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#157- What does the Mueller Report Really Say?  A Conversation with Benjamin Wittes

 
Nhoj Morley
 
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Nhoj Morley
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22 May 2019 12:36
 

The Mueller team went looking for evidence of deliberate acts that would require a kind of brain activity not practiced by the trump team.

I have a modest hunch that connects the puzzle pieces differently. I cannot prove anything. Does anyone remember the storyline of Mel Brooks’ The Producers? Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder scheme to hide fraud behind a failed musical. Things go wrong when the musical does not fail.

I suggest that Trump had a scheme to scam Putin and his Ollies that involved running for but not winning the presidency. Victory was the scheme’s defeat. Now, facts may emerge in the report and elsewhere and someone in the Kremlin may put the pieces of the scheme together. Trump does not fear Congress or the IRS or the courts. Impeachment is fine. It will be glorious and the best impeachment ever. None of that hurts the franchise. Trump fears Putin. Vlad is terrifying and wouldn’t serve a subpoena unless it was radioactive.


Just before we see the film’s heroes in jail, they make a last desperate attempt to save their hides by blowing up the theater.

 
 
John V. Linton
 
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John V. Linton
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22 May 2019 13:22
 

Antisocialdarwinist, you are on the right track but IMHO too neutral on this.

2016 was the most high-stakes, nation-dividing election of all time (nearly).  For spying to have been initiated into the opposing political campaign by the previous administration based on campaign opposition research by HRC is stunningly corrupt—and deeply problematic long-term for our democracy, if it goes unpunished.

Nothing proved in connection with Trump and Putin comes remotely close.

It is manifestly obvious that if an administration wanted to spy on a political enemy, it would need to cite some sort of pretext for doing so that had at least one foot in reality.  Hence Russia, which had meddled, but whose meddling (compared to this deep-state coup attempt) was small potatoes.

Ask yourself this:  Is a document as truthful as the Steele Dossier a sufficiently sound predicate to justify any future spying on the political opposition in this country?

Meaning, is all that you need some assemblage of papers put together by someone on earth that has the truth quotient of Steele?

There’s an extraordinary amount that is about to break…  Joe DiGenova is saying word is 3/4 of the FISA applications Horowitz will find to be illegal (perhaps 4/4 after their discovering a memo to the FBI a week before explaining Steele’s conflicts and personal animus against Trump.)

This gives a good summary of all the deep intel people now turning on each other:

https://amgreatness.com/2019/05/19/he-did-it-not-me/

Do people of character turn on each other like this?

For those who haven’t seen Barr’s extraordinary interview last week, here he makes real news:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=500&v=sZBb8uMoqdI&fbclid=IwAR1RSyr94aEUTEyZW1o5OgU69eVMFr2TOKw1jWVnPtNuLRAgVfo7ad-FQJ8

There has been a concerted MSM effort to bury the real story here—a staggering abuse of power in which our intel agencies were turned against the political opposition.  (Think of the DNC-HRC meddling with the primary, then square that to get to their meddling in the general).

Kimberly Strassel is a mainstream center-right voice and she gives a devastating sum of FISAgate here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?edufilter=NULL&v=6den-SEYXb0

(Yes the last link is at a highly partisan forum (David Horowitz), but Strassel herself is a highly respected reporter at the WSJ).

 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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Antisocialdarwinist
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22 May 2019 14:57
 

You may well turn out to be right, but in my opinion it’s still too soon to say so. In addition, even if you are right, it’ll still take proof, or at least clear and convincing evidence—that the Steele dossier was in fact the impetus behind the investigation and also that the IC knew it was untrue and politically motivated but chose to use it anyway—to make a difference. Based on my experience, these investigations generally tend to come up short, either because there’s no “there” there or because the clear and convincing evidence needed to prove malfeasance isn’t found. Can you think of an exception? Watergate was one. Iran Contra? I think there were one or two people who were convicted in that, but ended up getting pardoned or their convictions overturned. Ken Starr? Benghazi? The financial meltdown? Lots of investigations, very little to show for them. Maybe this time will be different.

I do agree that using the country’s intelligence services against your political opponents is a worse crime than colluding with the Russians to influence an election. Not saying that either one of those things necessarily happened, only that the former would be worse than the latter. I think most people would agree, there.

 
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
 
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TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
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22 May 2019 15:35
 

According to the House Intelligence Committee report, released in March 2018, I think, re the beginning of the FBI investigation:

“The Federal Bureau of Investigation opened an enterprise counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign after receiving information related to Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos.”

Apparently, in May 2016 Papadopoulos had told an Australian diplomat that the Russians had “dirt” on Clinton, and once the DNC emails started being released by WikiLeaks in July, the Australians conveyed this conversation to the FBI.  This raised the initial question: how did someone in the Trump campaign know people affiliated with the Russian government had dirt on Clinton, and were they going to meet with the Russians in order to get it? What, if any, involvement did they have with these leaks? The formal investigation began in July 2016. 

The FBI didn’t get the Steele dossier until after that (the Democrats didn’t even get it until June).  In October 2016, the FBI had the dossier, they interviewed Steele, then they asked him to continue his work as part of their own investigation.  According to the Committee report, evidence from foreign intelligence agencies also contributed to the beginning of the FBI investigation, particularly from the British and the Dutch.

Trump himself Tweeted the “Steele origins” idea in May 2018, which he heard from Fox News.  It was never true.  Nor is the idea that this investigation was nothing but a political ratchet job.

[ Edited: 22 May 2019 15:42 by TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher]
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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Antisocialdarwinist
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22 May 2019 17:17
 

Yes, but the Papadopoulos angle is also problematic. He claims to have received the tip in the first place from a Joseph Misfud, who’s now thought by many to have been an FBI informant. Did Misfud tip Papadopoulos at the behest of the FBI? If so, wouldn’t that throw further doubt on the credibility of the investigation?

I’m not saying I buy it, but I’m not ruling it out, either. It sounds like something I’d expect from the FBI.

 
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
 
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22 May 2019 18:00
 

And then the FBI orchestrated the Wikileaks release, waited for contact from the Australians, lied about the Dutch and the British contributions (who could falsify that claim)…or maybe these foreign governments were in on it too…? And maybe the Russians Manafort, Kushner and Trump Jr admit to meeting in June were plants as well, part of this deep, three-dimensional political chess game the FBI played to railroad Trump, maybe even at Obama’s request…

This layer-cake of conspiracy nutjobbery is one rabbit hole too deep for me.  I get off the boat here (mixed metaphors intentional).

[ Edited: 22 May 2019 19:28 by TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher]
 
John V. Linton
 
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John V. Linton
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23 May 2019 03:51
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher - 22 May 2019 06:00 PM

And then the FBI orchestrated the Wikileaks release, waited for contact from the Australians, lied about the Dutch and the British contributions (who could falsify that claim)…or maybe these foreign governments were in on it too…? And maybe the Russians Manafort, Kushner and Trump Jr admit to meeting in June were plants as well, part of this deep, three-dimensional political chess game the FBI played to railroad Trump, maybe even at Obama’s request…

This layer-cake of conspiracy nutjobbery is one rabbit hole too deep for me.  I get off the boat here (mixed metaphors intentional).

I’m sorry but we presently know that the FBI/CIA deployed several human assets against the Trump campaign ALREADY.

By Occam’s razor, a conspiracy of the deep-state officials is far more likely—given informants were actually paid/run against an opposition political campaign—than not.

Look at John Brennan’s behavior alone.  He was the former head of the CIA, for chrissakes, and he’s been on TV for 2+ years accusing Trump of “treason”.  (Treason is a crime for which people have been executed in this country’s history.)  When asked to provide his proof, as with Adam Schiff on “more than circumstantial evidence”, Brennan says he must have had a bad source.  (And this was our former head of intelligence?)

We have this troika of liars (Comey, Brennan, and Clapper) who have acted of late with a public hauteur and contempt for the American voter which suggests they viewed their own positions as entitlements from which they might abuse their power.

And so far as any of this is paranoid, Charles Schumer prefigured much of what is now coming out with his famous, ~“You mess with the intel community, they have six ways to Sunday of getting back at you.”

What we are now seeing play out is a far more evidence-based (FISA warrant deceptions, selective leaks of classified memos by Comey, lies to Congress, a counter-intelligence probe opened into a sitting president by that unethical McCabe over his wholly constitutional firing of Comey, etc.) scandal than this propaganda/nonsense for the past 3 years about Trump being Putin’s vassal…

[ Edited: 23 May 2019 04:05 by John V. Linton]
 
Twissel
 
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Twissel
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23 May 2019 05:50
 

“Using Occam’s Razor, we are left with the simplest solution, which is a complicated Deep State conspiracy involving current and past members of the Law Enforcement and Intelligence Community”

 
 
John V. Linton
 
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John V. Linton
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23 May 2019 07:13
 

Sarcasm aside, there are numerous data points supporting this reading versus the absurd thesis “We were spying on the Trump campaign because of Russian concerns we had via the Steele dossier”. 

The burden anyway should obviously rest with those who seek to spy in a democracy.  (You seem to act like the burden should be the other way…  Why should we trust the first story we hear as citizens when we find out our government spied on a rival political campaign with multiple informants?)

You studiously ignore the number of high officials fired for cause and bias (McCabe, Sztrok, Page) involved in the investigation.

You also ignore the FISA court wasn’t told on 4 different occasions that HRC/DNC had paid for the dossier—a monumentally relevant fact.  (As Hillary and Trump were just completing in a titanic 2-year struggle for who should run the country.)

You further ignore Brennan, Comey, and Lynch publicly contradicting each other, the first two about who pushed Steele.  Or Brennan tearing into Trump for “treason” sans a shred of evidence?  That’s not suspicious?  Is Brennan a drunk or does he understand he needs to back up such an allegation?

At what point is there enough high-level malfeasance in plain sight to justify your concern?

It’s manifestly absurd that if the same fact-pattern existed in partisan reverse, the media wouldn’t be crowing about the prior administration’s police-state spying.

How many spies did they pay?  Was it 2, 4, more?

[ Edited: 23 May 2019 07:46 by John V. Linton]
 
brazen4
 
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brazen4
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23 May 2019 11:27
 

We’ve been concerned about the Russians way before the steele dossier and will be keeping a close eye on them for a long time to come. We also have had problems here and there with our own FBI ever since Hoover. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to find that the FBI may have over stepped in their mission to watch the Russians and anyone playing footsie with them very closely. At this time it is unknown whether they over stepped and I have a feeling that the best legal minds in the country are not going to agree on whether it was over stepping or not once all the facts are revealed. It doesn’t take a deep state to want to keep an eye on the Russians but a smart state will always do so. If Trump is your kind of guy and you think he was treated unfairly you are entitled to your view.

 
John V. Linton
 
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John V. Linton
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23 May 2019 11:42
 
brazen4 - 23 May 2019 11:27 AM

We’ve been concerned about the Russians way before the steele dossier and will be keeping a close eye on them for a long time to come. We also have had problems here and there with our own FBI ever since Hoover. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to find that the FBI may have over stepped in their mission to watch the Russians and anyone playing footsie with them very closely. At this time it is unknown whether they over stepped and I have a feeling that the best legal minds in the country are not going to agree on whether it was over stepping or not once all the facts are revealed. It doesn’t take a deep state to want to keep an eye on the Russians but a smart state will always do so. If Trump is your kind of guy and you think he was treated unfairly you are entitled to your view.

You miss the point entirely that it has nothing to do with if Trump is my kind of guy.

It has to do with a basis as flimsy as the concocted Steele Dossier being all that’s needed—going forward—for an incumbent administration to wield the awesome powers of our intelligence community to deploy assets against a rival political campaign.

This concern DWARFS Russia, as it involves a corruption of core surveillance at home against political adversaries.

If this becomes the new normal, we should expect Trump to be able similarly to weaponize the FBI and CIA, to deploy human assets and electronic eavesdropping, in the hopes of gaining dirt on his main Democratic opponent.

This is what happens in places like Venezuela or Russia.  It cannot become a shrug of the shoulders for it to happen here.

If the FISA judges were deliberately misled (and it sounds like they were), then there need to be high-level indictments and not just Lois Lerner-level golden parachutes…

Not to mention this deep state’s power was just demonstrated—when conjoined with the media via selective and dishonest leaks—to push a propaganda campaign for 2+ years that Trump was in cahoots with Putin.  You never seem to ask whether there is emerging evidence this entire narrative was pushed to cover the spying that went on.

Do you have any notion of the kind of power we just saw deployed—our intelligence bureaucracy and our media created an enormously powerful campaign of guilty-until-proven-innocent against Trump—and there have yet to be any major consequences.  When you add that to the deep-state attempts to spy/derail his presidency, and further add in our media’s desire to cover-up for the spying—to excuse the spying, to justify it a priori—you have the early days of a place like Venezuela happening right before our very eyes.

[ Edited: 23 May 2019 12:02 by John V. Linton]
 
DEGENERATEON
 
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DEGENERATEON
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23 May 2019 13:36
 

Was what Russia did in our elections really that significant?  I mean if they hack into a vote counting machine and change numbers that’s an act of war.  But some russian trolls putting out some bullshit memes?  People who believe that garbage are going to stick to their party anyway.  There was plenty of that stuff coming from people in this country.  “Better get your concealed carry now, Obama is going to get rid of that”.  “Obama is going to take your medicare away”.  “Obama is going to take over healthcare and then the railroads and the automotive industry.  You know the last person who did that?  HITLER!!”

The DNC email hack is a bit of a different story, but I don’t think it had near as much as an effect as the investigation into Hillary’s emails.  Hopefully we have some savvy trolls doing the same thing to further our (US) interests.  I’m glad we had an investigation into this, and I think Mueller was fair.  I just don’t think the interference amounted to anything significant.

 
brazen4
 
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brazen4
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23 May 2019 20:59
 

Linton: It just doesn’t look like the sky is falling to me but if thats what you see you should get an umbrella.

 
John V. Linton
 
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John V. Linton
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26 May 2019 14:48
 

This is about to blow sky-high…

https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2019/05/24/rep_matt_gaetz_comey_clapper_and_brennan_all_are_in_jeopardy.html

This week we will hear probably a great deal more.

Part of what has happened is a long inflationary bubble surrounding the prior administration (for understandable and laudable historical reasons), but the media’s complicity in all this deep intel intrigue can plausibly go no further.

Very soon we will have far more information about the FISA abuse, just how central Steele was to everything, and whether it is Comey or Brennan who was lying.

This republic cannot countenance a new “right to spy” on one’s political enemies just by citing some made-up propaganda by deep-state players.

Everything appears to have been a setup, including the Padapoulus meeting.  (This is no longer paranoid, as we now know an actual human source was used to meet with him.)

The level of intrigue and subterfuge here is one of the rarest cases in history when a conspiracy of great surface area, promulgated loosely and independently to some degree (so it’s not that wildly implausible) turns out to be true.  The level of corruption of Comey, Brennan, Clapper, Page, Stzrok, McCabe, Rosenstein is unbelievable and hopefully their official lies (to FISA judges etc.) will be prosecutable…

Nancy Pelosi’s absurd invocation of a “cover-up” by Trump was the final straw in the Dim game of psychological projection when their own party is behind several orders of magnitude worse…  Senator Graham is right that we will need serious FISA reform so that spying on one’s opponents never happens again in these United States, as if we were suddenly the U.S.S.R…

This will prove a fascinating turn after nearly 3 years of Russiagate propaganda that Trump was Putin’s pawn…  The media won’t know what to do.

[ Edited: 26 May 2019 14:50 by John V. Linton]
 
Twissel
 
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Twissel
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26 May 2019 21:23
 

John,

Roger Stone, Cohen, Manafort, Flynn, Papadopolous and the foreign company indicted by Mueller have all claimed that he had no authority to prosecute them because the investigation was illegally started (at least once each).
If you are 100% correct and the FISA warrants should never have been granted, and they were necessary for the Mueller probe to start ...

... what would that mean for all the people and entities already with a jail sentence or plea?

 
 
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