Three Questions at the Start of an Intelligence Review

Why? Why? Why not?

There’s been a lot of focus on the narrow legal battles over the documents seized at Mar-a-Lago, but sometimes stepping back to look at the big picture helps bring the conflict into focus. As a legal matter and a political matter, Trump, his lawyers, and his apologists are trying to make the claim that this is just a dispute about documents, like overdue library books. The passion with which the DOJ went after them since receiving the referral from NARA last February, especially the ferocity of the legal arguments and filings over the last two weeks, demonstrates how wrong the DOJ believes that framing to be.

I agree with the DOJ.

The documents are not really what is being fought over — the battle is over the damage  (hypothetical or actual) done to our intelligence services, our national defense, and our broader foreign policy by Trump’s possession of these documents at Mar-a-Lago. The documents are the first puzzle pieces the intelligence community [IC] has to put together, to fill in the whole picture and plan a way forward.

To understand why, let’s parse out what an intelligence review might look like. What follows is not based on any insider sources at the DOJ, ODNI, or any other federal agencies, but on my own experience (long ago) with classified materials and the general experiences of others I know with deeper and more recent work in classified matters, as well as analyzing other cases where classified materials were stolen from the government and passed along to foreign governments.

An intelligence review is designed to look at three things: what got exposed, to whom, and what dangers does that pose to intelligence sources, methods, and broader foreign policy objectives? These are all backwards-looking questions, to understand how this could have happened in the first place. They also serve as the starting point for forward-looking actions, as we and our allies pivot our overt and covert foreign policy approaches in a new context. Think of Klaus Fuchs, a German-born British scientist who passed US and British nuclear secrets to the USSR in the 1940s. A backwards looking intelligence review ultimately identified him as the spy and spotted the flaws in our security procedures, and a forward looking review pivoted the US and British policy toward a world with nuclear powers who opposed each other.

In the current case, the IC review begins with three interrelated questions:

  1. Why did Trump take government documents to Mar-a-Lago in the first place?
  2. Why these documents?
  3. Why not those other documents?

The second and third questions begin to move toward an answer to the first question, so let’s start there. Broadly speaking, I see five possible answers, each of which poses different dangers.

1: Vanity

If this is the answer to that first question, we would expect to find that Trump took documents that made him look good, that pointed to actions that he believed he could claim credit for, or that simply let him feel powerful because he knows stuff very few others know. Think of these as Extreme Presidential Souvenirs. These would be documents that shout to the world, “Look at how great Trump is . . .”

Danger: Simply having documents like this in his possession would likely not be enough for Trump’s ego. Trump’s ego would demand that he show them to others, so that they would know how great Trump is. The level and kind of danger depends on who the “others” are, and who they might have spoken to about what Trump showed them.

2: Fear

In this scenario, the IC review would see that Trump took documents that would help cover up his failures and/or possible crimes, such as a full transcript of the “Perfect Phone Call” with Zelenskyy. These would be documents that whisper in Trump’s ear, “This could get you into trouble. You better hide this . . .”

Danger: These are the documents least likely to be shared by Trump, so in that respect they are safe. On the other hand, they become prime material for blackmail if unfriendly parties realize he has them. Trump’s nightmare is getting a phone call about these documents, threatening to expose the documents to the “wrong” people. “I’d like you to do me a favor, though . . .”

3: Greed

Given Trump’s proclivity to monetize anything he can for his own personal gain, it is hard to imagine that Trump would not be looking at anything that crossed his desk to see how he might make money on it. (“Hmmm . . . I’m doing some traveling? OK, which of my properties are closest, and how much can I charge the Secret Service for staying there?”) Documents that showed him something that would let him make money would be particularly tempting to Trump. Think of this as corporate espionage, or a twisted form of insider trading. Perhaps he received knowledge of foreign government’s as yet unannounced plans to develop certain properties overseas, and figured he could jump in, buy the property first, and then get bought out for a profit. Or maybe he would buy the property next to the future development and cash in when the government project became public and went forward, driving up the value of what he purchased. Perhaps these were not projects led by foreign governments, but by US corporations acting abroad whose plans were picked up as part of a signals intelligence surveillance program aimed at less-than-friendly nations. Documents like this would be calling out to his wallet, telling him “Hey, you can really use this . . .”

Danger: Suppose Trump acts on this information in some way, and the foreign government in question starts wondering “Did Trump merely get lucky in choosing to invest right where our project was going in, or did US spies give him the information?” Questions like that might lead to the exposure of human assets (sources) and signals intelligence capabilities (methods), which in turn could lead to those sources being shut down/arrested/killed, those signals intelligence methods being countered, or either the sources or methods being turned and used to feed false information to the US.

4: Corruption

As bad as #3 is, this scenario is the IC nightmare: Trump took documents that he knows other foreign governments, perhaps some of our greatest enemies, would love to have, and then deliberately passed them along to those governments. It might be to get revenge on Biden and the Dems for beating him in 2020. It might be to sabotage the work of the current administration and cause great public political problems for the Dems, to enable his return to the White House in 2024. It might be that some foreign adversary has compromising information about Trump or holds a private loan to Trump, his family, or his Trump Organization, and that country demanded classified information from Trump in exchange for not revealing the compromising information they hold or for not calling in the loan he could not immediately repay.

Danger: Beyond the damage done to sources, methods, and US foreign policy objectives created by disclosing the classified information in these documents, this scenario is worse. It weakens our relationships with our allies and harms our position in the world, simply by indicating we can’t keep secrets and by making us weaker through whatever is revealed. Should Trump have provided classified intelligence deliberately, it only gives those folks more leverage over Trump, which they would use to push for more information and more favors. Once you’ve turned over classified information to a hostile power, those folks own you forever. “Nice resort you’ve got here. It’d be a shame if anything were to happen to it.”

And it is not beyond the realm of possibility that foreign governments might lean on Trump to use his family to further their goals. “You need to have Jared talk to his friends in the Middle East, and convince them to . . . “

5: Some/all of the above

Trump might have taken some documents to feed his ego, others to hide them, and still others to try to monetize their contents. He might have taken some for his own reasons, and others because he was pressured to do so by hostile powers. The permutations are . . . troubling.

Danger: some/all of the above.

HOW BAD IS ALL THIS? DON’T ANSWER YET . . .

On top of these five possible explanations of Trump’s motives, one other thing is absolutely certain. Documents like those that were seized by the DOJ would have been catnip for the intelligence agencies of other nations. Once word got out that Trump had taken highly classified documents out of the WH (or once folks even suspected he had done so), all manner of foreign spies no doubt became very interested in Mar-a-Lago – much more than they had been during the Trump administration itself. It’s hard as hell to get into the WH and take classified materials, or to plant electronic surveillance devices inside the WH. Mar-a-Lago, on the other hand, is a relative sieve, especially after Trump left office and the security around Trump was much more directed to protecting his person rather than protecting all the stuff around a sitting president. At Mar-a-Lago these days, you pay your membership fee, and walk right in for a grand tour. Whatever the reason Trump chose to take these documents, even if he simply wanted to hold onto them as presidential souvenirs and he does nothing with them otherwise, should foreign agents copy them or steal them from Mar-a-Lago, that’s almost as bad it as it gets for the US.

Danger: Exposing whatever classified information to the prying eyes of our adversaries not only exposes sources and methods of our intelligence services, but provides our adversaries with insight into our strengths and weaknesses, depending on what the intelligence said. It also opens Trump to blackmail, as noted above in scenarios #2 and 4. “Well look what we found at your home. It sure would be terrible if the FBI were to discover that you were so sloppy with security that we were able to waltz right in and take them.”

To sort out the likelihood of each of these scenarios and the specific dangers posed, those conducting the IC review will do a couple of things. First, the leaders of the intelligence agencies are likely going back to the original creators of these documents, to tell them they were found in unsecured locations at Mar-a-Lago, and therefore (a) the creators need to assess what the specific danger would be if this particular document were to be exposed, and (b) the creators should look around to see if they have any signs that these documents had been shared already. The former is to measure the hypothetical damage, while the latter is to assess the likelihood that this is not hypothetical. Did spies suddenly go quiet, or did the quality of their information suddenly become different? Did satellites that used to provide good, regular photos of intelligence targets begin to provide much less good intelligence? All the while, the IC reviewers know that this is likely even worse.

EVEN WORSE? HOW CAN THIS BE EVEN WORSE?

If any of this information came to the US IC through our partnerships with other friendly nations (like Five Eyes or NATO), that means going to the intelligence folks in those countries who trusted us with their secrets and telling them that their trust was misplaced, at least while Trump was in office. They are the folks who need to assess the danger that exposure of this information would create, and who would have to see if there were signs that this information had already been shared. Of course we would promise to do whatever we could to assist them in that analysis, but that’s like telling a shopkeeper that you will help sweep up the shards of all the broken crystal after your kid threw a bowling ball into the display case.

Danger: It’s bad enough if our secrets get exposed, but if we let their secrets get exposed, that’s going to make them less likely to trust us in the future. As I said before, this is why having career diplomat William Burns as head of the CIA was a stroke of genius by Biden, and why Burns and the rest of the IC is no doubt bending over backwards to help Garland get this right, and bending farther over backwards to help our allies get this fixed.

SO HOW MIGHT THIS REVIEW WORK?

This is why the analysis of what was taken and trying to determine Trump’s motive(s) is the starting place. It leads to other critical questions like these:

  • What does Trump’s selection of documents — classified and unclassified — tell us about what is going on?
  • Were the documents tucked away by Trump over a long period of time, or did they all get tucked away in a specific, relatively short time period?
  • And what else was tucked in the drawers, file folders, and boxes next to these classified documents? Are there notes or letters that appear to have been written based on the content of the classified materials?

Depending on what this initial analysis reveals, the reviewers will begin to talk to the counterintelligence people in their agencies, especially if there is some concentration of subject matters or particular time frames involved.

  • Have you noticed any unusual behavior in known foreign agents around those time frames?
  • Was there any unusual signals traffic between foreign agents here and their bosses back home?
  • Were there any new agents who arrived here, who have a particular focus to their work that meshes with the subject matters of the documents Trump took? What actions have they taken?

To dig into all this, the analysts will be looking at other information and also be in contact with the folks in the field who are managing the human sources or electronic surveillance methods, to see what insights they might have. They know that decisions will need to be made about protecting or extracting sources who might be in danger, shutting down electronic surveillance already in place (pull out/relocate bugs and cameras if possible, re-direct satellite orbits, change communications frequencies, reprogramming software, etc.), and otherwise working to replace these sources and methods in some way to avoid further exposure. They hope to restore secrecy to the people and programs, and restore quality to the intelligence that might have been harmed through exposure.

While all this covert review work is going on, the FBI will no doubt be doing an ordinary shoe-leather investigation into the folks who have been going in and out of Mar-a-Lago over the last 18 months after the security of the resort was scaled back to simply protect the former president. They will be looking at guests and staff alike, trying to see what can be learned from videos, logs of visits, work schedules, and in some cases interviews. They will be looking at the White House document handling, especially after December 18, 2020 when the head of the White House Office of the Staff Secretary resigned and no one was named to take his place — even in an acting capacity — until January 20, 2021. They will be doing deeper domestic investigations of any new foreign agents that were identifies by the IC analysts.

And then there’s the investigation that NARA is probably already trying to complete: what other documents from the Trump White House were not turned over?

This is all very time consuming and expensive. You don’t want to do this if it isn’t necessary, but you absolutely have to do it if these sources and methods are likely to have been (or actually were) blown. Only when the Why?, Why?, and Why not? questions have been answered can the forward looking work really begin in earnest.

There’s a lot more that can be inferred about what an intelligence review would contain, but one thing is certain. The panel of judges from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and Special Master Raymond Dearie are focused on what Judge Cannon does not want to recognize: this is not a case about misfiled documents, but a national security case in which documents hold the key to assessing the dangers posed and actual damage done to our nation, so that the current government can begin to address it.

What Family Rifts at Funerals can Teach Us About Pardoning Presidents

Exhibit A of Step Two Behavior

Watching the coverage of the death of Elizabeth II, two questions seem to be on a constant loop. The first is political: “How will Charles change the monarchy?” The second is personal: “Will the funeral heal the rift between Harry and William/Charles/the rest of the family?” The discussions that follow, between television anchors, reporters, and “royal watchers” have provided me with great amusement. “Oh look: Charles said something nice about Harry and Meghan in his first broadcast after the Queen’s death! Perhaps all is well again!!” The wishfulness of the discussion — “Surely the funeral of their beloved mother/grandmother will bring the family together, and they can heal from the past unpleasantness” — says much more about the hopes that these media folks have and much less about the reality of how a family torn apart acts as a family funeral approaches.

As a pastor for more than three decades, I’ve never done a royal funeral, but I’ve done plenty of regular funerals, including those of matriarchs who had presided over a divided family. Most of the time, what I’ve seen is that either (a) the family members manage to sit on their frustrations with one another for a week or so as the funeral goes forward, and then they return to their earlier fighting, or (b) the funeral intensifies the fighting, as they argue about the decisions made around the funeral itself. Occasionally, the funeral does help to begin a healing process, as folks who have not seen “those monsters” in years are now in the same room for the first time again, and they realize that these other folks aren’t the monsters they have seen them to be in the past. It doesn’t happen five minutes after the burial, but with a willingness to work on both sides, healing is possible. But it sure isn’t the magic “If only Harry and William can sit next to each other at the funeral, everything will be fixed!” that so many commentators are looking for.

Which brings me to the other crazy question I’ve seen popping up more and more often between anchors, reporters, and political pundits. This is the question posed by Chuck Todd that NBC chose to highlight as they tease the Meet The Press interview with VP Kamala Harris that airs in full tomorrow:

Let me try to go to 60,000 feet. What do you say to the argument that it would be too divisive to the country to prosecute a former president?

Earth to Chuck Todd, and anyone else who asks this question: the country *is* deeply divided already.

Giving Trump a pass to “avoid division” is like that scenario (a) at the family funeral, except you are betting that everyone can sit on their frustrations not for a week but forever. Turning the question around — “Would it be too divisive to the country to give a former president a pass for illegal behavior?” — ought to make it clear how silly both questions are.

Step One in dealing with divisions — either at a family funeral or in national politics — is admitting your family/nation is already divided.

As an interim pastor, I work with congregations whose previous pastor has left. Maybe that pastor retired, died, took a new call elsewhere, or was run out of town on a rail. One of the things I often have to help the congregation deal with is conflict, either between the old pastor and the members, or between the members themselves. Whenever I hear “Yes, we had divisions, but now that the old pastor is gone, everything is just fine now” I have to figure out how get them to pull their heads out of the sand. “What’s going to happen when you disagree with your next pastor?” I ask them, knowing that for the immediate future, I am that next pastor. “What do you have to say to the folks around here who loved that old pastor and blame you for running that pastor off?”

Within the House of Windsor, simply coming up with the right seating chart at the funeral for Elizabeth will not wash away the pain that led the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to withdraw from royal duties and decamp to the US. Similarly, pardoning Trump, either by choosing not to prosecute or by an act of President Biden, will not heal the nation either.

What *will* help both the House of Windsor and the United States is to admit that divisions already exist.

Step Two in dealing with divisions, then, is to explore that divided reality. What, specifically, does that painful divided reality look like? What are the presenting issues, that anyone can see at the surface? What are the underlying issues, that lie deeper down, at the heart of the trouble? What are the triggers, that bring all that buried pain out into the open again? How is everyone being hurt by these divisions?

Looking at all that is not easy. It requires a willingness to dig into a painful past, to admit to past bad behavior (your own as well as that of others), and to accept just how bad things have gotten for everyone involved. Until you do that, all you are doing is papering over division and pretending things aren’t that bad.

In the US, the arguments about race and the causes of the Civil War are a perfect illustration of this. So long as a non-trivial part of the country denies that the Civil War was about slavery (“it was the war of Northern Aggression, fought over state’s rights”), our country will never be able to fully deal with how race continues to divide our country today. If you don’t think racism divides our country today, please go back to step one and try again.

Only when the divided congregation or family or nation has done the hard work of examining its own ugly past are they ready to move to Step Three.

Step Three is to look at what you’d like the future to be. What would a healthy House of Windsor look like? How would members treat one another, in ways that are different than what caused the fractures in the past? What would a healthy United States of America look like? How would those with different political views treat one another, in ways that are different from what caused the fractures in the past?

Step Four, then, is to figure out how to get to that future. That’s a conversation about rules, roles, and responsibilities, with unstated assumptions put out in the open and mixed expectations clarified. It’s about crafting behavior that rebuild trust, dignity, and belonging for everyone involved.

The big lesson in all of this is that THERE IS NO SHORTCUT.

You can’t just jump to step four, without doing all the work of the other three steps. You can try, but you’re just sticking your fingers in your ears and singing “La la la – I can’t hear you.” You don’t need to take my word for this. Just look at the House of Windsor.

When the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced they were leaving their royal roles behind, that was Step One behavior. “Our family is painfully divided.” No more smiling masks, no more pretending all is well, and no more trying to ignore the pain.

When they sat down for their interview with Oprah, that was Step Two behavior. “Here’s what happened, at least from our point of view.”

Ever since then, the royal family had various private conversations to sort things out further, including such things as whether Harry and Meghan would be part of the Platinum Jubilee celebration last summer. (The answers at that time were that they were included in small family gatherings, but not the big public ones.) Now they are having similar conversations around the Queen’s funeral and the coming coronation ceremony that will follow in a few months. This is all Step Three and Step Four behavior.

To the extent that things are getting better for the House of Windsor, it’s because they’ve been working hard at Steps One through Three, not that they simply came together magically at a funeral and jumped to Step Four.

The US political press and political actors could learn a lot from the House of Windsor. Those who worry about prosecuting a past president need to recognize that this doesn’t cause division, but is a step along the way to healing – part of the hard work of Step Two that explores the divided reality in all its painful, ugly depth. The work of the January 6 Committee in the House of Representatives is Step Two behavior, and so is the work of the DOJ to investigate possible criminal behavior of the former president and his minions.

Until we as a nation are willing to honestly look at our ugly reality, we will never heal.

 

That Bratt-I-Am, That Bratt-I-Am, I Do Not Like That Bratt-I-Am

Red Docs, Blue Docs . . .

In the far-away land of Mar-A-Lago
sits a once-vaunted leader, now brought very low.
His voice, once ubiquitous, lordly, and loud
has become but a whimper, no longer so proud.
The cameras have vanished, the crowds have all shrunk,
as he scrambles for donors, this fallen-down punk.

And then come his lawyers, with news of a guest,
A visit un-looked for, unwelcome, unblessed.

“That Bratt-I-Am, that Bratt-I-Am,
I do not like that Bratt-I-Am.”

“You must return those stolen docs.
You must return them, yes, every box.”

“I do not have a box of docs,
and they are mine, you lying fox.”

But then they came and then they found
docs aplenty, all around . . .

One doc, two docs
red docs, blue docs
Docs TOPSECRET/SCI
Docs with pictures from on high
Docs with covers, docs with stamps,
Docs in files marked “terror camps”
Docs from spies and docs from techs
Docs ’bout planes on navy decks
Docs on armies, docs on friends
Docs on missiles, docs on end!

“I do not like you, Bratt-I-Am!
I do not like your little scam.
You only fight ’cause I am so strong!
You only fight ’cause Biden is wrong!
Besides, I don’t have the docs that you seek
or, if I do, they’re mine, free to keep!”

A pause, then that voice so quietly speaks
pricking his bubble; his vanity leaks.

“There’s only one president, you see,
and you are not it, quite obviously.
You’ve filed lots of lawsuits and lost every one
and Biden, not you, is the one who has won.

“The law is quite clear: these docs are ours.
You have no magic pixie dust powers.
You cannot claim them, nor take them home;
they belong to us, not you alone.
You must return those stolen docs.
You must return them, yes, every box.

“These classified docs are not like cheap porn
They’re CONFIDENTIAL and SECRET, ORCON, and NOFORN.
They’re stuff you can’t look at outside of a SCIF.
There are but a few even granted a sniff.
They should be under watch, behind guarded doors,
not left in a closet or stashed into drawers.
They must be sent back, each one of these docs
They must be returned, yes, every last box.

“We’ll come to you, or you to us.
You can return them on a bus.
You can return them on a train.
You can return them on a plane.
You can return them at your house.
You can return them with a mouse.
You must return those stolen docs.
You must return them, yes, every box.”

“But I *want* them, because they are mine!
and you cannot have them – don’t cross that line!”

“Have you read this warrant, here?
Do you not see? Is it not clear?
The judge agrees – you have no choice.
You must comply, so please, no more noise.
You must return those stolen docs
You must return them, yes, every box.”

“That Bratt-I-Am, that Bratt-I-Am,
I do not like that Bratt-I-Am!”

“Boxes of documents, boxes of pics,
Boxes of letters – be sure there’re no tricks!
We’ll carefully pack them and give you a list
(It *will* be redacted, but we’ll give you the gist)
We’ll guard them as well as the law says we must.
We’ll guard them much better than you have, we trust.

“For crimes have been crimed, as we have deducted:
espionage, theft, and justice obstructed.
The proof, we believe, will emerge box by box
from rooms where you’ve kept them without any locks.
The charges will follow, and names will be named
and soon the guilty in court will be blamed.

“Justice is coming,” says Bratt-I-Am,
and that once-vaunted leader can only say . . .
“Damn.”

Other Possible Classified Materials in Trump’s Safe

[NB: As always, check the byline. Thanks. /~Rayne]

I’ve been sitting on this since last November. I had pieces I couldn’t quite pull together. But now that the FBI has executed a warrant on Trump at Mar-a-Lago to seize stolen presidential records and classified materials, those disparate pieces may be coming together.

While this is nowhere near as exciting as missing nuclear documents, is it possible there were other crimes in progress at the time Trump left office — ones which might have happened under our noses and may have posed national security threats then and now?

Please also note this post is partially speculative as well.

~ ~ ~

In late 2020, something happened in Morocco which might offer hints at whatever crimes might have been cooked up elsewhere.

There was little mainstream news coverage in the U.S.; we were too preoccupied with election-related coverage to pay much attention.

In exchange for recognizing Morocco’s illegitimate occupancy of Western Sahara – violating West Saharan Sahrawi people’s human rights to self determination – the Trump administration sold nearly a billion dollars in weapons to Morocco.

The deal was characterized as part of a process of restoring Morocco’s relationship with Israel. Morocco’s land grab was first recognized on Thursday, December 10, 2020 in a tweet by Trump. The arms deal was reported on Friday, December 11.

In other words, the arms deal portion of the negotiations was buried in the news dump zone, while much of the U.S. was watching Team Trump’s election theatrics.

The arms deal could have been another quid pro quo. As late as it happened in Trump’s term, as hushed and hurried as it was, with as little support as it had among Republicans, something about the deal still reeks to high heaven.

The United Nations didn’t see eye to eye with the Trump administration about this new disposition of West Sahara; it had been blindsided by what it saw as an abrupt reversal of US policy.

The UN continued to recognize West Saharan Sahrawi people’s human rights to autonomy though West Sahara remains a non-self governing territory.

What a coincidence, though, that Morocco issued a one billion euro bond in September 2020 before the US election. It had been toying with issuing a two billion euro bond at least as early as the first week of August, thought this may have been an expansion of a two-bond program announced in March 2019 with a one billion euro bond sold out in November 2019.

It’s also a coincidence that Morocco finished building a new base in summer of 2020, with plans to build or expand another for a large number of F-16 fighters and Apache helicopters it agreed to buy from the US in 2019.

Finally, it could be a hat trick that Morocco hosted Ukrainian national guard members for training early this year at that brand new base, before Russia’s attack on Ukraine began in late February. Was this part of the earlier negotiations?

Timeline:

March 25, 2019 — Morocco agreed to purchase 25 F-16s from US

November 2019 — Sale of 24 Apache helicopters to Morocco approved

April 2020 — Sale of 10 Harpoon air-to-sea missiles to Morocco approved

June 1, 2020 — Construction of a military base completed in Morocco

August 9, 2020 — Morocco considered 2 billion euro bond

September XX, 2020 — Morocco issued 1 billion euro bond

November 3, 2020 — US Election Day

November 9, 2020 — Trump fired SecDef Mark Esper over Twitter, replacing him with Acting SecDef Christopher Miller; Moroccan news noted this change.

December 10, 2020 — Trump reversed US policy over Western Sahara when Trump tweeted recognition of Morocco’s claim over Western Sahara

December 11, 2020 — Arms deal announced

~ ~ ~

Back in 2020, journalist Zack Kopplin of the Government Accountability Project had gotten a tip:


It’s a long thread written over several days which includes links to reporting Kopplin did.

At the heart of this story, though, is a war crime.

Remember when Trump said “We’re keeping the oil” from Syria in October 2019? That.

Trump openly expressed a desire to commit a violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, the 1907 Hague Laws and Customs of War on Land, and 18 U.S. Code 2441 War crimes, for starters. There may be more applicable laws which could have been broken.

Trump also knew the value of the oil in question — $45 million a month.

Kopplin was tipped to the basics about the company which was supposed to begin development in the northeast region of Syria, but the ultimate owner of this entity and development process wasn’t clear.

Following Kopplin’s reporting, some names pop up as connected by role (like then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo), or rumored as connected by other relationships (like Erik Prince who funded a business tangentially related to Delta Crescent).

There’s also the frustrating interrelation between Syria, Russia, Iraq, the Kurdistan region, Turkey, Iran, and the UN’s humanitarian aid for displaced Syrians. The aid became leverage in negotiations which have been fairly opaque in US news.

The status of the oil, too, isn’t particularly clear, with Delta Crescent’s development running into policy changes with Biden’s administration, terminating its sanctions waiver.

Add to the picture the fluid challenge of trying to keep Turkey on board with US during increasing Black Sea tensions, as well as Iran in JCPOA negotiations, thwarting Russia in more than Syria, while trying to assure both humanitarian aid along with global grain shipments.

It’s a damned complex mess through which oil may or may not be smuggled through Iraq by a Kurdish political family, sanctioned or not sanctioned depending on how the Biden administration is trying to leverage the situation for humanitarian aid access, improved relations in the Levant, or decreased oil prices.

What’s really unclear is whether there were any kickbacks offered in 2019-2020 for “keeping the oil” and if any, who received or receives them.

~ ~ ~

Since his testimony before the House Oversight Committee in May 2021, I’ve not been persuaded former Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller is on the up and up, along with his former chief of staff Kash Patel — one of two guys Trump is known to have named his representatives to the National Archives.

The timing of Miller’s placement as Acting SecDef in tandem with the election may seem like an obvious effort to pre-plan for January 6, but Trump is a crook. We need to look at the situation through a crook’s eyes.

What if January 6 wasn’t just about an attempt to obstruct the certification of the vote, but an effort to buy time to deal with illicit profiteering like oil obtained through a war crime?

American troops were supposed to guard the area in which Delta Crescent would develop the oil Trump was intent on keeping. Wouldn’t the Secretary of Defense need to go along with this long enough for a supply chain to be established from the oil wells to distribution?

Is this why Miller, a former Director for Special Operations and Irregular Warfare who worked during the Trump administration in counterterrorism involved in operations against Islamic State in Iraq and Levant, ended up Acting SecDef in the last days of the Trump administration?

What does Christopher Miller know? What of his sidekick Kash Patel — the one who knew the contents of Trump’s classified documents cache?

~ ~ ~

Marcy wrote about some very strong candidates for classified documents Trump might have had at Mar-a-Lago. I think both the circumstances surrounding the rushed Morocco arms deal and the Syrian oil development are two more candidates, especially since both matters may have tentacles reaching into ongoing national security concerns.

But I also have a feeling we’re scratching the surface with the boxes of paper seized this week.

I hadn’t even gotten around to the Kurdish link to Miami, Florida or illegal drug trade.

Merrick Garland Preaches to an Overseas Audience

Alexander Vindman thanks Attorney General Garland

When Merrick Garland gave his brief press statement yesterday about the search of Mar-a-Lago, he had various audiences in mind. One was Donald Trump and his defenders, calling their bluff by announcing that the DOJ was moving to unseal the search warrant and list of items seized. Another was his own DOJ employees, to let them know that he had their backs and would support them when the rightwing attacked them. But as I listened to him, I thought that perhaps the most critical audience were the leaders of nations all around the globe — and especially the heads of their intelligence services. When hours later the story broke that some of the documents the DOJ were seeking were nuclear related, I dropped the mental “perhaps”. To build on one of Marcy’s previous posts, let me add that this is a huge foreign policy story, which is largely missing from the current discussion in the media.

Think back to the beginning of the Trump administration. On May 15, 2017, a disturbing story hit the news:

President Donald Trump disclosed highly classified information to Russia’s foreign minister about a planned Islamic State operation, two U.S. officials said on Monday, plunging the White House into another controversy just months into Trump’s short tenure in office.

The intelligence . . . was supplied by a U.S. ally in the fight against the militant group, both officials with knowledge of the situation said.

H.R. McMaster categorically denied it, and as the story unfolded over time, McMaster was lying through his teeth. The unnamed ally was later revealed to be Israel, who had a mole inside an ISIS cell. And Trump blithely blew the cover of that Israeli asset by bragging to Lavrov.

Shortly after this meeting (at which Trump also bragged about just having fired James Comey), US intelligence officials made a bold move. From CNN:

In a previously undisclosed secret mission in 2017, the United States successfully extracted from Russia one of its highest-level covert sources inside the Russian government, multiple Trump administration officials with direct knowledge told CNN.

A person directly involved in the discussions said that the removal of the Russian was driven, in part, by concerns that President Donald Trump and his administration repeatedly mishandled classified intelligence and could contribute to exposing the covert source as a spy.

The decision to carry out the extraction occurred soon after a May 2017 meeting in the Oval Office in which Trump discussed highly classified intelligence with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and then-Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak. The intelligence, concerning ISIS in Syria, had been provided by Israel.

This was the opening act of the Trump presidency. From the very beginning, intelligence officers worried about how Trump handled classified information. Our intelligence officers worried, and so did the intelligence officers of our allies, as they asked themselves some version of the question “Will Trump say something or do something that will get us killed?” In a completely different way, so did the intelligence officers of our adversaries. If Trump were to rashly reveal something he learned about the capabilities of our adversaries, it could have disastrous consequences for those countries and their leaders, as the reaction to the revelation could easily spiral out of control in unforeseeable ways.

And the damage was done.

A lot of the work of intelligence services is, if not cooperative, then transactional. “I have some information you would like,” says an ally to us, “and we’ll pass it along to you in exchange for something we need.” That favor might be us passing information back to them on another subject, or supporting some foreign policy objective. That favor might be immediate, or something later. Among the Five Eyes nations (US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada) and the major NATO allies, that relationship was formalized into regular practice.

But now, with Trump’s first foray into intelligence matters, all these countries worried about passing things along that under previous administration they never would have hesitated to share. With good reason.

Fast forward four years, past all the bizarre meetings with Russia where notes were not taken, past the stunning press conference in Helsinki where Trump declared he trusted Putin’s word over the word of his own intelligence services, past all the coddling of authoritarians, past all the threats to withdraw from NATO, past all the insults to our allies around the world . . . Fast forward past all of that, and there came November 2020. On the Sunday after the election, when Biden was declared the president-elect and foreign leaders began to offer their congratulations, the New York Times discussed the deeper reactions of European leaders to Biden’s election:

David O’Sullivan, former European Union ambassador to the United States, said he looked forward to a renewal of American leadership — if not the hegemony of the past, then at least “America’s role as the convening nation” for multilateral initiatives and institutions.

But the world has changed, and so has the United States, where the Biden victory was relatively narrow and not an obvious repudiation of Mr. Trump’s policies. A fundamental trust has been broken, and many European diplomats and experts believe that U.S. foreign policy is no longer bipartisan, so is no longer reliable.

Biden, with his decades of experience with foreign policy, knew this was true, which meant that two of his most critical appointments would be his Secretary of State and his CIA Director. For State, he chose Anthony Blinken, who had served in the State Department under President Clinton and on the White House national security staff in both the Clinton and Obama administrations, and for CIA he chose William Burns.

Burns was not a product of the intelligence community. He was a career State Department diplomat, but not just any diplomat. From 2001 to 2005, as the US reacted to the attacks on 9/11, Burns was the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs — that is, the Middle East. From 2005 until 2008, as Vladimir Putin tightened his hold of the office of President of Russia following the chaos of the Yeltsin era, Burns was the US Ambassador to Russia. From 2008 to 2011, Burns held the position of Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs – the #4 position at State and the highest office reserved for a career foreign service officer. By the end of his 32 year tenure, he held the rank of Career Ambassador – the State Department’s equivalent to a four-star general.

Beyond running the CIA, the new director had to rebuild all those broken international relationships and restore that “fundamental trust” between the US and the world. That’s what made Burns such a great choice.

When the National Archives discovered classified information had not been turned over when Trump left office, they brought the news to the DOJ. I have this vision of Garland swallowing hard, and then arranging a meeting with Burns, DNI Victoria Nuland Avril Haines [corrected], and the other US intelligence agency heads to let them know what Trump had done. I can see the shock on their faces, followed by the “of course he did” sighs of resignation. Then the wheels start turning as each tries to figure out how this affects their agency.

But I also imagine Burns, either in the meeting or in a private conversation, telling Garland one thing: “I have no doubts about your department and your passion for justice. If there is anything I can do to assist, just let me know. I won’t press you to share things with me that you shouldn’t share — you do your job and I’ll do mine. But there’s one thing you need to know. You may already know it, but let me reinforce it. The. Whole. World. Is. Watching. Our allies are just beginning to trust us again, and how you handle this will determine whether that continues or is blown to bits. From a foreign policy perspective, especially on the intelligence side, we *have* to get this right.” That’s total fantasy on my part, but I’m reasonably confident that something like that was communicated, one way or another.

Two days ago, when the search was first revealed, Garry Kasparov tweeted, “For those who live where the law exists only to serve the powerful and oppress the rest–as I did in the USSR and Putin’s Russia–the dictum that no one is above the law is nearly awe-inspiring.”

The American legal community is watching this all unfold very carefully, with an eye toward all the minutia of the various legal questions at issue. The US political folks on every side are watching this carefully, with an eye toward the midterms and 2024. US media organizations are watching this carefully, trying to figure out how to cover the story. Ordinary Americans are watching this carefully, for all kinds of reasons.

And beyond our borders, the whole world is watching, as that Kasparov tweet indicates. It shows that Garland is reaching that worldwide audience, even before the word “nuclear” became part of the story.

In his long-ago testimony before Congress about that “perfect phone call,” Alexander Vindman captured in three words the essence of US foreign policy, and he repeated them as a hashtag in that tweet above. In the actions of the DOJ this past week, Garland is giving Vindman a big “Amen.”

Russia, if you’re listening, listen to Vindman. #HereRightMatters indeed.

I know we’ve got a fair chunk of readers outside the US, and I’d love to hear in the comments what you all are seeing in the coverage your countries.

 

Expected Response is Expected: Trump and Right-Wing DARVO

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

We could have seen it coming after all this time. They’re reliably predictable, no crystal ball required.

Trump appears to be in trouble: The FBI serves a warrant on Mar-a-Lago, seizing papers.

There’s a moment of hesitation or pause: Trump delivers a ranty statement some time after the FBI leaves.

The coordinated response is generated: Trump’s lawyers make a false claim about evidence being planted by FBI.

The zone is flooded: The right-wing’s proxies and media repeat ad nauseam the same false claim.

The media dutifully picks up and repeats: the zone is further flooded, amplifying the false claim.

This is a cycle we’ve seen repeated over and over again. The only additional step not included here is the final one in which some pundit will opine about this situation being bad for Democrats and Joe Biden though it has nothing to do with them whatsoever.

By now you’d think the media would have cottoned on they are used in this scenario like so much facial tissue — but no. They are as reflexive as the right-wing ecosphere itself, almost as if an adjunct.

Trump and his right-wing soldati ring the Pavlovian bell and the corporate media comes slobbering for an easy bone to chew.

What’s just as reliable and not yet recognized is the pattern within this reflexive call and response.

We shouldn’t be surprised that a man with a long history of sexual abuse behaves in other aspects of his life like an abuser – that is to say, when under pressure, Trump automatically reverts to DARVO.

We’ve discussed this behavior pattern before. DARVO is an acronym for a common strategy frequently employed by abusers when confronted with their abuse:

Deny the Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender

The FBI’s warrant and document seizure at Mar-a-Lago confronted Trump’s abuse of presidential records.

Trump and his soldati Denied the abuse he committed;

Trump Attacked the FBI who were tasked with serving the warrant;

Trump Reversed the roles of Victim and Offender by complaining he was abused by this warrant.

Look at his statement published shortly after the FBI finished executing their warrant on Mar-a-Lago:

Red = reversed offenders

Orange = attacks on reversed victim

Yellow = secondary reversed victims

There are so many efforts in this short memo to frame himself as a primary victim and the right-wing including the GOP as a secondary victim; there are numerous efforts to frame the FBI, DOJ, Democrats and even Hillary Clinton as attackers and offenders.

Trump goes so far to frame himself as a victim that he even avoids denying directly the reason why the FBI was at Mar-a-Lago. It’s as if the warrant had a miraculous virgin birth.

There’s no mention of documents he had taken and refused to return to the National Archives’ possession, only that his safe had been broken into after “working and cooperating with the relevant Government agencies.” (Even the word government is capitalized as if a proper noun; is the entire government an attacker/offender along with its subset FBI and Justice System?)

Trump invests heavily in whataboutism to redirect from whatever it was which caused the mysterious attack by federal law enforcement and the Democrats.

If anybody had done something wrong besides attacking poor Trump and his beautiful Mar-a-Lago (which local ordinance says he’s not allowed reside in as a home), Trump points to unelected-nowhere-near-Florida Hillary Clinton, awarding an entire paragraph to establish her as another offender.

~ ~ ~

The right-wing ecosphere duplicated the entire DARVO pattern:

The lawyers, proxies, and right-wing media denied Trump did anything wrong;

The same entities attacked the FBI, some calling for defunding of the DOJ and FBI;

The same folks reverse Victim-Offender by claiming falsely the warrant was a political attack on Trump.

The lawyers and proxies add an additional fillip, though; they claim the FBI’s attack on Trump included planted evidence. This happens over and over again, to the point of ridiculousness. Thankfully @Acyn and @atrupar caught quite a few of them:

Trump’s lawyer on site at Mar-a-Lago Christina Bobb

Trump’s other lawyer Alina Habba

Fox News’ Jesse Watters (and again this evening)

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY)

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene manages a double by both claiming evidence (with scare quotes) was planted while promoting Trump’s false “planting” frame:

These aren’t all of the times in last +24 hours in which a right-wing personality falsely claimed the FBI planted evidence during its execution of the warrant. This flood of falsity is intended to provide plausible deniability when evidence of Trump’s violations of the Presidential Records Act and unlawful possession of classified information are revealed, likely in a redacted indictment if not the original affidavit prepared before the warrant.

It’s also intended to taint a future jury pool. Who will escape hearing about this planted evidence given how deeply and widely this bullshit has been repeated?

~ ~ ~

The pattern had additional amplification from sources which should damned well know better, like the Washington Post:


It was difficult to keep track of the numerous academics in journalism studies who were greatly disappointed with the Washington Post:

WaPo later removed the tweet but only after a massive outcry including thousands of tweets about it which caused the subject to trend on Twitter.

They fell right into it, which is absolutely unacceptable for credible news media — especially an outlet which purports to be pro-democracy.

Perhaps WaPo’s masthead should say Democracy Dies for Lack of Self Awareness.

~ ~ ~

We don’t need psychic powers to know what’s ahead.

Assuming one of the many investigations in progress finally catches up with the former president — most especially this one related to possible violations of the Presidential Records Act and mishandling of classified information — an indictment will be issued for Donald J. Trump.

The DARVO pattern will begin all over again, this time with a new fillip or a shout out to new partisans as co-victims.

But DARVO it will be.

Remember who the offender is, and that the United States and its Constitution are the victims.

Three Things: Let’s Give Them Something to Talk About

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

Before I go any further, I’m going to point to one of Marcy’s past posts:

What DOJ Was Doing While You Were Wasting Time Whinging on Twitter July 16, 2022

Whinger Verbs: To Investigate … To Prosecute … To Indict March 26, 2022

The Eight Trump Associates Whom DOJ Is Investigating February 8, 2022

While TV Lawyers Wailed Impotently, DOJ Was Acquiring the Communications of Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani, and (Probably) Mark Meadows February 2, 2022

Merrick Garland Points Out that Misdemeanors Are Easy January 5, 2022

Ten Things TV Lawyers Can Do Rather than Whinging about Merrick Garland December 3, 2021

Oops, that’s more than one post. Yeah. All that for the last eight months at least, with receipts along the way.

~ 3 ~

On Monday July 25, the Murdochian Wall Street Journal dumped:


DOJ has been one degree of separation and less from Trump in its investigation, but unsurprisingly so to those paying attention.

What may be more interesting is that it was the Wall Street Journal. Are the Murdochs and News Corp finally throwing in the towel on Trump?

~ 2 ~

Just before 7:00 pm ET last evening, the Washington Post published this piece confirming the DOJ was investigating Trump:

Shocking, SHOCKING, I tell you. Not.

~ 1 ~

In a bid for relevancy, the New York Times dropped this We, Too piece last night after WaPo’s piece above:

Unsurprising that communications of those close to Trump are under scrutiny. Especially since DOJ has had so many messages in their possession for months, like Giuliani’s.

~ 0 ~

I’m sure you’ll hear more from Marcy she’s got time, stable internet access, and something dramatically new and important arises.

This is an open thread. Have at it.

House January 6 Committee: Public Hearings – Day 8

This post and comment thread are dedicated to the House January 6 Committee hearings scheduled to begin Thursday, July 21 at 8:00 p.m. ET.

** Please take all comments unrelated to the hearings to a different thread. **

The hearings will stream on:

House J6 Committee’s website: https://january6th.house.gov/news/watch-live

House J6 Committee’s YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/c/January6thCmte/videos

C-SPAN’s House J6 hearing page: https://www.c-span.org/video/?521771-1/eighth-hearing-investigation-capitol-attack

C-SPAN’s YouTube page: https://youtu.be/DLKCGEHHfh4

Check PBS for your local affiliate’s stream: https://www.pbs.org/ (see upper right corner)

PBS Newshour stream: https://youtu.be/48HH4LVn07g

Twitter is expected to carry multiple live streams (NBC, PBS, Washington Post, Reuters, CSPAN, Bloomberg): https://twitter.com/i/events/1548853208365146113

Broadcast and cable network coverage TBD, check your local broadcast affiliate or cable provider’s lineup.

Twitter accounts live tweeting the hearing:

Brandi Buchman-DailyKos: https://twitter.com/Brandi_Buchman/status/1550257762159890432

Scott MacFarlane-CBS: hhttps://twitter.com/MacFarlaneNews/status/1550268133159702528

Laura Rozen: https://twitter.com/lrozen/status/1550270101336821761

Tom LoBianco-Yahoo News: https://twitter.com/tomlobianco/status/1550270905150017541

Steve Herman-VOANews: https://twitter.com/W7VOA/status/1550270522813997056

If you know of any other credible source tweeting the coverage, please share a link in comments.

The topic of the hearing is Trump’s dereliction of duty on January 6, 2021.

The witnesses scheduled for this hearing are:

  • Former Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Matthews
  • Former Deputy National Security Adviser Matthew Pottinger

There may be other witnesses; some may be present only as video clips.

~ ~ ~

Any updates will appear at the bottom of this post; please bear with any content burps as this page may be edited as the hearing progresses.

Again, this post is dedicated to the House January 6 Committee  and topics addressed in testimony and evidence produced during the hearing.

All other discussion should be in threads under the appropriate post with open discussion under the most recent Trash Talk.

To new readers and commenters: welcome to emptywheel. New commenters, please use a unique name to differentiate yourself; use the same username each time you comment.

Comment policy

Community guidelines

If you are leaving a comment, please be concise; 100 words is the optimum length.

If you are sharing active links your comment may be delayed by auto-moderation.

If contributors and moderators seem slow, it’s because they’re dealing with higher than usual volume of comments including trolling.

Caution: moderators will have much lower tolerance for trolling.

~ ~ ~

House January 6 Committee: Public Hearings – Day 7

This post and comment thread are dedicated to the House January 6 Committee hearings scheduled to begin Tuesday July 12, 2022 at 1:00 p.m. ET.

Please take all comments unrelated to the hearings to a different thread.

The hearings will stream on:

House J6 Committee’s website: https://january6th.house.gov/news/watch-live

House J6 Committee’s YouTube page: https://youtu.be/rrUa0hfG6Lo

C-SPAN’s House J6 hearing page: https://www.c-span.org/video/?521495-1/seventh-hearing-investigation-capitol-attack

C-SPAN’s YouTube page: https://youtu.be/8XNWsLAM1bI

Check PBS for your local affiliate’s stream: https://www.pbs.org/ (see upper right corner)

PBS Newshour stream: https://youtu.be/spJR5Y5_f4c

Twitter is expected to carry multiple live streams (NBC, PBS, Washington Post, Reuters, CSPAN, Bloomberg): https://twitter.com/i/events/1546507157033455617

Broadcast and cable network coverage TBD, check your local broadcast affiliate or cable provider’s lineup.

Twitter accounts live tweeting the hearing:

Marcy’s Twitter thread: https://twitter.com/emptywheel/status/1546903190574071808

Brandi Buchman-DailyKos: https://twitter.com/Brandi_Buchman/status/1546816187996278786

Scott MacFarlane-CBS: https://twitter.com/MacFarlaneNews/status/1546901636249010176

Laura Rozen: https://twitter.com/lrozen/status/1546902778508877827

If you know of any other credible source tweeting the coverage, please share a link in comments.

The witnesses scheduled for today’s hearing are:

Jason Van Tatenhove, former media director for the Oath Keepers

Stephen Ayres, defendant charged and convicted for disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds

There may be other witnesses; some may be present only as video clips. Today’s hearing is expected to focus on relationship between messaging by Donald Trump and the reaction of white nationalist groups Oath Keepers and Proud Boys who were key to breaching the Capitol Building on January 6.

~ ~ ~

Any updates will appear at the bottom of this post; please bear with any content burps as this page may be edited as the day progresses.

Again, this post is dedicated to the House January 6 Committee  and topics addressed in testimony and evidence produced during the hearing.

All other discussion should be in threads under the appropriate post with open discussion under the most recent Trash Talk.

To new readers and commenters: welcome to emptywheel. New commenters, please use a unique name to differentiate yourself; use the same username each time you comment.

Comment policy

Community guidelines

If you are leaving a comment, please be concise; 100 words is the optimum length.

If you are sharing active links your comment may be delayed by auto-moderation.

If contributors and moderators seem slow, it’s because they’re dealing with higher than usual volume of comments including trolling.

Caution: moderators will have much lower tolerance for trolling.

~ ~ ~

Long-time community member harpie isn’t available to participate in the thread here today, but she left two Twitter threads to read in preparation for today’s hearing.

First, from Capitol Hunters:

Second, from J.J. McNab:

House January 6 Committee: Public Hearings – Day 6

This post and comment thread are dedicated to the House January 6 Committee hearings scheduled to begin Tuesday June 28, 2022 at 1:00 p.m. ET.

This hearing has been convened on short notice issued yesterday afternoon.

Please take all comments unrelated to the hearings to a different thread.

The hearings will stream on:

House J6 Committee’s website: https://january6th.house.gov/news/watch-live

House J6 Committee’s YouTube page: https://youtu.be/HeQNV-aQ_jU

C-SPAN’s House J6 hearing page: https://www.c-span.org/video/?521387-1/sixth-hearing-investigation-capitol-attack

C-SPAN’s YouTube page: https://youtu.be/hSNBe-Wt6Q4

Check PBS for your local affiliate’s stream: https://www.pbs.org/ (see upper right corner)

Twitter is carrying multiple live streams (NBC, PBS, Washington Post, Reuters, CSPAN, Bloomberg): https://twitter.com/i/events/1541478015770603520

Broadcast and cable network coverage TBD.

Twitter accounts live tweeting the hearing:

Marcy’s Twitter thread: https://twitter.com/emptywheel/status/1541829534248566784

Brandi Buchman-DailyKos: https://twitter.com/Brandi_Buchman/status/1541826101588140034

Scott MacFarlane-CBS: https://twitter.com/MacFarlaneNews/status/1541825113938616321

Laura Rozen: https://twitter.com/lrozen/status/1541829799169122308

Chris Geidner: https://twitter.com/chrisgeidner/status/1541841253939253253

If you know of any other credible source tweeting the coverage, please share a link in comments.

The witness scheduled for today’s hearing is:

Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows

Hutchinson will appear today before the committee to “present recently obtained evidence and receive witness testimony” and out of concerns for her physical safety, according to Punchbowl News’ newsletter.

Hutchinson also recently changed legal representation. Her lawyer had been Stefan Passantino who was connected to Trump; he has been replaced with Jody Hunt who in turn is connected to the Trump administration’s first attorney general, former senator Jeff Sessions. Hutchinson is reported to have become more cooperative with the committee once she changed attorneys.

~ ~ ~

Any updates will appear at the bottom of this post; please bear with any content burps as this page may be edited as the day progresses.

Again, this post is dedicated to the House January 6 Committee  and topics addressed in testimony and evidence produced during the hearing.

All other discussion should be in threads under the appropriate post with open discussion under the most recent Trash Talk.

To new readers and commenters: welcome to emptywheel. New commenters, please use a unique name to differentiate yourself; use the same username each time you comment.

Comment policy

Community guidelines

If you are leaving a comment, please be concise; 100 words is the optimum length.

If you are sharing active links your comment may be delayed by auto-moderation.

If contributors and moderators seem slow, it’s because they’re dealing with higher than usual volume of comments including trolling.

Caution: moderators will have much lower tolerance for trolling.

~ ~ ~

Side note:

According to Fox News’ Pergram in the Twitter thread above, Stenger had cancer.

Do note Stenger’s death has set off a lot of right-wing conspiracy trolling.

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