Andrew McCabe Broke Some News Today

Apparently a lot of news! McCabe did an extended interview with Nicolle Wallace this afternoon. I’d like to highlight a couple of important items that were revealed.

The question that didn’t get asked, and even if it did, I’m not sure McCabe would have answered it, is whether he’s got a copy of the four page draft that the President wrote to justify firing Comey? If McCabe has a copy, that’s going to make his lawsuit much, much easier. And if he doesn’t, the discovery is going to be amazing.

McCabe apparently made some other news in his chats with the former DOJ and FBI officials who Wallace had booked as her contributing commentators for the remainder of the segment.

According to Frank Figliuzzi, former FBI Assistant Director for National Security (that’s the counterintelligence and counter-terrorism division), McCabe related to Figliuzzi and former DOJ spokesman Matt Miller in the green room before the show that he didn’t open new investigations into the President. Rather, he added the President to the existing and ongoing counterintelligence investigation into the Russian active measures campaign against the US. Figliuzzi also related that McCabe informed them that he also added the obstruction of justice investigation into the President’s actions to that ongoing investigation into the Russian active measures campaign against the US. It is this counterintelligence investigation that Robert Mueller inherited when he was appointed as the special counsel.

I know everyone is stressed right now, especially given CNN’s somewhat credulous reporting and The Washington Post‘s much tighter reporting that the Special Counsel is winding down his investigation. And what that may or may not mean. I know others are still angry that no one was doing anything to stop this from happening as it was happening. What was revealed today, however, confirms what we knew: that something was, indeed, happening. Specifically a counterintelligence investigation had been opened into the President’s campaign, his business, a number of people within the President’s orbit, and then ultimately the President in regard to the Russian active measures campaign against the US.

I have no idea what next week is going to bring, let alone March, but I do know something about counterintelligence and counterintelligence investigations. And that something includes that these things are designed to be completely compartmented, not to leak, and to take as long as they take. Because the purpose of them is to identify, delineate, and then stop the threat to US national security. Sometimes this means prosecutions. A lot of times it doesn’t. The Venona counterintelligence investigation lasted from 1943 until 1980 and the materials it produced weren’t declassified until 1993!

At this point we don’t really know whether the Special Counsel is, indeed, finishing up. Or whether he’s just streamlining for the next phase of the investigation he’s pursuing. Or if he’s just handing everything off to the career prosecutors in the appropriate Federal districts, as well as the appropriate state (New York and Maryland) and local (Washington DC) prosecutors who will bring the rest of the indictments and carry out the rest of the prosecutions based on the work that the Special Counsel’s Office has been conducting for the past two years. But we do know that some people, even as we’ve discovered that they are flawed, working in Federal institutions that don’t always get it right, stood up and made difficult decisions to ensure that the appropriate investigations were opened and situated in a way that they could be conducted.

I’m going to leave the last word here to former US Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama Joyce Vance:

Everybody take a deep breath and cut yourselves and everyone else a little slack. This is a marathon, not a sprint. And as BettyC has highlighted for us all, there’s a new sheriff in DC and she takes her responsibilities as the leader of the co-equal legislative branch of government very seriously. As do her deputies.

Open thread!

PS: I fully expect that if Attorney General Barr tries to bury Special Counsel’s work so it never sees the light of day that it will leak. And before that happens, as was the case with Jeff Sessions and Matt Whitaker, I expect information to leak about Barr and his past actions and activities. As was the case with the leak about Sessions’ contacts with Kislyak that forced his recusal and the leak that the company that Whitaker had been involved with was under Federal investigation, something will be leaked about Barr as a warning shot across the bow. Sessions was smart enough to get the message. I’m not sure if Whitaker was, but it really didn’t seem to matter. We’ll have to wait and see if Barr is as smart as Sessions.



Roger Stone Pursues the Path to Martyr-dumb!

Bless his heart…

National security correspondent Dan Murphy has the chain of transmission:

Stone has already deleted the instagram post, and, of course, thrown an employee under the bus. Long time members of the party of personal responsibility never seem to take personal responsibility…

To be serious here for a moment, a simple google image search for Judge Amy Berman Jackson, returns dozens of images of her. To find one with a cross hairs image or logo near her head meant that whomever went looking for an image for Stone’s post had to specifically either be looking for an image like that or trying to create one. Which is not surprising given that Stone has a long history of positing material with anti-Semitic themes or borrowing them from people and our sites that do. Here’s just one example. Also, why does it look like Rudy has a squirrel crawling around in his flight suit? Ewww!!!

In regard to Roger Stone, as they say in the south: that boy ain’t right!

This will definitely not get Judge Jackson removed from the case, but it is likely to get Federal law enforcement to overreact. Especially as some of the people who follow the conspiracy theories that Stone promotes tend to take them to heart and then take violent action as a result of them.

Though it is interesting to watch the seeming political evolution of former Congressman Joe Walsh:

Open thread!



Happy National Emergency Day!

We all know that there’s no national emergency on the southern US border. We all also know that this will not stop the President in declaring a national emergency this morning. The devil will, of course, be in the details. Specifically we’ll need to see not what the President actually says this morning, though that is likely to be hyperbolic and factually incorrect, but what the actual declaration says. Because the drafting of it was surely a fight between the President’s senior policy advisor Stephen Miller, who has a bachelors degree in what is generally reported as political science, and the actual attorneys at the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel and the White House Counsel’s Office who are trying to mitigate potential damage by keeping the declaration as close to constitutional (constitutionally adjacent?) as possible.

Here’s the live feed:

I leave you with the timeless wisdom of Vice President Pence regarding what the President is going to do today:

Expect the crazy to go the whole day…

Open thread!



Bibi Netanyahu Calls for War or Combat Against Iran

The US held and participated in a summit in Warsaw today. It was originally supposed to be solely about Iran and held at the urging of Israel. Where you see Israel in that sentence, read Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu. The US’s allies, especially our EU and NATO allies, pushed back and made it clear they weren’t on board for an anti-Iran summit and they were still displeased that the US unilaterally pulled out of the JCPOA. Then Bibi decided to tweet and open his mouth.

This first tweet was deleted and replaced with the second one:

The Hebrew word for war is milchamah. The Hebrew word for combat is lichimah. For those non-Hebrew speakers/readers here, Hebrew is based around three letter roots. So milchamah and lichimah share the same three letter root of a lamed (l sound), chet (ch/guttral “h” sound), and mim (m sound). They’re obviously linguistically related and they’re not normally interchanged, though sometimes they are just as we will sometimes interchange war and combat. However, when we do this in English we almost always do it within the context of an actual war. And while I’ve never had this discussion with a native Hebrew speaker, I’d expect it would work the same way in Hebrew. The Israelis, as reported by Andrea Mitchell at MSNBC, are claiming this is a matter of a bad translation in the tweets. I find this hard to believe given that Netanyahu is a fluent English speaker as he lived in the US for a significant amount of time growing up. (Full disclosure: I used to be non-native fluent in Hebrew and non-native functional in Arabic. I have used neither language in a very long time and I’m lucky to be fluent in English on a good day!)

The problem here is that when Bibi made remarks tot he press he specifically used milchamah (war) in his spoken remarks to the press (emphasis mine):

Netanyahu made the comments during an off-the-cuff interview with reporters on a Warsaw street, shortly after meeting Oman’s foreign minister.

“From here I am going to a meeting with 60 foreign ministers and envoys of countries from around the world against Iran,” Netanyahu said.

“What is important about this meeting — and this meeting is not in secret, because there are many of those — is that this is an open meeting with representatives of leading Arab countries, that are sitting down together with Israel in order to advance the common interest of war with Iran,” he added.

Although Netanyahu used the Hebrew word “milchama,” or war, his office later changed its official translation and said he was referring to a “common interest of combatting Iran.”

He has long used tough language against Iran. But his latest comments, which appeared to include a call for war, went beyond his standard rhetoric. Netanyahu’s office later issued a clarification, saying his remarks had been mistranslated.

I don’t think this was an accident and I don’t buy the explanation of the walk back. I think Bibi knew exactly what he was doing. That during the week of the 40th anniversary of Iran’s Islamic revolution, he was attempting to create a provocation. His word choices and uses here, including the walk back, are a feint to see if he can draw Iran into doing something that can be declared to be offensive.

Bibi Netanyahu is very willing to actually fight a war against Iran until there are no Americans left to die for his warmongering, megalomaniacal monomania. He is perfectly willing to sacrifice as much American blood and treasure as necessary to achieve his goals against Iran and within the region. As are Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Muhammad bin Zayed of the United Arab Emirates to achieve theirs. Of course, other than destroying Iran, those regional objectives are at odds. The Israelis and the Saudis both seek to be the regional hegemon, which is one of the reasons that Iran must be destroyed because it also aspires to regional hegemony. As does Erdogan in Turkey.

The President’s point man on the Middle East is his son in law, who appears to be an asset of Netanyahu from long time familial connections, as well as bin Salman and bin Zayed.  Jared is an idiot from a family with a lot of money, money that was used to buy his educational credentials. Unfortunately he thinks he’s a world historic and world history making figure.

Also, Rudy Giuliani is at this summit because he’s a paid agent for the Mujahedin al Khalq (MEK), which positions itself as the legitimate government of Iran in exile. In reality it is a cult and a terrorist group.

No good will come of any of this.

Open thread.

ETA at 3:55 PM:

In case anyone, like the President, the Vice President, Congressman McCarthy, etc, was unclear, I’m Jewish and yes, I’m criticizing Israel’s prime minister and, at least, one of his and Israel’s current government’s policies. This is not anti-Semitic. If you think it is or that I am or are considering stating that I am, you can go fuck yourselves sideways with a hanukiah!



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.