Dogs That Don’t Bark

Not only have Republicans been silent on any number of Donald Trump’s actions that would have caused them to erupt in impeachment fever had Barack Obama done them, they succeeded in suppressing actions that might have thwarted Russian meddling in last year’s election.

Historically, the Republicans have been the firmly anti-Communist and anti-Soviet party. One still occasionally sees anti-Communist rants from Republican commentators, but the fall of the Soviet Union diluted the value of such things.

It’s been 25 years now. People of electoral age grew up in the post Cold War world and may not realize the antagonism and fear that existed. Paul Ryan is 47, so he was 21 in 1991 and fantasizing about Ayn Rand. Mitch McConnell is 75 and doesn’t have that excuse.

Toward the end of last summer, the intelligence community was convinced that Russia was intervening in the election on the side of Donald Trump. They told President Barack Obama and other members of the administration. As the election approached, the situation became increasingly fraught. The best way to counter Russian meddling would be to expose it. However, if the Democratic President announced such a thing, he could be attacked as trying to influence the election.

The solution to that would be for the patriotic leaders of the opposition to join with the President and the intelligence community to warn the public of the foreign interference. Obama and other Democratic officials suggested that to the Republican leadership. McConnell and the Trump campaign doubted the intelligence. John Brennan, then director of the CIA, assured them that it was not a partisan matter. Read more



12 Counts

Mr. Manafort and Gates are each facing a twelve count indictment.

The indictment against both of these individuals makes the following charges:

Count 1 Conspiracy against the United States
Count 2 Conspiracy to Launder Money
Counts 3,4,5,6,7,8,9 — Failure to report foreign accounts
Count 10 — Unregistered agent of a foreign principal (FARA)
Count 11 — False or Misleading FARA statements
Count 12 — False statements

The interesting to me, as I am not a lawyer, is the last couple of pages of the indictment. Paragraph 52 is a notice of intent to seize assets. If there is a conviction on Count 2 (Money laundering) or count 10/11 (FARA violations) the Feds intend to get all of the ill-gotten gains. That to me is an invitation of Mr. Gates to think about his children and his wife. Does he really want to impoverish his family or does he really want to flip and start talking…



Russiagate Open Thread: The Facebook Conundrum(s)


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Until Adam or Cheryl can post more expert information, I’m just gonna toss out some links that seem like they might be important. Per CNN:

Facebook did not give copies of the ads to members of the Senate and House intelligence committees when it met with them last week on the grounds that doing so would violate their privacy policy, sources with knowledge of the briefings said. Facebook’s policy states that, in accordance with the federal Stored Communications Act, it can only turn over the stored contents of an account in response to a search warrant.

“We continue to work with the appropriate investigative authorities,” Facebook said in a statement to CNN.

Facebook informed Congress last week that it had identified 3,000 ads that ran between June 2015 and May 2017 that were linked to fake accounts. Those accounts, in turn, were linked to the pro-Kremlin troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency.

In those briefings, Facebook spoke only in generalities about the ad buys, leaving some committee members feeling frustrated with Facebook’s level of cooperation.

Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told CNN last week that Facebook had not turned over the ads to Congress. Warner has also called Facebook’s review “the tip of the iceberg,” and suggested that more work needs to be done in order to ascertain the full scope of Russia’s use of social media…

Are those “contents” significant? This guy — “Former federal prosecutor. Legal expert for TV and print”thinks so:


Read more



Russiagate Open Thread: Larry, Moe, and Rage Furby!

Someone needs to tell Mr. Rohrabacher that Spy vs Spy was never, nor was it intended to be, a documentary. Even as the elected representative of the deep-red rump of California at its nutsackiest, this seems to be… beyond satire:

A Republican congressman perceived as sympathetic to the Russian government tried to strike what he described as a “deal” with the White House to get WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange out of legal trouble with the United States government, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

In exchange, Assange would produce alleged evidence that Russia did not provide the hacked emails released by WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential election, the newspaper said. The release of those emails appeared intended to damage the Democratic Party in an election that the Republican Trump won.

In a phone call with White House chief of staff John Kelly on Wednesday, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Ca., described a possible agreement to pardon Assange or “something like that,” the Journal reported. The U.S. government is looking into WikiLeaks’ release of secret government documents in 2010, though it has not formally accused Assange of wrongdoing…

Rohrabacher is seen as sympathetic to Russian President Vladimir Putin. In May, a report said fellow GOP lawmaker Kevin McCarthy once joked that “there’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.” …

“Joked”?

And then things went seriously askew…



Russiagate Open Thread: Helpful NYTimes Explainer

The NYTimes has posted an aggregated timeline with links to all their Russiagate stories, in case you want to forward something not-too-overwhelming to your Fox-curious acquaintances.



Late Night Russiagate Open Thread: In Like Flynn

As Miss Manners would’ve told Pompeo, sometimes the rules are there to protect you from your friends. It’s certainly possible to imagine (if you squint hard enough) that a guy from one’s personal circle, well-known for his range of interests, might choose to sit in on the briefings in all innocence. Surely a man with such a storied military career would know what could not be safely repeated outside the room, immune from minor peccadilloes of money or fame…

Senior officials across the government became convinced in January that the incoming national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, had become vulnerable to Russian blackmail.

At the F.B.I., the C.I.A., the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence — agencies responsible for keeping American secrets safe from foreign spies — career officials agreed that Mr. Flynn represented an urgent problem.

Yet nearly every day for three weeks, the new C.I.A. director, Mike Pompeo, sat in the Oval Office and briefed President Trump on the nation’s most sensitive intelligence — with Mr. Flynn listening. Mr. Pompeo has not said whether C.I.A. officials left him in the dark about their views of Mr. Flynn, but one administration official said Mr. Pompeo did not share any concerns about Mr. Flynn with the president.

The episode highlights a remarkable aspect of Mr. Flynn’s tumultuous, 25-day tenure in the White House: He sat atop a national security apparatus that churned ahead despite its own conclusion that he was at risk of being compromised by a hostile foreign power…

The concerns about Mr. Flynn’s vulnerabilities, born from misleading statements he made to White House officials about his conversations with the Russian ambassador, are at the heart of a legal and political storm that has engulfed the Trump administration. Many of Mr. Trump’s political problems, including the appointment of a special counsel and the controversy over the firing of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, can ultimately be traced to Mr. Flynn’s stormy tenure.

Time and again, the Trump administration looked the other way in the face of warning signs about Mr. Flynn…

Concerns across the government about Mr. Flynn were so great after Mr. Trump took office that six days after the inauguration, on Jan. 26, the acting attorney general, Sally Q. Yates, warned the White House that Mr. Flynn had been “compromised.”…

White House officials have said they moved deliberately both out of respect for Mr. Flynn and because they were not sure how seriously they should take the concerns. They also said the president believed that Ms. Yates, an Obama administration holdover, had a political agenda. She was fired days later over her refusal to defend in court Mr. Trump’s ban on travel for people from several predominantly Muslim countries.

A warning from Mr. Pompeo might have persuaded the White House to take Ms. Yates’s concerns more seriously. Mr. Pompeo, a former congressman, is a Republican stalwart whom Mr. Trump has described as “brilliant and unrelenting.”…

Speaking of protection from one’s “friends”, is is fair to assume that one reason Pompeo chose not to speak up about Flynn’s presence was that he hoped to avoid a fate like that meddlesome talebearer Sally Yates?



Open Thread: Rising Democratic Star

I don’t want to make this post any longer, but y’all should definitely go read the Jezebel and Chait links, because they are mood-enhancing.