The Mueller Investigation: A Few Thoughts

 

I’ve been watching and reading the coverage of this all evening and here’s what I think is likely to happen:

  1. Whitaker will be read on to all or part of the Special Counsel’s investigation.
  2. Specifically either Rosenstein and/or Mueller will read him on to the material that shows his op-ed and remarks on CNN were pure fabrication because he has no actual idea what Mueller is doing, nor what the counterintelligence information is.
  3. They’ll also include in this whatever info they have on or got from Sam Clovis, who Whitaker used to work for and with.
  4. At that point:
    a) Whitaker will, himself, either seek a DOJ ethics section opinion on recusal and follow it or he’ll let things alone for the time being.
    b) Whitaker will do whatever he’s going to do to obstruct the Mueller investigation.

I think it is important for everyone to remember that Special Counsel Mueller has been planning for something like this to happen. As such he has contingency plans in place and for each contingency plan he has multiple sequels (to use DOD planning terminology). I would expect to see a bunch of indictments, either previously sealed ones or ones prepared and waiting to go, to be dropped in short order. I would also expect that whatever could be farmed out to the Federal prosecutorial districts, such as the Southern District of New York or the Eastern District of Virginia, as well as to the state level, such as NY state, Maryland, Virginia, and DC will be handed off to them. Whitaker will have limited ability to interfere with anything Mueller hands off or farms out to the Federal prosecutorial districts and no ability at all to interfere with state or DC prosecutions. I’m in agreement with Cheryl that the President’s response here isn’t strategic, rather it’s reflexive.

I also expect, just as we saw with Sessions, that a selected leak or two from the intel community will be quickly released as warning shots across Whitaker’s bow. You’ll recall that the intel community leaked very quickly to force Sessions to recuse himself. And it then leaked a second time regarding Sessions when it looked like he might be trying to, if not interfere with the Special Counsel’s investigation, then peer into it and see what was going on with the investigation. Both of these were warnings. Sessions recognized them as such and quickly adjusted his behavior accordingly. I expect that whatever there is on Whitaker, most likely from the fraudulent Miami patents company that he was involved with and that was fined by the US government, is being weaponized now and lined up for a quick release if a warning is needed to get Whitaker in line.

Finally, if Whitaker decides to seriously interfere with the Special Counsel’s investigation I expect that our allied and partner’s intelligence communities will start to strategically leak. A lot of them have provided the Special Counsel with the information he needs for the counterintelligence portion of his investigation, they are very, very, very worried about Putin, his intentions, his capabilities, and his behavior, as well as the apparent connections between Putin and the President’s businesses, his campaign, and his administration. They will do what they need to do to protect themselves.

So strap in, buckle up, and hold on as it’s going to be a crazy ride for the next few days. And remember that while things seem dire, every previous time it seems that the President and his catspaws were coming for Bob Mueller they failed to stop his investigation. That doesn’t mean it is safe this time, but it does mean that Special Counsel Mueller has been paying attention, has his plans in place, and will respond accordingly when he needs to do so. And, as with everything else the Special Counsel does, we won’t really know what those responses are until he makes them. He’s rigged for silent running, he has his targets selected, he’s got his firing solutions dialed in, and he will prosecute those targets on his schedule.

And if you don’t want to believe me, believe former Special Agent Asha Rangappa, who was a counterintelligence specialist at the FBI and is also an attorney.

Twelve more tweets after the jump.

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Late Night Pulped Friction: Whitey Bulger (Probably) Died As He Had Lived

The parenthetical in the title is because the first breathless news reports out of Bulger’s home town said that the corpse was ‘so badly beaten as to be unrecognizable’ — exactly the suspiciously B-movie detail that *would* finish a novelization of Whitey’s career. But the sordid truth seems to be that the old man was killed by a professional thug from the Massachusetts sticks, apparently in the hope that one more murder would bump up his own status among the other lifers.

And just as Bulger survived to be a very old man by playing various law enforcement agencies for a bunch of grubby bureaucrats equally torn between envy of their targets and burning hatred for their interbureau rivals, the circumstances of his death have left many questions that will bedevil the FBI and the US Bureau of Prisons.

The Boston Globe, no suprise, is going all out on Bulger’s life and death. (If it weren’t for the Red Sox victory parade, Whitey would probably have had the entire front page to himself.) And who could blame them, given such material?

James “Whitey” Bulger’s life played out like any number of the violent Hollywood movies it spawned, reflecting a Boston that is no more, when bookmakers and gangsters peopled the taverns of the city’s working-class neighborhoods; when the locals wouldn’t dream of turning in the neighborhood hoodlum; when gangland murders were commonplace; and when the FBI was so hellbent on taking out the Mafia that it helped gangsters like Mr. Bulger kill rivals and rise to the top of the Boston underworld.

Mr. Bulger, one of America’s most manipulative criminals who eluded prosecution for decades because he was protected by corrupt FBI agents, was killed Tuesday in a federal prison in West Virginia. He was 89 and was serving two life sentences for 11 murders.

Mr. Bulger was charismatic and vicious, well-read and heartless. He persuaded a Jesuit priest to serve as his parole sponsor, torched the Brookline birthplace of John F. Kennedy during antibusing strife, kept house with two women in different locations at the same time, and routinely took naps immediately after shooting people in the head. He loved animals, crying over a puppy being put down, yet secretly buried at least six of his victims, denying their loved ones the bodies…

In his teens, James Bulger ran away with the circus, and when he returned home he took up with a much older woman who was a stripper in a traveling burlesque show. The stripper scandalized Mr. Bulger’s mother by sending him postcards from the road.

Mr. Bulger’s propensity for rule-breaking graduated to crime. He was a tailgater — stealing off the backs of trucks that took goods from the freighters on the South Boston waterfront.

In a neighborhood where hardly anyone had a car, he had one. When he wasn’t driving around town with his Jayne Mansfield-lookalike girlfriend Jacquie McAuliffe, Mr. Bulger often scouted for opportunities — not necessarily for crime, but to buff his credentials as a hoodlum with a heart of gold.
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Surefire Intelligence!

Tom has given us one of today’s gems of humor, and I want to share the other one. There are far, far more tweets than I can possibly include here, but I will try to indicate the range and depth of incompetence, which is truly monumental.

First, a narrative account for those of you who prefer such things.

At the center of the scheme is publicity-hungry Republican lobbyist Jack Burkman, who has repeatedly dabbled in internet conspiracy theories in the past, including promoting the idea that murdered Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was killed by deep-state government operatives.

….

Burkman has not any offered any evidence at all of his accusations and his previous “bombshell” press conferences on other stories have become notorious flops in Washington media circles.

….

Burkman’s latest gambit has far higher stakes than his previous ones; but it too seems similarly bound for self-destruction. Allegations that he was offering to pay women to accuse Mueller come from an uncorroborated email sent to a number of media outlets, including The Daily Beast, by a person who identified herself as Florida resident “Lorraine Parsons.”

In her emails, Parsons claimed that Burkman and his associates were pressuring her to “make accusations of sexual misconduct and workplace harassment against Robert Mueller” and to “sign a sworn affidavit to that effect.” In exchange, she said, they were offering tens of thousands of dollars. Parsons repeatedly declined to talk to The Daily Beast on the phone, and internet searches have failed to provide any background on her. Parsons didn’t respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

….

Jacob Wohl, a right wing Twitter personality and a self-described friend of Burkman, said Burkman had told him he had hired Matthew Cohen, who is a managing partner at the private investigations company Surefire Intelligence, to assist with the investigation.

Surefire is a bit of a mystery. Since-deleted Craigslist advertisements for the company said it “was founded by two members of Israel’s elite intelligence community.” The ads billed services including “counter intelligence,” “private spies,” and “ethical hackers.”

More amusing details at the link. And yet more on Twitter. Stuff is being deleted (although I’m sure copies exist), which Popehat earlier pointed out could be destroying evidence in an FBI investigation.

Bellingcat is ON IT! (disclosure: I have worked with Bellingcat and occasionally write articles for them.)

Popehat and other lawyers are yukking it up.

A friend said this has been the best day he’s seen on Twitter for a while.








Some Mildly Good News

There’s one less predator on the streets in Chicago:

A jury in Cook County, Illinois, has found white Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, who shot and killed black 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in 2014, guilty of second-degree murder.

The jurors also convicted Van Dyke on 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm. He was found not guilty of a charge of misconduct in office.

There is no mandatory sentence for second-degree murder in Illinois, but each count of aggravated battery with a firearm can bring a sentence of 6 to 30 years—which means Van Dyke could potentially face 480 years behind bars. After the verdict was announced, the judge revoked the officer’s bail, and Van Dyke was taken into custody.

Good. Hopefully he will serve a couple of years before the new reich wing Supreme Court overturns his conviction.








Avenatti Drops a Bomb on the Senate Judiciary Committee

Michael Avenatti has released his email correspondence with Mike Davis, who is Senator Grassley’s Chief Counsel for Nominations for the Senate Judiciary Committee.

So you don’t have to squint, here’s the email correspondence that Avenatti tweeted:

As I’ve been saying in comments for several days, there is a lot of time between now and when Dr. Blasey testifies on Thursday for more shoes to drop, let alone between now and the following week, which is most likely when Senator McConnell will try to schedule the floor vote on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination. And Avenatti is just beginning his campaign of death by a thousand twitter cuts.

Open thread.