Tag Archives: FBI

Lots of good reporting on the Russia investigation

While Special Counsel Robert Mueller continues working quietly behind the scenes, there have been several excellent pieces of investigative journalism in recent days following leads on the Russian collusion thread of the investigation. These are lengthy investigative reports that I will not attempt to parse out here.

Luckily, Andrew Prokop at Vox.com has already posted an excellent summary. The past 48 hours in Mueller investigation news, explained (paragraphs reordered for clarity):

New reports over the past two days have brought increased attention to three long-simmering subplots in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

First, the Wall Street Journal revealed new details about GOP operative Peter W. Smith’s quest to obtain Hillary Clinton’s emails from Russian hackers during the 2016 campaign — including that he raised at least $100,000 for the effort and then pitched in $50,000 of his own money. (Smith was found dead last year, and local authorities ruled his death a suicide.)

Peter W. Smith: what happened when he sought Hillary Clinton’s emails from Russian hackers?

What we already knew: During the 2016 campaign, 80-year-old GOP operative Peter W. Smith recruited a team to try to obtain Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 deleted emails from “dark web” hackers — including hackers he thought were “probably around the Russian government.” It’s not clear if Smith had any success, but we know he tried because he freely admitted all this to reporter Shane Harris in May 2017.

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Kavanaugh confirmation advances to a final vote

Senators voted 51-49 to end debate on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination, setting up a final vote to confirm Kavanaugh for Saturday afternoon. Kavanaugh advances in key Senate vote:

Kavanaugh’s nomination got a last-minute boost when Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Susan Collins (R-ME) voted to end debate on Kavanaugh’s nomination. Manchin was the only Democrat to vote yes.

Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), however, voted against advancing the nomination, the only Republican to do so.

Senate Republicans acknowledged ahead of time that they might not know the outcome of the vote by the time it started — an unusual move for a leadership team that likes to keep a tight grip on floor action.

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This doesn’t guarantee they will each vote to confirm him. Collins (Maine) voted to end debate but isn’t expected to make an announcement on if she will vote to confirm him until 3 p.m., setting up a must-watch moment on the Senate floor.

Republicans hold a slim 51-seat majority in the Senate, which allows them to lose one vote from their conference and still confirm Kavanaugh without Democratic help.

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Despite massive opposition, Republicans are set to confirm the most unpopular judicial nominee in American history

More than 2,400 law professors sign letter opposing Kavanaugh’s confirmation:

Signatories included Martha Minow — the former dean of Harvard Law School, where Kavanaugh taught a popular course — other law school deans and former deans, and some scholars who previously supported Kavanaugh.

“As someone who knew and liked Brett Kavanaugh when we clerked together, I have tried very hard to stay out of this process and to give him the benefit of the doubt,” said Mark Lemley, a professor at Stanford Law School. But Kavanaugh’s behavior at the hearing last week “was not what we should expect of a Supreme Court Justice. Telling obvious lies about his background, yelling at senators, refusing to answer questions, and blaming his troubles on others is not appropriate behavior.”

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Another letter, signed by about 900 female law professors, asked the Senate to reject Kavanaugh’s appointment. As a law professor, “it is my responsibility to teach my students the highest standards of professionalism and decorum,” Karla McKanders, a professor of law at Vanderbilt University Law School, said in an email. “Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony undermines the legal profession and would undermine the authority of the Supreme Court.”

In an unprecedented move, life-long Republican and Former Justice John Paul Stevens said Judge Kavanaugh is not qualified to sit on the court:

Justice Stevens said he came to the conclusion reluctantly, changing his mind about Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination after the second round of the judge’s confirmation hearings last week. Judge Kavanaugh’s statements at those hearings, Justice Stevens said, revealed prejudices that would make it impossible for him to do the court’s work, a point he said had been made by prominent commentators.

“They suggest that he has demonstrated a potential bias involving enough potential litigants before the court that he would not be able to perform his full responsibilities,” Justice Stevens said in remarks to retirees in Boca Raton, Fla. “And I think there is merit in that criticism and that the senators should really pay attention to it.”

“For the good of the court,” he said, “it’s not healthy to get a new justice that can only do a part-time job.”

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A ‘rigged’ FBI investigation in the Kavanaugh coverup (Updated)

Arizona Senator Jeff Flake called for a thorough FBI background investigation while speaking at an event in Boston. “It does no good to have an investigation that gives us more cover, for example,” he said. “We actually have find out what we can find out.”

While the Twitter-troll-in-chief lied his ass off in tweets and press statements that the FBI could follow any lead and speak to any witness, White House legal counsel Don McGahn, a longtime friend of Judge Kavanaugh’s, made certain the background investigation would be severely restricted. To borrow Trump’s favorite phrase, the FBI background investigation was “rigged.”

Bloomberg News reports that the FBI did not even interview the principals involved. FBI Lacks White House Approval to Talk to Kavanaugh and Ford.

NBC News reports that the FBI has not contacted dozens of potential sources in Kavanaugh investigation:

More than 40 people with potential information into the sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh have not been contacted by the FBI, according to multiple sources that include friends of both the nominee and his accusers.

[S]ources close to the investigation, as well as a number of people who know those involved, say the FBI has not contacted dozens of potential corroborators or character witnesses.

More than 20 individuals who know either Kavanaugh or Ramirez, who has accused the nominee of exposing himself to her while the two attended Yale University, have not heard from the FBI despite attempts to contact investigators, including Kavanaugh’s roommate at the time and a former close Ramirez friend.

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Maricopa County prosecutor Rachel Mitchell’s unprofessional memo

Republican strategist Rick Wilson authored the book Everything Trump Touches Dies.

This is likely to include the professional legal career of Maricopa County prosecutor Rachel Mitchell.

Hired to be a “human shield” for Republican senators in questioning Christine Blasey Ford last week, she proved to be ‘not effective’ in questioning Ford.

Mitchell had barely begun asking questions of Judge Kavanaugh when she zeroed in on his July 1 calendar entry which might corroborate Dr. Blasey’s recollection of a party. Republican senators insulted her by summarily dismissing her, never to be heard from again.

Eleven old white men didn’t want to hear from any woman, even their hired gun.

Mitchell has since compounded her catastrophic performance by providing a partisan political memo to the GOP senators who hired her. Her memo violates the rules of professional conduct for attorneys and prosecutors. Her desire to be in the national spotlight may wind up costing her.

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A disastrous hearing, but the GOP will ‘plow ahead’ with Kavanaugh confirmation (Updated)

I have been a trial attorney for over 25 years. It is my job to evaluate witnesses and to test their credibility, and to evaluate how testimony is received by a jury.

Christine Blasey Ford testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. I found her testimony genuine, credible and compelling. Moreover, her testimony would be received by a jury as genuine and believable.

In fact, it is reported that thousands of Americans watching Dr. Blasey’s testimony who are themselves victims of sexual assault experienced a cathartic response to her testimony and contacted their elected representatives. She moved the jury. She moved the country.

Dr. Blasey’s testimony was devastating. Dr. Blasey offered to be helpful to the committee more, and volunteered to submit to an FBI background check to test the credibility of her testimony. Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley refused her request.

After a lunch break, it was Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s turn to testify. Brett Kavanaugh is a GOP political operative masquerading as a judge, and he let his mask slip in his opening statement. He delivered an angry jeremiad contemptuous of Democratic Senators whom he asserted were part of a vast left-wing conspiracy trying to destroy him, bent on revenge for the Clintons and their hatred of Donald Trump. It was clearly a political speech delivered for the television audience.

When questioned by senators, Kavanaugh was angry, aggressive and belligerent. He raised new questions about his demeanor and judicial temperament as a judge. Kavanaugh continued to be evasive in his answers, frequently returning to talking points about his innocence that was non-responsive to the question. When given numerous opportunities to request reopening an FBI background check to clear “his good name,” Kavanaugh demurred and would not do so. “I will do whatever the committee decides to do.” President Trump and GOP leadership have refused to reopen the FBI background check. His independence as a jurist is in serious doubt.

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