Friday, December 21, 2018

Russiagate in a Plain Brown Bag

Care of the Wombat's In The Mailbox: 12.20.18, Power Line reminds us how WaPo Magnifies Sullivan’s False Claim About Flynn. These days the paper is mostly suitable for wrapping fish guts. Too bad the season is over. Samantha Vinograd at Politico also begs us  to think Why You Shouldn’t Feel Sorry for Michael Flynn, because he sided with Trump over Obama. I would beg you to remember, that as Victor Davis Hanson reminds us, The Elites Haven't Faced Consequences; Brennan, Comey, Clapper, Rice All Lied. Guilty as sin, free as birds, as Bill Ayers likes to say.

Streiff at Red State: Matthew Whitaker Confirms That Robert Mueller Has A New Boss. Let's hope the new boss ain't the same as the old boss. This, despite reports that DOJ Ethics Experts Told Whitaker’s Aides He Should Recuse Himself From Russiagate (AllahPundit, Hot Air), and I'm OK with that.

And even better yet, Trump's pick for attorney general (Willaim Barr)  warns Mueller's obstruction inquiry 'fatally misconceived' in memo to DOJ (CNN).  Hey remember when Comey McCabe on Strzok told us that extreme bias was OK because they would act unbiased? I guess we can test it! WSJ (cited by Hot Air):
In the memo, Mr. Barr wrote he sent it as a “former official” who hoped his “views may be useful.” He wrote he was concerned about the part of Mr. Mueller’s probe that, according to news reports in the Journal and elsewhere, has explored whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice in asking then-FBI director James Comeyto drop an investigation into former national security adviser Mike Flynn’s contacts with Russia, and by later firing Mr. Comey.

Mr. Barr’s memo, dated June 8 and sent to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, argues that, based on the facts as he understands them, the president was acting well within his executive-branch authority…

“As I understand it, his theory is premised on a novel and legally insupportable reading of the law,” Mr. Barr wrote. “Moreover, in my view, if credited by the Justice Department, it would have grave consequences far beyond the immediate confines of this case and would do lasting damage to the Presidency and to the administration of law within the Executive branch.”
Andy McCarthy, whose opinion I value, mostly, says The Barr Memo Is a Commendable Piece of Lawyering
It is exactly what we need and should want in an attorney general of the United States: the ability to reason through complex legal questions in a rigorously academic way. Not to bloviate from the cheap seats, but to think these issues through the way a properly functioning Justice Department does: considering them against jurisprudence, statutes, rules, regulations, and Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) opinions, with a healthy respect for facts that we do not know or about which we could be wrong — facts that could alter the analysis.
The Peacock: Mueller may submit report to attorney general as soon as mid-February, say sources "They clearly are tying up loose ends," said a lawyer who has been in contact with the Mueller team. I thought they never leaked? Keeping hope alive at Bloomberg, Chris Strohm says Mueller to Save Trump for Later as Prosecutor Readies Next Steps. Newsbusters: ‘The Walls Are Closing In’: Cable Journalists Chant Dems' New Mantra Five Times a Day Only 5? I saw Shep Smith do it 5 times in one hour. Page 6 Rudy Giuliani spotted chuckling about Mueller investigation. I hope that means he knows something.
Said a smoky source, “Rudy was saying, ‘This is the best thing that could’ve happened — who in their right mind would want to cooperate with Mueller now!’ with a big chuckle, obviously referring to the [Michael] Flynn sentencing debacle.”
And Cohen too; he got a great deal for his snitching!

What more can you say about The Insufferable James Comey? Quite a lot from Rich Lowry:
The conundrum of Comey was that he deserved to be fired, but firing him — certainly the way President Donald Trump did it — was the worst mistake of Trump’s presidency. It would have been better to have Comey inside the tent leaking and maneuvering for his own advantage than to have him outside leaking and maneuvering for his advantage.

Comey is a smart and capable man. In many ways, he was a good FBI director. His fault was always being too clever by half and having too keen an eye for his own image and political interest.

He bent over backward to get to the conclusion that President Barack Obama and his Justice department wanted in the Hillary Clinton email investigation, then decided to speak out about the matter lest people think his decision was tainted by Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s notorious tarmac meeting with Bill Clinton.

Comey thus ignored the law in the Clinton case and ignored Justice Department rules in talking about it.

Comey may have been a law unto himself, but there shouldn’t be any doubt that he knows what he’s doing.

After Trump fired him, Comey had one of his friends leak contents of a memo to The New York Times in the hopes that it would catalyze the appointment of a special counsel. Sure enough, we got a special counsel.

A special-counsel probe is an act of punishment against any administration subjected to it. It will cause distraction, legal fees, and heartache — in the best case. Even if a probe doesn’t land the investigative big fish — in this case, collusion — it will usually find wrongdoing, often process crimes involving the investigation itself (especially when dealing with such a dishonest group of people).

A practiced Washington player, Comey knew all of this. That he’s so deft makes his slipperiness about inconvenient matters related to the investigation all the more telling.
 Neoneo: Comey channels Alfred E. Neuman
Let’s look at this exchange a bit more closely:
Question: So, when you saw [that the Steele dossier was funded by a private client], who did you think the private client was?
Mr. Comey: I don’t know that I knew.
Isn’t that quintessential Comey? “I don’t know that I knew.” The question was not, however, whether Comey knew who the client was. The question was who Comey thought funded it. His answer was that he doesn’t know whether he knew or not, and yet later in the exchange he seems to be saying he didn’t know and what’s more was not the least bit curious about it.

That seems to contradict his earlier response about not knowing (or not remembering?) whether he knew or didn’t know, although it’s all so slippery it’s hard to even say. Statements that are so equivocal are deliberately difficult to contradict, because they essentially say nothing. But Comey is quite practiced at that sort of thing.]
Sharyl Attkisson lists the 10 pieces of evidence against most diabolical Russian spy ever (Carter Page)
  1. We know Carter Page is a diabolical Russian spy because the FBI wiretapped him. Under our laws, FBI agents cannot wiretap a U.S. citizen based merely on suspicion or hunches, or to fish for information; they must possess hard evidence indicating the target is currently — or imminently about to become — a foreign spy. So the FBI would not have wiretapped Page if it couldn’t meet the legal evidence threshold. (At least they shouldn’t have.)
  2. Page became a Russian spy after he assisted the FBI in a Russian spy case in 2013. It takes the most diabolical sort to be an asset for the FBI in one Russian spy case, and then to go on to become a Russian spy yourself! (At least that's what the FBI claims.)
  3. Page is so diabolical that he spied for Russia even as he knew the FBI was watching. (The FBI interviewed him in March 2016, prior to wiretapping him.) Only a seasoned operative with ice water in his veins would have the nerve to spy for Russia right under the FBI’s nose — and think he can get away with it! (At least that’s the FBI's apparent theory.)
  4. After the FBI interviewed Page, he traveled to Moscow, where he used to live and do business, in July 2016 to give a university commencement address. Obviously, this was a diabolical cover for a diabolical spy trip. Fusion GPS, the Democrats’ political opposition research team, would later tell the FBI that Page met with Russian officials on the trip. (Page later denied it under oath, but I think we all know who to believe here, don't we?) . . .
And yet ...

As of now, Carter Page hasn’t been charged with so much as lying to the FBI or filing a faulty tax return, let alone Russian spying. He endured the most intrusive, intimidating methods the government has at its disposal. He was the subject of media leaks. His reputation was destroyed. If he’s never charged with being a Russian spy, he’s either that slippery … or it would suggest that the top intelligence officials who targeted him were either incompetent or corrupt. It would seem to border on criminal.

If Carter Page isn’t the world’s most diabolical spy ever, then it could imply that the investigation itself has been diabolical.
Ace: John McCain's "Longtime Associate" Delivered "Dossier" to BuzzFeed, and Then to the State Department's Victoria Nuland. That second part is new.
I don't think merely receiving a document (false oppo research from Hillary Clinton) is anything super-objectionable. I'd receive most documents offered to me. Whether I bothered to read them would be another matter.

The McCain "longtime associate" actively disseminating this Hillary Clinton/Syd Blumenthal/Cody Shearer conspiracy theory is something else entirely.

I would say that the decision to give it to Paul Ryan's aide was not made on a whim, though. I think Hillary Clinton knew who her most likely allies of convenience were in the GOP.
Althouse: "As Russia’s online election machinations came to light last year, a group of Democratic tech experts decided to try out similarly deceptive tactics...". When the Democrats complain about something, it's a pretty sure sign their doing it themselves. But I'll bet they spent a lot more than $4k.

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