Today is another one of those days we have been looking forward to: Mueller will be filing on both Manafort and Cohen.
So more of that precious, amazing information we are all seeking will be out and we will all spend many delicious days dissecting just how bad it is for Trump.
Because, honestly, that is really the only question: HOW bad will it be for Trump? There is no way that it isn’t bad, we just don’t know HOW bad yet.
And as these things go, it might take a few days to people to sort out exactly what it means.
We have had those days to sort out what the Flynn release means for Trump.
Let’s dive in right there, because it is GOOD news for our democracy:
Mueller Is Coming For Trump
The big picture: One of the least-noticed elements of the special counsel’s approach is that all along, he has been making his case bit by bit, in public, since his very first court filing. With his major court filings so far, Mueller has already written more than 290 pages of the “Mueller Report.” And there are still lots of loose ends in those documents — breadcrumbs Mueller is apparently leaving for later.
By making such detailed filings, Mueller is actually increasing his burden of proof — suggesting a supreme confidence that he has the goods.
- And by making so much public as he goes along, Mueller is also insuring against his probe being shut down or otherwise curtailed by the White House.
Some of his deeply detailed filings raise questions that suggest more is coming
What is coming? Bad, bad news for Trump:
“All of this suggests an active criminal investigation that is increasingly focused on the president,” Toobin said on CNN’s “New Day.”
“That has to be nerve-wracking, for good reasons,” Toobin said.
We only know a small portion of what Mueller knows and that is enough to know that Trump is in real trouble. Soon, we will know more.
Some of what we can guess is because of where Mueller left info out of the Flynn document:
29/ I should amend my earlier comment to say the LONGEST redaction IS about the Mueller collusion investigation. After Mueller writes of what Flynn told him about his own (Flynn's) contact with Russia, MANY paragraphs are redacted. That would be *others'* contact with Russians.
— Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) December 5, 2018
Got that? Everyone who said that there would be no collusion case and just obstruction? Looks like you were wrong — lots and lots about collusion from this!
And who was doing that colluding?
34/ But the *other* thing people will note is that presumably Mueller feels some of the contacts people on the Presidential Transition Team besides Flynn had with the Russians were either in themselves criminal or else key elements of a criminal offense. That's significant news.
— Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) December 5, 2018
Other VERY HIGH up individuals were involved with this and Mueller has their info. This is BIG, everyone.
Other than Trump, one person who is being consistently looked at as being in trouble is Kushner:
the filing, and some new details in it, should give pause to members of Trump’s inner circle — especially the president’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser, Jared Kushner.
But the meat of what should worry Team Trump is in Mueller’s disclosure that Flynn has provided firsthand information about interactions between the transition team and Russian government officials — including, as was already known, several conversations with Kislyak in December 2016. Those included a discussion about lifting economic sanctions the Obama administration had imposed on Russia and about a separate matter involving a United Nations resolution on Israel.
Kushner’s actions are also interesting because the Federal Bureau of Investigation has examined his own communications with Kislyak — and Kushner reportedly encouraged Trump to fire his FBI director, James Comey, in the spring of 2017, when Comey was still in the early stages of digging into the Trump-Russia connection.
Here is what I think: If Kushner has not already flipped on Trump, he will. I see zero loyalty to the president from the boy wonder. He isn’t blood family and reports are that he is desperate to avoid doing jail time like his dad.
If Kushner thinks his odds are better with Mueller than Trump, he will go with Mueller. Now it is possible that Mueller doesn’t need him or wants to bring him down too much for a deal, but if it was up to Kush, he would flip like a pancake. That is my guess.
With or without a Kushner flip, Flynn should have Trump worried:
You don’t have to be a lawyer to know that a witness does not meet with federal prosecutors 19 times for nothing. Flynn’s “substantial assistance” with investigations into communications with Russia and the transition team with the approval of a high-level official (Jared Kushner, perhaps?) goes to the heart of a possible “collusion” — call it conspiracy — case. Former federal prosecutor Joyce White Vance observes: “Mueller says Flynn provided substantial assistance, which is a term of art for federal prosecutors. It often means assistance that makes it possible for prosecutors to make cases on other defendants. … His assistance looks like it’s centered on the core charge Mueller was given — to determine whether there was a conspiracy between Russia and anyone on the campaign, in an effort to influence the 2016 election.”
The number of interviews is quite extraordinary. Former FBI special agent Clint Watts tells me: “Flynn averaged more than one meeting a month with Mueller’s team. That would suggest seeking out Flynn for clarification or as a secondary source on other investigative leads.” He adds, “Documents also suggest there are multiple dimensions to Mueller’s investigation, which if true, would mean the belief this investigation will be over soon is incorrect.” Alternatively, Watts reasons, “Mueller might conclude his initial investigation fulfilling his mandate and hand over/refer out additional investigations to the [Justice Department].”
and the attempts to quiet other witnesses?
The latest revelation also underscores how foolish and counterproductive are Trump’s public attempts to sway potential witnesses such as Michael Cohen and Roger Stone.
The irony is that while Trump’s tweets might incriminate him, they are entirely ineffective in disrupting the investigation, which does not turn on one or even two witnesses. The enormous amount of evidence that Mueller must be accumulating — including information from 19 interviews with Flynn — remains out of Trump’s reach. He not only cannot affect many witnesses’ testimony nor block Mueller’s receipt of other forms of evidence (e.g. bank records); Trump has no idea what Mueller knows.
And (hee hee) those who have picked team Trump instead of team Mueller are in for a rotten surprise via some blue states:
In potential blow to Paul Manafort, the Supreme Court is unlikely to change the double jeopardy rule.
A presidential pardon could keep Manafort out of federal prison, but it would not free him from being prosecuted on similar state charges. https://t.co/Dvpndeuj2y
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) December 6, 2018
You played your cards really really wrong Manafort. Should have followed the Flynn path…
A number scaring the hell out of the Trumps: 119.
The equation: 70 hours of Michael Cohen interviews with Mueller’s team + 30 hours of interviews with former White House counsel Don McGahn + 19 Michael Flynn interviews with prosecutors.
Flynn has helped the Justice Department on three separate investigations: Mystery Criminal Investigation #1, the special counsel’s probe, and Mystery Investigation #2. It’s possible the second probe is a counterintelligence investigation rather than a criminal investigation, in which case its results will never see the light of day. Solving the mystery of Investigation #1 is going to be job numero uno for everyone today.
Flynn appears to have set an important example. Mueller writes that his early cooperation “likely affected the decisions of related firsthand witnesses to be forthcoming with the SCO and cooperate.” Who are those witnesses? What are they saying? Ahhhhh!
again: I think one of them might be Kushner…
So there are solid reasons to believe that Flynn’s testimony was very very bad for Trump and very good for the truth. However, there are also possible gems to speculate about in the release. Here is one:
The least-noticed sentence in Michael Flynn’s plea agreement with special counsel Robert Mueller may also be the most important one.
Section eight of the deal reached by Donald Trump’s former national security adviser in the inquiry into Russian meddling in the US election is entitled “cooperation”. It specifies that as well as answering questions and submitting to government-administered polygraph tests, Flynn’s cooperation “may include … participating in covert law enforcement activities”.
Long-time students of federal law enforcement practices agreed, speaking anonymously, that “covert law enforcement activities” likely refers to the possibility of wearing a concealed wire or recording telephone conversations with other potential suspects. It is not known whether Flynn has worn a wire at any time.
Here is another:
The document said Flynn’s “record of military and public service distinguish him from every other person who has been charged” in the investigation, but added that “senior government leaders should be held to the highest standards.”
Toobin said that line could be a big clue as to where Mueller is going, telling Cooper:
“The fact that he is saying ‘senior government leaders should be held to the highest standards,’ I would be a little nervous if I were the people involved in the obstruction of justice investigation, starting, of course, with the president of the United States.”
“I don’t think that is just filler material,” Toobin said. “I think that is a statement of how Mueller is going to approach the remainder of his investigation as he starts thinking about the people in the White House.”
Here is one more:
On page 3, Mueller is indicating that Flynn’s phone calls with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the transition were part of a quid pro quo: pulling back sanctions on Russia in exchange for their help during the election.
Crucially, Flynn’s lies were “material” to the investigation into Trump campaign ties to the Russians (not transition ties). Mueller is very clear that Flynn’s wrongdoing took place during the transition—not during the campaign. He’s specifying “campaign” here because the horse trading between Flynn and Kislyak (the “requests he conveyed” and “Russia’s response to the requests)” was tied to the campaign.
- This links Flynn’s phone calls, during which he coordinated with Kislyak to undermine the Obama administration’s sanctions on Russia, to what happened before: Russia’s support for President Donald Trump during the campaign.
- This is the strongest evidence yet of a quid pro quo: It suggests Flynn’s efforts to undermine or roll back sanctions on Russia, which continued into his brief tenure as National Security Advisor, were Russia’s reward for helping Trump win.
It seems that Flynn didn’t lie because he was trying to cover up his actions during the transition; he lied because telling the truth would have exposed the Trump campaign’s collusion with the Russian government.
and all of what we know now makes what we knew THEN seem even more suspicious and damning:
The latest revelations in the Russia saga should refocus our attention on a critical period during the 2016 presidential campaign. I’m talking about the seven weeks or so that began in June 2016, when Donald Trump Jr. planned the infamous Trump Tower meeting with Russians, and ended in late July, with GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump publicly calling on Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails.
What we now know is this. During much of that period, the Trump Organization was secretly pursuing a business deal in Russia that required Kremlin approval — even though the most senior members of Trump’s own campaign, and possibly Trump himself, knew at the time that Russia was waging an attack designed to sabotage our democracy on Trump’s behalf, which they eagerly sought to help Russia carry out.
On at least one occasion, Trump publicly absolved Russia of any blame for this attack — while apparently carrying on private financial dealings that involved the office of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Oh, and Flynn is only one part of this nightmare of truth for Trump. Michael Cohen is also going to cause him big problems:
The president’s former lawyer didn’t stand to gain from giving false testimony.
Cohen also indicates that as he prepared his congressional testimony, he was in “close and regular contact” with the White House staff and the president’s lawyers. This passage would suggest communications about his testimony, which—it is reasonably assumed—would have included discussion of its content. And it would be hard, indeed well-nigh impossible, to believe that the president’s team did not share with Trump what it learned. In fact, Trump’s lawyers had an obligation to advise him of what they knew.
On Wednesday, Michael Cohen’s attorneys submitted a sentencing memo requesting that their client receive “time served” for tax fraud and for multiple felonies that Cohen says he committed at the behest of his former client Donald Trump.
As Cohen’s memo notes, though, his cooperation with law enforcement officials appears to have been extensive.
Crucially, Cohen’s attorneys revealed additional details about the lies Cohen told Congress regarding a Moscow Trump Tower proposal, and the White House’s potential involvement in that cover-up. Cohen says the lies were “intended to benefit [Trump]” and were “in accordance with [Trump]’s directives.” From the memo:
[I]n the weeks during which his then-counsel prepared his written response to the Congressional Committees, Michael remained in close and regular contact with White House-based staff and legal counsel to [Trump].
It’s clear, though, that the misleading statements about the Russia business dealings map precisely with the lies about the Russian campaign support, e.g. collusion. It is also becoming clearer and clearer that if there’s a connection between the two, the special counsel seems incredibly likely to ultimately uncover it.
Not enough for you, you say? You want more truth coming out? OK, check this out:
Paul Erickson served as accused Kremlin spy Maria Butina’s guide as she penetrated the American conservative movement. Now he’s under investigation as a Russian agent, too.
If prosecutors bring the charges named in the letter, Erickson would be the first American embroiled in the 2016 Russia investigation charged under a statute that Justice Department lawyers describe as “espionage-lite.”
AND new reports came out yesterday linking Trump’s campaign to the NRA which is ALSO totally illegal and thus bad news for both Trump AND the NRA which is GREAT news for us!
Trump and the gun group used the same consultants to spearhead their TV ad blitzes at the height of the 2016 election, likely in violation of federal law.
And here is a promising note on Whitaker. Despite clearly being a douche, he does also seem like someone out for himself enough that I don’t think he would trade in his future to go down with trump.
With this power, Whitaker could obstruct the Russia investigation in many ways. The glaring legal problem for Whitaker—in addition to the illegitimacy of the appointment itself—is that any step he takes to slow or impede special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation potentially could lead to an obstruction or bribery conspiracy charge against him, even if an attorney general would ordinarily have the power to make such moves. In case he is ever tempted to obstruct the Russia probe on the president’s behalf, Whitaker would be wise to study the history of Nixon’s two attorneys general and six other lawyers indicted for participating in Nixon’s legal scandals and what became of them.
Democrats Are Ready To Go!
The incoming House Homeland Security Chair says Dems will undertake wide-ranging scrutiny of the justifications behind and executions of the top items in Trump's immigration agenda, from family separations, to the Muslim ban, to the migrants at the border. https://t.co/EVeZtwpPVk
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) December 2, 2018
The chairs of the Democratic Governors Association, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee are now all women. https://t.co/dc4SWdqwOu
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) December 3, 2018
Things Look Bad For Trump
This is an administration that can claim not a single substantial foreign policy achievement.
Trump doesn’t know or care. A vision of American leadership? A road map to combat threats from illiberal regimes? Please. All Trump has ever wanted is a red carpet and praise. And even the latter is in short supply these days outside Saudi Arabia and Israel.
The Pentagon will begin sending a backlog of thousands of green-card holders to recruit training, suspending a policy adopted by the Trump administration last year that required more-stringent background checks for some immigrants wanting to serve, according to two defense officials and an internal memo.
The new directive says that each armed service must comply immediately with a preliminary injunction issued last month in the District Court for the Northern District of California. In it, Judge Jon S. Tigar agreed with an argument from the lawyers of two prospective service members and the American Civil Liberties Union that the Pentagon had not satisfactorily explained why new screening is necessary. Tigar said the policy should be disregarded.
The two A.G.s who issued subpoenas in the Trump emoluments suit are targeting 37 entities, including 13 Trump-linked entities and the federal agency that oversees Trump's D.C. hotel lease. Subpoenas were sent to DOD, GSA, Commerce, Agriculture and the IRS. https://t.co/NMXwLfVPTM
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) December 5, 2018
Even Trump’s #1 cheerleader is starting to turn on him:
Fox News Channel host Tucker Carlson set straight any misinformation concerning his views on President Trump: “I don’t think he’s capable,” he said during an interview on Tuesday.
Carlson said he cannot stand Trump’s self-aggrandizement and boasting. Then, when asked whether Trump has kept his promises, the usually quick-witted and long-winded Carlson had just one word: “No.”
Of course, those promises are evil so the rest of us are glad he hasn’t kept them. But it is good news that Tucker is speaking out against him a little. We’ll need some Fox heads to turn on him about when the time comes. They will. It has been a marriage of convenience for them.
Just For Fun
Looks like the graphics team at Fox News is sending a subliminal message… pic.twitter.com/5kUNayKN0J
— Richard Garza (@richardrgarza) December 2, 2018
Look at this shiftless and triflin’ fuck. Sitting in the front row of a funeral, with the world’s attention on him—hundreds of millions of eyes, perhaps—and he looks like a 6th grader whose parents dragged him to Les Miserables on ice. He’s the leader of the free world (shit), and he couldn’t even bother to sit up straight, this jive-ass bitch.
Perhaps I’d consider being more kind if Trump were dealing with an illness or ailment that left him unable to not sit and look like a Garbage Pail Kid. But according to his doctor (heh), his health is “astonishingly excellent.” It’s not health that he lacks, it’s couth. He is couth deficient. Couth repellent. Couth avoidant. Couth impaired. Couth meager. Couth weak.
my favorite tweet on trump not greeting the Clintons or Carters:
I’m 100% sure Hillary is unbothered, and 200% sure Trump doesn’t know who Jimmy Carter is.
— Jen (@JLum320) December 5, 2018
And about Steve Bannon being cancelled from the Sex Robot Conference:
That is it for today. Happy Friday everyone!