Monday, December 31, 2018

The Final Russiagate Post . . .

. . . of 2018. Yeah, I know, it keeps going and going, but at least Michael Isikoff admits Dossier's Trump-Russia collusion claims 'likely false' 
Yahoo News’ Michael Isikoff, an early public conduit for Christopher Steele’s anti-Trump dossier, now says the former British spy’s sensational Russia collusion charges lack apparent evidence and are “likely false.”

As Election Day loomed in September 2016, Mr. Isikoff was the first Washington journalist to write about Mr. Steele’s memos. He focused on Mr. Steele’s contention that Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page met with nefarious operatives of Russian President Vladimir Putin during a publicly announced trip to Moscow in July 2016.

As reported by the Daily Caller, Mr. Isikoff this month told Mediaite columnist John Ziegler: “When you actually get into the details of the Steele dossier, the specific allegations, we have not seen the evidence to support them, and in fact, there is good grounds to think that some of the more sensational allegations will never be proven and are likely false.”

Mr. Isikoff is best friends with Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson, who hired Mr. Steele in May and June 2016 with money funneled through a law firm from the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Mr. Isikoff was one of a handful of mainstream journalists who met with Mr. Steele in Washington as arranged by Mr. Simpson.
A quick run down of the dossier's allegations, and the lack of evidence.
The Washington Times looked at Mr. Steele’s core collusion charges to see how they have stood up:

⦁ Accusation: The Trump campaign was a partner in an “extensive conspiracy” with the Kremlin to interfere in the 2016 election.

Today: There is no confirmed public evidence. No Trump person has been charged in such a conspiracy. Mr. Mueller’s office informed President Trump that he isn’t a target.

⦁ Accusation: Then-Trump attorney Michael Cohen secretly traveled to Prague in August 2016 and met with Putin aides to organize cash payments to hush up hackers who infiltrated Democratic Party computers.

Today: There is no confirmed public evidence. Cohen, who has pleaded guilty to tax evasion charges and is cooperating with Mr. Mueller, still vehemently denies he ever went to Prague. No court filings indicate he has any knowledge of Trump collusion, and he has said he doesn’t. McClatchy news service has published two stories asserting that Mr. Mueller has evidence Cohen went to Prague.  Fusion’s Mr. Simpson told Congress that Cohen could have traveled to Prague by way of a yacht and Russian aircraft. Daniel Jones, a former Senate Democratic aide, told the FBI in 2017 that he had amassed $50 million from wealthy donors to keep investigating Mr. Trump. He said he hired Fusion GPS and Mr. Steele.

⦁ Accusation: Carter Page met with two Putin operatives and discussed a brokerage fee in return for pushing an end to U.S. sanctions on wealthy Russians and businesses.

Today: Pro-Russia energy investor Mr. Page embarked on perhaps the most suspicious course of action when he traveled to Moscow to deliver a public college speech in July 2106. He once worked in Moscow as a Merrill Lynch banker. The FBI wiretapped him for one year based largely on the dossier. No evidence has emerged publicly that he ever met with Putin people or discussed bribes. He has told the FBI and Congress that he didn’t. He has not been charged.

⦁ Accusation: Mr. Page and campaign chairman Paul Manafort worked as a team to coordinate election interference with the Kremlin.

Today: No public evidence to support this scenario. The two say they don’t know each other and have never spoken. Manafort stands convicted of tax fraud and other charges. Mr. Mueller has made no court filing that indicates he is involved in a Russian election conspiracy. Manafort attorney Kevin Downing filed a court paper saying he asked Mr. Mueller for any evidence of his client talking to Russian government officials. There was none, the attorney said.

⦁ Accusation: Mr. Trump actively supported ongoing computer hacking.

Today: No public evidence.

⦁ Accusation: The Trump “team” paid Russian hackers.

Today: No public evidence. Mr. Mueller brought indictments against the Russian intelligence officers who did the hacking and stole emails released by WikiLeaks. There is no indication that the funding came from Trump people.

⦁ Accusation: Mr. Trump maintained an eight-year relationship with Kremlin operatives in quid pro quo intelligence-sharing.
Today: No public evidence.

⦁ Accusation: Russian entrepreneur Aleksej Gubarev, owner of computer server provider XBT Holding, hacked the Democrats under pressure from Moscow intelligence.

Today: No public evidence. Mr. Gubarev’s attorneys say no U.S. authority has asked to interview him. The Mueller indictment against Russian hackers doesn’t mention XBT. A U.S. District judge dismissed Mr. Gubarev’s libel lawsuit against BuzzFeed but not because the dossier is true. The judge ruled that BuzzFeed, which had published the unverified memos, was protected from libel because the FBI and intelligence agencies were using the dossier in their probes.
To be fair, he's said this before Giuliani rips Mueller: ‘It’s time to put up or shut up’. Can Mueller hold out long enough for a 2020 October surprise?
“It should have been wrapped up probably in May or June. That’s when they figured out they had no evidence of collusion," Giuliani asserted, adding, "Collusion is not a crime, by the way."

"You have to show a conspiracy to hack [the Democratic National Committee]," he added. "They don’t have any evidence of that — which is the reason they don’t submit a report, because they are embarrassed."
. . .
"So, I am challenging them: It’s time to put up or shut up. It’s time for them to submit a report," Giuliani said. "They don’t have, as we would say in New York, a damn thing.”
. . .
“Mueller should be investigated for destruction of evidence for allowing those text messages from Strzok to be erased, messages that would show the state of mind and tactics of his lead anti-Trump FBI agent at the start of his probe,” Giuliani told Hill.TV this week.
At Polico, a lot more speculation about A Holiday Mystery: Why Did John Roberts Intervene in the Mueller Probe?, but no progress towards answering it.

Time: Russian Ex-Spy Pressured Manafort Over Debts to an Oligarch It's not a good thing to owe money to the Russian mob.
In his only interview with the media about those connections, Boyarkin told TIME this fall that he was in touch with Trump’s then-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, in the heat of the presidential race on behalf of the Russian oligarch. “He owed us a lot of money,” Boyarkin says. “And he was offering ways to pay it back.”

The former Russian intelligence officer says he has been approached by the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. Boyarkin’s response to those investigators? “I told them to go dig a ditch,” he says. Peter Carr, the spokesman for the Special Counsel’s Office, declined to comment. Through his spokesman, Manafort likewise declined to comment on his alleged connections with Boyarkin.
I trust Manafort would sell his soul for a million dollars, if he could find it.

Page 6, Michael Cohen’s story may get the Hollywood treatment. Hollywood invariably fucks up the story and slants it toward the liberal view, so I'm not shocked.
Cohen’s attorney David Schwartz told Page Six: “There is a lot of interest in Michael’s story, but he isn’t open to doing anything at the moment because of continuing

Cohen has reportedly spent 70 hours in interviews with Robert Mueller’s prosecutors and other federal investigators.

Meanwhile, producers can begin hashing out who will play Cohen in any movie version.

Our suggestions include: Bobby Cannavale, Ray Romano, David Schwimmer or Ben Stiller — who’s already comically played Cohen on “SNL.”
 Bob Odenkirk from Better Call Saul would be perfect.

USA Today: Trump's tweets: Judges in government secrecy cases say they are 'speculation' and not 'pure fact'
"Speculation." "Unofficial information." "Political statements rather than assertions of pure fact." Those are words federal judges have used to describe President Donald Trump’s tweets while guarding the secrecy of ongoing investigations that have shadowed his presidency.

And in an unusual twist, these rulings mark victories for Trump’s own Justice Department, which has argued repeatedly that the president’s comments on the probes are not always to be taken literally, or to be trusted.

In one tweet in March 2017, Trump claimed that the Obama administration tapped his phones as a candidate in Trump Tower. He insisted in May 2017 that he had the "absolute right" to meet with Russians in the Oval Office, even if critics worried he revealed state secrets. And he announced in June 2017 that he was under investigation for firing the FBI director.
 And at Jonathon Turley at Da Hill: Donald Trump is completely transforming the Democrats
Democrats are now defined by Trump the way that antimatter is defined by matter, with each particle of matter corresponding to an antiparticle. Take the secrecy. Democrats once were the party that fought against the misuse of secret classification laws by the FBI and other agencies. They demanded greater transparency from the executive branch, which is a position that I have readily supported. Yet, when oversight committees sought documents related to the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act investigation of Trump associates, Democrats denounced the very thought that Republicans would question the judgment of the FBI that any such disclosures would be tantamount to jeopardizing national security.

Democratic Party leaders including Pelosi declared that the oversight committees had moved beyond “dangerous irresponsibility and disregard for our national security” and “disregarded the warnings of the Justice Department and the FBI.” Likewise, House Intelligence Committee ranking minority member Adam Schiff expressed shock that the FBI was not given deference in withholding the information in the surveillance investigation.

Yet, when the information was finally forced out of the FBI, including the disclosure of previously redacted material, it was clear that the FBI had engaged in overclassification to shield not national security but to shield the bureau itself from criticism. It included discussion of the roles of high ranking FBI officials and their reliance on such sources as the Christopher Steele dossier, which were already publicly known. Democratic House members like Schiff presumably knew what was in the redactions and, nevertheless, wanted deference to the classification decisions of the FBI.

In supporting the investigation of Trump, Democrats have embraced expanding definitions of crimes like obstruction, conspiracy, and the like. Historically, Democrats have resisted such efforts to stretch the criminal code to criminalize broader and broader areas of conduct. During the Trump administration, Democrats sound like legal hawks in demanding criminal charges for conduct long treated as civil matters, such as campaign finance violations and foreign agent registration violations.

In pursuing Trump, Democrats have also adopted a type of “red scare” mindset. While Republicans long pumped up the Russian menace as a political Cold War narrative, Democrats are now adopting the same type of rhetoric over the Russian attempt to interfere with the 2016 president election. Democrats for the past two years speak about how Russians “stole” the election or destroyed the legitimacy of the results, with little empirical data to support such irresponsible and unfounded claims.

While many of us support the Mueller investigation and the need for sanctions against Russia for its interference, Democrats now routinely refer to Russia as our “enemy” and accuse any people with alleged connections to Russians as “traitors.” Special counsel Robert Mueller may have more to reveal on Russian hacking, but there is little evidence that either the trolling operation or leaked emails of the Hillary Clinton campaign had a material impact on the 2016 presidential election.
The Democrats position with Trump is much like my position with Femen, whatever they're against, I'm for, just to keep the bare-breasted protests going!

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