Tag Archives: Special Counsel

Donald Trump channels the spirit of Richard Nixon

Donald J. Trump is channeling the spirit of Richard M. Nixon, who told David Frost in an April 1977 interview that “If the President does it, that means it’s not illegal.”

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Or perhaps Trump is going back to the original source and is channeling the spirit of Louis XIV of France, an adherent of the concept of the divine right of kings, which advocates the divine origin of monarchical rule, who believed in the theory of absolute monarchy and consciously fostered the myth of himself as the Sun King, the source of light for all of his people. During Louis XIV’s reign, his main goal was “One king, one law, one faith.” “I am the State.”

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President Trump’s bumbling lawyer John Dowd gave this exclusive interview to Mike Allen of Axios.com. Exclusive: Trump lawyer claims the “President cannot obstruct justice”:

John Dowd, President Trump’s outside lawyer, outlined to me a new and highly controversial defense/theory in the Russia probe: A president cannot be guilty of obstruction of justice.

The “President cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer under [the Constitution’s Article II] and has every right to express his view of any case,” Dowd claims.

Dowd says he drafted this weekend’s Trump tweet that many thought strengthened the case for obstruction: The tweet suggested Trump knew Flynn had lied to the FBI when he was fired, raising new questions about the later firing of FBI Director James Comey.

Dowd: “The tweet did not admit obstruction. That is an ignorant and arrogant assertion.”

Why it matters: Trump’s legal team is clearly setting the stage to say the president cannot be charged with any of the core crimes discussed in the Russia probe: collusion and obstruction. Presumably, you wouldn’t preemptively make these arguments unless you felt there was a chance charges are coming.

Americans rejected the divine right of kings and absolute monarchy when we told George III of England to “go stuff it up your ass” with the American Revolution. The source of power is “WE the people” in a democratic republic. Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution requires the President to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” And if he fails to do so, Article 1, Section 2, Clause 5, provides for the impeachment of the president. The hallmark of American jurisprudence is that “No man is above the law.”

The first article of impeachment against both Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton were for obstruction of justice. The articles of impeachment against Andrew Johnson alleged high crimes and misdemeanors that today might be construed as obstruction of justice.

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‘Lock him up!’ Michael Flynn to plead to lying to the FBI (updated)

What goes around comes around, Mikey.

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn was charged Friday with making a false statement to the FBI about his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, marking another monumental development in the wide-ranging probe of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Michael Flynn charged with making false statement to the FBI:

Flynn is expected to enter a plea at 10:30, according to the special counsel’s office. The charge relates to false statements Flynn made to the FBI on January 24, four days after President Trump was inaugurated, about his meeting with Kislyak during the transition.

Flynn is accused of making false statements to the FBI about asking the ambassador in late December to “refrain from escalating the situation in response to sanctions that the United States had imposed against Russia that same day.” Flynn also told authorities he did not recall the ambassador saying the Russians would moderate their response to Obama administration sanctions after the conversation.

Separately, authorities say Flynn lied about asking the ambassador to delay a vote on United Nations Security Council resolutions.

The count for lying to the FBI is the bare minimum charge that was anticipated to be filed against Michael Flynn. This tells me that he is cooperating with the Special Counsel as has been widely speculated about over the past couple of weeks. See, Flynn’s lawyer shuts down communications with Trump’s team, a sign he may be cooperating with Mueller probe; A Split From Trump Indicates That Flynn Is Moving to Cooperate With Mueller; Michael Flynn’s lawyer meets with members of special counsel’s team, raising specter of plea deal.

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A roadmap to the crime of conspiracy?

First, a preface to some earlier reporting that provides some background and context to the post by Martin Longman highlighted below.

Philip Bump of The Post breaks down the George Papadapolous plea agreement and the Carter Page testimony before the House Intelligence Committee. Russian officials and allies repeatedly signaled support for Trump to his campaign team.

Philip Bump of The Post also reported on the Drudge Report linking directly to individual stories at Infowars, as well as RT and Sputnik News, both content-sharing arms of the Russian government. One of the busiest websites in the U.S. in 2016 regularly linked to Russia propaganda.

Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a Shorenstein fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, explains how “the wide distribution of strategically aligned messages increases the likelihood that Russian efforts — including posts, ads, tweets and the release of stolen emails — changed the outcome of the 2016 election.” Could Russian trolls have helped elect Donald Trump?

Which brings me to this fascinating post by Martin Longman at the Political Animal blog. A #TrumpRussia Confession in Plain Sight:

At about 11:14pm on November 6th, 2012, enough states were called for President Obama that he was declared the winner of the election by NBC News. That was quickly followed up by a similar call on Fox News and finally by CNN. At 11:29pm, Donald Trump blasted out the following defiant tweet:

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Wikileaks is at the center of Trump-Putin campaign investigation

Wikileaks is a non-state actor intelligence agency hostile to the United States. Wikileaks founder Julin Assange has a program on Russian Television International, a Russian propaganda network. Assange frequently attacks the United States while pulling punches for Vladimir Putin’s autocratic kleptocracy in Russia.

WikiLeaks was the conduit the Russians used to disseminate the DNC, DCCC and John Podesta emails. This is the unanimous assessment of U.S. intelligence agencies.

Martin Longman at the Political Animal blog summarized, Did Nigel Farage Serve as Roger Stone’s Intermediary?:

The Smoking Gun wrote up an extensive article on their contacts with Guccifer 2.0, the “online persona that U.S. officials say was created by Russian government officials to distribute and publicize material stolen during hacks of the DNC, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Gmail accounts used by Clinton staffers like John Podesta, the campaign’s chairman.”

The main focus of their article was Roger Stone, however, who had significant online contacts with the Guccifer 2.0 persona, called him a hero, and defended him extensively against accusations that he wasn’t who or what he claimed to be. It’s a fascinating article, and it just became much more urgently interesting this morning after BuzzFeed News reported that they essentially busted Nigel Farage coming out of a meeting with Julian Assange today in Ecuador’s London embassy.

Longtime Trump confidant and GOP ratfucker Roger Stone admitted to having a “back channel” to Julian Assange during the campaign. Roger Stone claims he has ‘perfectly legal back channel’ to Julian Assange. And Stone admitted to speaking privately with Guccifer 2.0, an alleged Russian cyberspy.

Today The Atlantic reports that Donald Trump’s son, Donald Jr., also had a back channel to Julian Assange. The Secret Correspondence Between Donald Trump Jr. and WikiLeaks:

Just before the stroke of midnight on September 20, 2016, at the height of last year’s presidential election, the WikiLeaks Twitter account sent a private direct message to Donald Trump Jr., the Republican nominee’s oldest son and campaign surrogate.

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The next morning, about 12 hours later, Trump Jr. responded to WikiLeaks. “Off the record I don’t know who that is, but I’ll ask around,” he wrote on September 21, 2016. “Thanks.”

The messages, obtained by The Atlantic, were also turned over by Trump Jr.’s lawyers to congressional investigators. They are part of a long—and largely one-sided—correspondence between WikiLeaks and the president’s son that continued until at least July 2017. The messages show WikiLeaks, a radical transparency organization that the American intelligence community believes was chosen by the Russian government to disseminate the information it had hacked, actively soliciting Trump Jr.’s cooperation. WikiLeaks made a series of increasingly bold requests, including asking for Trump’s tax returns, urging the Trump campaign on Election Day to reject the results of the election as rigged, and requesting that the president-elect tell Australia to appoint Julian Assange ambassador to the United States.

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Putin puppet Donald Trump goes ‘Danang Don’ in Vietnam

Vietnam War draft dodger Donald Trump finally made it to Vietnam. He went to Danang for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting, where he met on the sidelines with his Russian puppet master, Vladimir Putin. “Danang Don” pulled his own “Hanoi Jane” in a press conference. Trump Says Putin ‘Means It’ About Not Meddling:

President Trump said on Saturday that he believed President Vladimir V. Putin was sincere in his denials of interference in the 2016 presidential elections, calling questions about Moscow’s meddling a politically motivated “hit job” that was hindering cooperation with Russia on life-or-death issues.

Speaking after meeting privately with Mr. Putin on the sideline of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting in Danang, Vietnam, Mr. Trump said that he had again asked whether Russia had meddled in the contest, but that the continued focus on the issue was insulting to Mr. Putin.

Mr. Trump said it was time to move past the issue so that the United States and Russia could cooperate on confronting the nuclear threat from North Korea, solving the Syrian civil war and working together on Ukraine.

“He said he didn’t meddle — I asked him again,” Mr. Trump told reporters traveling with him aboard Air Force One as he flew to Hanoi for more meetings. “You can only ask so many times. I just asked him again. He said he absolutely did not meddle in our election. He did not do what they are saying he did.”

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Latest developments in the Trump-Putin campaign investigation

With each new revelation, Donald Trump and his campaign move the goalposts in the Russia investigation. At first there was the flat denial that anyone in the campaign had contacts with the Russians. Then the campaign had to concede, OK there were contacts with the Russians, but we did not discuss collusion. Then it was revealed that the Trump campaign did attempt to collude with the Russians to “get dirt” on Hillary Clinton, but the campaign was unsuccessful in obtaining that information, so “we’re good.”

Trump and his apologists appear to be unaware of “inchoate” crimes—attempts, conspiracy, and solicitation—actions that fall short of the final act of commission, but may still be a prosecutable crime.

George Papadapolous has already plead guilty for lying to the FBI about his multiple contacts with the Russians to “get dirt” on Hillary Clinton. Papadapolous reported on his activities to several senior Trump campaign officials: his supervisor Sam Clovis, then campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, subsequent campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates, and foreign policy adviser Walid Phares. Who’s who in the George Papadopoulos court documents (there are additional persons not identified).

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