Breaking News: Former Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker Admits to Committing Perjury During His Public Testimony Before the House Judiciary Committee!

And there appears to have been a nascent attempt to reprise the Bush 43 US Attorneys firing scandal involved too boot! Nicholas Fandos of The New York Times has the scoop.

Update at 6:15 PM EDT

Here’s the video of Congressman Nadler’s remarks:

Discuss amongst yourselves…

Open thread!








Breaking News: Paul Manafort Indicted by Manhattan Grand Jury on 16 Counts

Paul Manafort has just been indicted by a grand jury in the City of New York!

Here’s the indictment from the City of New York. None of these charges are subject to a presidential pardon! And the prison Manafort would serve his time in if convicted of these charges in the City of New York is not Club Fed! I would also expect that similar cases will be brought against Manafort in DC. And this could also be the case for others like LTG (ret) Flynn, Roger Stone, etc.

One final item, despite what Manafort’s attorney just said that there was no collusion, Judge Jackson made clear today in court, as a finding of fact, during the sentencing that Manafort did indeed conspire with Russian intelligence during the 2016 campaign on behalf of the President. And that Manafort lied about it.

Open thread.








Paul Manafort Will Still Die in Prison

While everyone is correctly pointing out the terrible discrepancies in our criminal justice system, it is important to remember that Paul Manafort’s sentencing today is not the end of this story. Next week Manafort will appear before Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Federal district court in DC. It was Judge Jackson who ruled that Manafort had, in fact, lied, obstructed, and witness tampered in regard to the Special Counsel, his investigators, and his prosecutors post trial and conviction in her court. And it is Judge Jackson who will sentence Paul Manafort next week. Unlike Judge Ellis, who is a well known crank and who, in a properly functioning political system with two actually functional political parties concerned about the general welfare, the rule of law, and the common weal, would have been removed from the bench a long time ago, Judge Jackson is considered to be a jurist who takes her responsibilities seriously. Do not expect Judge Jackson to be lenient. And don’t expect her to ignore actual facts to state that Manafort had previously led a blameless life. Do expect her to hand down a sentence with teeth in it. It is entirely possible that Judge Ellis departed from the sentencing guidelines because he knew Judge Jackson wouldn’t. Doing something like that fits with his history of contrarianism masquerading as jurisprudence. Regardless, Paul Manafort will die in prison. And we should all be thankful for that.

Open thread!








Other felony news (NC-09 edition)

He is not the only one being charged. From the Raleigh News and Observer:

Four other people — Caitlyn E. Croom, Matthew Monroe Mathis, Tonia Gordon and Rebecca Thompson — also face charges related to absentee ballot collection in Bladen County over the past two elections, Freeman said.



Unweaving The Tangled Web

Over the weekend, Will Bunch did a great tweet stream linking Jeff Bezos, National Enquirer, the Saudis, Jamal Khashoggi, and Donald Trump, along with others. He promised he would put it into a column, and here it is. It’s more cautious than the tweet stream, but fairly interesting. He introduces a number of possibilities by asking questions, a relatively safe way to introduce thoughts that you don’t have journalistic confirmation for. They are good questions, worth keeping in mind as things proceed.

Only now is the world figuring out that making up stories to sell papers may have been the least of the sins committed by the Enquirer, which was propped up in its 1950s’ infancy by Mafia money and which later forged a close relationship with Roy Cohn, the notorious New York fixer attorney who took an up-and-coming New York developer named Donald Trump under his wing while fighting off allegations including (wait for it) extortion and blackmail.

He gives a fair bit of background. It’s not entirely clear how the Enquirer got the material on Bezos. Joel Zamel runs a company or two that do both intelligence and propaganda and may be involved in that and other areas of Trump corruption. It’s becoming clear that blackmail is a major tool of associates of Trump. The National Enquirer has been involved in information operations for Trump for some time. That’s most recently what got them in trouble – buying up stories from a Trump mistress, which amounts to hush money and not quite legal.

As a result of that, the judge gave them a lenient sentence under the condition they not violate the law again. Legal Twitter is somewhat divided, but leaning toward the latest antics being blackmail, extortion, or possibly both.

Trump thinks Bezos is an enemy because the Washington Post has not glorified his reign and has been tweeting against him for some time. So it wouldn’t be surprising if he sent his attack dog National Enquirer after him. Bezos, of course, put an end to that in his own way.

Any link between the Bezos phone hack and the Saudis or their allies (UAE, Team Trump) would be devastating — but what if de Gavin is on the trail of something darker? Like the truth behind Khashoggi’s murder? Or — given the ties between Team Trump, the Saudis, UAE and ex-Israeli intelligence that go back to the summer of 2016 — the truth behind the election of an American president?

This is what occurred to me over the weekend, as this all played out. An international ring of grifters and blackmailers has taken over several important countries, including our own.

Meanwhile, all this talk of blackmail and extortion is a reminder that two years into the Trump administration a president who promised America “the art of the deal” has instead tried to run the country the way he ran his business in the mobbed-up New York of the 1980s — with bullying, bluster, and personal threats. But when forced to play that hand over the border wall and the government shutdown recently, it failed miserably. Would it be a surprise if Trump continues to fall back on the only tactic that’s worked for him and his allies to get things done over the years, the dark art of the blackmailer?

Anyhow, read the whole thing. There’s a lot more there. Enough information is becoming available to start to build narratives of the Trump corruption and how other countries helped him in the 2016 election. But there are still lots of holes and multiple possible narratives. The questions Bunch poses are useful.

The latest New Yorker has a long article by Adam Entous and Ronan Farrow about Joel Zamel’s organizations and others, “Private Mossad For Hire,” and some of their interference in the 2016 elections.

Also, James Bamford, who has written reasonably competently about spying in the past, inadvertently demonstrates for us how disinformation works in an article in The New Republic, which finds that Maria Butina was merely an ambitious and gun-loving student who never should have been arrested. A friend of mine who knows a great deal about Soviet spying during the Cold War commented that what he sees today is complete amateurism. That amateurism could have helped to throw Bamford off the trail.