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.



A Quick Post On Selling Nuclear Technology To The Saudis

Big news this morning about the continuing pressure to sell nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia. Ken Dilanian was the first with the story, and Washington Post is catching up. Like a lot of stories about the Trump administration’s dicey connections with foreign governments, it adds some new information to a story that I’ve been following for a long time.

The current emphasis is that Saudi Arabia (which I’ll refer to as KSA) wants a nuclear program that might eventually be used to produce weapons. That misses a lot. Michael Flynn was trying to sell nuclear technology to the Saudis for quite some time. That attempt has continued. I have a copy of the report from the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, but what I want to do here is discuss the context of the actions described there. This post will be a quick outline, without most of the links it should have.

Early on, Flynn was working with IP3 to sell nuclear reactors to KSA. At the time, KSA said they wanted 16 nuclear reactors. Flynn’s plan included working with Russia and perhaps China to provide the reactors; it also included a heavy security plan that looked likely to include a contractor like Erik Prince to provide the muscle.

As the price of oil went down, KSA could no longer afford 16 reactors, and the plan cratered. But Flynn continued to try to sell reactors to them. He also included American reactor manufacturers. When Flynn was taken down by his Russian connections, interactions to sell reactors to KSA continued.

As recently as last week, Donald Trump was meeting with reactor manufacturers on the subject. Current concerns revolve around safeguards against KSA’s using its nuclear technology to develop nuclear weapons. To do this, the United States requires what is called a 123 Agreement, named for its legal basis. The trend has been toward disallowing uranium enrichment and reprocessing of spent fuel, the two pathways to nuclear weapons, although they can also be justified for peaceful use. KSA does not want those restrictions. It appears that the news today is that some in the administration are trying to meet KSA’s preferences.

The bigger story is that the administration, via Flynn and now others, has been eager to supply KSA with the technology it wants. Other recent news, like the administration’s unwillingness to admit KSA’s brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi, suggests a relationship similar to Trump’s favoritism toward Russia.

In January 2017, Erik Prince met with Russian and Middle Eastern representatives in the Seychelles.

There is a nonproliferation issue here, but I think the larger issue is the quid pro quo. KSA wants the nuclear technology. What is the quo?

 



SHENANIGANS in NC-09

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!



Time For a Little Cat Blogging: Nice Kitty. Nice Kitty! Nice Kitty!!!!!!

NPR has the details:

A tiger alarmed a woman who was sneaking into a seemingly abandoned Houston home to smoke marijuana on Monday. Now it has found a new home of its own.

The Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, a sanctuary located about 200 miles north of Houston, announced on Tuesday it was welcoming the tiger, according to Lara Cottingham, spokeswoman for Houston’s Administration and Regulatory Affairs Department, which oversees the city’s animal shelter that had been caring for the animal.

Cottingham told NPR on Tuesday that the tiger was en route to its new home.

If you’re still caught up on the would-be-smoker-stumbling-across-an-actual-tiger-part, let’s back up.

The woman, who is remaining anonymous, told police she had gone into the home in a residential part of East Houston when she came across the unexpected inhabitant, said Houston police spokesman Kese Smith.

Fortunately for the woman, the tiger was locked inside a 4-feet-by-8-feet cage within the garage. She called 311, the city’s nonemergency line, and animal enforcement officers showed up alongside Houston police, who obtained a warrant enabling them to reach the tiger.

Despite its tight quarters the tiger was apparently healthy and seemed to have been fed regularly. Officials just don’t know by whom.

Houston police have launched a criminal probe to find the tiger’s still-unidentified owner.

“It is categorically not legal to own a tiger within the Houston city limits,” Smith said.

Ya think!!!!

Animal cruelty charges could be involved. “We are working to determine who owns the tiger and who owns the property because that may or may not be the same person.” The woman is not in trouble, Smith added.

The animal officers, who are more accustomed to handling dogs and cats of the smaller variety, tranquilized the tiger, loaded its cage into a horse trailer and drove it across town to the city shelter Monday, Cottingham said. The tiger slept off the drugs and seemed in good spirits by Tuesday morning.

Cottingham noted that this Houston tiger’s story has happy ending with its upgrade from a garage cage to the sanctuary in Murchison, Texas, which comes with expert care.

“We are really glad it worked out as quickly as it did,” Cottingham said.

Open thread!