Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Russiagate Lovebird Update

A small but juicy set this morning, leading off with this News from Ace: New Page-Strzok Texts Reveal Couple Smiling Over James Comey's Possible Intervention in Election, on Hillary's Side

The D.C. bubble’s credulous embrace of McCabe is embarrassing
For the longest time, James B. Comey, as director of the FBI, portrayed himself as the world’s tallest Boy Scout, and many in the media viewed him that way. Even when his decisions and actions were under scrutiny during the 2016 presidential campaign, Comey exuded a veneer of professionalism and decorum.

Comey destroyed that image, first through his admission that he orchestrated a leak to the New York Times in hopes that it would lead to the appointment of a special counsel — a signal to the FBI rank and file he once led that if you can’t achieve a result you want through aboveboard means, consider subterfuge. Such actions are expected of politicians. Americans expect the FBI to be better, especially at the top.

Comey later couldn’t resist a Trump-like tweet calling unnamed people “weasels and liars,” revealing more about himself than his intended targets. Now comes the revelation that not only has he apparently written a quickie book, but he’s also planning a media tour next month to promote it — in the midst of an ongoing special counsel investigation in which he is a key witness. We’re still awaiting the across-the-board media outrage.
. . .
McCabe’s alleged misdeeds and self-pitying response to his firing lend credence to notions that a D.C. swamp indeed exists, in immediate need of draining. Despite what so many in the media implied over the weekend, McCabe wasn’t fired by the president. He was fired by the attorney general based on a recommendation from the FBI’s own Office of Professional Responsibility, following an investigation by Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz — an appointee of President Barack Obama.

This is the same Andrew McCabe apparently referenced in a text message from FBI agent Peter Strzok to FBI lawyer Lisa Page during the 2016 campaign, on the topic of a meeting they attended in “Andy’s office” about their fears of a Trump victory.

“I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office — that there’s no way he gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk,” Strzok wrote to Page, adding, “It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”
It's going to be a long time before the FBI can shake the notion that they're not playing in national politics.

“Confused and Distracted”: McCabe Uses Flynn Defense Against False Statement Allegation
Once again, it is not a sufficient argument to note that Flynn was facing other charges. Prosecutors are under a sworn duty to apply laws faithfully and fairly. They are not allowed to simply charge any crime that is convenient. They must be able to attest to applying the criminal code in a consistent fashion. Prosecutors are ethically bound to reject criminal charges (even when they can be technically brought) where they reflect “unwarranted disparate treatment of similarly situated persons.”

We do not know how strong the other alleged crimes were against Flynn. We have one crime that the prosecutors maintained was established on the facts in the indictment. Those facts are strikingly similar on that crime to McCabe. Of course, we are still awaiting the release of the IG report but McCabe’s misconduct was sufficient to not only lead career FBI staff to call for his termination but FBI Director Andrew Wray reportedly immediately forced him into a terminal leave upon reading the summary.

I have admittedly been a longtime critic of the use of 18 U.S.C. 1001 and how it has been used by prosecutors to indict for any statement deemed misleading or false. However, the greatest danger is posed not in the broad scope of this law but its arbitrary enforcement. Two officials are accused of misleading statements in interviews. One is bled financially to the point that he must sell his house and then forced into a criminal plea. The other gets a delay in his pension. Both were very very busy people, but only one is looking at prison.
How much is Rick Gates telling Mueller about Trump?
When Rick Gates struck a plea deal last month with special counsel Robert Mueller, the 45-year-old former Trump campaign official likely avoided decades behind bars and salvaged a chance to watch his children grow up.

The question is what Gates offered Mueller in return. Though it is a virtual given that Gates will sell out his business partner and Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, less understood is the direct threat Gates could pose to President Donald Trump.

That’s the conclusion of several lawyers involved in the Russia case and more than 15 current and former Trump aides and associates interviewed by POLITICO to determine how much danger Gates’ guilty plea could pose to the president and his inner circle, and how alarmed they might be by his testimony.

While Gates now wears a GPS monitor around his ankle, in 2016 he wore a Secret Service lapel pin that gave him easy access to Trump on the campaign trail and at Trump Tower.

“He saw everything,” said a Republican consultant who worked with Gates during the campaign. The consultant called Gates one of the “top five” insiders whom Mueller could have tapped as a cooperative government witness. One defense attorney in the case said Gates’ plea has triggered palpable alarm in Trump world.
I'd love to see the same deal made with Huma Abedin. And there's certainly plenty of probable cause.

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