Offense, Not Defense

Hat that says: "DOWN WITH THIS SORT OF THING"

If nothing changes, there’s a good chance Trump’s attempt to “both-sides” the Ukraine extortion scandal away will work. Trump tweet-screamed about FAKE NEWS, THE REAL STORY and SPIES all of yesterday and is at it again today, now with the full Fox News/GOP elected officials chorus.

Someone made a slick video ad for him that intersperses clips of mainstream media yapping heads (NYT’s Ken Vogel [see here], ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, NBC’s Brian Williams, etc.), all breathlessly speculating about the propriety of Hunter Biden raking in money abroad while his father was VP.

The ad also features a clip of Biden as VP bragging about giving the Ukrainian government an ultimatum to fire the (corrupt!) prosecutor within “six hours” or kiss billion-dollar loan guarantees bye-bye. If you’re not aware of the context (and remember, maybe 3% of Americans are aware of the context), it’s the most both-sidesiest thing ever. Read more








Here Are Your Representatives On Impeachment

We’ve got a lively discussion going on impeachment already this morning. If you want to know if your representative supports impeachment, you can put your zip code in the blank at this website and find out.

Press your representative hard if they’re a “no.” Send them good words if they’re a “yes.” At Ben Ray Lujan’s town hall a couple of weeks back, he seemed very reluctant about impeachment, even though he has come out in favor of moving forward.

Republicans can and should support impeachment too. Don’t give up just because your rep is a Republican.








Late-Night Open Thread – Joe Biden Strikes Back!

Biden has a nice ad out in response to Trump’s and Giuliani’s attempts at smearing him.

Good to see a Democrat fighting back for a change!

 








Ken Vogel Has a Bullshit Story To Tell That Will Help the President and He Would Appreciate It if the President and Rudy Giuliani Would Shut Up Because They Are Screwing Up His Work!

Ken Vogel has a bullshit story to tell about Vice President Biden and his son Hunter Biden that would help the President’s reelection chances. Vogel’s story is bullshit, but he’s very upset that the President and Rudy Giuliani just won’t shut up long enough so that Vogel can peddle his bullshit.

Former FBI Special Agent specializing in counterintelligence Asha Rangappa summarizes Vogel’s efforts very, very well.

How do we know the story that Vogel, as well as the President and Rudy Giuliani, are peddling is bullshit? Because two different publications, The Washington Post and The Intercept have debunked it.

And we know where this disinformation comes from, Russian government media outlets. And they started pushing it all the way back in 2014 most likely because most people reasonably assumed Vice President Biden, as the incumbent vice president would run to succeed President Obama positioning his campaign as a third Obama term (see the dates in the third tweet below). This also shows that Putin’s planning to interfere in US politics and the 2016 presidential election through information warfare goes farther back then has been previously recognized.

There’s another piece to the puzzle that debunks Vogel’s, the President’s, and Giuliani’s bullshit disinformation that they lifted whole cloth from Putin’s information warfare campaign against the United States – the legal and Federal professional ethics piece. And here too, even if everything Vogel, the President, and Giuliani are alleging were true, which it isn’t as both the facts and the timelines do not line up, there is no there there. Here’s a deep dive into these issues to answer a question asked by former Federal prosecutor Ken White, who tweets and blogs as Popehat.

And the response from courtesy of the Thread Reader Ap:

asked if anyone had done a law-based deep dive into the allegations that Biden somehow did something legally impermissible (i.e., conflict of interest) by being involved in the Ukraine prosecutor negotiations. I decided to look into it. BLUF: No /Tweetstorm
First off, the general financial conflict of interest laws that generally prohibit Federal employees from participating in matters in which they have financial interests (namely 18 USC.208) expressly do not apply to the Vice President (nor the President). 18 USC 202(c)
Moreover, w/r/t family members of executive branch employees, the primary financial conflict of interest statute only prohibits employees from participating in particular matters in which the employee, their spouse, or their MINOR children have a financial interest. 18 USC 208(a)
So, even assuming for the sake of argument that the conflict of interest statute applied to the VP & even if the departure of the prosecutor were to have had an impact on Hunter’s finances (which all reputable reports suggest was an impossibility given the timeline of events)…
the VP’s involvement in discussions re: the prosecutor still would not have constituted a criminal conflict of interest because Hunter was obviously not a MINOR child at the time.
That said, if the Federal conflict of interest laws did apply to the VP, the fact that a criminal conflict didn’t exist under the statute wouldn’t have ended the legal analysis…
Federal employees are also subject to Standards of Ethical Conduct, which are set out in broader regulations issued by the Office of Govt Ethics. 5 CFR 2635.
Under the Standards of Ethical Conduct, Federal employees generally should recuse themselves from participating in certain matters even if there is no prohibited financial conflict of interest under 18 USC 208.
Under 5 CFR 2635.502, an employee is generally required to recuse when there is a “particular matter involving specific parties, the employee has a “covered relationship” (such as a close family) and a reasonable person would question their impartiality.
Applying this here, even if it were true (its not!) that the prosecutor was investigating the company Biden’s son was involved with at the time that Biden was engaged in discussions re: the prosecutor’s removal, its not clear that this rule would be directly applicable here…
The rule, by its terms, only applies to “particular matters involving specific parties,” which is intentionally narrow and applies to specific proceedings affecting the legal rights of the parties or transactions between identified parties. 5 CFR 2640.102(1).
Examples of such matters are particular contracts, grants, product approval applications, litigation, investigations, etc. Here, it seems a stretch to say that discussions re whether the prosecutor should remain in his position was a “particular matter involving specific parties”
Moreover, even if you stretched & decided it met that definition, the particular rule would not apply directly here anyway, because Biden’s son (nor even the company) was most definitely NOT a party to the matter at issue (whether the prosecutor should remain in his position)…
A caveat: there’s a catch-all provision at 5 CFR 2635.502(a)(2), acknowledging that even in other circumstances not addressed in the reg, an employee should generally recuse anytime their participation in a matter would reasonably raise a question re: their impartiality.
If Biden’s son was involved with a company under active investigation by the Ukrainian prosecutor (again, apparently this is not true!)…
I think nearly any Federal ethics official would have cited this regulation and advised the VP NOT to get involved in discussions regarding the future of the Ukrainian prosecutor, even if only to avoid creating the appearance of a potential conflict
Even still, this is very much a judgment call and even under this incredibly-strained counter-factual hypothetical, the VP’s involvement still would NOT have been a criminal violation.
In short, even if the VP wasn’t exempt from these conflict of interest laws, and even if the facts were other than they actually appear to be, Biden’s behavior still would have been lawful. /End @waltshaub @NormEisen @RWPUSA

Vogel, the President, Giuliani, even the Vice President, are all peddling this bullshit or actively involved with trying to get Ukraine’s new president and his government to assist them in ratfucking the 2020 presidential election, really ratfuck the Democratic primaries, to the President’s benefit. So we already know the cui bono or who stands to benefit piece of this active measures information warfare campaign of disinformation aimed at the American people: the President. What we don’t know, but someone really should be looking into it, is what exactly does Ken Vogel get out of this? What does he stand to benefit? The real question here is why is Vogel clearly peddling debunked Russian disinformation that was created and first used back in 2014 to help obscure Putin’s moves to scarf up Crimea, invade the Donbass, and potentially dirty up a potential Biden 2016 candidacy? Is Vogel just a useful idiot or is he actively participating in an act of information warfare begun by Putin, weaponized by Giuliani and the President, which is intended to propagandize Americans in order to achieve Putin’s strategic interests? This is the real story, not the bullshit that Vogel is pushing. Enterprising reporters and investigators should be looking into it; trying to figure out exactly why Vogel is doing this and what he is getting out of it.

Open thread!

PS: Someone should really also be looking into exactly what it is that Giuliani has been doing in Europe, especially the post Soviet states, over the better part of the past ten to fifteen years supposedly as part of his consulting work as a security expert, which he is not. Journalists and investigators should also be looking into who has been paying for whatever it is he’s been doing. It isn’t all just beer, skittles, and cuckolding Marines. And it clearly has made Giuliani a very wealthy man.

Full Disclosure: I served as the Cultural Advisor (senior civilian advisor for culture) to the Commanding General of US Army Europe under temporary assigned control (TACON) from December 2013 to June 2014 and under operational control (OPCON) from June to August 2014. The views expressed here are solely my own and do not reflect those of US Army Europe and the US Army either in 2014 or now.








Excellent Read: “Why Ex–Sanders Supporters Are Backing Warren”

Tip O’Neill always warned candidates not to neglect the voters who could be assumed to be on their side: People like to be asked.

Elaine Godfrey, at the Atlantic:

In 2016, Bernie Sanders described the Working Families Party (WFP), a grassroots progressive organization, as “the closest thing there is” to his “vision of democratic socialism.” The group endorsed him in his primary race against Hillary Clinton, and it’s grown more powerful in the past three years, as it has sought to build a multiracial populist movement nationwide. But this time around, with Sanders taking another shot for the White House, the group is throwing its weight behind someone else: Elizabeth Warren. The group’s surprising decision could be an early indicator of how progressives—including those who backed Sanders in the past—are planning to organize and vote next year.

“The political conditions are different” in this election, Maurice Mitchell, the national director of the WFP, told me earlier this week, after the group announced that Warren defeated Sanders in a vote of WFP members and leadership, earning 61 percent compared to Sanders’s 36 percent. Unlike in 2016, there is more than one progressive candidate in the race to choose from, Mitchell said. Warren “has a track record of finding that nexus between visionary structural change and also the tools to operationalize it.”

Mitchell’s reasoning echoed the sentiments of other progressive voters I’ve spoken with recently. They have affection for Sanders and appreciate what he’s done for the movement, as roughly one dozen voters explained to me this week. But Warren, they argued, is proffering a kinder, gentler version of progressivism—one that is rooted in her experience, simple to understand, and compelling enough to attract a broad swath of voters.

“She’s everything Bernie is—but a bit more electable,” said Joe Piluso, a 71-year-old former Sanders supporter and former social-services worker living in San Diego…
Read more