Russiagate Open Thread: Mueller Knows What He’s Looking For

Yes, Mike Allen’s a tool and a parasite, but he’s survived in DC because he’s been able to spot the patterns below the froth he happily helps churn out. Which is why, IMO, he’s getting respect for this:

News flash: Mueller is looking at everything.

That’s his job. When he was named, he was empowered/instructed to look into the “FBI investigation of Russian government efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election and related matters.” That there is a broad mandate…

These kernels aren’t from Mueller’s office: We’ve seen time and again (and again) that his office is one of Washington’s few leak-free zones.

Yes, it looks bad. Based on conversations with White House insiders, I can tell you they’re more bearish than ever about the outcome. But we’re all guessing.

The bottom line: Here’s one headline that’s true: “Expect more ‘surprises’ from Mueller probe, former crusading prosecutor says.”…

NBC news flash, just a few hours ago:

The grand jury investigating alleged collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has sent a witness a subpoena seeking all documents involving the president and a host of his closest advisers, according to a copy of the subpoena reviewed by NBC News.

According to the subpoena, which was sent to a witness by special counsel Robert Mueller, investigators want emails, text messages, work papers, telephone logs and other documents going back to Nov. 1, 2015, 4½ months after Trump launched his campaign…

Once Hicks’ resignation takes effect in the next few weeks, Cohen will be the only person listed in the subpoena who hasn’t left the employment of Trump or of the White House.

“Trump associates” said to be included in this sweep: Steve Bannon, Michael Cohen, Rick Gates, Hope Hicks, Corey Lewandowski, Paul Manafort, Carter Page, Keith Schiller, and Roger Stone.

If this whole criminal conspiracy takes down foundational ratfvcker Roger Stone — who is preemptively wailing about “prosecutorial overreach” on the farther-rightwing news sites — it will delight some of us almost as much as extracting Donald Trump from his stolen perch in the Oval Office.

Russiagate Open Thread: Has Manafort’s Crony Rick Gates Flipped?

Well, it would explain some of pants-pissing tantrums on His Short-Fingered Lordship’s twitter feed this morning (especially if Trump’s not the only one sending them.) Per the L.A. Times:

A former top aide to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign will plead guilty to fraud-related charges within days – and has made clear to prosecutors that he would testify against Paul J. Manafort Jr., the lawyer-lobbyist who once managed the campaign.

The change of heart by Trump’s former deputy campaign manager, Richard W. Gates III, who had pleaded not guilty after being indicted in October on charges similar to Manafort’s, was described in interviews by people familiar with the case…

Gates’ defense lawyer, Thomas C. Green, did not respond to messages left by phone and email. Peter Carr, a spokesman for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, declined on Saturday to comment…

The imminent change of Gates’ plea follows negotiations over the last several weeks between Green and two of Mueller’s prosecutors – senior assistant special counsels Andrew Weissmann and Greg D. Andres.

According to a person familiar with those talks, Gates, a longtime political consultant, can expect “a substantial reduction in his sentence” if he fully cooperates with the investigation. He said that Gates is apt to serve about 18 months in prison.

The delicate terms reached by the opposing lawyers, he said, will not be specified in writing: Gates “understands that the government may move to reduce his sentence if he substantially cooperates – but it won’t be spelled out.”

One of the final discussion points has centered on exactly how much cash or other valuables – derived from Gates’ allegedly illegal activity – that the government will require him to forfeit as part of the guilty plea.

Gates, 45, who is married with four children, does not appear to be well positioned financially to sustain a high-powered legal defense…

According to the indictment, Gates and Manafort “laundered the money through scores of United States and foreign corporations, partnerships and bank accounts” and took steps to evade related U.S. taxes.

If Manafort maintains his not-guilty plea and fights the charges at a trial, the testimony from Gates could provide Mueller’s team with first-person descriptions of much of the allegedly illegal conduct. Gates’ testimony, said a person familiar with the pending guilty plea, would place a “cherry on top” of the government’s already-formidable case against Manafort.

The same individual said he did not believe Gates has information to offer Mueller’s team that would “turn the screws on Trump.”

In mid-August 2016, Trump fired Manafort following reports of possibly improper payments he had received from a pro-Russia political party aligned with his longtime client, Viktor Yanukovych, who was Ukraine’s prime minister from 2010 to 2014.

Gates, however, remained with the Trump campaign through the election, serving as a liaison to the Republican National Committee. He also assisted Trump’s inaugural committee.

My emphases. “Mistakes were made. Just not by Mr. Trump.” Uh-huh…

All is well, nothing to see here

Yep, this investigation will wrap up by Christmas (of which year though…..)

Open Thread: How Bad *IS* Trump’s Brain?

Pretty damned bad!


As they say in the news business: Three’s a trend!

The Washington Post:

President Trump has expressed certainty that the special-counsel probe into his campaign’s possible collusion with Russia will be finished by the end of the year, complete with an exoneration from Robert S. Mueller III, according to several friends who have spoken with him in recent days.

Trump has dismissed his historically low approval ratings as “fake” and boasted about what he calls the unprecedented achievements of his presidency, even while chatting behind the scenes, saying no president since Harry Truman has accomplished as much at this point…

In all these instances, as well as other setbacks, Trump has sought to paint the rosiest possible picture of his presidency and his character — and has tried to will others to see it his way, like the big-promises salesman he once was.

Sometimes… Trump simply rejects facts — and his own past admissions — as he spins a new narrative. His critics accuse him of creating an alternative reality, though people close to the president say he is simply a savvy marketer protecting his brand, as any businessman or politician would…

The first year of Trump’s presidency has brought tumult and chaos, including the expanding Russia probe, an absence of major legislative achievements and instances of self-sabotage by the president himself. But in recent days, Trump has been in an unusually upbeat mood, according to friends who visited with him…


The NYTimes, of course, prefers to handle the issue more… delicately:

Read more

ACA and Health Policy 101

Charles Gaba has put together a 17 minute Youtube video on ACA and more generally health insurance works:



Late Night Russiagate Open Thread: Schadenfreude Is Always A Delicious Side Dish!


Sounds like “President” Looselips got an early heads-up on Flynn’s (potential) defection. The Washington Post confirms the earlier NYT story:

Even if Flynn has begun discussions with Mueller’s office, there is no guarantee he will ultimately reach a deal with prosecutors.

Flynn served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency under President Barack Obama before he was pushed out in 2014 amid criticism of his management style and clashes with other administration officials.

He then established a private consulting firm and gave paid speeches, work that has drawn intense scrutiny from Mueller…

Flynn served 24 days as Trump’s national security adviser, but was forced to resign after acknowledging that he had secretly discussed sanctions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during Trump’s presidential transition in December.

Lawyers for the president and senior White House aides had been quietly speculating over the last few weeks that Flynn was under increasing pressure to cooperate because Mueller had signaled his ability to charge his son alongside the father.

Michael G. Flynn, the retired general’s son, helped his father with business arrangements and served as chief of staff at his father’s consulting firm, Flynn Intel Group…

Of course, since it’s Donald Trump we’re talking about, he further disgraced his current position by cheaping out on the spread for servicepeople condemned to working the holiday…

No One Could Have Predicted- Keystone Pipeline Edition

It never ends:

The Keystone pipeline running from Canada across the Great Plains leaked Thursday morning, spilling about 5,000 barrels of oil — or 210,000 gallons — southeast of the small town of Amherst in northeast South Dakota.

The spill comes just days before a crucial decision next Monday by the Public Service Commission in Nebraska over whether to grant a permit for a new, long-delayed sister pipeline called Keystone XL, which has been mired in controversy for several years. Both are owned by Calgary-based TransCanada.

Over and over and over again, experts warn us that something is a bad idea, we ignore them, then shit blow up. And we never learn and nothing ever changes.