Russiagate Open Thread: This Morning’s Bombshell (So Far)

Aboard Air Force One on a flight home from Europe last July, President Trump and his advisers raced to cobble together a news release about a mysterious meeting at Trump Tower the previous summer between Russians and top Trump campaign officials. Rather than acknowledge the meeting’s intended purpose — to obtain political dirt about Hillary Clinton from the Russian government — the statement instead described the meeting as being about an obscure Russian adoption policy.

The statement, released in response to questions from The New York Times about the meeting, has become a focus of the inquiry by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election. Prosecutors working for Mr. Mueller in recent months have questioned numerous White House officials about how the release came together — and about how directly Mr. Trump oversaw the process. Mr. Mueller’s team recently notified Mr. Trump’s lawyers that the Air Force One statement is one of about a dozen subjects that prosecutors want to discuss in a face-to-face interview of Mr. Trump that is still being negotiated…

What is already clear is that, as Mr. Trump’s aides and family members tried over 48 hours to manage one of the most consequential crises of the young administration, the situation quickly degenerated into something of a circular firing squad. They protected their own interests, shifted blame and potentially left themselves — and the president — legally vulnerable.

The latest witness to be called for an interview about the episode was Mark Corallo, who served as a spokesman for Mr. Trump’s legal team before resigning in July. Mr. Corallo received an interview request last week from the special counsel and has agreed to the interview, according to three people with knowledge of the request.

Mr. Corallo is planning to tell Mr. Mueller about a previously undisclosed conference call with Mr. Trump and Hope Hicks, the White House communications director, according to the three people. Mr. Corallo planned to tell investigators that Ms. Hicks said during the call that emails written by Donald Trump Jr. before the Trump Tower meeting — in which the younger Mr. Trump said he was eager to receive political dirt about Mrs. Clinton from the Russians — “will never get out.” That left Mr. Corallo with concerns that Ms. Hicks could be contemplating obstructing justice, the people said.

In a statement on Wednesday, a lawyer for Ms. Hicks strongly denied Mr. Corallo’s allegations…


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Open Thread: There Are Too Many Clowns in the GOP’s Russiagate Car

Because Adam and Cheryl know what they are talking about, they are restricted in what they can write concerning the fustercluck currently unfolding like the badly mishandled demolition of a hazardous-materials storage warehouse. Because all *I* know is what I read on the internet, I can share random tweets and chunks of news without any more fear of being thrown into Supermax than any other registered Democrat these days.

I will make an earnest effort to put anything that resembles “spillage” under the fold, but then again, how does someone with no security background judge?

That having been read into my permanent record, let’s talk about Trey Gowdy!

Mr. Gowdy, a former federal prosecutor who is the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, has been threatening to leave elected office for years. He has told associates that he wants to be a federal judge, ideally at the appellate level. On Wednesday, he said only that he planned to return to the world of criminal justice.

A person familiar with the lawmaker’s plans said that Mr. Gowdy had turned down an offer by the Trump administration to nominate him for a judgeship on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and that he planned to enter private practice in South Carolina instead.

“Whatever skills I may have are better utilized in a courtroom than in Congress, and I enjoy our justice system more than our political system,” he said in a statement…
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All is well, nothing to see here

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



Well Now That’s Interesting, Isn’t It

I know I am setting myself up for disaster, but every time I read one of these stories I sit back and have a nice little daydream about watching Donald Trump’s stupid spawn being perpwalked in a prison jumpsuit:

Donald Trump Jr. asked a Russian lawyer at the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting whether she had evidence of illegal donations to the Clinton Foundation, the lawyer told the Senate Judiciary Committee in answers to written questions obtained exclusively by NBC News.

The lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, told the committee that she didn’t have any such evidence, and that she believes Trump misunderstood the nature of the meeting after receiving emails from a music promoter promising incriminating information on Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump’s Democratic opponent.

Once it became apparent that she did not have meaningful information about Clinton, Trump seemed to lose interest, Veselnitskaya said, and the meeting petered out.

The Trump campaign met with so many god damned Russians it’s hard to keep track of everything, but I believe this is the meeting they all lied about, then said was about adoption, then all denied it was about getting dirt on the Clintons despite the emails, then said they didn’t read the emails, and then Manafort and Kushner claimed they weren’t paying attention and just looking at their phones and know nothing.

At any rate, it seems pretty clear the only thing these clowns wanted to adopt was dirt on Hillary. Lock ’em all up.



Begging For It

I just can’t tell if these guys are this fucking stupid or this arrogant because they have never had to deal with the consequences of their actions:

The special counsel investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election on Monday accused President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, of working with a Russian colleague to draft an opinion piece about his political work for Ukraine.

In court filings, a prosecutor working with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team said Manafort was working on the article as recently as Nov. 30.

Had it been published, prosecutors say it would have violated a Nov. 8 court order not to discuss the case publicly.

The Russian colleague who was working with Manafort allegedly to shape public opinion about his work for a Ukrainian political party has ties to Russian intelligence agencies, according to the filing.

Manafort ultimately never published the opinion piece, after prosecutors reached out to his attorneys to alert them, they said in the filing.

Due to Manafort’s actions, prosecutors said the judge should reject his request to modify his bail conditions.

Just put the motherfucker in jail already.








Emails!

The New York Times (yes, I know) has received and had described to reporters EMAILS from the Trump campaign. They are releasing them as they work through them and presumably verifying the material, unlike Wikileaks. Also, with Mike Flynn’s plea deal, the Tweeter-in-Chief is being more productive than usual.

In May 2016, the Russians wanted to make friendly contact with the NRA, who had a convention coming up.

The emailed outreach from the conservative operative to Mr. Dearborn came far earlier, around the same time that Russians were trying to make other connections to the Trump campaign. Another contact came through an American advocate for Christian and veterans causes, and together, the outreach shows how, as Mr. Trump closed in on the nomination, Russians were using three foundational pillars of the Republican Party — guns, veterans and Christian conservatives — to try to make contact with his unorthodox campaign.

This may be how all those wholesome flyover country folks like Jeff Sessions and Sam Clovis got involved with the Russians. Or not. They don’t seem to figure very prominently in the NRA stories yet. To be continued.

Meanwhile, the President is tweeting. I don’t link directly to his emails because I don’t want to give him the stats. My very few links don’t count for much in his numbers. It’s a matter of principle.

Here’s the tweet from yesterday that people are saying admits obstruction of justice. I’ll wait to see what Robert Mueller does with it.

“Acid washed”

And a couple from this morning.

And open thread so that the home improvers can concentrate on that!



Analysis Starts To Come In

I follow a bunch of good lawyers on Twitter. One of the websites they are from is Just Security, which deals with the legal aspects of national security matters. Hence, the Flynn guilty plea and the Russian antics. They’ve got a post up with analysis of this morning’s events and documents.

With the announcement, Mueller’s team released a criminal information document, detailing what Flynn is pleading guilty to. Although there is evidence that Flynn potentially committed other crimes, it appears he is only pleading guilty to lying to FBI agents who were investigating his contacts with Russian officials as part of the larger probe into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election. Following Flynn’s hearing, the Mueller team also released Flynn’s plea agreement and a statement of offense.

It looks like the tweet I posted earlier from a colleague was right:

Based on the plea document, we now know that on the same day (Dec. 29) that the Obama administration announced new sanctions against Russia and kicked out 35 Russian officials in response to Russian hacking, Flynn got on the phone with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and asked him not to escalate the situation. The White House repeatedly denied that this is what Flynn discussed with Kislyak.

We also know that on Dec. 22, Flynn spoke with Kislyak about a pending UN Security Resolution on Israeli settlements. He told the FBI that he did not ask the Russian ambassador to delay or defeat the vote on it, but we now know this was not true. The Obama administration resisted pressure by the Israeli government and abstained from the vote, allowing the resolution condemning Israeli settlement construction to be adopted. Trump tweeted his disapproval on Dec. 23.

From Asha Rangappa, a former special agent in the New York office of the FBI,

“I think Flynn is giving up the goods, big time.”

On a related subject,