Hillary Clinton: It’s the National Security Threat, Stupid

Clinton published a must-read op-ed in Le Post this afternoon. Here are a couple of excerpts:

Our election was corrupted, our democracy assaulted, our sovereignty and security violated. This is the definitive conclusion of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report. It documents a serious crime against the American people.

The debate about how to respond to Russia’s “sweeping and systemic” attack — and how to hold President Trump accountable for obstructing the investigation and possibly breaking the law — has been reduced to a false choice: immediate impeachment or nothing. History suggests there’s a better way to think about the choices ahead.

Obviously, this is personal for me, and some may say that I’m not the right messenger. But my perspective is not just that of a former candidate and target of the Russian plot. I am also a former senator and secretary of state who served during much of Vladi­mir Putin’s ascent, sat across the table from him and knows firsthand that he seeks to weaken our country.

Clinton urges Congress to hold hearings on the Mueller report findings, not jump straight into holding a vote on impeachment, citing the Watergate inquiry as a model. She notes that during Watergate, a Senate select committee held hearings that added to the facts of the case before an impeachment inquiry began and suggests that a committee could do something similar now by calling Mueller and McGahn to testify. Clinton doesn’t spell this out, exactly, but this would all have to be on the House side since the Republican-controlled Senate has demonstrated that it will do nothing.

Clinton calls out Trump in deservedly savage terms:

We have to get this right. The Mueller report isn’t just a reckoning about our recent history; it’s a warning about the future. Unless checked, the Russians will interfere again in 2020, and possibly other adversaries, such as China or North Korea, will as well. This is an urgent threat. Nobody but Americans should be able to decide America’s future. And, unless he’s held accountable, the president may show even more disregard for the laws of the land and the obligations of his office. He will likely redouble his efforts to advance Putin’s agenda, including rolling back sanctions, weakening NATO and undermining the European Union.

Clinton emphasizes a key point that Trump and the Republicans are determined to ignore: the Mueller report isn’t only or even primarily about Trump. It’s about an attack on our democracy by a hostile foreign power, and the report establishes that the attack happened unequivocally. That requires action. By making it solely about Trump and crowing about his supposed “exoneration,” Trump and the Republicans are derelict in their duty to protect the country.

Clinton is right, of course. But given that just today Trump signaled refusal to cooperate with any oversight at all because NO COLLUSION HOAX WITCH HUNT I WON, with the full support of his Republican toadies in Congress, impeachment might truly be the only way forward. Greg Sargent explains, outlining how stonewalling on requests for tax returns, urging former and current administration officials to disregard subpoenas and requests for committee appearances, etc., might force Democrats to use an impeachment inquiry to get anywhere at all:

Trump, in a new interview with The Post, just made it overwhelmingly clear that he will henceforth treat the House and its reasonable oversight efforts as fundamentally illegitimate.

“There is no reason to go any further, and especially in Congress where it’s very partisan — obviously very partisan,” Trump said, referring to the latest round of oversight requests House Democrats have made…

Perhaps Trump views an impeachment inquiry as a less bad outcome than releasing his tax returns. Or perhaps he hopes to run out the clock, gambling that Democrats won’t have the guts to pull the trigger.

If so, that creates a torturous dilemma. Democrats themselves say the full truth must be pursued, for the sake of the country. But if Trump blocks them from doing that, it would seem to force their hand and require an impeachment inquiry.

Clinton’s op-ed is a timely reminder that the stakes are much higher than the orange fart cloud’s presidency. Perhaps the House Democrats’ first move should be to get Mueller’s testimony about the true purpose of the report and underscore the national security implications, then proceed from there within that framing, explicitly pursuing impeachment if that’s the only way to get at the facts.

The op-ed also brushes back the notion voiced by some Democrats that we should close the book on the Mueller report and focus on removing Trump via the ballot box in 2020. What ballot box, if Putin or someone else decides to diddle our election again? Anyone who urges Democrats to move on has lost the plot — it’s not only about Trump, though holding a lawless president accountable is a Congressional duty; it’s the national security threat, stupid.

Mueller Report Open Thread: Assange/Russia/Trump Collusion Edition

Trump is a godsdamned magnet for monsters. Per Kevin Pousen, at the Daily Beast:

As laid out by Mueller, Assange’s involvement in Russia’s election interference began with a June 14, 2016 direct message to WikiLeaks’ Twitter account from “DC Leaks,” one of the false fronts created by the Russians to launder their hacked material.

“You announced your organization was preparing to publish more Hillary’s emails,” the message read, according to Mueller’s report. “We are ready to support you. We have some sensitive information too, in particular, her financial documents. Let’s do it together. What do you think about publishing our info at the same moment? Thank you.”

A week later, WikiLeaks reached out to a second GRU persona, Guccifer 2.0, and pitched WikiLeaks as the best outlet for the hacked material. On July 14, 2016, GRU officers used a Guccifer 2.0 email address to send WikiLeaks an encrypted one-gigabyte file named “wk dnc link I .txt.gpg.” Assange confirmed receipt, and on July 22 he published 20,000 DNC emails stolen during the GRU’s breach…

Rich was a 27-year-old DNC staffer when he was gunned down in what police have described as a robbery gone wrong. The unsolved murder timed shortly before Assange’s DNC leaks spoke volumes to inhabitants of the far right wing fringe, where it’s long been an article of faith that Hillary Clinton has her enemies killed…

With Assange behind it, the Seth Rich hoax moved into the almost-mainstream, spawning a quickly-retracted report on Fox News, and a series of “investigations” by Assange ally Sean Hannity. It also wreaked havoc in the lives of Rich’s surviving family, particularly his anguished parents who later begged perpetrators of the charade “to give us peace, and to give law enforcement the time and space to do the investigation they need to solve our son’s murder.”

Even as he was ruthlessly framing Rich to protect himself, the GRU, or both, Assange was privately communicating with his real sources to arrange the transfer of the second election leak, material the GRU stole from John Podesta’s Gmail account…

The Mueller report quotes from cryptic emails and messages exchanged between WikiLeaks and the GRU accounts in September 2016, and based on metadata, Mueller suspects the transfer occurred on September 19. But the actual transmittal of the massive Podesta haul evidently took place in a channel that Mueller couldn’t crack. The report notes the possibility that, this time, the files were simply carried into the Ecuadorian Embassy by one of Assange’s visitors.

In the end, the most charitable interpretation of Assange’s “dissembling” as Mueller calls it, in the Seth Rich hoax is that he genuinely couldn’t rule out the possibility that Rich was his source. The Mueller report demolished that final moral refuge. Rich had been dead four days when Assange received the DNC files...

The Coming Information War

The Mueller investigation was primarily into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Much of the discussion in the report about that interference is redacted.

We can expect the same in the runup to the 2020 election. That means starting now.

What Russia is doing cannot entirely be dealt with by those in political power (those who want to, anyway) or those in network power (same). And it’s not just Russia, it’s China, North Korea, Iran, and some 400-pound dude in his mother’s basement. We all have to be responsible consumers and distributors of information on the internet.

This is going to be one of my themes. Today I found a particularly good Twitter thread, which I’ll put into a more narrative form. The thread has gifs that I won’t drag in, so if you like that sort of thing, check out the link.

1/ Finished Reading the . I want to highlight 3 things in the report and how they relate to the IRA (Senate data set) investigation that I was part of last year:

2/ #1 In the “Tactics and Tropes of the Internet Research Agency” report, it was important to me to focus on the *infiltration of movements & activation of Americans* who were identified and targeted. The Mueller report does that as well, noting repeated outreach via Messenger.

3/ From both far-left/far-right press there’s been an ongoing “haha it was just some stupid memes” line.


The IRA went far beyond what a “social media agency” does. It leveraged techniques used by intelligence pros to target Americans, develop trust, get ppl to take action.

4/ When we think about how disinformation will spread in 2020, this kind of engagement with real, aligned Americans will likely be a big part of it. It’s hard to identify this kind of activity.

7/ There were dozens of formal FB Events but they also occasionally put random event promos into Insta posts. There were tons of community events promoted on Black-community targeted FB pages. Instigating in-the-street action is another thing I would expect more of for 2020;

8/The Mueller report did a great job describing how the IRA prioritized getting people out into the street, carefully monitored results, had ppl take photos, etc. That’s bc it’s an important part of their operation. News coverage + incendiary images lead to emotional engagement.

9/ Point #3: Influencer manipulation. This is another tactic we wrote ab in the Tactics & Tropes report. Many Trump campaign accounts retweeted IRA sockpuppets. Not mentioned in the Mueller report: the celebrity accounts, journalists, etc that also retweeted this stuff.

14/There are still ppl who don’t believe Russia did anything, or can’t separate “interference” from “collusion”; maybe the will help them accept that the GRU hacks & IRA influence op really happened.

They did.

And whatever party you are, that should make you mad

15/ Thanks for reading this thread that was actually very short compared to other threads. 420.

Team Broken Glass (Open Thread)

It’s safe to say the vast majority of folks who comment on this site aren’t big fans of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). I’m not either. During the 2016 campaign, I went from believing his candidacy would be a welcome opportunity to emphasize important issues like wealth inequality and the out-sized influence of wealthy donors on politics to wishing he’d shut the fuck up and concede the race already to blaming him in part for fracturing the party and contributing to Clinton’s defeat.

That said, if — dog forbid! — Sanders wins the 2020 Democratic Party nomination, hell yes I’ll vote for him. I would not only crawl over broken glass to do so, I’d swim through sewer pipes, climb a mountain of toxic waste, rappel down a cliff face made of rat shit and THEN crawl over broken glass to vote for Sanders.

Why? Here’s one reason: Trump was tacky and ghoulish enough to announce to cronies that he is “saving” a far-right religious nut judge named Amy Coney Barrett for Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat.

Now, I hope that when Trump finally drops dead, Ginsburg attends his funeral wearing a red dress and a mysterious smile and then goes on to live for a thousand more years. But the fact is, we’ll be lucky to hold Trump’s SCOTUS picks to the two disasters he’s already placed on the court. Whoever wins in 2020 will probably get to choose at least one and possibly two.

In 2020, I hope to Christ it doesn’t come down to a choice between Trump or Sanders, but there’s a non-zero chance it will. Sanders, for all his myriad faults, wouldn’t appoint a Gorsuch, Kavanaugh or Barrett to the SCOTUS. Trump has/would. So yeah, Team Broken Glass. Any questions?

“Don’t Impeach the Motherfucker?”

In the “Impeach the Motherfucker” thread downstairs, there’s a debate as to whether or not we (Democrats) actually should impeach the motherfucker or not. It’s an issue on which reasonable people can disagree, IMO. No one with any sense expects the Republicans to put country over party and convict Trump in the Senate.

Impeachment could backfire politically on the Democrats, resulting in failure to hold the House, take the Senate or, dog forbid, eject Trump from the White House. That would truly be disastrous. The “don’t impeach the motherfucker” people weigh those risks against the possibility of a conviction (basically, nil) and conclude that impeachment isn’t worth it.

I understand that argument. But if the Democrats don’t impeach Trump, they’re affirming that 1) presidents are above the law, and 2) Congress can’t check the president’s power unless both chambers are held by the opposite party.

Perhaps that’s always been the case. I had assumed affirming the rule of law was more important than the pursuit of power, but maybe that’s my own naivety. But if this is the reality before we must all now bow, here’s what I don’t want to hear from fellow Democrats: bullshit rationalizations like “House hearings can be just as effective” or “wait until Trump is out of office, then go after him.”

Nope. This isn’t about a blow job or some rogue advisers freelancing foreign policy under a dementia-addled president. Our democracy was attacked by a hostile foreign power, and Trump and his highest level campaign advisers eagerly accepted that foreign power’s help. Once elected, Trump openly and publicly obstructed the investigation into the attack on our democracy.

If the Democrats respond to all that with “welp, shruggies!” because holding Trump accountable would be risky politically, we are admitting that the pursuit of power is more important than the rule of law. Period. Full stop. The end.

Maybe it always has been thus, and in that case, feel free to sing “good morning, star-shine, the earth says hello” to me in a jeering fashion. But let’s hear no more cant about being a country of laws that are enshrined in our constitution. If we punt on impeachment in this case, we don’t get to say that anymore.