitting around procrastinating and rationalizing that I shouldn’t climb a ladder while Mr. emptywheel was on his tenth ever visit to the office where he has worked at for 18 months, I saw that Mike Masnick wrote the article about the Intercept piece I was contemplating writing, down to multiple observations that the journalists kept including things that have fuck all with what they claim they’re writing about.

In other words, this entire system has literally fuck all to do with the rest of the article, but the Intercept makes it out to be a system for suppressing information.

[snip]

The article continues to pinball around, basically pulling random examples of questionable government behavior, but never tying it to anything related to the actual subject. I mean, yes, the FBI does bad stuff in spying on people. We know that. But that’s got fuck all to do with CISA, and yet the article spends paragraphs on it.

There are just two things I wanted to add to Masnick’s post (really, go read his), first to add some points about the Intercept’s “Hunter Biden” “laptop” claims, and also to talk about why this matters so much.

Masnick writes at length about how fucking stupid the Intercept’s take on the “Hunter Biden” “laptop” is. I want to add a few key points, interspersed with Masnick’s.

And then, I can’t even believe we need to go here, but it brings up the whole stupid nonsense about Twitter and the Hunter Biden laptop story. As we’ve explained at great length, Twitter blocked links to one article (not others) by the NY Post because they feared that the article included documents that violated its hacked materials policy, a policy that had been in place since 2019 and had been used before (equally questionably, but it gets no attention) on things like leaked documents of police chatter. We had called out that policy at the time, noting how it could potentially limit reporting, and right after there was the outcry about the NY Post story, Twitter changed the policy.

Yet this story remains the bogeyman for nonsense grifters who claim it’s proof that Twitter acted to swing the election. Leaving aside that (1) there’s nothing in that article that would swing the election, since Hunter Biden wasn’t running for president, and (2) the story got a ton of coverage elsewhere, and Twitter’s dumb policy enforcement actually ended up giving it more attention, this story is one about the trickiness in crafting reasonable trust & safety policies, not of any sort of nefariousness.

Yet the Intercept takes up the false narrative and somehow makes it even dumber:

In retrospect, the New York Post reporting on the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop ahead of the 2020 election provides an elucidating case study of how this works in an increasingly partisan environment.

Much of the public ignored the reporting or assumed it was false, as over 50 former intelligence officials charged that the laptop story was a creation of a “Russian disinformation” campaign.

Interjection: These men likely have spent too much time with Glenn Greenwald, who lies about what the former spooks did as regularly as some people attend church. They didn’t “charge” that the story was a creation of Russian disinformation. They said it had the hallmarks of such a campaign, but emphasized that they didn’t know.

It is for all these reasons that we write to say that the arrival on the US political scene of emails purportedly belonging to Vice President Biden’s son Hunter, much of it related to his time serving on the Board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma, has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.

We want to emphasize that we do not know if the emails, provided to the New York Post by President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, are genuine or not and that we do not have evidence of Russian involvement — just that our experience makes us deeply suspicious that the Russian government played a significant role in this case.

Then they provided around six reasons why they believed it might be true. All six were and remain true (and there has been reinforcement of several since then). Glenn likes to claim these spooks lied, which is nearly impossible, since they simply expressed a belief. Importantly, their belief was and remains eminently reasonable.

Now back to Masnick:

The mainstream media was primed by allegations of election interference in 2016 — and, to be sure, Trump did attempt to use the laptop to disrupt the Biden campaign. Twitter ended up banning links to the New York Post’s report on the contents of the laptop during the crucial weeks leading up to the election. Facebook also throttled users’ ability to view the story.

In recent months, a clearer picture of the government’s influence has emerged.

In an appearance on Joe Rogan’s podcast in August, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed that Facebook had limited sharing of the New York Post’s reporting after a conversation with the FBI. “The background here is that the FBI came to us — some folks on our team — and was like, ‘Hey, just so you know, you should be on high alert that there was a lot of Russian propaganda in the 2016 election,’” Zuckerberg told Rogan. The FBI told them, Zuckerberg said, that “‘We have it on notice that basically there’s about to be some kind of dump.’” When the Post’s story came out in October 2020, Facebook thought it “fit that pattern” the FBI had told them to look out for.

Zuckerberg said he regretted the decision, as did Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter at the time. Despite claims that the laptop’s contents were forged, the Washington Post confirmed that at least some of the emails on the laptop were authentic. The New York Times authenticated emails from the laptop — many of which were cited in the original New York Post reporting from October 2020 — that prosecutors have examined as part of the Justice Department’s probe into whether the president’s son violated the law on a range of issues, including money laundering, tax-related offenses, and foreign lobbying registration.

Interjection: The Intercept’s representation of what the WaPo and NYT wrote is horseshit (again, it leads me to suspect these gents have spent too much time listening to Glenn’s rants).

First, as I wrote about the NYT “authenticat[ion]” at the time, the description of the emails was of particular interest because it cited someone who had familiarity with the investigation.

People familiar with the investigation said prosecutors had examined emails between Mr. Biden, Mr. Archer and others about Burisma and other foreign business activity. Those emails were obtained by The New York Times from a cache of files that appears to have come from a laptop abandoned by Mr. Biden in a Delaware repair shop. The email and others in the cache were authenticated by people familiar with them and with the investigation.

That person could have been an FBI agent leaking about the investigation (as likely has happened more recently, when someone revealed they believe there is sufficient evidence to charge on crimes unrelated to the “laptop,” probably an effort to pressure US Attorney David Weiss to charge Hunter Biden). Or it could be someone like Mac Issac or Robert Costello, both of whom were in the chain of custody of the “laptop,” the testimony from whom might be of interest to the Hunter Biden investigation and/or might be of interest in the investigation into Rudy Giuliani’s negotiations with known Russian agents for Hunter Biden dirt that almost exactly resembles what the laptop is. The story actually doesn’t say the FBI first obtained the emails from the laptop. Indeed, the story reports that the foreign influence aspect of the investigation started in 2018, before the FBI got the laptop, in which case the FBI may have obtained the emails from Apple, which is where at least some of the content on the laptop came from. Almost certainly the FBI would have obtained the iCloud content independently anyway, to ensure the integrity of their chain of evidence. But all the NYT said is that someone — perhaps someone who has been questioned in the investigation — is leaking details to the press. All the NYT has done is get the emails from someone involved in the attack on Hunter Biden and — possibly with their help — authenticate the same headers anyone else has.

That doesn’t say “the laptop” is authentic; it says the investigation into Hunter Biden has been grossly politicized.

Now, before we review what the WaPo said, remember that reporters are citing this article to support a claim that the “laptop” was not disinformation. The goal here is to suggest authenticity. For those purposes, here’s what that WaPo story says:

Among the reasons for the inconclusive findings was sloppy handling of the data, which damaged some records. The experts found the data had been repeatedly accessed and copied by people other than Hunter Biden over nearly three years. The MacBook itself is now in the hands of the FBI, which is investigating whether Hunter Biden properly reported income from business dealings.

Most of the data obtained by The Post lacks cryptographic features that would help experts make a reliable determination of authenticity, especially in a case where the original computer and its hard drive are not available for forensic examination. Other factors, such as emails that were only partially downloaded, also stymied the security experts’ efforts to verify content.

[snip]

In their examinations, Green and Williams found evidence that people other than Hunter Biden had accessed the drive and written files to it, both before and after the initial stories in the New York Post and long after the laptop itself had been turned over to the FBI.

Maxey had alerted The Washington Post to this issue in advance, saying that others had accessed the data to examine its contents and make copies of files. But the lack of what experts call a “clean chain of custody” undermined Green’s and Williams’s ability to determine the authenticity of most of the drive’s contents.

“The drive is a mess,” Green said.

He compared the portable drive he received from The Post to a crime scene in which detectives arrive to find Big Mac wrappers carelessly left behind by police officers who were there before them, contaminating the evidence.

That assessment was echoed by Williams.

“From a forensics standpoint, it’s a disaster,” Williams said.

[snip]

Analysis was made significantly more difficult, both experts said, because the data had been handled repeatedly in a manner that deleted logs and other files that forensic experts use to establish a file’s authenticity.

“No evidence of tampering was discovered, but as noted throughout, several key pieces of evidence useful in discovering tampering were not available,” Williams’ reports concluded.

[snip]

Some other emails on the drive that have been the foundation for previous news reports could not be verified because the messages lacked verifiable cryptographic signatures. One such email was widely described as referring to Joe Biden as “the big guy” and suggesting the elder Biden would receive a cut of a business deal.

I’ve also been told that since the laptop was not airgapped, it’s possible Burisma emails were downloaded after Russia reportedly hacked Burisma, meaning those emails could absolutely be fraudulent.

So the Intercept reporters display their highly attuned nose for disinformation by deeming worthy of reporting a “laptop” that does have emails with valid keys downloaded from iCloud (in partial fashion, which should itself raise questions) but also includes a great deal of shit and obvious alteration. The only thing this “laptop” is useful for reporting on is how unreliable “the laptop” as a package is. It is useful for nothing more than serving as the shiny object it was used for in October 2020. Any reporter citing this report as proof that stuff wasn’t forged — or that the whole “laptop” wasn’t packaged up with the help of the same people who were peddling this information to Rudy in the same time period — discredits themselves. The report specifically said such conclusions were impossible and raised a lot of reasons to be more concerned about “the laptop.” The report shows that this “laptop” was a serial hit job and that for a second straight election, people close to Trump once again tried to win an election by using stolen personal data.

Back to Masnick.

The Zuckerberg/Rogan podcast thing has also been taken out of context by the same people. As he notes, the FBI gave a general warning to be on the lookout for false material, which was a perfectly reasonable thing for them to do. And, in response Facebook did not actually block links to the article. It just limited how widely the algorithm would share it until the article had gone through a fact check process. This is a reasonable way to handle information when there are questions about its authenticity.

But neither Twitter nor Facebook suggest that the government told them to suppress the story, because it didn’t. It told them generally to be on the lookout, and both companies did what they do when faced with similar info.

From there, the Intercept turns to a nonsense frivolous lawsuit filed by Missouri’s Attorney General and takes a laughable claim at face value:

Documents filed in federal court as part of a lawsuit by the attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana add a layer of new detail to Zuckerberg’s anecdote, revealing that officials leading the push to expand the government’s reach into disinformation also played a quiet role in shaping the decisions of social media giants around the New York Post story.

According to records filed in federal court, two previously unnamed FBI agents — Elvis Chan, an FBI special agent in the San Francisco field office, and Dehmlow, the section chief of the FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force — were involved in high-level communications that allegedly “led to Facebook’s suppression” of the Post’s reporting.

Interjection: This Intercept story was dated October 31, which last I checked is after October 28. Which means if these reporters were actually reporting from the docket, then they should be accountable for this October 28 filing which says that — according to Meta — the plaintiffs in this nonsense lawsuit made up the bit about Agent Chen.

Meta, however, recently sent Plaintiffs’ counsel a letter—attached as Exhibit A—explaining that Plaintiffs’ understanding of Meta’s statement concerning ASAC Chan is “incorrect.” Meta further stated that that “Mr. Chan at no point in time advised Meta ‘to suppress the Hunter Biden laptop story’ . . . [n]or did any of his colleagues.” Based on this newly received evidence, the Court should amend the Deposition Order, and withdraw its authorization of a deposition of ASAC Chan. ASAC Chan, a management-level FBI official, should not have to divert time away from his official duties to participate in an expedited deposition when the record contains no evidence suggesting that he has engaged in the communications that led the Court to authorize his deposition in the first place.

[snip]

Plaintiffs also relied on several of their own self-serving allegations concerning ASAC Chan—rather than actual evidence—to justify his deposition. See ECF No. 86 at 19-21 (referring to various allegations in Plaintiffs’ Second Amended Complaint). Those allegations generally embellished certain innocuous, public statements ASAC Chan made concerning routine cyber threat discussions he had with various companies, including social media companies. For example, Plaintiffs rely on their allegation that ASAC Chan “admits to regular, routine coordination about censorship with social-media platforms,” see id. at 19 (quoting 2d Am. Compl. ¶ 389), but that allegation relies on an interview in which ASAC Chan simply stated: the FBI regularly “shar[ed] intelligence with technology companies, with social media companies, so that they could protect their own platforms . . . we have all of these methods for collecting intelligence . . . [w]e share them with you and then you do what you want with them to protect your networks,” https://www.banyansecurity.io/resource/get-it-started-get-it-done/ (cited in 2d Am. Compl. ¶¶ 387-89) (emphasis added). Plaintiffs could not identify a single quotation in that interview where ASAC Chan ever stated that the FBI asked or pressured any social media company to remove any content from its platform. Plaintiffs also relied on an allegation that ASAC Chan had stated that social media platforms have been “trying to take down any misinformation or disinformation” and that they have “portals where [users] can report” election-related misinformation.” ECF No. 86 at 20. Again, Plaintiffs could not quote any portion of ASAC Chan’s statement where he stated that he, or anyone else at the FBI, asked or pressured any social media company to remove any content from its platform.

[snip]

Meta emphasized that “Mr. Chan at no point in time advised Meta ‘to suppress the Hunter Biden laptop story’ . . . [n]or did any of his colleagues.”

The letter from Facebook to the plaintiffs also notes there are no communications that support their Facebook claims.

We identified Mr. Chan to you during a phone call on September 15, 2022. On that call, we identified Mr. Chan as Meta’s primary individual point of contact on the FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force. And we informed you that we had not identified any emails between Mr. Chan and Meta about Hunter Biden’s laptop. You confirmed in writing after that call that “as referenced in today’s call, we continue to request communications between Meta and FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force, especially as it relates to the Hunder [sic] Biden laptop story. Reg represented today that he did not believe there are written communications involving” Mr. Chan.

Which is the perfect setup for Masnick’s conclusion about the Hunter Biden story.

Now here, you can note that Dehmlow was the person mentioned way above who talked about platforms and responsibility, but as we noted, in context, she was talking about better education of the public. The section quoted in Missouri’s litigation is laughable. It’s telling a narrative for fan service to Trumpist voters. We already know that the FBI told Facebook to be on the lookout for fake information. The legal complaint just makes up the idea that Dehmlow tells them what to censor. That’s bullshit without evidence, and there’s nothing to back it up beyond a highly fanciful and politicized narrative.

But from there, the Intercept says this:

The Hunter Biden laptop story was only the most high-profile example of law enforcement agencies pressuring technology firms.

Except… it wasn’t. Literally nothing anywhere in this story shows law enforcement “pressuring technology firms” about the Hunter Biden laptop story.

This story proves the opposite of what it claims.

It proves that the reporters who wrote it read a report that cautioned strongly about relying on the “Hunter Biden” “laptop” because of all the forensic problems with it — which is one reason among many why responsible reporters shouldn’t have reported on it in October 2020 (and most did not, precisely because there was nothing reliable). And it further shows to substantiate their core claim of coercion, the reporters rely on sources that themselves made up claims of coercion.

And here’s why it matters.

As Masnick lays out, the Intercept reporters “pingpong” from topic to topic, with little evident understanding of the topics they’re talking about. Several of the meeting notes they try to spin as wildly spooky deal with how one runs elections in an era of outright disinformation — shit like Presidential candidates repeatedly making false claims about the reliability of the vote count. This one, for example, focused primarily on the difficulties election workers face as they’re trying to tally election results amid a cloud of rumors and deliberately false claims.

The report makes quite clear that what’s at stake is the “peaceful transition of power.”

As Masnick recalled, Chris Krebs debunked a lot of false claims in 2020 and Trump promptly fired him for correctly stating that the elections were free and fair.

This is the kind of thing that the Intercept reporters — reporters who ignored a filing that debunked their key claim about FBI coercion and who didn’t understand that the WaPo said the opposite of what they claimed — appear to want to get rid of. If they achieved what they claim they want, CISA would no longer be able to tell local election supervisors about the false claims armed men trolling dropboxes are making to justify their actions. If they achieved what they claim to want, CISA would not be able to share information nationally about organized disinformation campaigns targeting mail-in votes.

The logical outcome, if these Intercept reporters succeeded in halting what they portray in the story, is that CISA would not be able to protect your vote.

Nor would it be able to protect election workers like Ruby Freeman from false claims that Rudy Giuliani spread, falsely claiming a ginger mint was a thumb drive used to steal votes.

In an opinion denying Rudy’s motion to dismiss a defamation lawsuit from Freeman and Shaye Moss, Beryl Howell cites the harm that the mother and daughter claim arises from Rudy’s false claims.

The accusations levied against plaintiffs had consequences. Plaintiffs claim they have experienced online, personal, and professional consequences directly resulting from Giuliani’s statements and conduct. See id. ¶¶ 140–57. Strangers camped out near Freeman’s home in Georgia, harassing her and her neighbors. Id. ¶ 141. “Christmas cards were mailed to Ms. Freeman’s address with messages like, ‘Ruby please report to the FBI and tell them you committed voter fraud. If not[,] you will be sorry,’ and ‘You deserve to go to jail, you worthless piece of shit whore.’” Id. ¶ 143. Protesters targeted her home on January 5 and January 6, 2021, though Freeman had fled her home at the recommendation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Id. ¶¶ 144–45. Pizza delivery orders were ordered to her home that her family never ordered, which is a common tactic of online harassment called “doxx[ing].” Id. ¶ 142. Local police received more than twenty harassing phone calls while monitoring Freeman’s phone and, eventually, she had to change her email and phone numbers. Id. ¶ 140. Freeman has experienced strangers harassing her in public and has lost friendships, id. ¶¶ 148–49, plus she has had to cease her online business because of prolonged harassment on social media and public events, id. ¶ 147.

She also cites Rudy complaining about how he got banned from social media for making those false claims.

3 Statement 8 was made by Giuliani during an OAN interview on January 18, 2021, as follows:

I mean, they pretty much censored it while it was going on, so they would love to turn the page on it. I mean, I get banned from any of the big tech things when I say that not only was there voter fraud, I have evidence of it, I’ve seen it, I have a motion picture of it. I can show you the voter fraud in living color. It was done in Fulton County, Georgia, it was well over 30,000 ballots were stolen. They were attributed to Biden instead of Trump. Had they been caught and held to account for it, Trump would have won Georgia. Amend. Compl. ¶ 89. A reasonable listener could read this message as referencing the Edited Video and the actions of election workers in Fulton County, which workers include Freeman and Moss.

Finally, she deems sufficiently credible Freeman and Moss’ claims that Rudy made these false claims about the two of them as part of a plan to overturn the democratic election.

7 Giuliani defends the Strategic Plan as a plan to “‘educate the public,’” Def.’s Mem. at 13 (quoting Strategic Plan at 1), rather than to disseminate false information. Regardless of how Giuliani characterizes the goal of the Plan, plaintiffs allege that the Plan’s goal was to overturn the 2020 presidential election, and they allege more than enough evidence in their Amended Complaint to infer that unlawful act was the Plan’s underlying purpose. See, e.g., Amend. Compl. ¶ 9 (noting that the Strategic Plan “relied on the following call to action: ‘YOU CANNOT LET AMERICA ITSELF BE STOLEN BY CRIMINALS – YOU MUST TAKE A STAND AND YOU MUST TAKE IT TODAY’”).

If the Intercept reporters achieved what they claim they want, it would be far harder to combat clear abuse like Rudy’s because it would halt CISA’s efforts to debunk such obvious false claims. It would make it less likely that Rudy would get banned for his false claims about two women who did nothing more than help count the vote. It would be harder to protect your vote, and it would be harder to protect the life and livelihood of election workers.

This article fed the efforts of fascists to delegitimize efforts to protect democracy. Tucker Carlson loved it. For good reason: because he peddles bullshit that poses a risk to your vote and the livelihood of Ruby Freeman.

Not only didn’t it substantiate what it claimed, but it discredited precisely the efforts that will be used next week to protect democracy.

Update: ProPublica reports that, contra Intercept’s claim that disinformation efforts are increasing, DHS under Biden has backed off the kind of support for election workers that was so successful (and important) in 2020.

In May, one Department of Homeland Security office instructed staffers that work on “sensitive” topics including disinformation should be put on “immediate hold,” according to material reviewed by ProPublica. In the months that followed, DHS canceled a series of planned contracts that would have tracked and studied the proliferation of disinformation and its connection with violent attacks. And after issuing six nationwide warnings about domestic terrorism fueled by disinformation in the first 13 months of the Biden administration, DHS has only issued one in the eight months since.

The government’s retreat comes ahead of midterms in which election officials throughout the country are being inundated with false rumors about their work. After talks on a project to help election officials monitor and respond to threats stalled, election officials from Colorado and Florida wrote a private letter in August to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas pleading for help.

“Threats and harassment of election officials has become an extremely serious concern and terribly frequent experience for election workers,” they warned, adding, “We are ourselves a crucial part of the nation’s critical infrastructure, in need of and deserving of protection.”

“Time is of the essence,” the officials wrote.

Weeks later, DHS scrapped the project.

[snip]

[E]lection administrators remain deeply concerned.

“States need more support. It is clear that threats to election officials and workers are not dissipating and may only escalate around the 2022 and 2024 elections,” Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat, said in an email to ProPublica. “Election offices need immediate meaningful support from federal partners.”

Kevin Drum compared the ProPublica’s worthwhile report with the Intercept one here.

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44 replies
  1. Ginevra diBenci says:

    “Tucker Carlson loved it.” Your punchline delivers a true gut punch, Dr. Wheeler. It particularly resonates for me the day after Ari Melber handed half his show over to Bill Maher, another purported “liberal” loved by Tucker because his empty-headed arrogance suits the white-wing cause with such frictionless ease.

    • Matt___B says:

      Since I’m a cord-cutter, I didn’t see the broadcast version of the Melber/Maher interview. Instead, they released a short clip yesterday on YouTube which seems to support the “Fox loves Bill Maher” angle. But today, YT/MSNBC released a longer excerpt of that interview which seemed a lot more nuanced. Weird editing choices there for non-broadcast viewers.

  2. Gatorbaiter says:

    Thanks for this, the whole laptop thing has been a mess because of everything thrown at the wall by right, you just blew away much of the fog. I never trusted that “10% for the big guy” e-mail or anything Bobulinski said.

    • Zinsky123 says:

      Gator – I echo your thoughts and comments. I have always thought that, from a chain of custody standpoint, anything that was on that laptop would be inadmissible in most courts because, God only knows who has touched it and when! It seems like an army of people have! I also think the entire provenance of the laptop is highly suspect unless you believe that the drug-addled son of a vice president dropped his computer off at Mr. Magoo’s Kinda Good Computer Repair Shoppe, and then never returned to pick it up. Huh? I also heard someone speculate that even if Hunter Biden did say something about “10%” and “the big guy” and his father Joe, he might have been referring to tithing, since Joe is a staunch Catholic.

      In any case, thanks again Ms. Wheeler for the clarifications around this very muddy story and your outstanding writing!

      • Shadowalker says:

        Even if Hunter was referring to his father, it wouldn’t even be close to a crime. The email was sent in 2017, who was Vice President at the time?

        Then there’s the problem that the computer shop owner had no proof Hunter was even in his store, no signature, no video recording, nothing. Hunter claims the last he saw the laptop was in Boston. I guess he didn’t report it lost or they could have charged the computer guy with receiving stolen property. Which also throws out his claim of ownership when he hacked the drive.

        This whole thing had so many huge holes in it that you could fly Trump Force One through them.

        • Upisdown says:

          The “Big Guy” email wasn’t even from Hunter Biden. It was from James Gilliar to Tony Bobulinski. (The email also suggested that Gilliar and Bobulinski each receive 20%. So it was self-serving at best.) Where is any acceptance from Hunter Biden? Where is any indication that Hunter Biden was on board with the proposal? It’s like the NY Post’s “smoking gun” email thanking Hunter Biden for introduction for a Burisma exec to meet Joe Biden. A meeting which, as it turns out, never took place. Without the preceding and subsequent emails it’s a very NON-smoking gun. A smoking gun needs to have all of the emails for context, such as the email exchange between Rob Goldstone and Donald Trump, Jr.

          Mac Issac claimed to have uncovered evidence of a possible crime, but there really isn’t anything from the laptop’s emails that suggests a crime took place unless you jump directly from point A to point Z without evidence to support the jump. The FBI was correct in treating it like thin tip from a very biased source.

  3. J R in WV says:

    May be off topic, but Wife and I voted early yesterday at the county seat court house here in rural southern West Virginia. It was a computerized voting machine, where you pick your preferred candidates on a screen, and when you are done, it prints out a long (well, really, actually short for this mid-term election!) ballot which is human readable, which is then fed into a reader which “counts” your votes and drops the paper ballot into a bin.

    It seems quite straight-forward to me. No little box codes no one can read, just a printed ballot readable by the ballot box to be counted. Took maybe 20 minutes including the wait for others to vote who best us to the counter. Wife uses a cane right now to help her keep her balance, and so the election workers escorted her to a voting station with a chair to do her work.

    The election workers told us they had over 900 votes since early voting started last week, which is a lot for a rural county like ours. I am convinced that (not necessarily here in WV, which is Trump-blood red now) this election nationwide will be a blue wave. Don’t tell me any different, we can’t know what will happen until voting is over and all — every one — of the legally cast ballots is counted.

    Thanks to everyone involved with Emptywheel for all your work tracking the court cases against the Jan 6th revolutionary fascists!!

  4. jdmckay says:

    Thanks so much for thorough clarification of Biden laptop. Not enough hours in a day to look into every right wing lie I hear, and this thing (Biden laptop) is one of those. It is also one of the most frequently asserted topics I hear for somewhere around 20 minutes a week (all I can stomach) on right wing radio when I’m driving. They all say with certainty its open & shut evidence of crime by Joe/Hunter.

    I”ve thought this but never said it anytime I can recall: going back to all GWB’s lies to justify Iraq “liberation”, there was a young woman GI badly maimed by a roadside IUD (can’t recall her name, she was all over the news for some time). FOX showed a video of special ops breaking into hospital to get her, along with narrative she was being interrogated and tortured. Made it look like a GI Joe moment.

    After she recovered, she said publicly she was very well cared for… that the Iraqi doctors saved her life.

    So this was then a FOX made-for-TV lie to further demonize Iraqis when they were heroes instead.

    FOX has done this many, many times since.

    To my point saying what I thought but never did: I can’t see how the US can ever be a healthy functioning society again as long as there is no hard, swift and big consequences for this. It’s getting worse, and has us on a course for any one of several major disasters in the not-too-distant furture…. none of which we are prepared for at ll.

      • Doctor My Eyes says:

        The Jessica Lynch story is appropriate to bring up on this thread. The fabulous initial story of heroism was fake, but as is always true, the corrections never carried the weight of the original, so the propaganda was successful. The bullshit has only grown deeper these days.

        PS: I’m also predicting a blue wave. What I worry about is possible violence in the aftermath.

        • Ryan Horath says:

          The Jessica Lynch story was *government* propaganda. Made up by the same government that everyone here seems to trust to tell us what is “misinformation”. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at the gullibility.

      • Greg Hunter says:

        The Jessica Lynch story has a much more subtle context when it comes to the evolution of US Military. I clearly remember Charles Rangel who rightly opposed the Iraq War saying words to the effect that the poor and the minorities were cannon fodder in the Iraq War. I found that comment interesting as it was clear that was not true for the US Army as Charles Rangel was applying what he saw when he was in the Army to the Iraq War Army and that analysis was wrong.

        The Army clearly segregated the military according to the battlefield abilities of each recruit with regards to its vision of modern warfare. The tip of the spear Military Units are composed of soldiers that have the ability to take in data from multiple tactical sensors and then make decisions when confronting the enemy. The difference between these types of recruits and the ones captured with Jessica Lynch was glaring in their differences and if studied would shed more light on America’s inequality.

        With that said Charles Rangel was right about a great deal including my favorite Bring Back the Draft.

        https://www.ontheissues.org/NY/Charles_Rangel_War_+_Peace.htm

    • eyesoars says:

      Not impossible, but it seems rather more likely she was injured by a roadside IED than a roadside IUD…

  5. Peterr says:

    From Masnick: “The section quoted in Missouri’s litigation is laughable.”

    Eric Schmitt, the GOP Attorney General of Missouri, has been using lawsuits as vehicles for fundraising in his campaign to succeed Roy Blunt as US Senator. In general, whenever MO AG Schmitt files something in court or makes demands that threaten litigation, “laughable” is one of the first words that comes to mind.

    Last year, he regularly announced lawsuits against schools for following CDC and local county health department guidance for closing, then trumpeted this announcement in fundraising emails to great financial gain. In most cases, the lawsuits were never actually filed. In one memorable case from last December, the attorney for a suburban KC district responded to Schmitt’s cease and decease letter related to masks and other mitigation efforts with an absolutely blistering letter taking apart Schmitt’s C&D letter piece by piece, citing multiple laws (as opposed to the uninformed opinions put forward by the AG) to back up the school district’s positions. (A copy is embedded at the KCUR story at the link – it makes for very fun reading!) Other than a pro forma announcement, Schmitt never followed through on his C&D letter with litigation.

    I am really hoping that Trudy Busch Valentine (a former nurse and member of the Busch brewing family of St. Louis) beats him in the election next Tuesday. But it will be an uphill climb. and the best most recent polls give Schmitt something around a 10 point lead. The only bright spot is that there are reports that early voting is high in very Democratic areas, and I’m hoping it is high enough to carry the day in ways the pollsters have not captured.

    The thought of Missouri being represented by both Josh Hawley and Eric Schmitt is truly a nightmare.

    • Just Some Guy says:

      “Eric Schmitt, the GOP Attorney General of Missouri, has been using lawsuits as vehicles for fundraising in his campaign to succeed Roy Blunt as US Senator. In general, whenever MO AG Schmitt files something in court or makes demands that threaten litigation, “laughable” is one of the first words that comes to mind.”

      Daniel Cameron, Kentucky’s Attorney General who quite infamously declined to charge any LMPD officers with falsifying the Breonna Taylor search warrant, is doing the same sorta thing as he runs for Governor here next year.

    • L. Eslinger says:

      Does he face any repercussions if he is found to be holding back information, providing misleading responses, or otherwise failing to provide a full and honest testimony?

    • John Forde says:

      I’m very interested in this site’s analysis of the KP news. What does DOJ have that KP does not anticipate? Will he foist a cover story on the fly and risk perjury?

      • Peterr says:

        Typically, in situations like this the DOJ has enough to convict a Not Quite Bigwig, but are anxious enough about trying to get The Bigwig that they push for limited use immunity. Thus, they are foregoing a more-or-less sure conviction in order to get testimony against the person they really want to get.

        The risk for Patel is not merely a perjury charge, but a perjury charge on top of whatever other charges they were ready to charge him with. If they were going to tie him in with seditious conspiracy or something like that, he could be facing very tough time should he try to lie and be caught at it.

        • L. Eslinger says:

          The first part is understandable since that’s the leverage used to compel Patel’s testimony.

          Perjury is (my spin, here) willfully and knowingly lying after taking an oath to be truthful. But what about foot dragging, convenient failure of memory, weaseling responses, and other such actions that skirt perjury?

          Can the DOJ question Patel before he appears before the grand jury, document his responses, have him attest to the truth and fullness of his answers, and make his immunity conditional upon his fidelity in court?

          This seems like a sketchy idea, but my intent is to better frame the question of whether the DOJ has effective tools to prevent Patel from getting cute.

          • timbo says:

            Limited immunity means you can’t be charged for crimes in which you self-incriminate yourself, correct? If Patel has committed crimes where he’s being compelled to testify, that’s a lot of motivation to be forthcoming…on the other hand, lying and/or failing to abide by court orders is a way of life for some of the folks in Trump’s circle so we’ll see how well Kash succeeds at testifying here.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              The use immunity offered here is that Patel’s testimony in this case cannot be used against him in a criminal prosecution. Evidence obtained independently of that testimony can be used against him.

              Perjury is willfully and knowingly lying, under oath, about a material issue. It does not cover the literal truth or material omissions, which places the burden on the questioner, as Richard Feynman might have said, to ask the right questions.

              • timbozone says:

                My understanding is that certain federal codes covering espionage and national defense information may require material responses to questioning. Is that not true?

        • Rugger_9 says:

          As much as a dirtball as KP is, I have no doubt that the First Law of Dirtballs will take effect. The government will get another shot at him. Did the full set of terms with respect to the immunity deal get published, or only that DoJ got one? That could be very important to figure out how much wiggling KP can do.

          With that news, one wonders how Individual-1 will react. One by one, his key aides are copping deals to spill the beans and KP was a very key aide indeed (allegedly present for the telepathic declassification as well as NARA point of contact). Meadows and the Pats are talking too, so can Jared and/or Ivanka be far behind? Kim Guilfoyle while noisy likely wasn’t in the inner circle but maybe Ellis can be flipped.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              He’s allowed to forget. But it won’t do him much good, if there is hard evidence that contradicts his claimed forgetfulness.

              • Just Some Guy says:

                Thanks, I appreciate the answer. I didn’t follow the Scooter Libby trial in any detail at the time, but since people have compared Patel’s use immunity to Fleischer’s in the Libby trial, what kept the DoJ from indicting Fleischer? Just a lack of evidence? But then why grant immunity for a “forgetful” witness?

                Sorry if these questions are annoying and/or re-hashing old news (as they’re probably both). Just curious if anyone has any insights into the comparison. Thanks.

  6. Dmbeaster says:

    The Intercept, despite losing Greenwald, still working for the benefit of fascists. People so in love with contrarian dogma that they do not care that they help fascists.

    • Bobster33 says:

      I wasn’t sure if you were describing Greenwald or Matt Taibbi. Both have used their contrarian bluster to win friends and influence people. And their continued contrarian programming has now made them both laughingstocks.

      • Dmbeaster says:

        I was mostly just reacting to this one terrible article, and the bad faith motives of cynical contrarians. But yes, those two have revealed their weak character.

  7. Rayne says:

    As I noted in a previous thread, the “laptop” is a MacGuffin which solely exists as a plot device to help further fascists’ propaganda narratives.

    Now it’s enhanced with Tar-Baby qualities. In grasping the MacGuffin as if it’s a real object, one becomes soiled and tainted by it. Ken Klippenstein and Lee Fang damaged their credibility while allowing themselves to be used like toilet paper by the likes of Tucker the fish sticks heir Carlson.

    • Willis Warren says:

      Lee Fang is Glennnwald jr, and has no credibility. Klippenstein walked right into it, but he’s young and will learn the hard way.

    • Mark Klouda says:

      Not that far off topic as I knew what story you were referring to. I took it as a look back at Russia gate with 20/20 hindsight and actually looking at things that at the time were not connected and other ideas. I grabbed at it right away and was nearly mesmerized and I have kept up for the last- or just say since the escalator I have been on high alert and I think not just me but a good portion of the country was probably traumatized by ind-1/tfg, That is if they survived his failure to protect us from the pandemic.
      Definitely a good read.

  8. Willis Warren says:

    Trump’s overall legal strategy seems to be getting the lackies to pretend to cooperate, get information from the feds, and then have them bail out

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