Sunday, June 10, 2018

Minimalist Russiagate

A pretty bare morning, but we do have more on how Ali Watkins went above and beyond to sleep her way to the top of the journolist: From the Chicago Tribune: Leak investigation that led to Senate aide's indictment puts spotlight on New York Times reporter
Watkins' romantic involvement with former intelligence committee aide James Wolfe — who was indicted on Thursday — focused attention on her reporting for such news organizations as McClatchy's Washington bureau, BuzzFeed and Politico.

The news of the seizure of Watkins' records surfaced Thursday when Wolfe, 57, was arrested and charged with lying to investigators about his contacts with three reporters, including Watkins, who is now 26. Wolfe's case is the first known instance of the Justice Department seizing a reporter's data under the Trump administration.
But please don't mention Obama.
Editors at McClatchy said Friday that they were not aware of Watkins' relationship with Wolfe while she was with the news organization's Washington bureau, first as an intern and stretching from mid-2013 to the end of 2014.
"I know nussing, nussing!"
During that time, Watkins was part of a team of three reporters that produced a series of stories about the intelligence committee's investigation of the CIA and its "enhanced interrogation" or torture program. The series was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in national reporting in 2015.

"We were not aware of these allegations that Mr. Wolfe had a relationship with Ali Watkins until the news of the indictment broke," said Tim Grieve, vice president of news for McClatchy.

Grieve, who joined McClatchy after Watkins left the company, said he did not know whether Watkins used Wolfe as a source in her stories. "We need to figure that out," he said. "We just don't know" whether Wolfe provided information to her.

But he added, "It's clearly inappropriate for a reporter to be in a relationship with a source and to be reporting on him."
. . .
McClatchy's series, which was published throughout 2014, was chockablock with revelations about the internal workings of the intelligence committee. Among other stories in its Pulitzer package were stories headlined, "Senate intelligence panel staffer took secret CIA papers years before agency discovered them missing" and "FBI probing alleged removal of documents from CIA by Senate staffers."
. . .
Watkins has had a stunning rise through the ranks of Washington news organizations and developed a track record of breaking stories. Even before her graduation from Temple in 2014, she was involved in McClatchy's reporting on the intelligence committee.
A spokesman for Politico, which Watkins joined in May of last year and left in December, said she didn't disclose her relationship with Watkins when she was hired. Upon learning of the relationship a month into her tenure, she was "managed accordingly," the spokesman said, meaning she was kept from reporting any stories involving the committee.
 The WaPo get credit for a double seize in: In charging Senate staffer and seizing reporter’s records, Justice Dept. ignites debate over leak crackdown
“Seizing a journalist’s records sends a terrible message to the public and should never be considered except as the last resort in a truly essential investigation,” said Bruce Brown, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. “We call on the Justice Department to explain how its actions adhered to its own guidelines for protecting newsgathering from exactly these kinds of damaging intrusions.”
Convenient of reporters to think that. Meanwhile we get a "Republicans seize" from an anonymous Republican opposed to the President:
A former Republican congressional official worried that the president would seize on the relationship between Watkins and Wolfe to feed his own narrative that the press and veteran Washington officials are conspiring against him.

“If Trump wants to destroy the ‘deep state’ that’s been leaking on him, Jim just did that effort a huge favor,” the former official said.
People who tweet from glass houses: Ali Watkins' past tweets come back to haunt NYT reporter amid leak case
In one tweet, Watkins noted how the Intelligence Committee is “SOOO frustrated in recent weeks by the constant dribble of leaks about who's testifying to them.” She then said the committee believes “Trumpster lawyers will leak info about upcoming appearances, blame the committee, then use as a pretext not to cooperate.”

In an April 2013 tweet, Watkins also tweeted about the fictional Netflix television show “House of Cards,” where a young reporter has an affair with an older member of Congress.

“I wanted to be Zoe Barnes...until episode 4,” she tweeted. “Sleeping with your source- especially a vindictive congressman? #badlifechoice #HouseofCards”
In December 2017, Wolfe messaged her, according to the indictment, and said: “I always tried to give you as much Information (sic) that I could and to do the right thing with it so you could get that scoop before anyone else.”
How sweet! Some girls just get chocolates for sex!

But alas, the rest of story goes on. Robert Mueller reindicts an old ham sandwich, and a new one too! Special counsel Mueller indicts Paul Manafort, Russian associate on obstruction charges
Paul Manafort and his longtime business associate were indicted Friday on new charges that they conspired to obstruct justice — ratcheting up the pressure on President Trump’s former campaign chairman as he tries to stay out of jail while awaiting trial.

The indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Washington marked the first such charges for Manafort’s associate, Konstantin Kilimnik, who is believed to be in Moscow — and therefore probably safe from arrest because Russia does not extradite its citizens. Prosecutors have previously said Kilimnik has ties to Russian intelligence, which he denies.
The trouble is that anyone who's anything in Russia has ties to Russian intelligence. But you still have to do business with Russia.

But in a biting, nine-page filing Friday evening, Manafort’s attorneys denied the allegations and accused special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team of conjuring up “a sinister plot” from a scant record of telephone calls and de-encrypted texts. They said the special counsel’s latest “very public and very specious” filing was a pressure tactic on Manafort that may have “irreparably damaged” his right to a fair trial in the District of Columbia, signaling they may seek to move the case to Virginia.
It's pretty much a given that there is no chance for a fair trial on a political subject in D.C. WaPo's  Philip Bump gives Mueller a tongue bath in Mueller’s ‘witch hunt’ snags another witch

No comments:

Post a Comment