Thursday, July 5, 2018

Post Fireworks Russiagate

I can't believe this much accumulated on July 4th.

Kelly Cohen at the Washington Examiner: Senate Intel concludes Russia interfered in 2016 presidential election, preferred Trump over Clinton. I agree with that, with the proviso that they didn't think she could lose, and they just wanted to weaken a President Hillary Clinton. If they knew they could affect the outcome of the election, they're so much smarter than us we should just give up now.
The panel said it supports the assessment that Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election “represent the most recent expression of Moscow’s longstanding desire to undermine the U.S.-led liberal democratic order, but these activities demonstrated a significant escalation in directness, level of activity, and scope of effort compared to previous operations.”

Further, the Senate intelligence panel said it agrees with the finding that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the interference campaign, with the goals of “undermining public faith in the U.S. democratic process,” as well as “denigrate” Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Jeff Carlson at Director Blue:  Devin Nunes: His Growing List of Names, Including One Victoria Nuland: Expect much more weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth from Democrats.
Nunes referred seventeen highly recognizable names to the joint task force of Committees on Oversight & Government Reform and the Judiciary for open-setting interviews.

On July 2, 2018, Nunes added ten names to his list in a follow-up letter, expanding it to twenty-seven individuals (complete list w/descriptions at bottom). The new names are:
Note that names cut off at a certain political level. Below Sally Yates at DOJ. Below Comey at FBI. Below Kerry at State.

Following the addition of new names, Nunes appeared on the Laura Ingraham Show. His comments were noteworthy. I encourage you to read them in full. Nunes specifically notes he intends to refer more names later this week.
Showing that he's nowhere near done torturing Trump Mueller Taps More Prosecutors to Help With Growing Trump Probe (Bloomberg)
 Special Counsel Robert Mueller is tapping additional Justice Department resources for help with new legal battles as his year-old investigation of Russian interference with the 2016 election continues to expand.

As Mueller pursues his probe, he’s making more use of career prosecutors from the offices of U.S. attorneys and from Justice Department headquarters, as well as FBI agents -- a sign that he may be laying the groundwork to hand off parts of his investigation eventually, several current and former U.S. officials said.

Mueller and his team of 17 federal prosecutors are coping with a higher-then-expected volume of court challenges that has added complexity in recent months, but there’s no political appetite at this time to increase the size of his staff, the officials said.

According to his most recent statement of expenditures, more money is being spent on work done by permanent Department of Justice units than on Mueller’s own dedicated operation. The DOJ units spent $9 million from the investigation’s start in May 2017 through March of this year, compared with $7.7 million spent by Mueller’s team.
Meanwhile, former Mueller investigator and Anti-Trump FBI Agent Peter Strzok May Ignore Congressional Subpoena, His Lawyer Says (Chuck Ross, Daily Caller). Gee, and I thought he wanted to get his story out. Spencer Ackerman FBI Taught Agents They Could 'Bend or Suspend the Law'. Their defense is that only about 1% of their training materials actually encouraged agents to break the law.

Alas, according to the estimation of the  estimable Andrew McCarthy, Michael Flynn’s Guilty Plea Isn’t Going Away
. . . This brings us to the issue of vacating Flynn’s guilty plea, which his fans ardently hope against hope will happen. . . . It won’t.

Non-lawyers understandably focus on the equities that are in Flynn’s favor. They skip over the inconvenient fact that he got up in court, pled guilty as charged, and provided the court with an explanation of why he was guilty. Legally, it is almost impossible to un-ring that bell. A plea proceeding is an exacting affair, in which the accused is thoroughly advised of all the rights he is waiving, and the judge takes pains to ensure that he is pleading guilty because he has committed illegal conduct with criminal intent. It is exceedingly rare for a plea to be vacated after it has been accepted by the court.

More importantly (and this is the point people tend to miss), the accused usually pleads guilty because it is a good deal. In Flynn’s case, he could have been charged with multiple false-statements counts; in addition, because of Mueller’s harsh treatment of people who act as agents of foreign governments without registering with the Justice Department (an offense heretofore very infrequently prosecuted), there was the possibility of charges involving his company’s work for the government of Turkey, in which Flynn’s son may have been implicated.

Understand: I am not saying Flynn is necessarily guilty of additional crimes. I am saying that even if by some legal miracle Flynn were permitted to withdraw his plea, Mueller is not going away. If the plea deal were broken, all bets would be off. The special counsel could then indict him on any and all charges that were dropped in exchange for the guilty plea. Flynn, and perhaps his son, would face the extensive time, crushing expense, and high anxiety of defending against the case.

General Flynn pled guilty precisely to avoid dealing with all of that, to put this dark chapter behind him and his beleaguered family. Whatever suspicions there may be about the validity of the false-statement plea, they do not make the rest of Flynn’s potential problems disappear.

That is why the plea will stand . . . unless President Trump pardons him.

Personally, I believe Flynn should be pardoned, forthwith. His investigation was politicized. His prosecution should never have happened. There does not appear to be any viable “collusion” or obstruction case against President Trump, much less one in which Flynn would be a critical witness. If such a case were unexpectedly to develop, Flynn has been cooperating with Mueller, so there are presumably FBI reports (perhaps even grand jury testimony) outlining Flynn’s version of events. There is no reason to believe a pardon would induce Flynn to change his tune and lie on the president’s behalf; in the highly unlikely event that he did, Mueller could prosecute him for perjury.

Alas, a Flynn pardon will not happen at this point because the politics militate against it. Eventually, I believe, Flynn will be pardoned because he deserves to be. I could be wrong, but about this much I am confident: If Flynn gets a reprieve, it will be because the president exercised clemency, not because Judge Sullivan vacated his plea.
Pardon Flynn, investigate Mueller.

Daniel Greenfield at Front Page: Sex, Lies and the Deep State - What the affairs of the deep state tell us about it.
At the heart of the effort to bring down President Trump were two affairs. Unlike the bizarre lies about Moscow hotel rooms and prostitutes in the Steele dossier that was used by the Clinton campaign and its allies to smear President Trump and generate an investigation against him, these affairs truly took place.

And they didn’t just expose the malfeasance of four people, but of a corrupt political culture.

The affairs between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page in the FBI, and between Senate Intelligence Committee security director James Wolfe and New York Times reporter Ali Watkins, did more than betray the spouses of Strzok, Page and Wolfe. They also betrayed the duties of the two men and two women.

The affairs were not private matters. The two illicit sexual relationships were also illicit political arrangements. As the Inspector General’s report noted, Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a Clinton ally who has since been fired, used Page as his liaison with Strzok to circumvent the chain of command on the investigation. McCabe used Page as his conduit and Watkins’ media employers used the young reporter as a conduit to her older married lover and the leaked information he allegedly provided her.
. . .
How significant was the Ali Watkins and James Wolfe affair? Former New York Times editor Jill Abramson, in her furious defense of Watkins, noted, "most crucially, the value of her journalism (her Carter Page scoop in BuzzFeed actually helped lead to appt of Mueller)." Strzok was forced to leave the Mueller investigation due to the exposure of his texts with Lisa Page. Watkins’ affair with Wolfe has been credited by a key media figure with helping create the monster that is the Mueller investigation.

At the rotten heart of the campaign against Trump lay the betrayal of private and public fidelities.

But the Strzok-Page and Watkins-Wolfe affairs were also crucial in bypassing formal lines of communication. Illicit affairs are popular espionage tradecraft not just because they provide blackmail material against influential officials, but because their very informality makes it easy to create covert networks within organizations as personal intimacy is used to maintain political intimacy.
Read it all.
Stormy Daniels

Joe Simpson at da Caller: People Are Now Paying $10,000 To See Stormy Daniels Strip In DC. You need scare quotes around strip:
Allegations aside, men are willing to pay big bucks to see the 39-year-old mother bare it all at the strip clubs like the Cloakroom during her tour across America.

The club is offering VIP skyboxes for $10,000 a show, according to the Washingtonian. “You’d have to buy it, and then I’ll let you know,” Cristina Horcasitas told the magazine after being asked what $10,000 bucks gets ticket-holders.

For a mere $50, there is access to get in and hopefully sit on a barstool. At the next level, $100 gets access to better seating and a private bar.

“She’s unpredictable. She’s fun,” says Horcasitas. “She’s excited to put on a good show.”

Recently, Daniels said she would be visiting the U.S.-Mexico border and using her “platform” to help shed light on the Trump administration’s immigration policies toward children.
I'd expect a lot for $10k, IYKWIMAITYD, although Washington D.C. prices do tend to be pretty high. And speaking of Stormy, her lawyer Michael Avenatti vows to run for Preznit, if Trump stands for reelection. Oh, please!

Wombat-socho was a day late with "Rule 5 Sunday: Crystal Hefner" and "FMJRA 2.0: Day Late & A Dollar Short With Astrix."

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