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Monday, July 17, 2017

Why is Kislyak at the State Department? Plus: Defending Hillary. Plus: Where was Trump? Let's ask the Secret Service...

Kislyak. Josh Lederman of AP offers an intriguing tweet.
Ambassador Kislyak and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov arrive at State Department to meet with Tom Shannon
I thought Kislyak was fired. So what the hell is going on? Am I the only person on the east coast who hasn't met with Kislyak?

Shannon was appointed by Obama in February of 2016, and served as the de facto Secretary of State until Tillerson was confirmed.

Will no-one defend Hillary? Donald Trump and his defenders keep repeating tired old lies about Hillary Clinton. Unfortunately, both mainstream pundits and unabashed liberals refuse to expose these lies. Their refusal allows falsehoods to take root in the public imagination.

Take, for example, this recent Trump tweet:
HillaryClinton can illegally get the questions to the Debate & delete 33,000 emails but my son Don is being scorned by the Fake News Media?
Here's the WRONG way to answer this question: "Trump is guilty of whataboutism. The election is over, yet he is still running against Hillary Clinton." Although those are valid points, they allow a falsehood to stand as truth.

Here's the RIGHT way to answer: The FBI recovered the majority of those deleted messages and determined that they were inconsequential.

How do we know that the FBI's assessment was accurate? During the last six months, Donald Trump's Justice Department has not offered any indication that Hillary did anything wrong -- even though the Trumpers spent much of the campaign shouting "Lock her up."

Hillary herself did not delete any emails. Her legal staff provided Congress with all requested messages. After doing keyword searches of the headers, those charged with maintaining the server deleted personal items, just as you have probably deleted messages from your own email inbox. Remember: Emails are also stored locally on the recipients' computers (example: Huma's laptop) and on outside servers (when messages were sent to email addresses outside of Hillary's system). So we're talking about multiple copies.

As for Brazile's alleged "leak" -- what does it come to? Before a primary debate in Flint, MI, Brazile told Hillary that a woman from town had been chosen to address the candidates: "Her family has lead poison and she will ask what, if anything, will Hillary do as president to help the ppl of Flint."

And that's it. That's Brazile's big effing sin against Saint Bernie.

Come ON. Of course someone in Flint was going to ask about the poisoning of the water! What else would one expect? Hearing that question in Flint is about as surprising as seeing superheroes in an Avengers movie.

Here's an infuriating paradox for you to consider: Although the assault on Flint's infrastructure illustrates everything wrong with conservatism, the only national political figures who suffered from the Flint crisis were Hillary Clinton and Donna Brazile.

Even before we learned about Brazile's message, the allegedly "liberal" Washington Post assailed Hillary precisely because she did her best to draw attention to Flint's problems. When she said the words that liberals wanted her to say, the Guardian newspaper accused her of self-interested grandstanding. Of course, if she had said anything else, the press would have lambasted her. The situation was unwinnable.

The press has treated the Clintons this way for decades. That "unwinnability factor" -- the brazen injustice of it all -- is what made me sympathetic to Bill and Hillary Clinton. Obama never received this kind of treatment. If journalists had not behaved so unfairly toward the Clintons, I would have favored other Democrats.

Let's return to the present day.

"Collusion is not illegal" is the best defense that the Trumpers can muster. First: Many analysts argue that Junior did break campaign laws when he took that meeting. Second: There certainly is a law against lying on a security form, as Jared Kushner did. Third: The "It's not illegal" argument goes both ways. Even if we give Trump's tweeted accusations against Hillary the worst possible interpretation, the Orange one has not pinpointed a single instance of illegal activity. The Trumpers chanted "Lock her up" but cannot specify a single violation of US Code.

The only illegal act was the email hack itself. This deed was undertaken by Trump's pals to benefit Donald Trump.

The Secret Service. The Trumpers have blamed the Secret Service for not preventing Donald Trump Jr. from meeting the Russians. In response, the Secret Service pointed out that Junior was not under their protection at that time. True -- but Donald Trump the elder was. Question: Was Trump Sr. at that meeting? It was held in Trump Tower, and we know that Trump Sr. was in the building at that time. Secret Service agents can be compelled under oath to tell us which floor Trump was on.

Even if Trump was upstairs during the meeting, he probably listened in. We know that he believes in bugging.

UPDATE: While I wrote the above post, Josh Marshall wrote this
Did Russia hack Clinton’s private email server? We’ll probably never know. But I think the fact that those emails never appeared during the campaign makes it highly unlikely that they had them. Otherwise why not release them?
Why not? Because they were innocent. That's why not.

Releasing the emails would have exonerated Hillary and incriminated the Russians -- and, by extension, the Trumpers.

Of course, the Russians could have cobbled together some seemingly-sinister fakes. I believe that the Trump Tower meeting was intended to hammer out a quid-pro-quo: Russia would smear Hillary if Trump promised to get rid of the Magnitsky Act.

But any scheme to smear Hillary in this fashion would have run into a problem: It became clear that the FBI had recovered the majority of the deleted emails. How could the Russians plausibly produce incriminating emails that did not appear in the FBI's stash? The Trumpers did not want to make Hillary look like the victim of a crime.

From the standpoint of Team Trump, it was more effective to leave those emails a mystery. Trump and his supporters kept repeating the Big Lie about the deletion, never mentioning the recovery. Our compliant allegedly-liberal press went along with the program, rarely mentioning the recovery and spewing pious nonsense about the "perception" that Hillary lacks transparency. (And never mind the fact that Trump is the one who makes everyone signs NDAs.)

The public's imagination did the rest of the work.
Dana Brazil in the daily show was asked about the debate question. She didn't come out and say it in plain English, but she basically said she gave the question to both candidates. We know about Hillary's bc the hackers didn't want people to see Sanders' People keep forgetting that Hillary was the first candidate to talk about Flint so why would she need help wit that. I think a law suit from Hillary is the only way to shut him up.
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It's days like these I wish this blog had emoticons. :)

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