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Friday, March 31, 2017

Ryan and Nunes

Yeesterday, we learned a lot more about the Devin Nunes sub-scandal. To be specific, we learned that his sources were White House Counsel Michael Ellis, Ezra Cohen (a young acolyte of Michael Flynn at DIA) and National Security Council lawyer John Eisenberg.

Most of my guesses/theories/suppositions about this strange affair have been borne out. I was not entirely right, but I got fairly close to the truth.

1. I said that there is a pro-Trump faction within our intelligence community. Clearly, the actions of Ellis and Cohen bear this out. They must have had help from "on high," for how else would they get hold of those intercepts? We need to know how they got access.

2. I said that Nunes was being "double bubbled." (If the term confuses you, you didn't read the post I wrote two days ago. Scroll down.) Yesternight, Chris Hayes said that a face-saving story about Trump's tweeted accusation against Obama was being "laundered" through Nunes. That's pretty damned close to the way I called it.

3. I said that the Trumpers would gin up evidence against Obama. This would seem to be the purpose of the Nunes drama. The intercepts may have been real; Nunes was led to interpret them as evidence that Obama had done something malign. I'd dearly love to know how the evidence was presented to Nunes.

What I still can't get a handle on is the Ryan factor. After learning what he learned, Nunes went to see his ostensible boss, Paul Ryan. Obviously, Nunes should have spoken first to Adam Schiff. The fact that Devin Nunes did not do so tells us that he is a partisan creature above all else.

After visiting Ryan, Nunes then went back to the White House to brief Trump on what he learned. It seems very likely that Trump knew about those intercepts all along.

Did Ryan tell Nunes to brief Trump? I believe so, even though Ryan denied this claim in an MSNBC interview he conducted yesterday. However, in that same period, Trump sent a message telling the political world to watch a specific Fox News program in which a host -- who seemed to be drunk -- called for Ryan's resignation.

Trump denied that this tweet was intended as a not-so-veiled threat to Ryan. Nonsense. Of course it was. This administration operates on threats and blackmail.

I believe that Ryan lied, that he did tell Nunes to brief the president. Something about that briefing made Trump furious at Paul Ryan; alas, we don't know that that something is.

Why did Trump react that way?

Folks, we need a "Theory of Ryan." Ryan learned something from Devin Nunes that set off a remarkable chain of events. But what?

Flynn. The other stunning news was Michael Flynn's offer to tell his story in exchange for immunity. Ever since I learned about this offer, I've gone back and forth in my mind: Should the Justice Department take the deal?

It all comes down to one key question: Is Flynn truly going to turn on Trump, or is he going to use the occasion to spew some sort of nonsense placing the blame on the Clintons?

Not many minutes ago, Trump tweeted the following:
Mike Flynn should ask for immunity in that this is a witch hunt (excuse for big election loss), by media & Dems, of historic proportion!
As always, Donnie reveals more than intended.
Sorry I haven't commented in a while, but I've been in Mexico, real Mexico, Chiapas, for a while. I know you've missed me. Anyway, the odd thing is if Trump thinks that Flynn should have immunity, why doesn't he pardon him today? The president has the absolute right of pardon, remember Ford and Nixon? He can issue a general pardon for all crimes committed prior to the pardon. The only problem with that is that Flynn would then lose his fifth amendment right against self-incrimination. By the way, I enjoyed your discussion of begging the question. i always thought there was a difference between circular reasoning and begging the question, now I know there isn't. Another interesting reasoning fallacy is not knowing the difference between axioms and conclusions.
The correct answer, apparently--at least on the part of of the investigating committees--is, "no."

It should have been pretty easy to figure out--would Trump urge the offer be accepted if it didn't someway benefit The Donald.

The legalese is nicely explained in a squib with an unpromising title (I've augmented it with brackets to clarify its contents)

Flynn’s Public Offer to Testify for Immunity Suggests He May Have Nothing to Say [or is not willing to say anything that would incriminate others, and we are looking at you Donald Trump.]

The article explains that plea deals with the FBI aren't struck until they have a chance to sample the merchandise. In other words, first you confess, then you negotiate a plea deal. His lawyer knows that and the FBI offer obviously was not made in good faith. It's the other part that is key, "testimony proffer" is a dangle to the two committees. Why? Well, history tells us that Olie North's conviction was overturned because the plea deal negotiated with the House was felt to have contaminated deliberations by the jury. Schiff knows this, obviously, and wouldn't touch the offer. Ditto Senate.

But what if Nunes decided to "grow a conscious?"

This was dreamed up at least in early March. Flynn's last tweet, in which he claimed Trump would save himself by throwing others under the bus, was probably a lure--see! Flynn has finally turned on Trump!! Don't even dream such dreams.

As for the FBI: Twitter posts, "tapps" hacks, a trail of dead Russians. Who needs testimony?

And Louis Freeh's name just popped up. I thought we were finally rid of that asshole.
Can he ask for immunity? Isn't it something that gets offered when the feds think you can give up someone further up the food chain?
Flynn is going to pull an Ollie North. Immunity + "I would stand on my head in the corner if my President asked me to". First thing I thought when no agency accepted his immunity request yet.
Disagree with the depiction of a pro-trump cabal in the intelligence agencies, think its better described as a pro-Trump cabal handpicked by Bannon installed in the WH intelligence roles in position over the objections of the mainstream of the agencies. Remember, McMasters wanted to fire this guy, and Trump/Bannon forced him to allow him to stay. They have been put there to spy on the FBI investigations and aide Bannon's efforts, and only Trump can keep them there.
Doesn't Louise Mensch provide the basis for a theory of Ryan? Louise reports on Patribotics that what Nunes saw were excerpts from a FISA authorized surveillance And she opines that these picked up Donald Trump. Trump wanted kept hidden the detail of him personally being legally caught up in a FISA surveillance.

Not only did Ryan fail to jam thru the healthcare, but Ryan knows (a) Trump probably obstructed justice by revealing the FISA approved surveillance in the tap tweet, and (b) Trump lied about the Obama tape because it was approved by FISA. Ryan knows too much, is not under Trump's control, may somehow use this knowledge against Trump. What is there for Trump to like in any of this, when there is so much to dislike.
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