Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Russiagate: Happy Muellermas Morning!

So who gets the shiny new Red Ryder BB gun and who gets the lump of coal? Or do both sides just get a Slinky, which will be stretched out and tangled before the end of the day?

AP, Mueller takes the TV stage; Democrats hope America tunes in. They don't call 'em dog days for nothing. Bloomberg, In high-stakes Mueller hearing, there are big risks for everyone. Rush Limbaugh fears Mueller Set to Breathe New Life into the Russia Hoax. That's certainly what Democrats hope. Meanwhile, the Atlantic fears The Dirty Secret of Mueller’s Testimony? Voters Might Not Care and FiveThirtyEight wonders Will Hearing From Mueller Really Change Americans’ Minds About His Report?

But enough about everyone Muellermas morning dreams, now on to real developments. Liz Shield PJ Media The Morning Briefing: Justice Dept. Tells Mueller to Stay in His Box, and Red State BREAKING: Justice Department puts constraints on Mueller before his testimony . But it turns out Mueller asked the DOJ for guidance  DoJ To Mueller: You’re Correct About Being Limited To The Report (Capt. Ed, Hot Air).
“Your letter requests that the Department provide you with guidance concerning privilege or other legal bars applicable to potential testimony in connection with those subpoenas.”
But that didn't prevent fat Jerry from whining about it, Nadler: How Dare The DoJ Answer Mueller’s Letter By Agreeing With Him!

People are still sending out potential questions for Mueller, and Margot Cleveland at Da Fed has a good one Here’s The No. 1 Question To Ask Robert Mueller In Tomorrow’s Hearing “Mr. Mueller, what did the intelligence community tell you, and when did they tell it?”
“Mr. Mueller, did you ask the CIA and DIA and other intelligence community officials for access to all information relevant to the special counsel investigation? Or did you rely on the intelligence community to provide what they believed relevant to your investigation? Do you believe you were provided access to all potentially relevant information? If so, how do you explain the belated disclosure in the Rafiekian trial?”
Also new, Eric Felten RCI, want Republicans to question The Shaky Standing of Mueller's Footnotes
It was in the footnotes, for example, where the FBI appears to have misled the FISA court in its application to spy on Carter Page – obscuring its reliance on opposition research, the Steele dossier, financed by the Hillary Clinton campaign.

The more than 2,000 footnotes included in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Trump-Russia collusion allegations are also illuminating. Most of the citations are matter-of-fact support for claims made in the main text. But a close reading reveals that many of the footnotes raise more questions than they answer, especially regarding Mueller’s methods and intent. Some footnotes show that key allegations often rely on the flimsy say-so of media accounts; others show a willingness to accept the claims of anti-Trump critics at face value. Mueller and his team also used the footnotes as the place to include unsubstantiated gossip and speculation.

Mueller has made it clear that during his scheduled testimony before Congress on Wednesday, he will not discuss his investigation beyond the “four corners” of his official report. But those four corners encompass not only the main text, but thousands of footnotes.

If Robert Mueller is going to defend his document, he will have to be prepared to defend the footnotes too. It is there where the strengths and weaknesses of the Mueller report are most clearly on display. Come Wednesday’s hearings, the advantage may go to the questioners who know where to look.
Ace, Eric Felten: Republicans Should Interrogate Mueller on the Footnotes of His Report -- Because That's Where He Lies the Most Blatantly
What he means is that Mueller, rather than stating conclusively that this rumor appears false, always tries to keep the allegation open and alive by saying "we failed to establish this fucker is guilty, but you know damn well he is."

Another of Mueller's tricks is to footnote a source supposedly supporting the claim he makes in the text, when in fact the source actually refutes his claim.

He also relies on media reports by reporters themselves fed leaks by highly interested parties (similar to how the FBI cited a Yahoo news article in support of the Steele dossier's accuracy, pretending this was a second, independent source, without telling the court that Yahoo's source was just Christopher Steele again -- so it wasn't a new, second independent source, but the exact same source, this time ventriloquizing his voice through Michael Issikoff).
And referring to The Trump Chessgate Scandal That Never Happened (Victory Girls)
According to footnote 1024, George Nader mentioned that a Russian attending the World Chess Championship wanted to meet Trump. The footnote also says that some chess foundation official said that Trump attended the tournament gala.

Guess what? One of Mueller’s written questions to the President asked the following:
“The special counsel even used one of his precious few written questions for the president (question V. a. to be exact) to ask whether Trump had been invited “to attend the World Chess Championship gala on November 10, 2016” and whether he had attended “any part of the event[P3] .” Trump responded that he had learned in “the course of preparing to respond to these questions” that early in 2016 the chess federation had inquired, fruitlessly, about using Trump Tower for the championship match. But in any case, Trump said in his written testimony that he “did not attend the event.”” [Emphasis Added]
The date is very significant for a couple of reasons.

One: Trump had just been elected and the entire world was in shock. The media was swarming on Trump and Trump tower 24/7. Do you REALLY think that Trump could’ve attended a World Chess Championship just 2 days later and there is not a single mention of it anywhere?

Two: Garry Kasparov is not only a retired chess Grandmaster, he absolutely HATES Trump with a passion.
Neal Kytal NYT, cited at Hot Air: With Three Simple Answers, Mueller Can Speak Volumes
There are just three simple yes-or-no questions Congress should ask Robert Mueller:

Mr. Mueller, the president said your report found, in his words, “no collusion, no obstruction, complete and total exoneration.”
First, did your report find there was no collusion?

Second, did your report find there was no obstruction?

Third, did your report give the president complete and total exoneration?

That’s it. That’s the ballgame.
In a last minute surprise, Key Aide Will Appear Alongside Mueller During Hearings
The committee signed off on the unusual arrangement after Mr. Mueller made a last-minute request that the aide, Aaron Zebley, be sworn in as a witness alongside him. If Democrats had agreed, lawmakers could have questioned Mr. Zebley directly, potentially upending carefully laid plans by Democrats and Republicans over how to use their scant time with Mr. Mueller.

Instead, as a counsel to Mr. Mueller, Mr. Zebley will not be under oath or theoretically allowed to answer lawmakers’ queries. But he can confer privately with Mr. Mueller, 74, if the former special counsel needs assistance or guidance about how to respond.
Hey, I get it. He's an old man, and forgetful. He needs help misrembering. He didn't even write the vast bulk of the report, you can be sure, although nominally he signed off on it. Besides, by consulting his aide, he can waste most of someone's 5 minute turn. The Donald was not happy:

Attorney for IT worker who took a hammer to Clinton cell phones is Mueller deputy

A top attorney on special counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigating alleged Trump campaign ties to Russia also represented the IT staffer who set up Hillary Clinton’s private email server, a report said.

Aaron Zebley was an attorney for Justin Cooper, the IT aide who set up the private email server and who destroyed Clinton’s old Blackberry phones with a hammer, Fox News’s Tucker Carlson reported on Dec. 7.

Documents obtained by Fox News show that Zebley, as Cooper’s acting attorney, “stonewalled” Senate investigators who wanted to question Cooper regarding Clinton’s mishandling of classified information.

“We are troubled by [Zebley’s] complete refusal to engage the committee in a discussion about how to further assuage your concerns,” congressional investigators said in a letter to Cooper.
Yes, I know everybody is entitled to an attorney, but Washington D.C. sure is a small, incestful place, isn't it?

Meanwhile, IG Horowitz continues to plug along, Comey's inside man at White House emerges as DOJ inspector general finalizes FISA abuse report
Anthony Ferrante, a longtime FBI official, worked as a cybersecurity adviser on the National Security Council. Officials said Ferrante was working in the White House even while the FBI held him on reserve status. All the while, he was sharing information about Trump and his aides back to FBI headquarters.

One former National Security Council official said Ferrante's unique position was highly irregular.

“In an unprecedented action, Comey created a new FBI reserve position for Ferrante, enabling him to have an ongoing relationship with the agency, retaining his clearances and enabling him to come back in [to bureau headquarters],” the official said, adding that the NSC division supervisor was "not allowed to get rid of Ferrante" and that the arrangement appeared to be "in direct conflict with the no-contact policy between the White House and the Department of Justice."

Ferrante left the White House in April 2017, not long before Trump fired Comey as FBI director.

He went on to join FTI Consulting, a business-advising firm headquartered in Washington, D.C. Through this firm, Ferrante was hired by BuzzFeed to investigate the dossier composed by Steele, to try and corroborate the unverified claims about Trump's ties to Russia that appear in the research.

Ferrante was replaced in the White House by another FBI official, Jordan Rae Kelly, who signed security logs for Ferrante to enter the White House while he was contracted by BuzzFeed. Kelly left the White House last year and also joined FTI Consulting.
The Daily Wire is late to the case, Report: Comey Was Secretly Trying To Build Case Against Trump, IG Investigation Found, while Dan Sobiesky at AmGreat writes of Mueller and Comey: A Cozy Relationship (ew!)
Seamus Bruner, Government Accountability Institute Researcher and author of Compromised: How Money and Politics Drive FBI Corruption, recently explained how former FBI Directors James Comey and Robert Mueller leveraged their government contacts to enrich themselves when Comey briefly left government service to work for major government contractor Lockheed Martin:
Bruner noted the growth of Comey’s net worth between 2003 and 2009, after Comey left the Department of Justice to join Lockheed Martin as senior vice president and lead counsel.
“It doesn’t really make much sense why [Lockheed Martin] would pay [James Comey] upwards of six million dollars in a single year,” assessed Bruner. “But one reason -- aside from his security clearance -- is that his buddy Robert Mueller is running the FBI. They begin passing 100-million-dollar-plus contracts to Lockheed Martin.”
Bruner continued, “One of these contracts was actually worth a billion dollars, and it was protested formally by the other bidder: IBM… The contracts flowed from Robert Mueller’s FBI to James Comey’s private sector employer, Lockheed Martin, and James Comey made many millions over a short period of time.”
Bruner described Comey as “one of the prime examples of this kind of cashing in on government contacts.”
“We followed the money and realized that James Comey made well over ten million dollars from when he left the public sector in 2005 and by the time he returned to serve as FBI director [in 2009],” said Bruner. “He even made over six million dollars in a single year at the top government contracting corporation, Lockheed Martin; they get over $50 billion a year in government contracts.”
Why did Comey lie about that the nature and depth of his relationship with Robert Mueller, which resulted down the road in Mueller’s appointment as special counsel and the fraudulent surveillance and investigation of candidate, president, and common enemy Donald Trump? Maybe we can ask Robert Mueller about that and whether he thinks his financial dealings might warrant a special counsel or an FBI raid at the crack of dawn.
 Dr John at Flopping Aces, How you know that the IG report is going to go very badly for democrats
Adam Schiff has a tell. When he knows bad news is in the pipeline he plays a card.

The “taint” card.

This time it’s Michael Horowitz is tainted. He’s going to present a false report on the FISA abuse, you see. Trump has somehow gotten the goods on Horowitz.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz got roped into a politically-motivated scheme to protect President Trump, laying the groundwork to discredit the government watchdog’s work as he nears completion of a report on alleged surveillance abuses by the DOJ and FBI.
At the Aspen Security Forum this weekend, Schiff accused top Justice Department officials of pandering to Trump by instigating a “fast track” report last year about former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. His comments came as part of a broader answer to a question about whether he has concerns about Attorney General William Barr’s review of the origins of the Russia investigation.
Schiff claimed the president wanted McCabe, who briefly took over as acting FBI director after Trump fired James Comey in May 2017, investigated and his pension taken away and suggested someone such as former Attorney General Rod Rosenstein obliged the president by making a referral.
That cagey Trump managed to spur the intensely independent IG . . .
And in media madness, MSNBC Guests Keep Repeating False Claim That Fox News Isn’t Covering the Mueller Hearings (Mediaite) and Joe Walsh (no, not that Joe Walsh) at Never Trumper Da Bulwark, The Alternate Reality of Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows.

And some music while we wait for the circus hearings to start:

And don't miss Joe explaining how and why he wrote the song.

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