Monday, June 11, 2018

Not Too Much Russiagate

On a Monday morning, except for the fact that the whole thing is a contrived controversy: From Margot Cleveland at the Federalist: ‘Fire Jeff Sessions’ Is A Plot From Liberals To Scalp The President’s Ally:
Those efforts portrayed Sessions as perjurer who lied during questioning from Sen. Al Franken (D-MN). Sessions stated under oath that he did not have “communications with the Russians.” However, as Andrew McCarthy later pointed out, that statement was inaccurate because “there were at least two occasions during the 2016 campaign on which Sessions, then a senator and a member of the chamber’s Armed Services Committee, had contact with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States.”

But neither of those meetings raised concerns of complicity, nor was Sessions’ answer perjurious. And the contacts did not mandate recusal.

So why did Sessions recuse? Here’s McCarthy’s take: “Sessions is a good and decent man. He is a scrupulous lawyer who cares about his reputation. Thus, in stark contrast to Obama administration attorneys general, he strictly applied — I’d say he hyper-applied — the ethical standard that calls on a lawyer to recuse himself from a matter in which his participation as counsel would create the mere appearance of impropriety.”

I concur. Sessions did not recuse because it was required; Sessions recused because he is scrupulous. Democrats took advantage of Sessions’ dedication to the rule of law to manipulate the attorney general into standing down from overseeing the Russia probe. This effort served a secondary purpose as well: forging a wedge between Trump and Sessions, who was one of the president’s earliest and strongest supporters.
My limited understanding was that Sleepy Jeff recused himself because he was part of the Trump campaign, and that he would have recused himself from any investigations regarding the campaign. He should have told Trump.

Sharyl Attkisson tells a story over at The Hill: The FBI's fractured fairytale
Once upon a time, the FBI said some thugs planned to rob a bank in town. Thugs are always looking to rob banks. They try all the time. But at this particular time, the FBI was hyper-focused on potential bank robberies in this particular town.

The best way to prevent the robbery — which is the goal, after all — would be for the FBI to alert all the banks in town. “Be on high alert for suspicious activity,” the FBI could tell the banks. “Report anything suspicious to us. We don’t want you to get robbed.”

Instead, in this fractured fairytale, the FBI followed an oddly less effective, more time-consuming, costlier approach. It focused on just one bank. And, strangely, it picked the bank that was least likely to be robbed because nobody thought it would ever get elected president — excuse me, I mean, because it had almost no cash on hand. (Why would robbers want to rob the bank with no cash?)

Stranger still, this specially-selected bank the FBI wanted to protect above all others happened to be owned by a man who was hated inside and outside the FBI.

So, to protect this bank owned by the guy the FBI hated, the FBI secretly examined a list of bank employees and identified a few it claimed would be likely to help robbers — or, at least, would not stop a robbery. How did it select these targets? By profiling them based on their pasts. . .
You're getting the idea? Read the whole thing. More on the the Wolfe/Watkins affair: Senate Security director leaked anti-Page information, says indictment. Yeah, we kinda knew that. One thing about Carter Page is that he has an interesting enemies list.
On reports that employer BuzzFeed and Politico knew she was sleeping with her source, Mr. Goodwin said: “The admission is shocking yet not surprising, given the collapse of journalism standards in the age of Trump. Pure hatred of this president in newsrooms across America is blinding editors and reporters to basic fairness and glaring conflicts of interest.”
. . .
It seems Mr. Wolfe had a particular interest in embarrassing Mr. Page. The indictment builds a case that Mr. Wolfe, after receiving classified documents labeled “secret” on Mr. Page unwittingly meeting with a Russian spy in 2013, provided the intelligence to Ms. Watkins. She wrote the story for BuzzFeed on April 3, 2017. Months later, The New York Times cited the scoop as one of the reasons it hired Ms. Watkins.

The indictment alleges Mr. Wolfe also leaked Mr. Page’s scheduled appearances before the committee and a story that Mr. Page planned to invoke the Fifth Amendment instead of testify. Mr. Page says that story was false.

“It had long been a mystery to me how MSNBC always miraculously knew about/was well staked-out for my Hart Senate Office Building visits, despite by best effort attempts to stay undercover,” Mr. Page tweeted Friday. “I guess all these things are now becoming more understandable.”

After the April 3 BuzzFeed story, Mr. Page sent a letter to Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, North Carolina Republican, and Vice Chairman Mark Warner, Virginia Democrat.

“I am increasingly coming to understand that these proceedings have thus far followed the precedent of prior show trials,” he wrote.

The letter said that it is a felony for someone to leak his name as the person who was approached by spy Victor Podobnyy in New York in 2013. (No charges were filed against Mr. Page, an energy investor who lived in Moscow. He believed Mr. Podobnyy to be who he said he was: a Russian diplomat posted at the United Nations.)
I wonder if Ms. Watkins will make conjugal visits to Mr. Wolfe in jail? Meanwhile, DOJ is still playing "hide the pickle": Devin Nunes to DOJ: Hand over docs on alleged FBI informant by Tuesday or it's 'obstruction' Stop playing nice, and put someone in jail. I'm sure that will focus their minds.

Red State: Giuliani Says Coming Report May Bring Prosecution Against Comey. I caution against overoptimism regarding the upcoming IG report. Michael W. McConnell at WaPo: Trump’s not wrong about pardoning himself. I think the law is clear; it's the politics that are murky.
Two days before the Constitutional Convention voted in 1787 to approve the final draft, Edmund Randolph of Virginia moved to narrow the president’s pardon power on the ground that it “was too great a trust. The President himself may be guilty.” His point was supported by none other than James Madison. But James Wilson of Pennsylvania, the finest lawyer among the delegates and later a justice on the first Supreme Court, stressed the importance of the pardon power and argued that if the president “be himself a party to the guilt, he can be impeached and prosecuted.” (“Prosecuted” meant prosecuted before the Senate.) Randolph’s motion was defeated eight states to two, with one state divided.

The framers of the Constitution thus specifically contemplated and debated the prospect that a president might be guilty of an offense and use the pardon power to clear himself. They concluded that the remedy of impeachment by the House and conviction by the Senate was a sufficient check on the possibility of abuse.

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