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Monday, December 04, 2017

Obstruction

As most of you know by now, Trump got himself into some unnecessary trouble when he admitted, in one of his characteristically puerile tweets, that he knew all along that Flynn had lied to the FBI (the crime to which Flynn has pleaded guilty). This admission, combined with Comey's testimony that Trump had asked him to let Flynn off, solidifies the case for obstruction of justice.

In a hilarious CYA scramble, the White House tried to pretend that the tweet in question was written not by Trump but by lawyer John Dowd, who has never before or since tweeted on behalf of his boss. Nobody believes this claim.

J.K. Rowling offered a truly magical response:
It might help to see other examples of John Dowd's carefully crafted prose. If they too are randomly capitalised, baboon-like shrieks of incontinent rage, then fair enough.
Another tweeted response demonstrates the absurdity of the Dowd-diddit claim:
As a lawyer, I can confirm that I frequently compose tweets confessing to crimes and send them from my clients’ twitter accounts. It’s the first thing you learn at law school.
This infantile attempt at evading responsibility proves that Trump has become a desperate man. He reminds me of Harry Lime scurrying beneath the sewers of Vienna. 

And now, this.
The White House's chief lawyer told President Donald Trump in January he believed then-national security adviser Michael Flynn had misled the FBI and lied to Vice President Mike Pence and should be fired, a source familiar with the matter said Monday.

The description of the conversation raises new questions about what Trump knew about Flynn's situation when he urged then-FBI Director James Comey to drop the investigation into Flynn and whether anyone in the White House, including the President himself, attempted to obstruct justice. Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians, a probe led by Comey until Trump fired him.

White House counsel Donald McGahn told Trump that based on his conversation with then-acting Attorney General Sally Yates, he believed Flynn had not told the truth in his interview with the FBI or to Pence, the source said. McGahn did not tell the President that Flynn had violated the law in his FBI interview or was under criminal investigation, the source said.
Who is CNN's source? McGahn himself seems the obvious choice. He would not be in violation of attorney/client privilege, since he works for the White House, not for Trump. If not McGahn, then the source is probably someone who works with him.

Added note: Somehow, I managed to miss this WP story from yesterday...
President Trump’s personal lawyer said Sunday that the president knew in late January that then-national security adviser Michael Flynn had probably given FBI agents the same inaccurate account he provided to Vice President Pence about a call with the Russian ambassador.

Trump lawyer John Dowd said the information was passed to Trump by White House counsel Donald McGahn, who had been warned about Flynn’s statement to the vice president by a senior Justice Department official.
So what's next? I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Trump or Bannon advised Flynn to lie to the FBI, in order to protect Jared Kushner and (in all likelihood) Trump himself, who (judging from the Statement of Offense in the Flynn case) were conducting foreign policy before taking the oath, in violation of the Logan Act.

Meanwhile, lawyer Dowd is arguing that a president cannot obstruct justice -- period. Imagine if the reaction a lawyer for Clinton had said such a thing! If Clinton had impeded the corrupt Ken Starr probe in even the slightest fashion, the Republicans would have screamed "OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE!" loud enough to shatter God's left eardrum.

Am I mistaken, or is Dowd pretty much admitting that his client obstructed justice? In what court is Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi considered a viable defense?

No more free press, thank you very much. Roughly a third of the country thinks that freedom of the press should be extended only to Breitbart, Fox News, and the Pals of Pepe:
Almost half of Americans — 44 percent — indicate that they believe the news media fabricates stories about President Trump more than once in awhile, and a substantial minority also indicate that they agree with a claim that President Trump made that the media are an “enemy of the people” (31 percent) and “keep political leaders from doing their job” (31 percent). One in four Americans surveyed (25 percent) endorses draconian limitations on press freedom (allowing the government to block news stories it sees as biased or inaccurate).
Comments:
If a president can't be obstruct justice, someone should have told the House Judiciary Committee in 1974 when it approved an article of impeachment against Richard Nixon for obstruction of justice, and the House itself in 1998 when it actually did impeach Bill Clinton on that charge.

They're in big trouble and they know it.

They need a distraction.

Maybe Jared Kushner could get sent to the same prison cell his law graduate father used to stay in?
 
jfc
 
Can someone explain why they are sweeping obvious collusion under the rug in favor of obstruction?
 
Anon: I don't think collusion is being swept under the rug. But if the intent is to find a criminal charge that can be made to stick, obstruction of justice is easiest to prove conclusively. That was the main impeachment charge against Nixon. To this day, we have no way to prove conclusively that Nixon had foreknowledge of the break-in, although most serious students of Watergate think he did.
 
Just putting this out there:

Deutsche Bank gets subpoena from Mueller on Trump accounts: source

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-deutsche-bank/deutsche-bank-gets-subpoena-from-mueller-on-trump-accounts-source-idUSKBN1DZ0XN?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter_axiosam&stream=top-stories

Though the obstruction case is the easier case to make, I have no doubt Mueller will bring a very fine collusion case as well.

In the meantime, prepare for chaos.
 
Also, unrelated to this post, but did everyone see the developments in the Gloria Allred case? One of the other Moore accusers produced a graduation card from Roy Moore with handwriting that looks exactly the same as the yearbook handwriting. Glad to see Gloria Allred's client is not a ringer after all.

It also blows up the pathetic defense of Roy Moore supporters that they would only believe the accusers if they learned the yearbook handwriting wasn't forged. Somehow they have convinced themselves that that is the hill they were willing to die on. But it looks like they'll now have to move on to another rationalization.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/woman-shares-new-evidence-of-relationship-with-roy-moore-when-she-was-17/2017/12/04/0c3d1cde-d903-11e7-a841-2066faf731ef_story.html?utm_term=.3ab204ead8ef
 
nemdam, the handwriting match misses the point. The people who want to test the yearbook have asked -- justifiably, in my opinion -- to test the ink. If the ink is anachronistic, then forgery is proven. If my theory is correct, then it would make sense for the handwriting to be convincing (and perhaps written by Moore himself) but in a type of ink that does not match the time period.

The REAL problem with my theory has to do with possession of the physical yearbook. It would have to be held by Allred herself. If Nelson still possesses it, and if she is "in on the joke" (as it were) then one would expect her to have handed the thing over already for independent forensic examination.
 
Obstruction is just a placeholder. Furthermore, I do not believe that "collusion" (it's really called conspiracy) will be the final charge.

What Mueller is going to find out (if he hasn't already, and I suspect he has) is that Trump is being controlled -- blackmailed -- by Putin, either via the sex tapes or because he owes the Russians an incredible sum of money, or both.

It seems to me that having a Manchurian President is a hell of a lot scarier thought than collusion, by at least a factor of ten. Besides, collusion with foreign powers interfering in our elections and politics happens all the time, the prime example being Israel. And nobody cares.
 
Controlled by Putin? You have to wonder why Trump looks set to take an enormous dump on five decades of Arab-Israeli relations by recognising Al-Quds/Jerusalem as the Zionist capital city. Even Clinton when he was being kept on a knife edge in the Lewinsky affair didn't do that.

Russia is a powerful and efficiently run state these days; it has always had a top-class intelligence service; and it has masterfully outplayed US agencies in the fifth domain of warfare for a couple of decades now. BUT there is a limit to how much power I am willing to consider to be concentrated in the Kremlin. Let's not overdo it.

The Arab League have done some amazingly submissive things over the years, but would swallowing the indignity of an alliance with the US (even against Sunni Iran) while the US recognises Jerusalem as the capital of Israel make it past the "Arab street"? Even now that most Arab countries have been Facebooked up, does that sound likely? Are there not some deals that some Gulf states will now tell the US and its allies to shove?

Prepare for chaos indeed, and large-scale war.

 
The BBC are reporting that a US recognition of Jerusalem as the Zionazi capital would be a "world first". They might as well say "Well done, Sir!" or "Billionaire US president shows the world the way forward".

Or "Yum yum, lots of profits to be made during Armageddon".

So if it's a "first", what other countries are going to follow suit? Macron's France may be on the list. And there needs to be some kind of explanation for why Germany has been ordered to be without a non-caretaker government for so many months. All the pundits nod sagely, as if it's typical for a hung parliament to lead to this kind of impasse, but what is happening in Germany is bloody peculiar.

Meanwhile US warplanes conduct exercises over and off Korea. It will only take one incident there.
 
It became clear to me dump wasn't conceived by only Putin.
 
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