The Mystery Man Revealed – And Open Thread

Quinta Jurecic and Ben Wittes have written their article on outing FBI informants, and several outlets have given the name of the probable informant.

I have the sense that I still don’t fully understand this situation, which I commonly get about revelations of the Trump campaign and its connections to various skeevy people. That is probably because there are more shoes to drop from this centipede, so I can’t fully understand the situation.

That Stefan Halper might be an informant has been publicly discussed since March. His positions and connections should have suggested that possibility to anyone who dealt with him before that. The Washington Post and New York Times articles of Friday night, together with material published earlier, lead to the conclusion that the person being discussed is Stefan Halper.

What Halper did was talk to George Papadopoulos and propose a project with him and also met with Carter Page and Sam Clovis in the summer of 2016. Earlier he met with Michael Flynn. Presumably this was because the FBI had information that Russians were communicating with these folks, and Halper was trying to get information about how that was going down.

The FBI could have sent agents openly to talk to those people, but they probably decided to take an indirect route because of the proximity of the election. Those FBI visits would have gotten out and caused some publicity. This is one of the asymmetries with how the Clinton emails were dealt with.

It would have been good practice for the Trumpies to have notified the FBI themselves when they were contacted by Russians, but, as we have seen in other cases, they did not once see fit to do this.

Since Halper already had a public profile and connections to intelligence agencies, it’s not clear to me why outing him seems to have been such a big deal to those agencies, who were reported to have been working for weeks to minimize the damage if he was outed. It’s possible that he was doing more than what is publicly available, and that those additional activities were much more sensitive.

Part of the concern is that if Congress is willing to reveal intelligence operatives for political reasons, it will be much more difficult to recruit sources and informants. And, of course, the President has now piled on.

It’s not at all clear why Devin Nunes, Trump, and others claim that knowing who this person is will undercut the Mueller investigation. They have claimed a connection between him and the Steele dossier, but, if anything, the information Halper obtained would have gone to the FBI before the dossier did. So, to the extent Halper’s material correlates with what’s in the dossier, it would be independent support.

It’s also not clear how all the information was leaked. Did the leaks start in March? Who are the sources for the Times and the Post stories? Will this be prosecuted the way Valerie Plame’s outing was?

The Jurecic – Wittes article is long and much more closely argued than what I’ve written. Very worth reading.

119 replies
  1. 1
    hellslittlestangel says:

    … it’s not clear to me why outing him seems to have been such a big deal to those agencies … It’s possible that he was doing more than what is publicly available, and that those additional activities were much more sensitive.

    Another possibility, although a far-fetched one in oligarchic America — you don’t expose undercover operatives as a matter of principle.

  2. 2
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    I have the sense that I still don’t fully understand this situation,

    that makes me feel a little better about my own confusion, but I haven’t sat down to actually read much about it yet

    It’s not at all clear why Devin Nunes, Trump, and others claim that knowing who this person is will undercut the Mueller investigation. They have claimed a connection between him and the Steele dossier, but

    they’re trying to do with “dossier” what they did to varying degrees of success with “emails” or “Wall Street Speeches” (and Benghazi and Solyndra and….), a shibboleth that suggests corruption or illegality or… something, without anyone ever having to explain the details

  3. 3
    Bobby Thomson says:

    Will this be prosecuted the way Valerie Plame’s outing was?

    Badly? No, I’m guessing not at all.

  4. 4
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Bobby Thomson:

    Badly? No, I’m guessing not at all.

    JFC

  5. 5
  6. 6
    hellslittlestangel says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: No spy! No spy! You’re the spy!

  7. 7
    tobie says:

    Thanks, Cheryl, for digging into this. I’m so disgusted at how Trumpov & Co have been peddling the line that this source was planted by the FBI to spy on the campaign. Costa in his usual mealy-mouth way said on TV that there was no confirmation of this, though he could’t bring himself to say this was likely untrue.

  8. 8
    smintheus says:

    It’s not at all clear why Devin Nunes, Trump, and others claim that knowing who this person is will undercut the Mueller investigation.

    It’s all about Giblets showing that he can force the FBI to do his bidding. If an informant isn’t safe from his lordly wrath, then nobody working for the FBI is. But you never quite know with Giblets where fantasy ends and reality begins.

  9. 9
    Brachiator says:

    It’s not at all clear why Devin Nunes, Trump, and others claim that knowing who this person is will undercut the Mueller investigation.

    Nunes is an idiot. But he is strangely loyal to Trump. Or, he takes orders from the part of Republican leadership that says Trump must be protected no matter what.

    And so, Nunes has no problem with actions that might damage FBI investigative methods, or FBI personnel who are not absolutely loyal to Trump.

    I don’t think it matters that these attacks make no sense, or may have unexpected consequences. People may not have thought this through.

  10. 10

    @tobie: If this is an accurate account of what Nunes wants to reveal, Halper had no part in the campaign. He was an outsider who talked to a few of the Trump people. Which is one way to size up whatever might have been going on with the Russians. But he was never inside the campaign, from everything I’ve read. So Trump has that all wrong, like so many other things. But Nunes will use it because he is a tool.

  11. 11
    Adam L Silverman says:

    Here’s the short version of what happened:
    He got wrapped up in this meshugas after observing Flynn at an intel conference being held by a group he was involved in at Cambridge. This was in 2014. He was troubled that Flynn was cozied up to by a female Russian student of the womanly persuasion who attended the conference. And reached out to his US intel contacts as a result. Remember those creepy tweets Flynn sent to that Russian grad student where he signed them “General Misha”? That was the result of this. Classic honeypot dangle. Though I doubt Flynn had an affair with her.

    Anyhow, eventually Halper and two of his British colleagues, including a former head of either MI5 or MI6 (can’t remember which right now), got so concerned about Russian involvement with this symposium/center at Cambridge and their conferences, that they very publicly quit. The Cambridge Analytica/SCL folks at Cambridge were involved with the same symposium/center. This was widely reported on last year.

    Apparently, Papdapolous and Page both attended these conferences and he was either asked to or volunteered to make contact and report back. Eventually he also reached out to Clovis.

  12. 12
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Bobby Thomson: @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷: Falls within the Special Counsel’s authorizations. And there is a clear Federal law from the late 1980s that delineates why exposing this person is a crime and a grave threat to national security.

  13. 13
    Jeffro says:

    To me, it’s pretty clear why they want to help this person: they need someone to blame as a plant, a source, an informant, anything that will delegitimize the Mueller investigation as politically motivated from the start.

    They have no other way to go. As dumb as they are, the Trumpov campaign/administration is already at least somewhat/significantly aware of what Mueller knows to this point… and it ain’t good .

    They are basically going all in on a countertops inspection of this poor guy

  14. 14
    Another Scott says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: That’s my impression as well.

    Just yell “Corruption™” and so forth enough times and it becomes accepted wisdom. It worked almost well enough for St. Bernard.

    Grr…

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  15. 15
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @tobie: There was no spy planted in the campaign. There is this informant from outside the campaign. If there was an informant inside the campaign, as in someone who went and contacted the FBI because they were concerned with what was going, that would still not be a spy. Also, there’s no indication that someone from inside the campaign went to the FBI because they were concerned with what was going on.

  16. 16
    Jeffro says:

    @Brachiator: Nunes ain’t taking orders from the Republican leadership…he’s in deep with/co mpromised by Russia and his business interests, now compounded by the lengths he has gone to cover for fellow traitor Trumpov.

    I have no doubt he’s going to face charges eventually.

  17. 17

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Also, there’s no indication that someone from inside the campaign went to the FBI because they were concerned with what was going on.

    This cannot be emphasized too much and tells its own sad story – they were either dumb or corrupt enough to think the Russian connections were just fine.

  18. 18

    Someone here laid it out earlier – this is all for consumption by the MAGAts. Chaff/flare, heat and light for distraction.

  19. 19
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Or both. I think a lot it was both. And we know it isn’t just the Russian connections. We also now know it was UAE and Saudi connections. And PRC connections – both because of Prince and because of who holds a significant chunk of the President’s (above board) debt.

  20. 20
    tobie says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: I happened to pass by a TV today when Sam Nunberg was on and he claimed that in the coming days it will be revealed that Halper asked someone in the campaign for a job and was trying to insinuate himself into the campaign in this fashion at the behest of the Obama administration/FBI. Nunberg is a twat and his theory is absurd, but we’re in an asymmetric information war where Trump’s supporters can say anything about the source on TV and the FBI must stay mum. I wish I were more upbeat but I feel the rightwing’s propaganda campaign is working. The conventional wisdom is that Democrats shouldn’t talk about Trump because supposedly that’s all HRC did and look where it got us. But I feel like the opposite is true. We should be screaming from the rafters that democracy is under threat as the President attacks the rule of law and the Republican Congress does nothing.

  21. 21
    Adam L Silverman says:

    McCarthy was never too bright to begin with, but planning a Tuesday afternoon of the plastic sporks seems kind of stupid at this point:

  22. 22
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @tobie: I think you mean Sam Nunberg. Sam Nunn was a US senator and is now a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution focusing on non-proliferation issues.

  23. 23
    tobie says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Sorry if I wasn’t clear…I wasn’t saying the source was a plant. I was saying that it’s disturbing to see how much traction Trump’s spin on this has had.

  24. 24
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @tobie:

    I wish I were more upbeat but I feel the rightwing’s propaganda campaign is working.

    Why?

  25. 25
    tobie says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Yikes, horrible name confusion on my part!

  26. 26
    Another Scott says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Why not both?

    Reuters:

    After the Nov. 8 election, Kushner and Flynn also discussed with Kislyak the idea of creating a back channel between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin that could have bypassed diplomats and intelligence agencies, two of the sources said. Reuters was unable to determine how those discussions were conducted or exactly when they took place.

    Reuters was first to report last week that a proposal for a back channel was discussed between Flynn and Kislyak as Trump prepared to take office. The Washington Post was first to report on Friday that Kushner participated in that conversation.

    Separately, there were at least 18 undisclosed calls and emails between Trump associates and Kremlin-linked people in the seven months before the Nov. 8 presidential election, including six calls with Kislyak, sources told Reuters earlier this month. . Two people familiar with those 18 contacts said Flynn and Kushner were among the Trump associates who spoke to the ambassador by telephone. Reuters previously reported only Flynn’s involvement in those discussions.

    Six of the sources said there were multiple contacts between Kushner and Kislyak but declined to give details beyond the two phone calls between April and November and the post-election conversation about setting up a back channel. It is also not clear whether Kushner engaged with Kislyak on his own or with other Trump aides.

    Etc., etc.

    They’re corrupt and stupid. Both.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  27. 27
    Corner Stone says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Say what?

  28. 28
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I like that they think “forcing” Dems to vote for Pelosi is going to be a measurable
    effect or incentive to anyone.

  29. 29
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @tobie:

    I wish I were more upbeat but I feel the rightwing’s propaganda campaign is working.

    How do you figure?

  30. 30

    @Another Scott: Yes, I should have omitted “either.”

  31. 31
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    So this probably isn’t to go away like Nunes thinks it will in other words.

  32. 32
    Luthe says:

    And now Verizon is throttling my data usage since my lack of WiFi is causing me to use so much bandwidth. Will my suffering never end?

  33. 33
    tobie says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: The tightening of the polls regarding which party should control Congress is, for me, one sign that Republicans who had misgivings about Trump are coming home. The general sense I get in my conservative district is that people feel the Mueller investigation has gone on too long and not shown any serious crimes, so we should all move along. This is my impression listening to my neighbors and I could be wrong. My neighbors also are not a representative sample. The one good piece of news I’ve heard recently is that registration among young voters has risen dramatically. That’s encouraging.

  34. 34
    chris says:

    This is going to get interesting. According to his Wiki page Halper has very deep and dirty Republican roots which might make it difficult to call him Dem spy. On the other hand, right at the bottom of the page, there’s a table showing that Halper was paid one meelion dollars! by the US government for classified reasons between 2012 and 2017. Bet the shitgibbon will try and declassify pdq. (If it’s real, this is Wikipedia,)

  35. 35
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @tobie: You want me to fix it?

  36. 36
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷: Damn! We are on the same page for once…

  37. 37
    tobie says:

    @Adam L Silverman: That would be great. Thanks.

  38. 38
    trollhattan says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Proponents of the strategy say that triggering a leadership election before midterms would force Democrats into an uncomfortable position of voting for — or against — Pelosi for speaker, which Republicans would then use against them on the campaign trail.

    On what planet does that even begin to make sense? Okay, forget for a moment this is a planet that contains one(1) “President Trump.” Still.

  39. 39
    Libraryguy says:

    Hi all,

    6 people have helped Woodstock Reveries out with our emergency fundraiser (landlord issue / unpaid bills), and thank you to all of them!

    We still need about $130 more. I’m sending around the hat if anyone wants something hand-made and beautiful. We’re here.

    Thank you all so much!!

  40. 40
    Another Scott says:

    @MisterForkbeard: LOLGOP:

    Paul Ryan. The only American who Republicans want to retire sooner.

    Heh. Funny, that.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  41. 41
    Platonailedit says:

    For all the touted powers of all the 3 lettered IC’s, it is disappointing that all these traitors and their enablers are still moving around freely and openly, still spewing lies and gaslighting an entire nation for over an year now. Except for an unknown foreign minion who got a slap in the wrist, all these scums are still out in the open shows the whole system of checks and balances is just a facade.

  42. 42
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Corner Stone: @trollhattan: Apparently McCarthy, who has ingratiated himself with the President by sending him candy among other things, thinks that if he pressures Ryan out now, somehow this will end badly for the Democratic caucus in the House because they’ll be forced to vote for Pelosi for speaker. If they vote for her, he’ll have negative campaign ads all teed up for the midterms for the GOP because the Democrats want that evil San Francisco liberal Pelosi. If they vote against her, then he’s got negative campaign ads all teed up for the midterms for the GOP because the Democrats are scared to tell the truth and vote for that evil San Francisco liberal Pelosi.

    I don’t think McCarthy understands the cunning flaw in his plan. Which is that the GOP caucus has the majority, therefore if he forces Ryan out now and there’s a vote for a new speaker, the vote will be for him, for Jim Jordan of the Freedom Caucus, or for Steve Scalise the GOP majority whip. If you had 144 of this guy, you’d have gross stupidity.

  43. 43
    Ruckus says:

    @Brachiator:

    People may not have thought this through.

    One of the things that sets this entire group of idiots apart is that they seem to think that if they do something it must be smart. They don’t think things through in a logical manner, it’s like they see a whole pie they want, they eat it. They don’t look at it from the standpoint that they have diabetes and they have to actually account for what they are eating/doing. It’s a childish way of looking at the world. Of course most of these people are far into adulthood and should have figured out consequences long ago. But many of them, like drumpf, have never really had to deal with the consequences of their lack of understanding, skills, intelligence, maturity. In the past their money or contacts protected them, and while it will for a while this time as well, they now are playing at the highest level and gross stupidity and bravado will not make up for ignoring the rules of the game.

  44. 44
    Just one more canuck says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I’m sorry, but what am I missing? Even if Ryan steps down early, why would Pelosi run for speaker when republicans control the house? This seems like Wile E Coyote level sooper geenyus strategy, unless, like I said, I’m missing something

  45. 45
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷: No. If he was the leak, or was involved with the leak – as in gave it to one of his staff and they leaked it – that isn’t covered under his limited immunity as an elected member of Congress.

    However, I’m not even sure there’s a leak at this point. Chuck Ross at the Daily Caller speculated that it was this guy back in March. Now there might be a leak behind that or it just might be good deductive reasoning based on what was being reported elsewhere.

  46. 46
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @chris: He was a consultant for the Office of Net Assessment, which is the DOD’s premier internal think tank. That’s where the pay comes from.

  47. 47
    Another Scott says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Yeah, it’s hard to see that the GOP caucus is more unified than they were in 2015:

    McCarthy (R-Calif.) announced his surprise decision at a meeting of House Republicans who gathered to select their candidate for speaker ahead of the official floor vote scheduled for Oct. 29. McCarthy was widely expected to win the support of his colleagues.

    Instead he emerged to declare: “We need a fresh face.” McCarthy said at a news conference that he did not want to burden his members with a tough vote for speaker.

    “I don’t want to go to the floor and win with 220 votes,” he said. “I think the best thing for our party right now is that you have 247 votes on the floor.”

    With his wife at his side, he said his decision was about promoting unity. “If we’re going to unite and be strong, we need a new face to help do that. So nothing more than that.”

    McCarthy’s candidacy to succeed the retiring Boehner (R-Ohio) was damaged in recent days by a public gaffe — a television interview in which he seemed to suggest that the Select Committee on Benghazi, the panel assembled by Republicans to investigate the 2012 attacks on U.S. facilities in Libya, was intended to damage Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential poll numbers.

    “Well, that wasn’t helpful. I could have said it much better,” McCarthy acknowledged after dropping out of the race. “That’s part of the decision as well.” McCarthy said he will remain in his post as majority leader and seek reelection in 2016.

    Heh. Maybe someone will ask him about the (evergreen) Benghazi Hearings again.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  48. 48
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @tobie: Done!

  49. 49
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:
    We’re not often in disagreement? We’re Democrats, aren’t we? //

  50. 50
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Just one more canuck: McCarthy is the guy who, among other things, was caught on tape early in the ’16 campaign saying trump was on the take from Russia, and pointed to the ‘success’ of the Benghazi hearings because they drove down HRC’s popularity numbers. He’s probably dumb enough to be sincere when he flatters trump

  51. 51
    chris says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Ah! Thank you.

  52. 52
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Platonailedit: The Intelligence Community doesn’t do prosecutions, they do intelligence: collection, analysis, and counterintelligence. Trust me, you don’t want any more commingling of the intelligence agencies, Federal law enforcement, and the Department of Justice than we already have.

  53. 53
  54. 54
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Just one more canuck: This is my comment at #42:

    Apparently McCarthy, who has ingratiated himself with the President by sending him candy among other things, thinks that if he pressures Ryan out now, somehow this will end badly for the Democratic caucus in the House because they’ll be forced to vote for Pelosi for speaker. If they vote for her, he’ll have negative campaign ads all teed up for the midterms for the GOP because the Democrats want that evil San Francisco liberal Pelosi. If they vote against her, then he’s got negative campaign ads all teed up for the midterms for the GOP because the Democrats are scared to tell the truth and vote for that evil San Francisco liberal Pelosi.

    I don’t think McCarthy understands the cunning flaw in his plan. Which is that the GOP caucus has the majority, therefore if he forces Ryan out now and there’s a vote for a new speaker, the vote will be for him, for Jim Jordan of the Freedom Caucus, or for Steve Scalise the GOP majority whip. If you had 144 of this guy, you’d have gross stupidity.

  55. 55
    Jay says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    Not dumb, corrupt, but also treasonous.

  56. 56
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Just play along with a joke once in your life

  57. 57
    LosGatosCA says:

    Have Wittes and his co-author ever heard of Valerie Plame?

    Rather than a precedent setting event, it’s actually a Republican Party trend.

    Here’s the deal, simplistic but true, there is NOTHING Republicans won’t due to maintain their hold on or obtain power. NOTHING. No traditions, courtesy, common sense, honor, law, customs, morality draws a line for them. Espionage to sabotage Democratic presidents extends back to Nixon. Outing intelligence sources extends only back to Bush/Cheney. Even Cohen was preceded by Abramoff.

    The only things new with Trump are the financial corruption leading to foreign interference directly in our elections.

  58. 58
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Platonailedit: Did you ever take a single Government course in college?

  59. 59
    Corner Stone says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: This is what happens…

  60. 60
    Corner Stone says:

    @LosGatosCA: Ben Wittes is very dumb. Not just kind of dumb, but extremely not bright. People keep pointing to him and thinking he’s not dumb but actually he is quite dumb. He’s dumb.

  61. 61
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷: Indicate that you have a sense of humor, and I will try, Over-earnest undergrads and ?

  62. 62
    Jay says:

    @Platonailedit:

    They’re not allowed to drone non-coloured Americans abroad, or any Americans at home.

  63. 63
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Platonailedit:

    There’s this thing called “evidence”. And you need to get all your ducks in a row if you’re a prosecutor/investigator before you start throwing around accusations and arresting people. I’m not saying these guys are innocent; they’re not. I’m sure Mueller and the relevant authorities already have a lot of evidence of their crimes.

  64. 64
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    God you’re so obtuse

  65. 65
    Ruckus says:

    It seems that a lot of people are very, very skittish that this investigation will end up no where and is taking way, way too long. As EFG has repeatedly said Watergate took 2 yrs from start to finish and the evidence and the crime was effectively much less than we have here, with fewer main players and no foreign governments involved. This is a big deal historically, yes it’s crap, yes it would be nice to be over in six weeks but we want this to be rock solid, to have everyone involved caught and tried. We’ve already had some guilty pleas, the noose is tightening and while a lot of the people who might make this easier in a normal world/time are themselves involved, like Nunes, things are going forward. If that fails, we will really have a constitutional crisis on our hands but that hasn’t happened yet. We have to let this work itself out, run it’s course and see what happens. At least in the end, no matter which way it goes, we will know who are the good guys and who isn’t. That’s when it’s time to either celebrate or run screaming.

  66. 66
    Another Scott says:

    In other news, RawStory:

    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was hospitalized in the West Bank on Sunday, doctors and Palestinian officials said, giving conflicting accounts of the leader’s condition.

    It is the third time Abbas, 82, has been hospitalized in less than a week. He is expected to stay at least overnight.

    Abbas underwent minor ear surgery on Tuesday but went back into al-Istishari Hospital in Ramallah briefly overnight on Saturday/Sunday, the official Palestinian news agency Wafa said.

    He was then rushed back later on Sunday, for what doctors described only as “medical tests”.

    Dr. Saed al-Sarahneh, medical director of the hospital, spoke outside the private hospital late Sunday, saying that Abbas had entered in the morning “for medical tests after the surgery he had three days ago in his middle ear. All the tests are normal and his medical condition is reassuring.”

    The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which is headed by Abbas, said on its Twitter account that Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat had visited the leader in hospital and quoted Erekat as saying: “the President is in good health”.

    An aide to Erekat said that Abbas had talked and joked with him, and that Abbas was expected to leave hospital tomorrow or the day after.

    One Palestinian official in Ramallah said Abbas had gone back in because of complications after Tuesday’s ear surgery. Abbas had been running a high temperature, he said, “so doctors advised that he go back into hospital”.

    However, a source at al-Istishari hospital said the president’s condition was unrelated to the ear operation.

    “The president will stay in hospital until tomorrow. He is being given antibiotics to treat an inflammation in the chest,” said the hospital source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he or she was not authorized to speak with the media.

    Abbas, a heavy smoker, was hospitalized in the United States for medical checks in February during a trip to address the U.N. Security Council.

    […]

    It’s rarely good when the elderly are hospitalized. Especially when the hospitalizations come in such frequency. The Palestinian leadership doesn’t need a transition struggle right now, but transitions rarely come at convenient times.

    I wonder if Jared has been in touch with him recently… (groucho-roll-eyes.gif)

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  67. 67
    Corner Stone says:

    @Adam L Silverman: ISTM that there is just a raw grasp for rapidly fleeting power going on here. The idea that Pelosi is……..God, I don’t even know how to finish that sentence.

  68. 68
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷: Go read the thread below.

    ETA: I remember being an earnest undergrad.

  69. 69
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Corner Stone: Get a fucking grip. Why are you losing it?

  70. 70
    Jay says:

    @Ruckus:

    “So this hasn’t been an easy year for Mueller, but it’s certainly been productive. Since the first indictments came down in the investigation last fall, the special counsel has racked up five guilty pleas and 14 indictments of individuals.1 He also reportedly gave a referral to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York that led to a raid on the office, home and hotel room of presidential lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, which has turned into its own separate investigation.”

    https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/how-muellers-first-year-compares-to-watergate-iran-contra-and-whitewater/

    “We’ve taken a look at how Mueller’s first year measures up against the initial 12 months of other special counsel and independent counsel investigations. In terms of the number of charges he’s been able to file, Mueller is moving quickly. At one year after the formal appointment of a special or independent counsel, only the Watergate special prosecution force had obtained more indictments and guilty pleas.”

  71. 71
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I prefer “optimistic realist”. I’m not a Berner-or-Buster. Give me some credit.

  72. 72
    Corner Stone says:

    @Another Scott: Did he also get a boob job renewal?

  73. 73
    Ruckus says:

    @Corner Stone:
    If you can find the switch for logic in your brain, turn it off. Because otherwise you are going to give yourself an aneurysm trying to make any sense of it. Because it makes no logical sense in any way, shape or form. None. Nada. Or as might be appropriate, given the source of your confusion, никто.

  74. 74
    Corner Stone says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I hope for your sake that’s a song lyric I am unfamiliar with.

  75. 75
    burnspbesq says:

    McCarthy is from Bakersfield and Nunes is from Fresno.

    I guess that makes Highway 99 the Axis of Evil.

  76. 76
    Ruckus says:

    @Jay:
    And?

  77. 77
    Ruckus says:

    @burnspbesq:
    I see you must not have driven 99 a lot or you’d already known that.

  78. 78
    burnspbesq says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Moron. Wittes knows his shit. You never have and never will.

  79. 79
    Ruckus says:

    Help! Help!
    I have a comment stuck in WP hell. I think it didn’t like a word I typed in Russian.

  80. 80
    Corner Stone says:

    @burnspbesq: He’s dumb. Extremely not bright.

  81. 81
    burnspbesq says:

    @Ruckus:

    Twice in the last 15 years, once to go to Yosemite and once when the Duke women’s basketball team played at Fresno State.

  82. 82
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Corner Stone: If not, you will destroy me how?

  83. 83
    burnspbesq says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Repetition is not improving the abysmal quality of your argument. You might want to consider putting a sock in it.

  84. 84
    J R in WV says:

    @ Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) :

    Someone once accused me of belonging to a political organization.

    That’s not true, it’s a stinkin’ lie!

    I’m a member of the Democratic Party!!!

  85. 85
    Corner Stone says:

    @burnspbesq: He’s dumb. Not really all that bright.

  86. 86
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Ruckus: I freed it.

  87. 87
    Corner Stone says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Don’t really plan on it, in any event. Just not sure what the hell you’re talking about.

  88. 88
    Mary G says:

    @Adam L Silverman: It seems to me that there is at least a chance that they will try this, Nancy SMASH will have the Democrats put up a couple of nominees, and have them bad-mouth her, while the Republicans, who couldn’t even whip the freaking farm bill this week, split between Kevin and one of the whackaloon brothers in the “Freedom” caucus. They vote, and every D votes for Nancy at the last second, giving her the gavel.

    OK, it’s fan fiction, but these guys are so incompetent…

  89. 89
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @J R in WV:
    You get the joke

  90. 90
    mad citizen says:

    @tobie: yes! Dems should be on the offensive screaming !

  91. 91
    Ruckus says:

    @burnspbesq:
    That explains it. I’ve driven up and down it quite a bit more, so I’m more familiar. Not that I wanted to be more familiar, but there you go. Once while driving back from NorCal at something like 2am I drove by a parked CHP car with a woman officer looking like she was slumped at the wheel. As the traffic was non existent it was anyones guess if she’d been there 1 minute or 2 hrs. I stopped to find out that she had written a ticket and was just doing her paperwork. But given that it was 99, at 2am, one never knows.

  92. 92
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mary G: They’re going to have to deal with whatever the Senate sends them as a farm bill, which will cause the Freedom Caucus nuts to go into even more revolt. House GOP leadership is also trying to stave off an attempt by moderate GOP representatives teaming with the Democrats to bring a DACA fix and moderate immigration reform bill through a discharge position. And, apparently, they’re considering trying a third shot at taking down the ACA by trying to cram through a budget resolution that would put ACA repeal into reconciliation again. They’ve got plenty of stuff to bog them down without McCarthy’s sill idea.

  93. 93
    Ruckus says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    Thanks!
    If it was the Russian, I can’t tell if that makes WP better for not allowing it, or worse for trying to hide it.

  94. 94
    Jay says:

    @Ruckus:

    Adding on to your excellent post in these days of panic, doom and gloom, with a 538 comparison that covers far more than the Rethug’s Greatest Criminal Hits.

  95. 95
    Platonailedit says:

    @tobie:

    We should be screaming from the rafters that democracy is under threat as the President attacks the rule of law and the Republican Congress does nothing.

    Except for Maxine Waters (from day one), Ted Lieu and Adam Schiff (and occasional Pelosi), not seeing so called dem leaders doing it.

  96. 96
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Platonailedit:

    Aren’t they the main Dem leadership in Congress? I think Jerry Brown has said some stuff too.

  97. 97
    Jay says:

    @Platonailedit:

    Screaming from the rafters is a rethug tactic.

    Lots and lot’s of Democratic Party Representatives and Senator’s are speaking out. The MSM rarely reports it and there is a lot more things going foul in Denmark, oops, sorry Denmark, the USA, than Трамп’s/Russia.

  98. 98
    Ruckus says:

    @Jay:
    Thought so, wasn’t sure. Thanks.

  99. 99
    Mary G says:

    @Platonailedit: DiFi’s been tweeting a lot lately:

    The president's statement indicating that he will order the Justice Department to investigate the FBI could not be more disturbing and reiterates his deep contempt for the rule of law.— Sen Dianne Feinstein (@SenFeinstein) May 21, 2018

  100. 100
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @Platonailedit: Aside from the fact that you just mentioned several prominent leaders (in some cases, THE leaders) of the Democratic Party…

    Though really, Dems aren’t allowed to do this. Just witness how Maxine Waters is treated – Republicans all call her crazy and the media just nods sagely and agrees she’s not civil. Republicans (meanwhile) do this shit constantly and are rewarded for it with more and more attention and consideration.

  101. 101
    Jay says:

    @MisterForkbeard:

    “There are endless variants of this, most notably “why does the Democrat Party only talk about PUTIN?” from the anti-anti-Trump “left.” And plenty of “why won’t the Dems offer anything but being anti-Trump?” As Greg Sargent says, it’s all bullshit:”

    http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblo.....ing-series

    In this day and age, it’s a good idea to familiarize oneself with the various Ususal Suspects bullshit anti-Democratic Party memes and Catch-22’s.

  102. 102
    Suffragettecity says:

    People need to stop pretending Trump, Nunes may not understand what they are doing
    They know exactly what they are doing.
    The rest of us just do not know the full extent of why.

  103. 103
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @Jay: Yeah, I’m aware. It was the same thing during the 2016 election when I heard people say “Why doesn’t Hillary talk about policy? Like health care, or financial regulation, or minimum wage?” And the thing is – she DID. More than any other candidate. But it didn’t get covered and the media wanted to pretend she had ‘no reason’ to be president.

    EDIT: Even better, when presented with facts that proved Hillary HAD actually done the things these people talked about, they said “Well, she probably doesn’t mean it.”

  104. 104
    rikyrah says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:
    You and Silverman sort of tickle me, then anger me at your unwillingness to call the spade a spade:

    TREASON against the United States of America.

    It really does piss me off, at the continued attempts to walk around what is completely obvious. Especially since I know that 44 or Hillary would have been given none of the benefit of the doubt.
    There👏are👏simply👏not👏enough👏coincidences👏in👏the👏Western👏World👏

  105. 105
    rikyrah says:

    @Suffragettecity:
    Thank you!!!
    They phucking know what they are doing!😠

  106. 106
    Procopius says:

    It would have been good practice for the Trumpies to have notified the FBI themselves when they were contacted by Russians, …

    See, this is what I have not been able to understand. Before Hillary lost, why would anyone have contacted the FBI just because a Russian spoke to them or offered a business deal? We aren’t at war with them, although Hillary had her people making all sorts of provocations and there was clearly an effort to re-start the Cold War by the Obama administration. Americans seem not to be able to remember what the world around them was like two weeks ago.

  107. 107
    Corner Stone says:

    @rikyrah: I honestly keep wondering why there does not seem to be an acknowledgment about a few things.

    BTW, Ben Wittes is dumb. He’s just not all that smart.

  108. 108
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @Procopius: You mean, aside from when the FBI themselves told the Trump campaign to watch out for russians trying to talk to them? I mean, ASIDE from the obvious fact of “Russians are offering to give me dirt on my opponent, maybe I should worry about that?”

    OF COURSE someone would have contacted the FBI if they were part of Trump’s campaign and started getting approached by Russians. Hell, Stefan Halper appears to have done so because HE thought this kind of thing was suspicious.

  109. 109
    Corner Stone says:

    @MisterForkbeard You going to get into a land war in Asia next?

  110. 110
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @Corner Stone: Yeah. Forgot who I was talking to.

  111. 111
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    although Hillary had her people making all sorts of provocations and there was clearly an effort to re-start the Cold War by the Obama administration.

    not bad, but I like a bit of humor in my parody trolls

  112. 112
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Procopius:
    Aside from what MisterForkbeard said, it is illegal in the United States to accept aid of any kind from foreigners or foreign governments for obvious reasons.

    was clearly an effort to re-start the Cold War by the Obama administration.

    There already is a cold war happening. Putin wasn’t a nice, innocent man being harangued by Obama; he’s a ruthless autocrat who wishes to restore the old USSR territories, aside from enriching himself. He wants to destroy the West because aside from China, nobody else is capable of stopping his ambitions.

  113. 113
    Platonailedit says:

    @Procopius:

    why would anyone have contacted the FBI just because a Russian spoke to them or offered a business deal?

    Umm, there is a big difference between ‘anyone’ and the traitor’s campaign team of corrupt thugs, toots.

    Of course, given your level of trollish understanding of what happened, the rest of your post is just as stupid.

  114. 114
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @rikyrah: I can’t speak for Cheryl, but I’ve been very clear that what we’re dealing with, and what Mueller is investigating, especially with the counterintelligence portion of his investigation, is conspiracy against the United States.

  115. 115
    Sherparick says:

    @Adam L Silverman: This is a problem when all you do is watch, listen, & read the Right-wing media machine. You star believing you own memes.

  116. 116

    @rikyrah: I think I’ve been clear, but I choose not to use that word. Why?

    1) It has a technical meaning. Even those who have been indicted, have not been indicted for treason, but rather something like “conspiring against the United States,” along with things like bank fraud and money laundering. “Conspiring against the US” is applicable to non-citizens too. So I’ll probably use that phrase as things progress.

    2) I feel my job here is to explain things. In general, I prefer to be specific about what is going on. Both of those argue against using a sweeping conclusion like “treason.”

    3) I agree that there are not enough coincidences in the world to explain the unprecedented number of meetings with Russians and other related actions. I think that what is public knowledge would justify impeachment if we had a Republican Congress that was more interested in the stability of the country than in their own asses. But the public evidence isn’t enough for a court case, except in the case of the indictments, and obviously not enough to push the Republican Congress to what they should be doing. I don’t think that more people yelling “treason” is going to do it either.

    So I’ll continue not using that word until it becomes part of an indictment or impeachment. I hope this explanation helps.

  117. 117
    Jay says:

    @Procopius:

    LMFAO at the pathetic trolling.

    There’s these things called Election Laws in the US. campaigns are supposed to be familiar ith them and follow them.

    As any Rethug should know, because they made unsubstantiated accusations against multiple Democratic Party campaigns about it for decades, it’s illegal for a campaign to take donations, in kind contributions, or any assistance from foreign nationals and/or foreign governments.

  118. 118
    glory b says:

    @tobie: This weekend, I caught him on msnbc, he was giving the name and talking about how unfair it was that the hundreds of millions of dollars the Clintons laundered through their bogus charity isn’t being investigated and all of the “young people” Stone is employing have been frightened away and intimidated.

    He also talked lots of smack about Andrew Weismann. Man, they are REALLY afraid of him.

    I remember LAO mentioned that she had dealings with him before.

  119. 119
    glory b says:

    @mad citizen: I heard Joan Walsh on the radio, she said the plan is to avoid Russia talk and pound on the corruption angle.

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