Friday, July 17, 2020

Some Late Breaking Russiagate

I had very little in the digital fridge last night, but a couple of late entries made it a respectable, if not bountiful crop.

Via the Wombat's In The Mailbox: 07.15.20, J.E. Dyer at Da Lid lays out how the Latest Flynn Document Release Clarifies Strategic Depth Of ‘Obamagate’. A lot of detail about the early distinctions between sanctions and expulsions (from the Obama administration) have been conflated by the Mueller mob, the media and anti-Trumpers to maintain the fiction the Flynn lied to the FBI:
The released transcripts of the phone calls indicate that the only important thing Flynn discussed with Kislyak was the expulsion from the United States of 35 Russians who were members of Moscow’s U.S. delegation, plus denial of the use of Russian “recreational” property in the U.S.

This action was part of the 29 December package, but it was not formally a “sanctions” move. The actual sanctions Obama imposed on the same date were imposed under different presidential authority: Executive Order 13757. They were in the typical form of financial prohibitions, administered by the U.S. Treasury, on Russian entities and persons the Obama administration had identified as linked to interference in the 2016 election.
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Kislyak and Flynn didn’t talk about the sanctions. They spoke briefly about the expulsions. As Cleveland reminds us, that’s what Flynn himself said, in basically so many words, in February 2017. Flynn was very clear on the distinction.

Cleveland highlighted that that matters, in part because the expulsions and sanctions have been conflated in all the media reporting ever since. Apparently, because conflating them is essential to the narrative about what Flynn is guilty of. The narrative, however, is just as dependent on what went into the charging document for Flynn when he took his plea (since reconsidered) on 1 December 2017.

The Special Counsel’s statement of offense against Flynn unvaryingly referred to his offense as being in relation to discussing “sanctions” with Kislyak. The term “expulsion” does not appear in the statement of offense.

Moreover – and this is key – the Mueller Report discussed Flynn’s guilt entirely in terms of his having discussed “sanctions” with Kislyak. Cleveland regarded that as suspect. So do I.
Also on the Flynn persecution, Krystina Skurk at Da Fed reports on How Michael Flynn Got Caught In The Crossfire Between Two Obama Agencies Looking To Get Trump
Documents released in May made clear that Yates was far more interested in getting Flynn fired than prosecuting him. The special counsel interview with Yates revealed that the first time she heard about Flynn’s phone call with Kislyak was from Obama. It also states that this is where she first heard that Flynn may have broken the Logan Act, although she claims it was Comey, not Biden, who mentioned it in the meeting.
While it is clear that Yates never intended to use the Logan Act to prosecute Flynn, it is also clear that she tried to use it to get him fired. Yates noted in her interview with the special counsel’s office that after she found out about the call between Flynn and Kislyak, she spoke with Assistant Acting Attorney General Mary McCord. She said they felt that although Flynn’s conversation was a technical violation of the Logan Act, they didn’t believe it would work with a jury or be a good use of Department of Justice (DOJ) power.

Yates had two meetings with then-White House counsel Don McGahn about the Flynn-Kislyak call. During her first meeting, Yates used the Logan Act as her excuse for informing the White House that the FBI and DOJ had proof Flynn was misrepresenting his call with Kislyak. McGahn, seemingly not knowing what the Logan Act was, took the charge seriously and questioned whether Flynn was under criminal investigation.

McGahn’s attitude in their second meeting changed. According to Yates, it was clear McGahn had researched the Logan Act. He presumably discovered it wouldn’t be a tenable legal strategy. “The DOJ isn’t going to prosecute the Logan Act,” he scoffed. Yates now had to backtrack. It would make her and her department look ridiculous to defend using the Logan Act.

According to her testimony before an executive session of the House’s Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Yates told McGahn she informed the White House so they could act. “It would be unfair to ask you to sit on your hands,” she said. She repeatedly told McGahn not to worry about any investigation that might be going on into Flynn. Instead she encouraged him to be free to “act.” She told Congress she didn’t want McGahn using an investigation as an excuse not to move on the Flynn situation. It is clear Yates’ intention was to get Flynn fired.
And still, the FBI, still under Yates' direction through James Comey, persisted. And then, the Mueller team decided to prosecute on a false charge of lying to the FBI. At RCI,  Aaron Maté pens Mueller and Weissmann Op-Eds Greatly at Odds With Their Report and Evidence
In a bid to refute that criticism, Mueller begins by defending the FBI's justification for launching the probe. "By late 2016," he writes, "the FBI had evidence that the Russians had signaled to a Trump campaign adviser that they could assist the campaign through the anonymous release of information damaging to the Democratic candidate," Hillary Clinton. The campaign adviser is George Papadopoulos, whose barroom conversation with Australian diplomat Alexander Downer served as the basis for the Trump-Russia probe. (Downer passed this tip to the U.S. government in late July – though Mueller writes "late 2016.")

Contrary to Mueller's assertion, the record shows the FBI was not acting on any evidence that "the Russians had signaled" anything to Papadopoulos, but instead on the Australian diplomat's recounting of vague hearsay -- which Papadopoulos never relayed to anyone else in the Trump campaign. The bureau’s own documents make this clear. The recently declassified FBI electronic communication (EC) that officially opened its Russia investigation, code-named Crossfire Hurricane, states that Downer had told the U.S. government that Papadopoulos had "suggested the Trump team had received some kind of suggestion from Russia that it could assist" the Trump campaign by anonymously releasing damaging, yet "unclear," information about Clinton and President Obama. Not only was this tip vague, there was no evidence that the "some kind of suggestion" actually came from the Russian government or even a Russian national.
And Mueller's Pit Bull, Andy Weissass?
Weissmann – now a legal analyst for MSNBC and preparing for the September publication of his memoir on the Mueller probe -- bases his argument on the possibility that Stone hid incriminating information in order to protect Trump. Stone, Weissmann claimed (approvingly quoting the sentencing federal judge), "had been prosecuted for 'covering up for the president.'" Stone, Weissmann added, was found guilty of "lying to Congress about the coordination between the Trump 2016 campaign, Mr. Stone, WikiLeaks and Russia," and putting him before a grand jury would "get at the truth of why he lied."

Yet Stone's own case – and, of course the Mueller Report, which found no conspiracy -- underscored that there was no such "coordination," which is presumably why Stone was never accused, let alone convicted, of lying about it. The word "coordination" only appears once in his indictment: in describing the FBI investigation of potential Trump-Russia collusion, not in describing anything to do with Stone.

Stone was instead convicted of making false statements to Congress about his failed efforts to obtain information about WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign. Stone's case and trial underscored that these efforts went nowhere: Both individuals whom he tapped as his intermediaries, Corsi and Credico, had no contact with WikiLeaks and no inside information of its plans. The suggestion to the contrary by Weissmann in the New York Times' op-ed section is contradicted by the paper's own reporting on Stone's trial last year, when it noted that Stone "had no real ties to WikiLeaks."
I would just like to add that neither op-ed was produced under oath.

Chuck Ross, Grenell: Documents Will Show Intel Officials Who Warned About Steele Dossier Were Ignored
Richard Grenell, the former acting director of national intelligence, said Wednesday that U.S. intelligence officials who expressed doubts early in the Trump-Russia investigation about the infamous Steele dossier were ignored.

In an interview on Newsmax TV, Grenell said that documents that have yet to be released will show that career intelligence officials pointed to red flags about the dossier, which the FBI used in its investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

“But there are several [documents] that still need to come out,” Grenell told Newsmax. “And these reports will show voices within the intelligence community early on, unheard of voices so far, but voices nonetheless, from the intelligence career officials saying: ‘This doesn’t stack up. This is not something we should be relying on.'”

“Those voices were ignored, and their comments were pushed aside and classified information.”
Hiding the evidence? Breitbart, Devin Nunes: Barr Must Bring Charges in the Russia Hoax Investigation Even if Right Before Elections
"Yeah, look, I’m confident that Durham’s doing a thorough investigation. People have to remember this is a sprawling investigation that stretches on from 2015 to the Mueller probe. So he’s got to get it right. What I worry about is this next election is critical because if Biden somehow was to pull off a victory here, all this will be buried, and we will then be left with a totally corrupt Department of Justice and FBI that will never get fixed and it will take this country into a level of chaos that we have not seen, if these prosecutions are not brought and people are not held to justice and put in jail."
WaPoo is angry that Trump is resisting: Trump to press battle over tax returns after Supreme Court defeat, lawyers say
President Trump intends to fight the Manhattan district attorney's effort to access his tax records after last week's defeat at the Supreme Court, and may argue now that attempts to subpoena his accounting firm are politically motivated, Trump's lawyers told a judge on Wednesday.

The nation’s highest court rejected Trump’s bid to have the grand jury subpoena tossed on grounds that, as sitting president, he has absolute immunity from state court proceedings. The Supreme Court decision favored efforts by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., whose office is investigating Trump and his business over hush-money payments made to two women during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Of course it's politically motivated. My understanding is that the court said that a properly justified subpoena of his tax records would be allowed. Now Trump gets to question whether or not those subpoenas are justified. That's the way the system works.

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