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GreyhoundFan

Mueller Investigation Part 2: Release The Report

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GreyhoundFan

More from the WaPo updates:

Spoiler

3:30 p.m.: The hearing has ended

The hearing has ended. Almost precisely as it did so, Trump tweeted, “TRUTH IS A FORCE OF NATURE!”

3:25 p.m.: Mueller appears to agree, “generally,” that Trump’s written answers were not always truthful

Mueller appeared to agree with Democrat Val Demings (D-Fla.) on Wednesday when she asserted that when Trump supplied written answers to Mueller’s investigators, “he wasn’t always being truthful.”

Demings, a former law enforcement officer, asked: “Director Mueller, isn’t it fair to say the president’s written answers were not only inadequate and incomplete, because he didn’t answer many of your questions, but where he did, his answers showed that he wasn’t always being truthful?”

Mueller paused and then began an answer, “There…” he said. Then he said, “I would say, generally.”

The first part of Demings assertion — that Trump’s answers were inadequate and incomplete — is found in Mueller’s report. But the report does not assert that Trump’s answers were untruthful. The accusation would mark a serious escalation in Mueller’s criticisms of the president’s conduct.

It is not clear how forcefully Mueller was intending to endorse that idea. At other points in his testimony, he answered “generally,” as a way to agree with parts of long questions but apparently to suggest he was not necessarily agreeing with every word.

A spokesman for Mueller did not immediately respond to a question about whether he was intending to say that the president’s written answers were not truthful.

3:20 p.m.: Mueller agrees that accepting foreign election assistance is “unpatriotic”

In bringing the hearing to a close, Schiff sought Mueller’s agreement that Trump’s behavior was unethical and wrong if not criminal, and he largely succeeded.

Mueller agreed with Schiff’s characterization that seeking campaign assistance from a foreign power was “unpatriotic” and “wrong,” and that candidates for high office must be held to a high standard. Mueller had previously said that, in general, accepting assistance from a foreign power is a crime.

Mueller also agreed that when government officials lie, it can open them up to blackmail. Speaking about former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s lies to the FBI about his conversations with the former Russian ambassador to the United States, Schiff said the Russians knew about those calls and asked if they could have exposed Flynn’s lies. “Yes,” Mueller said.

Mueller also agreed that the Russian government could have revealed that Trump wasn’t telling the truth about how long into his campaign he had been in talks about a potential real estate deal in Moscow. Schiff called such leverage “the stuff of counterintelligence nightmares,” a characterization Mueller didn’t dispute. Mueller added that it spoke to the need for a “strong counterintelligence entity” to ward against foreign governments compromising U.S. public officials.

“We are all left to wonder whether the president is representing us or his financial interests,” Schiff said.

3:15 p.m.: Mueller’s silent partner

After a last-minute rush to include Mueller’s longtime aide in Wednesday’s proceedings, the aide didn’t say a single word – apart from being sworn in for the House Intelligence Committee’s questioning.

Aaron Zebley, who served as a sort of chief of staff to Mueller during the course of his probe, sat next to the former special counsel during both sessions of Wednesday’s hearing. He was not officially a witness during the House Judiciary Committee’s session, but was sworn in by the House Intelligence Committee, despite panel Republicans raising concerns with the unorthodox move.

Nevertheless, Zebley stayed a silent partner throughout, neither fielding nor answering any questions, nor interjecting any responses to queries directed toward Mueller.

Lawmakers thanked him for being part of the proceedings anyway.

3:10 p.m.: What Mueller didn’t do is a roadmap for the intel panel

Mueller’s report left several avenues of inquiry untouched, which he laid out under questioning from Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) Wednesday, in effect, ticking off areas the Democrat-led House Intelligence Committee will continue to pursue after this hearing.

Mueller agreed that his report had not detailed “the president’s financial ties or dealings with Russia,” nor whether oligarchs ever tried to engage” in money laundering through the president’s businesses,” as Krishnamoorthi put it. Mueller said he was never instructed not to touch Trump’s finances – but those matters were clearly less central to his probe than they are to the intelligence panel.

Panel chairman Schiff has said that following the money trail is an essential part of examining the potential counterintelligence concerns associated with Trump’s actions regarding foreign actors, especially the Russians. Mueller told Krishnamoorthi that “counterintelligence goals of our investigation…were secondary to any criminal ones.”

He also declined to detail whether former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s false statement could pose a national security risk, saying he could not address those matters because the FBI is “currently” looking at “aspects of that particular issue.”

3:05 p.m.: Mueller: Special counsel could have hit Trump with subpoena but figured the president would fight it and prolong probe

Mueller said the special counsel team understood that it “could subpoena the president” but chose not to because they assumed Trump would fight it and extend the investigation for a “substantial period of time.”

In his most extensive comments yet on the decision not to compel Trump to sit down for an interview, Mueller conceded the president’s written answers to questions — which he ultimately had to settle for in place of an interview — were “certainly not as useful as the interview would be.” From the outset, he said, “one of the things we wanted to accomplish in that was having the interview of the president.”

But Mueller said negotiations over a sit-down dragged on for more than a year, and “we decided that we did not want to exercise the subpoena powers because of the necessity of expediting the end of the investigation.”

Asked if Justice Department officials had somehow undercut his authority to issue a subpoena, Mueller said, “We understood we could subpoena the president.”

Mueller said that investigators determined they had significant evidence of Trump’s intent, and they balanced that against “how much time you are willing to spend in the courts litigating an interview with the president.” He said they assumed Trump “would fight the subpoena.”

3 p.m.: Mueller stays tight-lipped on allegations of spies in our midst, foreign or domestic

Mueller declined to answer whether his report had featured individuals who acted as informants or sources to the U.S. government without identifying them as such, in response to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) asking him for that information.

“It is important for this committee to know if [Konstantin] Kilimnik has ties to our own State Department, which it appears he does,” Nunes said, as an example of why he was asking. Mueller said that delved into areas he was “loath” to get into.

Neither would he offer further details on whether Konstantin Kilimnik -- a dual citizen of Russia and Ukraine who was Paul Manafort’s longtime business associate — or other individuals suspected of being Russian intelligence agents actually were.

Nunes’s questions followed his earlier queries about the potential intelligence affiliations of Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese professor whose tip-off to former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos that the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton eventually set off the FBI’s investigation of Trump’s campaign. GOP leaders have devoted time Wednesday toward suggesting that various players in the Russia probe might have been part of a greater Western intelligence network interested in undermining Trump.

2:55 p.m.: “I hope this is not the new normal”

Former special counsel Mueller told members of Congress that he hopes future campaigns don’t think it’s acceptable to take assistance from foreign governments.

In response to questions from Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) about contacts between the Trump campaign asking if there has been a “new normal established that’s going to apply to future campaigns,” Mueller said: “I hope this is not the new normal, but I fear it is.”

That came after Welch noted that Mueller’s report found there was insufficient evidence to prove a criminal conspiracy between Russia and the Trump campaign. But, Welch asked, that doesn’t mean the investigation turned up no evidence that such a conspiracy existed, does it?

“Absolutely correct,” Mueller said.

Republicans have often said Mueller’s report found no such evidence and have tried during Wednesday’s hearing to get Mueller to agree. Trump has adopted as a daily mantra that Mueller found “no collusion.”

In response to questioning, Mueller appeared to struggle to repeat a section of the report that explains that the investigators specifically did not evaluate whether Trump or anyone around him had “colluded” with Russia, because, as the report said, “collusion is not a specific offense or theory of liability” found in U.S. law.

“We don’t use the word collusion,” Mueller said. “Not collusion but one of other terms that fills in when collusion is not used.”

“Conspiracy?” Welch interjected.

“Yes,” Mueller said.

2:50 p.m.: Mueller shoots down Trump-Alfa Bank server story

In a rare moment of revelation, Mueller said that he doesn’t think that a server used by the Trump Organization was communicating with a server at a Russian bank in a way that suggested some nefarious purpose.

Rep. Will Hurd (R-Tex.) questioned Mueller about a story that first appeared in Slate examining mysterious communications between the Trump server and one used by Alfa Bank, which to some researchers said appeared deliberate and possible evidence of corrupt intent.

“I believe it’s not true,” Mueller said of the story’s findings, emphasizing that just because he doesn’t believe it doesn’t mean his team didn’t investigate it. On that matter, Mueller declined to comment.

The matter has been an enduring mystery surrounding possible ties between Trump and Russians. Mueller’s report makes no mention of the communications between the two servers, which some researchers have said may be evidence merely that the two servers were exchanging spam or marketing messages.

Mueller also offered another policy recommendation: that Congress should pursue “aggressively” any legislation that might improve cooperation among the FBI and intelligence agencies to guard against election interference.

2:45 p.m.: A more forceful, in-command Mueller, concerned about foreign election meddling

Testifying before the House Judiciary Committee in the morning, Mueller had a few notable stumbles. He misstated which president had nominated him to serve as the top federal prosecutor in Massachusetts. (Mueller guessed George H.W. Bush. In fact, it was Ronald Reagan.) He flubbed one of his report’s critical assertions, suggesting that Justice Department policy that prevents the indictment of sitting president is what stopped his team from charging Trump, when the special counsel actually made no decision on whether Trump should be charged.

But before the House Intelligence Committee, Mueller has appeared far more forceful and in command. At the outset, he corrected his assertion about Justice Department policy and its affect on a charging decision. He offered an impassioned plea for policymakers to address Russian meddling in the U.S. elections, and he forcefully noted the Russian efforts were not over.

“They’re doing it as we sit here, and they expect to do it in the next campaign,” he said. He also said that “many more countries” were developing such capabilities.

On several occasions, he also pointedly took issue with Trump’s behavior and characterizations of the special counsel’s work. At one point, he said that “problematic is an understatement” to describe Trump’s favorable comments about WikiLeaks, and he accused the president of “giving some hope or some boost to what is and should be illegal behavior.”

2:40 p.m.: Did Mueller Leak?

Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) accused Mueller of doing an unsatisfactory job preventing leaks from his investigation from getting to the press, and he suggested that Trump deserved an apology for having so much negative attention directed his way if he was not ultimately indicted.

“I do not believe we would be responsible for leaks,” Mueller said. “I do believe that we have done a good job of ensuring that no leaks occur.”

But Stewart said he could cite 25 instances of news reports that he suspected came from Mueller’s probe, asking him about two: why CNN had managed to capture the FBI raid on Roger Stone’s home, and why there were reports that members of Mueller’s team believed the attorney general had misrepresented portions of his report.

Mueller said he had no knowledge of any leaks regarding those matters; his team was indeed famous for being tight-lipped. CNN has publicly stated that it set up cameras outside of Stone’s home after observing the special counsel’s actions for over a year and guessing that Stone could soon be targeted.

Mueller argued that he had “undertaken to make sure that we minimize the possibility of leaks, and I think we were successful.”

“Well I wish you were more successful, sir,” Stewart quipped.

2:30 p.m.: Mitch McConnell fundraises off Mueller hearing

Trump’s presidential campaign sent an email to supporters earlier Wednesday asking for donations as Mueller’s testimony was underway. Now, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) campaign is doing the same.

“House Democrats will never stop harassing President Trump,” McConnell’s campaign account tweeted in the afternoon. “Imagine if they controlled the Senate too. Please donate right now and help Mitch stop them.”

McConnell is up for reelection in 2020; among the rival candidates who have thrown their hats in the ring is Democrat Amy McGrath, a retired Marine and combat pilot.

 

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Ticklish

Is anyone else feeling disheartened and panicky all over again? I wasn't expecting any bombshells to be dropped in testimony or anything, and the whole Mueller report has been overall a disappointment. But just reading the transcripts of the Republicans being such assholes and McConnell and Trump lying to try to fundraise off of this...like, how does this EVER end? The Mueller report did nothing, Mueller's testimony was a lot of "it's in the report" or "we didn't make that determination", and even if impeachment does occur it won't go anywhere with this Republican lead Senate. So we're just stuck with this as our government and new normal, likely forever, since it seems they will cheat and lie and interfere to retain power. 

I know I sound hysterical but I FEEL a little hysterical. I don't understand what the fuck is wrong with our government officials or those who continue to elect them and I feel a lot of despair for the future. 

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Smash!
The Mueller report did nothing, Mueller's testimony was a lot of "it's in the report" or "we didn't make that determination", and even if impeachment does occur it won't go anywhere with this Republican lead Senate. So we're just stuck with this as our government and new normal, likely forever, since it seems they will cheat and lie and interfere to retain power. 
I know I sound hysterical but I FEEL a little hysterical. I don't understand what the fuck is wrong with our government officials or those who continue to elect them and I feel a lot of despair for the future. 


You're not hysterical. Who's not panicky at the prospect of soon living in an autocracy? The US is one of the oldest democracies in the world and before 2016 no one thought it was possible what's happening now. Those are elected officials who's job is to serve the people and protect the country. Instead they help to build a dictatorship. You have every right to be scared.
I knew what assholes the members of the GOP are. But hearing those sentences come out of their mouth, attacking Mueller and protecting a president who clearly commit crimes instead of standing up for the country they serve made me naseous and I couldn't believe what I just was listening to.
I guess the last resort is dark humour a la Ephraim Kishon

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GreyhoundFan

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GreyhoundFan

I'm not a huge fan of Scarborough, but agree with him here:

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Oh, for pity sake: "Republican lawmaker complains to Mueller about lack of Fox News in his report"

Spoiler

Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.) should send a letter to Fox News saying the following: Do more investigative journalism. Break more news.

That is the most logical recourse in light of her questioning of former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III on Wednesday in another one of those congressional super-hearings. True to both his own preference and Justice Department instructions, Mueller — at least in his testimony Wednesday morning before the House Judiciary Committee — stuck closely to the text of his two-volume report, which was released in April in redacted form. “I direct you to the report” was Mueller’s mantra for these proceedings.

But the report is the problem, Lesko suggested in her five allotted minutes of questioning. Here’s a look at the exchange:

LESKO: Mr. Mueller, rather than purely relying on the evidence provided by witnesses and documents, I think you relied a lot on media. I’d like to know how many times you cited the Washington Post in your report.

MUELLER: How many times I what?

LESKO: Cited the Washington Post in your report.

MUELLER: I do not have knowledge of that figure . . . . I don’t have knowledge of that figure.

LESKO: I counted about 60 times. How many times did you cite the New York Times?

MUELLER: Again, I have no idea.

LESKO: I counted about 75 times. How many times did you cite Fox News?

MUELLER: As with the other two, I have no idea.

LESKO: About 25 times. I’ve got to say, it looks like Vol. II is mostly regurgitated press stories. Honestly, there’s almost nothing in Vol. II that I couldn’t already hear or know simply by having a $50 cable news subscription. However, your investigation cost the American taxpayers $25 million.

Mr. Mueller, you cited media reports nearly 200 times in your report, then in a footnote, a small footnote, No. 7, page 15 of Vol 11, you wrote, I quote: “This section summarizes and cites various news stories not for the truth of the information contained in the stories, but rather to place candidate Trump’s response to those stories in context.” Since nobody but lawyers reads footnotes, are you concerned that the American public took the embedded news stories at face value?

At that point, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) cut off the questioning, insisting that the hearing was running short on time.

Lesko was wrong: The non-lawyer Erik Wemple Blog read that footnote and addressed it in a two-part evaluation of the Mueller report’s implications for the media. It’s true: Fox News was cited far less than either the New York Times or The Post. From the first installment of this blog’s Mueller blowout:

The Mueller report credits not a single piece of investigative work among the 16 Fox News and Fox Business Network pieces cited in the report’s footnotes. Many of the hits are interviews conducted by the hosts of “Fox & Friends” and by Sean Hannity, perhaps the country’s foremost cheerleader for Trump. Several others stem from interviews with Trump and then-incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus by Chris Wallace, the no-nonsense host of “Fox News Sunday,” during the presidential transition.

Underlying Lesko’s line of questioning is the idea that, somehow, an investigative document should cite Fox News in equal proportion to The Post and/or the New York Times. But the problem with any such premise is that Fox News doesn’t do investigative journalism in the manner of major U.S. newspapers. It reads the news broken by other outlets, and then feasts on it. (Worth noting: The report made clear that other TV networks besides Fox didn’t measure up to newspapers’ investigative outputs either.)

And as for the footnote language cited by Lesko: Vol. II is indeed a tour through Trump’s various freak-outs as the Mueller team went about its work. For instance: In June 2017, The Post reported that Mueller and his team were looking into whether Trump had obstructed justice. A heading on the Mueller report itself makes clear why this report was germane to the investigation: “The Press Reports that the President is Being Investigated for Obstruction of Justice and the President Directs the White House Counsel to Have the Special Counsel Removed.”

See how that works, Rep. Lesko? News organizations didn’t sit around waiting for Mueller to finish his business. They conducted a parallel investigation into Trump’s actions, an investigation that had already surfaced many, though not all, of the revelations in the Mueller report. The role of Fox News was primarily to toss cold water on the significance of other outlets’ scoops. Such is not the sort of work that earns citations in a special counsel’s report.

 

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"Mueller all but confirmed that Trump committed obstruction of justice"

Spoiler

Let’s imagine for a moment a world in which the things President Trump and his Republican allies have said about Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into the Russia scandal were actually true. It’s a strange idea, but bear with me.

In this world, Mueller conducted an investigation into Russia’s effort to help Trump get elected, the Trump campaign’s reception of those efforts and the president’s attempts to impede the investigation into the scandal, and concluded that Trump was completely innocent.

As Trump tweeted when the results of Mueller’s report were first made public in the form of Attorney General William P. Barr’s four-page letter describing it, “No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION.”

In this world, how would Mueller’s testimony on Wednesday before the House Judiciary Committee have gone?

Given the interest Democrats have in painting Trump in the worst possible light and the interest Republicans have in painting him in the best possible light, there’s no mystery. Republicans would have been respectful and welcoming to Mueller, and might read portions of his report back to him and ask him to confirm that they were accurate. Those passages would demonstrate to all listening that Trump was indeed innocent.

Democrats, on the other hand, would be hostile. They would attack Mueller’s methods, question his integrity, accuse him of ignoring important facts and generally act as though the investigation that had so totally exonerated Trump was nothing but a sham.

Yet that’s exactly the opposite of what happened. In fact, it was Democrats who read parts of the report to Mueller and asked him to confirm that they were accurate. And it was Republicans who ranted and raved, accused Mueller of bias and tossed around bizarre conspiracy theories. It’s almost as though Republicans knew that the investigation did not in fact produce a “Complete and Total EXONERATION" but rather a damning indictment of the president.

[Got a question about the Mueller testimony? Submit a question for Harry Litman’s Twitter chat.]

Which, of course, it was. I want to highlight two lines of questioning, one from a Republican and one from a Democrat, that made clear that were it not for Justice Department policy stating that a sitting president can’t be indicted, Trump would likely be charged with crimes.

The first was from Republican Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado, who apparently unintentionally got Mueller very close to saying that there was adequate evidence to convict Trump of obstruction of justice. Buck asked whether Trump could be convicted on an obstruction charge, and Mueller responded that he couldn’t make that judgment because of Justice Department policy. Here’s what happened next:

BUCK: Let me just stop. You made the decision on the Russian interference [conspiracy]. You couldn’t have indicted the president on that. And you made the decision on that. But when it came to obstruction, you threw a bunch of stuff up against the wall to see what would stick, and that is fundamentally unfair.

MUELLER: I would not agree to that characterization at all. What we did is provide to the attorney general in the form of a confidential memorandum our understanding of the case, those cases that were brought, those cases that were declined, that one case where the president cannot be charged with a crime.

BUCK: Okay, but the … could you charge the president with a crime after he left office?

MUELLER: Yes.

BUCK: You believe that he committed … you could charge the president of the United States with obstruction of justice after he left office?

MUELLER: Yes.

That is what soccer fans call an “own goal.” What Buck inadvertently argued, with Mueller’s help, was that while the evidence of Trump’s personal cooperation with Russia was insufficient to sustain a conspiracy charge, the evidence may well have been sufficient to sustain an obstruction charge, and it may have only been Trump’s current position that is saving him from an indictment.

Mueller himself will not state that conclusion, and it seems that when he answered that the president could be charged with obstruction after leaving office he was speaking in a general, hypothetical sense. But the fact that Buck had just pointed to the difference between potential conspiracy charges on one hand, which Mueller declined to make for Trump or others, and obstruction of justice on the other, which Mueller laid out in exhaustive detail, can’t help but raise the question in not just a theoretical but a very concrete way.

Which brings us to the next exchange, between Mueller and Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu of California. You can watch it here.

Lieu took one episode — when Trump instructed his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to tell Attorney General Jeff Sessions on the president’s behalf to “un-recuse” himself from the Russia investigation, seize control of it and then direct it away from the 2016 campaign entirely to focus only on the future — and showed how it met all three elements necessary to establish obstruction of justice.

The transcript is rather long, so we’ll condense it. Lieu began by getting Mueller’s agreement that this action satisfied the first element, an obstructive act:

LIEU: You wrote there on Page 97, “Sessions was being instructed to tell the special counsel to end the existing investigation into the president and his campaign.” That’s in the report, correct?

MUELLER: Correct.

LIEU: That would be evidence of an obstructive act, because it would naturally obstruct the investigation, correct?

MUELLER: Correct.

Lieu then established that the second element of obstruction — a connection to an official proceeding — had also been satisfied, because the grand jury convened by the special counsel was in operation at the time, to which Mueller agreed. Then they moved to the third element of corruption of justice, corrupt intent:

LIEU: You wrote, “Substantial evidence indicates that the President’s effort to have Sessions limit the scope of the Special Counsel’s investigation to future election interference was intended to prevent further investigative scrutiny of the President’s and his campaign’s conduct.” That’s in the report, correct?

MUELLER: That is in the report. …

LIEU: … Now we’ve heard that the president ordered Corey Lewandowski to tell Jeff Sessions to limit your investigation so that he — you — stop investigating the president. I believe a reasonable person looking at these facts could conclude that all three elements of the crime of obstruction of justice have been met. And I’d like to ask you, the reason again that you did not indict Donald Trump is because of OLC opinion stating that you cannot indict a sitting president, correct?

MUELLER: That is correct.

When he appeared before the Intelligence Committee in the afternoon, Mueller clarified this exchange, noting that it was not solely because of the Office of Legal Counsel opinion that he did not charge Trump with a crime. Instead, he said, “we did not reach a determination as to whether the president committed a crime.”

But Buck was right: Mueller concluded that he didn’t have enough evidence for a conspiracy charge for Trump, his family or his associates, so he said so. He said nothing of the sort on the question of obstruction of justice.

And it’s pretty clear what that means.

 

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"The GOP’s questions to Mueller seemed bizarre — unless you watch Fox News"

Spoiler

When Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) had his turn to quiz former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III during a hearing Wednesday morning, he came armed with what he seemed to think was a smoking gun: that neither Glenn Simpson nor Fusion GPS were mentioned in the Mueller report.

Most Americans no doubt shared Mueller’s apparent confusion about the line of questioning: He said he was not familiar with Fusion GPS, a private strategic intelligence firm, and that Simpson, the organization’s founder, was outside the scope of his investigation. Yet as the hearings wore on, Republican lawmakers returned again and again to Simpson and Fusion GPS, treating them like household names. And for conservatives on a steady diet of right-wing media, they are: the linchpins of a conspiratorial witch hunt to impeach President Trump.

The GOP’s laserlike focus on Simpson, Fusion GPS, former FBI agent Peter Strzok and other bits of right-wing witch-hunt lore probably played well in conservative media (and, as a consequence, in the Oval Office). But these topics were probably inscrutable to any American who is not dialed into Fox News and right-wing talk radio or conservative-leaning Facebook feeds. That has real consequences for a party that, in learning to speak to its siloed-off base, has forgotten how to reach a wider audience.

Chabot was far from the only Republican speaking to the Fox News crowd. In his opening statement in the House Intelligence Committee’s afternoon hearing, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) first dismissed election interference as the “Russia collusion conspiracy theory,” then spun out a conspiracy of his own, a rush of names including Maltese professor Joseph Mifsud, Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and — of course — Fusion GPS’s Simpson, a topic Nunes returned to again. Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.) interrogated Mueller on the number of times his report referenced the New York Times (75) and The Washington Post (60) vs. Fox News (25), as though the answers provided mathematical evidence of just how biased the special counsel’s team was. When Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) started speaking, he focused on the government “spying” on the Trump campaign, he name-checked “Halper, Downer, Misfud, Thomas” and Azra Turk, barely pausing to suggest who they were, much less what they might have done or how their circumstances exonerated Trump.

Republicans did not always speak in an impenetrable dialect. Well into the 2000s, Republican politicians had found ways to dog-whistle to the base while still addressing a broad national audience. But as conservative talk radio proliferated and the importance of Fox News as an influence on intra-GOP politics crystallized, Republican candidates increasingly turned their attention, and their rhetoric, toward that narrower audience. For good reason: Whenever Republican officials stopped moving in lockstep with conservative media and the base that consumed it, they found themselves enveloped in scandal, as when Republican National Committee head Michael Steele was forced to apologize for criticizing Rush Limbaugh in 2009; or out of a job, as conservative stalwarts such as Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) found out when they lost primary elections in 2012 and 2014 to candidates who sounded more like talk-radio hosts than mainstream politicians.

The hearings this week, though, were not the first time Fox News-speak has been a problem for the right since that dynamic took hold. In 2014, President Barack Obama sat down for a pre-Super Bowl interview on the main Fox broadcast network with Bill O’Reilly, who at the time hosted the most-watched program on Fox News (O’Reilly would be ousted three years later over multiple sexual-harassment lawsuits). It was a huge opportunity for the network: O’Reilly’s show drew, at its peak, about 3.3 million viewers; the Super Bowl that year drew 112.2 million. Even if just a fraction of those game-watchers tuned it, it would be a substantially bigger, and different, audience for O’Reilly.

But O’Reilly used the opportunity to air a number of conservative grievances that meant very little to nonconservatives: the number of days it took to fully assess a terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya; an already-debunked accusation that the Internal Revenue Service had persecuted conservative organizations; Obama’s statement that his election would play a role in “fundamentally transforming” America. Each of these were played as “gotcha” questions, but anyone watching who wasn’t already familiar with the stories must have been wondering what, exactly, had been “got.”

Maybe Republicans on Wednesday, and O’Reilly back then, were trying to expose non-Fox News watchers to conservative arguments. But in neither case did they explain the underlying conspiracy theories to which they were gesturing. Rather, they dropped keywords such as “Benghazi” and “Glenn Simpson” that left conservatives salivating and the rest of the country confused.

These in-group moments are great for the base, but they squander the right’s opportunity to shape a broader national debate. When it comes to major congressional hearings such as Mueller’s, that is a major political shortcoming. That’s because such proceedings have real power (or at least, they used to). In the 1960s and 1970s, televised hearings helped remake the country in powerful ways, from ending a war to curbing government abuses.

The Fulbright hearings in 1966, for instance, empowered the antiwar movement when it brought to light serious questions about the origins of the Vietnam War. Though not the first congressional hearing on Vietnam, it was the first one to be televised — and it had a profound effect in eroding public support for the war. The hearings were able to do that because the senators made their case to the public, not because they spun off half-understood references to conspiracies about the Lyndon Johnson administration.

The same was true of the Church committee hearings, televised in 1975. The hearings were deliberative inquiries into the secret and often illegal action of the intelligence community during the 1950s and 1960s, including assassination attempts and domestic spying. They involved careful inquiry into wrongdoing, which, when laid out for the public, helped build support for a number of policies, including the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.

There is little chance that Republicans grilling Mueller on Wednesday will inspire the same sort of change in policy or public opinion, because there is little chance that their questions made any sense to most of the people watching. That’s because they were not there to investigate but to instigate, to rile up a base that had made up its mind about Mueller around the same time Trump did.

Republicans traded their big-tent strategy for a base-only one a long time ago. Their conduct at the hearings was just another sign that they have given up on reaching a broader public and will instead double down on minoritarian politics. Questions that wander off into the weeds of right-wing fever dreams are of a piece with efforts to purge voting rolls, gerrymander districts, strip power from Democratic officials and change the census. The strategy may be inscrutable to the rest of us — but it’s still helping the right retain its hold on power.

 

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fraurosena

Seth Abramson did a live tweet of his comments during the testimonies yesterday. I found it interesting to read an attorney's opinion on everything being said.

Of course, being Seth, it's 200 tweets long...

I haven't found an unrolled version yet, but will post it when I do.

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fraurosena

Huh.

 

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GreyhoundFan

"Fact-checking lawmakers’ claims during the Mueller hearings"

Spoiler

Over the course of nearly six hours, former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III testified before two House committees. Here’s a guide to some of the claims made by lawmakers that were factually shaky or misleading.

“The special counsel’s job — nowhere does it say that you were to conclusively determine Donald Trump’s innocence, or that the special counsel report should determine whether or not to exonerate him. It’s not in any of the documents. It’s not in your appointment order. It’s not in the special counsel regulations. It’s not in the OLC opinions. It’s not in the Justice Manual. And it’s not in the Principles of Federal Prosecution. Nowhere do those words appear together because, respectfully, respectfully, director, it was not the special counsel’s job to conclusively determine Donald Trump’s innocence or to exonerate him. Because the bedrock principle of our justice system is a presumption of innocence.”

— Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Tex.)

Ratcliffe essentially accused Mueller of overstepping his bounds. For various reasons, Mueller did not file charges against Trump. Yet the report lays out substantial evidence of potential obstruction of justice by the president.

Mueller said in his report and in public comments that he was neither charging nor clearing Trump. “While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” the report says.

Ratcliffe in his line of questioning suggested that Mueller went rogue with that declaration and that the special counsel should have refrained from commenting on Trump's guilt or innocence once he reached the decision not to bring charges.

Mueller in response said he was in a “unique situation.” The Justice Department has a long-standing policy that prevents the indictment of a sitting president, on the one hand, and Mueller’s team found substantial evidence of obstruction, on the other.

It should be noted, also, that Mueller's statements about Trump were contained in a confidential report to Attorney General William P. Barr. The special counsel regulations required Mueller to explain his prosecution or declination decisions to Barr. The attorney general, not Mueller, made the decision to release the report to the public — at the urging of President Trump.

“After an extended, unhampered investigation, today marks an end to Mr. Mueller’s involvement in an investigation that closed in April.”

— Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), ranking Republican member on the House Judiciary Committee

“President Trump cooperated fully with the investigation.”

— Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.)

This Republican talking point crosses the line from spin to fiction. An entire volume of Mueller's report covers multiple episodes of potential obstruction of justice.

Trump tried to fire the special counsel. The president ordered former White House counsel Donald McGahn to have Mueller removed, but McGahn declined to carry out those instructions and threatened to quit, according to the Mueller report.

McGahn refused to correct a New York Times report about the attempt to fire Mueller, despite Trump's insistence that he do so. McGahn also refused Trump's request that he create an internal record falsely stating that the president never ordered Mueller's ouster.

Trump also tried to curtail the investigation, though that too was unsuccessful. The Mueller report says Trump asked Corey Lewandowski, his onetime campaign manager, to tell then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to limit the investigation to future election interference. Lewandowski did not convey the message to Sessions, who by that point had recused himself from the Russia investigation.

To have the president bearing down like this is no small matter for a prosecutor, but let's set aside these unsuccessful attempts to fire or restrain Mueller. Let's also set aside Trump's drumbeat of public attacks on Mueller and his investigation over two years, many of which were false or misleading.

Mueller's report says he was impeded in other ways.

Trump declined to sit for an interview with Mueller’s team despite multiple requests. The president’s written answers to questions were deemed insufficient, according to the report. Mueller indicated in response to Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) at a House intelligence committee hearing that Trump’s written responses were untruthful in at least some cases.

Several Trump advisers or campaign officials gave false or incomplete testimony, including Michael Cohen, Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort and George Papadopoulos, according to the report and subsequent criminal charges. “Those lies materially impaired the investigation of Russian election interference,” the Mueller report says.

Some witnesses asserted their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and declined to answer questions, according to the Mueller report. Another “practical limit” was the fact that “numerous witnesses and subjects lived abroad, and documents were held outside the United States."

“Further, the Office learned that some of the individuals we interviewed or whose conduct we investigated — including some associated with the Trump Campaign — deleted relevant communications or communicated during the relevant period using applications that feature encryption or that do not provide for long-term retention of data or communications records,” the Mueller report says. “In such cases, the Office was not able to corroborate witness statements through comparison to contemporaneous communications or fully question witnesses about statements that appeared inconsistent with other known facts.”

“So most prosecutors want to make sure there was no appearance of impropriety, but in your case, you hired a bunch of people that did not like the President.”

— Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-Tex.)

“That team of Democrat investigators you hired donated more than $60,000 to the Hillary Clinton campaign and other Democratic candidates.”

— Johnson

A regular theme of Republican questioning was that Mueller stocked his team with Democratic partisans. The claims engendered rare passion from Mueller, who defended his team and noted that 14 of the 19 lawyers were on detail as career prosecutors from the Justice Department.

“We strove to hire those individuals that could do the job. I have been in this business for almost 25 years. And in those 25 years I have not had occasion, once, to ask somebody about their political affiliation. It is not done,” Mueller said. “What I care about is the capability of the individual to do the job and do the job seriously and quickly and with integrity.”

In fact, federal regulations prohibit the Justice Department from considering the political affiliation or political contributions of career appointees, including those appointed to the Special Counsel’s Office. So Mueller was legally prohibited from considering the political affiliations of the people he has hired.

While Johnson noted $60,000 in donations to “Clinton and other Democrats,” by our count, only about $10,900 were made directly to Clinton during her presidential runs. About half of that amount came just from Jeannie Rhee, who joined the team from Mueller’s law firm, Wilmer Hale; she donated a total of $5,400 to Clinton’s campaign in 2015 and 2016. At WilmerHale, Rhee was a partner on the defense team representing the Clinton Foundation in a lawsuit over Clinton’s use of her private email server.

All told, five of the 16 known members contributed to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign. Another six members had made political donations to Democrats over the years.

But Mueller is a Republican. The special counsel investigation was overseen by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, a Trump appointee and also a Republican.

“Mr. Mueller, did you indeed interview for the FBI director job one day before you were appointed as Special Counsel?”

— Rep. Gary Steube (R-Fla.)

President Trump has made a similar claim from the start of Mueller’s appointment in 2017. But the Mueller report quotes Trump aides as privately telling Trump it was silly — and Mueller insisted in the hearing he was not interviewed for the FBI job, which he has already held for 12 years. Instead, he said he came to the White House to discuss the role of the FBI director.

“It was about the job and not about me applying for the job,” Mueller told Steube. His statement was made under oath.

Former White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon told investigators the purpose of the meeting was not a job interview but to have Mueller “offer a perspective on the institution of the FBI,” according to the special counsel’s report, and “although the White House thought about beseeching Mueller to become Director again, he did not come in looking for the job.”

The Washington Post has reported that when the issue came up of whether Mueller might be interested in once again becoming FBI director, he said he could not take the job unless a law was changed. Mueller has already served a full ten-year term as FBI director and Congress in July 2011 passed legislation allowing Mueller to serve an additional two years.

According to the report, the president’s advisers — including then-White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, then-White House counsel Don McGahn and Bannon — “pushed back on Trump’s assertion of conflicts, telling the President they did not count as true conflicts.” Bannon told investigators that he “recalled telling the President that the purported conflicts were ‘ridiculous’ and that none of them was real or could come close to justifying precluding Mueller from serving as Special Counsel.”

“Your report famously links Russian Internet troll farms with the Russian government. Yet, at a hearing on May 28th in the Concord Management IRA prosecution that you initiated, the judge excoriated both you and Mr. Barr for producing no evidence to support this claim. Why did you suggest Russia was responsible for the troll farms, when, in court, you’ve been unable to produce any evidence to support it?”

— Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.)

McClintock attacked Mueller with an interesting argument that mirrors one of the defenses offered by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In his line of questioning, McClintock pushed back on a widely accepted finding from the U.S. intelligence community and the Justice Department: that Russia's government ordered up a social-media influence campaign to help Trump and hurt Clinton.

Before Mueller’s grand jury indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers working directly for Putin’s government, it indicted several Russian individuals working for a “troll farm” called the Internet Research Agency. Two Russian companies — called Concord Catering and Concord Management and Consulting — provided the Internet Research Agency with millions of dollars to buy digital ads and to pump pro-Trump and anti-Clinton messaging into the U.S. ecosystem in 2016, Mueller’s indictment alleges.

Among those indicted was Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin, one of the richest men in Russia. Prigozhin “controlled” the two Concord companies that funded the troll farm and directed its work, Mueller alleged. “He is a caterer who has been nicknamed ‘Putin’s chef’ because of his close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin,” The Washington Post reported. The New York Times reported that Prigozhin has received contracts from the Russian government worth $3.1 billion over the past five years, citing research by the Anti-Corruption Foundation, a group set up by Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

The U.S. Treasury Department in 2016 imposed sanctions on Prigozhin and Concord over Russia’s occupation of Crimea and military actions in Ukraine, and then imposed more sanctions in 2018 based on “malicious cyber-enabled activities.” “Prigozhin has extensive business dealings with the Russian Federation Ministry of Defense, and a company with significant ties to him holds a contract to build a military base near the Russian Federation border with Ukraine,” the Treasury Department said in 2016 when it announced Prigozhin’s Ukraine-related sanctions. “Russia has been building additional military bases near the Ukrainian border and has used these bases as staging points for deploying soldiers into Ukraine.”

In a 2018 news conference with Trump in Helsinki, Putin said Concord did not “represent” or “constitute” the Russian state. But the indictment leaves open the possibility that Russian government officials contributed to the Internet Research Agency’s efforts; it says the named defendants worked “together with others known and unknown to the Grand Jury.”

“Moscow’s influence campaign followed a Russian messaging strategy that blends covert intelligence operations — such as cyber activity — with overt efforts by Russian government agencies, state-funded media, third-party intermediaries, and paid social media users or ‘trolls,’” according to the January 2017 assessment by the U.S. intelligence community.

The IRA indictment, however, does not state that the Russian government was behind the troll farm. U.S. District Judge Dabney L. Friedrich, who is handling the Concord case, ruled July 1 that out-of-court comments from Mueller and Barr linking the Russian government to the IRA’s efforts would prejudice the jury at an eventual trial.

But the judge did not say that the allegation was false or that Russia’s government had no hand in the troll farm’s campaign to influence the 2016 presidential election.

“There will be a lot of discussion I predict today and great frustration throughout the country about the fact that you wouldn’t answer any questions here about the origins of this whole charade, which was the infamous Christopher Steele dossier, now proven to be totally bogus, even though it is listed and specifically referenced in your report.”

— Johnson

As has been well-documented, the memos written by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, on behalf of a firm working for Democrats and the Clinton campaign, did not spark the investigation into possible links between the Trump campaign and Russian entities. Even the memo written by the the-Republican majority on the House Intelligence Committee in 2018 — and released by the White House — acknowledged: “The Papadopoulos information triggered the opening of an FBI counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016 by FBI agent Pete Strzok.”

Crossfire Hurricane was the name of the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation, which was opened on July 31, 2016, after the Australian government reported that George Papadopoulos, then a foreign-policy aide to Trump, told Alexander Downer, the top Australian diplomat to Britain at the time, during a May meeting that the Russian government had “damaging” material on Clinton and was prepared to release it late in the election.

Downer had sent a cable back to the Australian capital about his meeting with Papadopoulos. He had sought the meeting to gain some insight into Trump’s foreign policy views but decided that Papadopoulos was “surprisingly young and inexperienced” to amount to anything in a Trump administration. Buried in the cable was a reference to Papadopoulos saying the Russians had damaging material on Clinton and were prepared to use it.

After WikiLeaks started releasing Democratic National Committee emails during the Democratic National Convention, held July 25-28, Downer suddenly remembered “with a shudder” his meeting with Papadopoulos, according to Greg Miller’s “The Apprentice.” He immediately requested a meeting with the top U.S. diplomat in Britain at the time, who in turn alerted the FBI.

The Steele “dossier,” which contained salacious allegations, certainly generated substantial media attention after it was made public in 2017. The FBI also cited it in a footnote seeking a court order allowing surveillance of a former Trump adviser. Since then, many elements of Steele’s reporting for the “dossier” have not been confirmed and have been called into question by the Mueller report.

 

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GreyhoundFan

I don't know who I despise more: Udvay or D'Souza

 

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Howl
Posted (edited)

Sarah Kendzior has a more critical take on Mueller's performance.  This is her op-ed in The Globe and Mail (Canadian paper)

Mueller acted like a man terrified to state the obvious. The question remains: Why?

I have to agree with many of her points. 

 

32 minutes ago, GreyhoundFan said:

don't know who I despise more: Udvay or D'Souza

Each is special in his very own way (stupid, vicious) but I find D'Souza more viscerally repellent. 

Edited by Howl

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fraurosena

Sarah Kendzior makes valid points. But there is a counter argument to her most basic observation: Mueller's reluctance to testify, answer questions and make bold statements. I am under the impression that Mueller was so sparing with his words because he was afraid of obstructing the counter intelligence investigations that are still ongoing.

I also think Mueller is a person who strictly, absolutely and without exception adheres to the rules. Be they set by the law, the DOJ, or indeed himself. He will not deviate from those rules, no matter what. Because they are the rules, and rules need to be observed, period. What else is the point of the rules, if not to follow them? His character, his personal moral values, simply do not allow him to ignore the rules. 

If you want Mueller to make bold statements, to make recommendations, to opine on his findings, the rules should be changed -- not easily done, for sure, but that's the only way you will get him to do it.

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I get your point, but our democracy is going up in flames at the moment.

Also, her underlying point is what the hell has happened to so many of the investigations?  At least five have already been torpedoed by Bill Barr.  It's pretty damned hard to ignore that Barr is utterly corrupt and is yet another Trump crime family consigliere.  So how might Mueller feel about that and the likelihood that many more fruitful investigations will be torpedoed because Trump will be protected at all costs?   We're talking corruption in government at the highest levels being facilitated by his long-time friend and associate Bill Barr.  

He cannot be blind to the utter corruption rampant at the head of DoJ and understand that the institutions he loves so much and have served so well are being dismantled by a vile and corrupt president and complicit GOP.  When do the rules go from being a guiding light to providing cover? 

At what point does a person of integrity have the obligation to speak out?  Sarah Kendzior studies authoritarian governments.  She's been shouting to the roof tops for over two years about the current US descent into authoritarianism.  She has written prescient tweets and articles about what is now playing out, understanding that at a certain point, there's no coming back.  She understands that these are desperate moments for our country.  

 

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fraurosena

That America is heading for an authoritarian state is not a question at this point, but a fact. That there is rampant corruption, criminal activity and cover ups going on is also quite obvious. But I think Mueller shouldn't be the one to pin all one's hopes on. Should he have spoken out? By Rufus, yes he should have. Personally, I don't agree with him at all about sticking to the rules at all costs. (Nonetheless, I understand his reasoning.)

But Mueller is not America's last best hope to deter the disintegration of democracy. He is a cog in the machine. He investigated, made a report, and deferred a hell of a lot of information he dug up to counter intelligence investigations that, as far as we know, are still ongoing. Of course Barr could shut down the counter intelligence investigations that are being done by the FBI, but (please correct me if I'm wrong) Barr is not the boss of the whole IC, and those investigations will continue.

It is my sincere hope that those investigations are not limited to the Trump administration, family and organization, but also includes members of Congress and other political entities (McConnell first and foremost among them) and that eventually the results of these investigations will be made public -- and that this will happen sooner rather than later. 

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fraurosena

She's an asinine twatwaffle.

Meghan McCain gets more than she bargained for after demanding ‘smoking gun’ evidence from Adam Schiff

Quote

Meghan McCain complained that special counsel Robert Mueller didn’t offer “smoking gun” proof of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia — but Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) set her straight.

The former FBI director testified at length Wednesday before two House panels, and Schiff walked him through his findings that Russia had offered to help elect Donald Trump — whose family members and other associates accepted that help and actively promoted emails stolen by Kremlin operatives, and then lied to cover up those efforts.

“Congressman,” McCain said, “you have claimed for years now you have a smoking gun of evidence of collusion. Your quote is, ‘ample evidence of collusion.’ You said that, but Robert Mueller and his investigation found that there was no collusion. So can you share with us right here, right now on ‘The View,’ the evidence that you have and explain why Mueller was wrong yesterday?”

The California Democrat then patiently walked McCain through the same evidence that Mueller had confirmed was accurate during his testimony before the House Intelligence Committee that Schiff leads.

“Well, first of all, Mueller wasn’t wrong,” Schiff said. “He started out by saying we didn’t address the issue of collusion.”

McCain immediately interrupted to challenge Schiff’s claims.

“What’s your evidence?” she said. “You’ve been saying that on TV for years.”

Schiff was undeterred, and continued to lay out his case.

“I will tell you,” he said, “and we have also been saying that the evidence is in plain sight, not hidden anywhere, and we went through that evidence. The Russians offered dirt on Hillary Clinton in writing and sent it to Don Jr., and Don Jr.’s response was in writing and said, as for your offer of foreign illegal help, I would love it. He accepted the offer.”

“They set up a furtherance of that, and they lied about it,” Schiff continued. “You have an offering of illegal help, an acceptance of that, an overt act in furtherance of that conspiracy. That is, I think, by any rational American’s expectation is the personification of collusion.”

“Now Bob Mueller had a different question he needed to analyze, which is, can I prove each of the elements of the crime of conspiracy beyond a reasonable doubt?” he added. “As you know, well before the Mueller report I was pointing out to the public, there is a difference between what we understand is collusion and whether you can prove all the elements of crime.”

McCain interrupted again and asked whether Mueller’s testimony was a win for Democrats, but Schiff didn’t take the bait.

“You know, I would consider it a win for the American people that they got to hear from the person who did the investigation,” he said. “They got to hear unfiltered by anybody else, what he found, you know, for the former director of the FBI, and the special counsel, to say effectively the president acted immorally, unethically, unpatriotically and likely in a criminal fashion, the American people needed to hear. If you are measuring whether this is a success in terms of whether it brings us closer to impeachment or not, that was not my object with wanting him to come in.”

 

 

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, fraurosena said:

But Mueller is not America's last best hope to deter the disintegration of democracy.

@fraurosena, Yes, Sarah Kendzior and I agree with you!   She cautioned against putting all our hopes into the Mueller Report and in Mueller as a savior of sorts.  

Edited by Howl

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"Mueller deserves a Medal of Honor"

Spoiler

The picture that spoke far more words than former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III uttered during this week’s hearings was taken by renowned photographer David Hume Kennerly.

The close-up of Mueller’s face was a portrait of rare depth, the sort one is more likely to find on a Leonardo da Vinci canvas with all its shadows, hollows and his soulful, nearly weeping eyes. I found myself thinking of paintings of the Agony in the Garden, showing Jesus’ upturned face as he prayed. No doubt, Mueller, too, was praying that this all would soon be over.

On Instagram , Kennerly captioned his photo: “Weary warrior.”

The tag was fitting and perfect. Mueller, a Vietnam War hero and recipient of a Bronze Star, has fought nobly throughout a life of distinguished public service. Whether defending his country on the battlefield or as director of the FBI, he has by all accounts been a man of honor, dignity and careful judgment.

After two years of draining the swamp of several of its slimiest occupants — all associates of the president of the United States — Mueller had to present himself one final time for the benefit of politicians bent on showboating at his expense. Democrats wanted to get him on record saying he did not exonerate President Trump of possible obstruction of justice, which everyone who cared already knew. This they did by reading excerpts of Mueller’s 400-plus-page report and asking him to confirm that they were correct.

Mueller kept the bulk of his responses to “yes,” “no,” “true” and “correct.” The rest largely consisted of “I refer you to the report,” “It’s outside my purview” and, best of all, “I take your question,” which apparently is a polite way of saying, “I rue the day you were born.”

Both parties’ members had their agenda. Republicans wanted to get themselves on record as Trump sycophants, apparently, while also proving that they could be just as nasty as Democrats were to Brett M. Kavanaugh during his Supreme Court nomination hearings last year. You may now check your boxes and get back to phoning your donors.

It was painful to watch as Republicans yelled at Mueller, pounding the table and throwing their best tantrums, even as Mueller was clearly not at his best. Whether he was merely tired — or just sick and tired — or perhaps even giving in a bit to age, he surely deserved more of their respect.

Most egregiously obnoxious was Rep. Douglas A. Collins (Ga.), the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee. After saying he is often accused of speaking too fast and promising to slow down, Collins then proceeded to imitate an auctioneer, shoving as many words into a split second as is humanly possible. This was plainly deliberate and seemed intended to confuse Mueller or make him seem not fully cognizant. More than once, Mueller was forced to ask him to repeat the question. It was one of the most arrogant, self-important performances I’ve witnessed in decades of political reporting. Can we send Collins back to where he came from, please?

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) shouted so much I was afraid he might choke on his tongue. And Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Tex.) got worked up over Volume II of the report, which he said broke regulations, and yelled that Trump wasn’t above the law but somehow shouldn’t be below it, either.

One notices that you don’t truly know people until they have power. For a few hours Wednesday, members of the Judiciary and Intelligence committees had power over Mueller, and several revealed themselves to be unworthy of the audience. Mueller isn’t a perfect man, but he is a gentleman. He exercised his own power during the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election by never speaking a word publicly.

In starkest contrast to Trump, who bellowed his non-exoneration, Mueller isn’t an attention-seeker. This man of few words surely had aplenty to say in the privacy of his own space with an audience of his own choosing. Or, perhaps, he had nothing more to say, having completed the job he was asked to do with his usual tenacity and humility.

This is what I saw in his face as I watched the proceedings — a humble man who has seen enough of life and kept his own counsel through most of it. A weary warrior, indeed. For his forbearance throughout his investigation — and his patience through this week’s insufferable hearings — he deserves a Medal of Honor.

 

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Howl

I find it fascinating that virtually no one seems to remember that, outside of certain DoJ elements and probably everybody in the White House, no one has read the unredacted Mueller report and all of the portions that were withheld related to the IC

Then remember that a totally unqualified Tump sycophant was nominated for DNI (although he has withdrawn his nomination as of today, August 2). 

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fraurosena
Posted (edited)

DOJ releases notes from official Bruce Ohr's Russia probe interviews

Quote

The FBI released on Thursday released the bureau's notes from its Russia probe interviews with Bruce Ohr, a Justice Department official who has come under GOP fire for his ties to the Steele dossier.

Ohr emerged as a key figure in the counterintelligence investigation into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, particularly after his connections to former British spy Christopher Steele and the opposition research firm Fusion GPS were revealed.

Ohr has become a target as a result of those ties, being attacked by president and others who have called for his firing from the Department of Justice (DOJ) over what they see as bias in the Russia probe.

The FBI released the 302s, an internal FBI term referring to notes of their interviews, as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the conservative group Judicial Watch. 

DOJ, at Trump's behest (although he will deny it) attempting to make Bruce Ohr look bad. I'm off to find the 302s and see if they -- as per usual -- have shot themselves in the foot by releasing them.

I've found them. You can find them here.

 

Edited by fraurosena

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fraurosena

Of course it's heavily redacted. Even so, the fun info starts on page 2. And as predicted, this is shooting Trump in the foot, bigly.

'The FSB had Trump over a barrel.'

Ohr met [redacted] in Washington, DC, in late September, possibly close to the time the Yahoo news article was published on September 23, 2016. During that meeting [redacted] advised the Alfa server in the US is a link to the Trump Campaign and Sergei Millian's Russian/American organization in the US used the Alfa server two weeks prior.

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