Category Archives: Law Enforcement

The anatomy of a right-wing conspiracy theory, debunked

The conservative media entertainment complex is a mixture of wild conspiracy theories and right-wing propaganda. Its goal is to create alternative facts and to distract from the known truth, in creating a post-truth society in which facts do not matter. In a just world, this would be considered a crime against humanity.

This week the Rupert Murdoch owned Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel and National Review’s Andrew McCarthy opined that a secret “source” of the FBI and CIA was used against the Trump campaign. When he appeared on Rupert Murdoch owned FAUX News aka Trump TV’s Fox and Friends, McCarthy went further: “There’s probably no doubt that they [FBI] had at least one confidential informant in the campaign.”

As we all have sadly come to learn, from Fox and Friends lips to the ears of the Twitter-troll-in-chief Donald Trump: a conspiracy theory is born. Trump marks Mueller anniversary by claiming FBI ‘spied’ on his campaign.

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Oh, SNAP! GOP House Freedom Caucus revolt on farm bill may backfire with additional support for discharge petition on DACA

This morning the Washington Post reported, Spooked by discharge petition, GOP leaders scramble to kill House immigration rebellion:

House Republican leaders made a full-court press Wednesday to forestall a GOP immigration rebellion that they fear could derail their legislative agenda and throw their effort to hold the majority in doubt.

The effort began in a closed-door morning meeting where Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) warned that a freewheeling immigration debate could have sharp political consequences. McCarthy to GOP: DACA vote could cost us the House. It continued in the evening, when the leaders of a petition effort that would sidestep were summoned to a room with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), McCarthy and three other top leaders.

Their message, according to attendees, was that efforts were underway at the highest levels, including with the White House, to get immigration legislation on the House floor before the midterm elections.

Politico adds, “Two additional Republicans, John Katko of New York and David Trott of Michigan, signed on after McCarthy’s scolding, leaving the group just four signatures shy of their goal.”

“Clearly we have had a positive impact on our leadership and on this institution because this issue is being taken seriously, and people are thinking through how something can be achieved,” said Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.), who filed the “discharge petition” that would set up votes on a series of immigration bills.

The House leaders presented no firm plan for action at the meeting, and the discharge petition effort will continue, Curbelo and others said afterward.

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Buzzfeed investigative report on Michael Cohen and Trump Tower Moscow

Investigative reporters Anthony Cormier and Jason Leopold at Buzzfeed, in a lengthy investigative report, have The Definitive Story Of How Trump’s Team Worked The Trump Moscow Deal During The Campaign:

All through the hot summer campaign of 2016, as Donald Trump and his aides dismissed talk of unseemly ties to Moscow, two of his key business partners were working furiously on a secret track: negotiations to build what would have been the tallest building in Europe and an icon of the Trump empire — the Trump World Tower Moscow.

Talks to construct the 100-story building continued even as the presidential candidate alternately bragged about his relationship with Vladimir Putin and rejected suggestions of Russian influence, and as Russian agents worked to sway US public opinion on Trump’s behalf.

Trump Tower MoscowAn architectural rendering of the proposed Trump Tower in Moscow. Provided to BuzzFeed News.

While fragments of the Trump Moscow venture have trickled out — most recently in a report last night by Yahoo NewsMichael Cohen’s efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow went on longer than he has previously acknowledgedthis is the definitive story of the Moscow tower, told from a trove of emails, text messages, congressional testimony, architectural renderings, and other documents obtained exclusively by BuzzFeed News, as well as interviews with key players and investigators. The documents reveal a detailed and plausible plan, well-connected Russian counterparts, and an effort that extended from spearfishing with a Russian developer on a private island to planning for a mid-campaign trip to Moscow for the presidential candidate himself.

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Paul Manafort fails in one court, likely to fail in the other court as well

A federal judge in Washington, D.C. refused Tuesday to throw out criminal charges brought by special counsel Robert Mueller against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Judge rejects Manafort claim that Mueller overreaching in probe:

Judge Amy Berman Jackson said the indictment “falls squarely within that portion of the authority granted to the Special Counsel that Manafort finds unobjectionable,” namely the order to investigate any links coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign.

“Manafort was, at one time, not merely ‘associated with,’ but the chairman of, the Presidential campaign, and his work on behalf of the Russia-backed Ukrainian political party and connections to other Russian figures are matters of public record. It was logical and appropriate for investigators tasked with the investigation of ‘any links’ between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign to direct their attention to him,” the judge wrote.

Manafort had argued that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein improperly gave Mueller authority to investigate “any matters that arose or may arise directly from” the investigation of collusion with Russia. His lawyers said that violated Justice Department regulations which specify that a special counsel is appointed to investigate a specific matter.

What Rosenstein gave Mueller, Manafort’s lawyers said, amounted to “a blank check to be filled in after the fact.”

Jackson’s decision rejecting that claim also said the special counsel rules are for the internal management of the Justice Department and do not create any right to sue. Even if they did establish such a right, she said, Mueller didn’t violate them.

Judge Jackson has set a trial date in this case to begin September 17. Judge sets Sept. 17 trial date for Manafort on Mueller charges.

Mueller filed similar criminal charges in Alexandria, Virginia, and on May 4, Manafort’s lawyers urged Federal District Court Judge T.S. Ellis to toss them out, too. Ellis appeared to be somewhat receptive to their argument, taunting members of Mueller’s team.

“You don’t really care about Mr. Manafort’s bank fraud. Well, the government does. You really care about what information Mr. Manafort can give you that would reflect on Mr. Trump or lead to his prosecution or impeachment or whatever. That’s what you’re really interested in,” he said.

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Senate Judiciary Committee releases Donald Trump, Jr. transcripts

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday released 1,800 pages of interview transcripts (.pdf) from Donald Trump Jr.’s testimony about a controversial meeting at Trump Tower in June 2016 with a Russian lawyer who has since admitted to being an “informant” for the Kremlin.

Donny Jr. was interviewed, not under oath, and not particularly aggressively questioned by committee staff.

Donny Jr. pulled an “Ollie North” with repeated denials of being able to recall details that a witness who has prepped for his testimony would be expected to be able to recall, or could refresh his recollection by referring to documents. 54 things Donald Trump Jr. couldn’t ‘recall’ or ‘remember’ in his testimony:

If there’s one thing Donald Trump Jr. cleared up with his congressional testimony, it’s that he doesn’t remember a lot of things.

In a newly released transcript of his testimony, Trump repeatedly couched his answers about that June 2016 Trump Tower meeting by saying he did not “remember” or that he didn’t “recall” certain things. Even when he was pretty sure, he’d say “not that I recall” or something like that. The result was a pretty cagey piece of testimony.

Below is a list of 54 substantive issues on which Trump cited his lack of a memory:

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Senate Intelligence Committee refutes House Intelligence Committee whitewash report n Russia

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s leaders said Wednesday they believed that the intelligence community’s 2017 assessment of election meddling was correct, breaking with Midnight Run Devin Nunes and compromised Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee who questioned the conclusion that the Russians were trying to help President Donald Trump get elected.

The Republican House Intelligence Committee’s whitewash report now stands alone as a highly partisan attempt to exonerate the Trump campaign, and a glaring failure to perform its constitutional duty of congressional oversight. It may also constitute acting as accessories to a conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Donald Trump has relied upon the wild conspiracy theories concocted by Rep. Nunes in coordination with the White House, and the House committee’s bogus whitewash report in attacking the Special Counsel’s Russia investigation.

Rep. Devin Nunes should immediately be removed as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and every Republican member on the committee voted out of office this November.

Politico reports, Senate intelligence leaders: Russians schemed to help Trump:

Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday endorsed the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 presidential election to help President Donald Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton.

It’s a powerful bipartisan endorsement of a conclusion that had been called into question by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, who have accused intelligence agencies of failing to employ proper “tradecraft” when they concluded Russia came to support Trump’s candidacy. Instead, it’s the Republicans on the House panel who find themselves isolated in their position in what has become an increasingly antagonistic relationship with the FBI and Justice Department.

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