Sunday, March 26, 2017

Out like Flynn, part 2 (Plus: Louise Mensch)

Seriously, you do get the headline, don't you? My favorite Errol Flynn movies are Captain Blood and The Adventures of Robin Hood, both starring the Olivia de Havilland, the classiest star of that era, and one of my all-time great crushes. She's still with us.

I wish I could devote the rest of this post to listing all of the crush-worthy screen goddesses of yesteryear, but we have a president to impeach. So let's get down to business.

There are signs that Trump Dam is a-fixin' to crumble, and the little boy with his finger in the hole is named Michael Flynn. Or maybe I should say that Flynn is being used as a battering ram. I'm not sure which analogy to employ because the stories don't quite coalesce; at this point, all we can do is summarize the many reports.

CNN analyst Juliette Kayyam says that Michael Flynn has flipped. (And no, she doesn't mean "flipped" in the sense that I once flipped over Olivia de Havilland.) Allow me, once again, to translate Seth Abramson's twitter stream into standard prose:
First, as an attorney I want to make clear that, if this @CNN analyst's sources are correct, the #Russiagate scandal is blown wide open. FBI flips witnesses, turning them into cooperating individuals, only when they can help secure conviction of a bigger "target." Michael Flynn was the National Security Adviser for the President of the United States. The only bigger target is Donald J. Trump.

But Flynn also held a clandestine meeting with Russian ambassador/spy Sergey Kislyak and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner in December '16. And Flynn coordinated with infamous Iran-Contra figure and Russian oil/gas pipeline advocate Bud McFarlane in hiring Trump's Deputy NSA. And of course Flynn had the highest possible clearance and greatest possible access to POTUS in discussing matters of national security.

Flynn's hire as NSA was controversial -- even suspicious -- when it was made due to Flynn's absolutely terrible reputation in Washington. This suggests the hire wasn't based on merit, but rather the fact that Flynn is known to have ties (in-person ties) to Vladimir Putin.

We should conclude from the foregoing that Flynn was in the best position of anyone involved in #Russiagate to see all its contours. Given all of the above, we can say that if any one person could bring down Trump due to #Russiagate, it's the man the FBI may now have.
I'll add this: As noted in a previous post, someone seems to have revealed to Putin the names of American moles within the Russian intelligence system. As a result, a growing number of Russians have ended up dead or disappeared.

Which highly-placed American went blabby? Was his name Michael, by any chance?

Now let us turn to former CIA officer Tony Schaffer. Remember him? The Able Danger guy? Correct me if I'm mis-recalling, but didn't the stories published at that time refrain from identifying him as CIA?

He says that there is basic truth behind Trump's "tapp" tweet, although he admits that Obama didn't order the "tapp" -- which was not a tap, and which was not targeted against Trump. As you read the following, keep in mind that it comes from a FOX news story, and is clearly designed for the Fox audience.
He said that Trump was not physically wiretapped, with a wire into his phone, and it may not have physically been Trump Tower, but his campaign apparatus instead.

Shaffer said that due to the simplicity required to "mask" an American's name during an incidental wiretap, that the leak of Gen. Michael Flynn's name was "accidental on purpose."

"Clearly they were after gossip because it was political," Shaffer said, maintaining that the alleged wiretap had nothing to do with Russia.

The "political appointees" in the intelligence community knew exactly what they were surveilling for, Shaffer said, adding that the case is "much worse than Watergate by an order of magnitude."

He said that even if the surveillance was done legally, the "unmasking" of Americans' names and the leaking of the information are felones.

Shaffer added that Trump's references to battling the "intelligence community" likely meant those political appointees involved in the alleged surveillance, and not the CIA or NSA writ large.
Schaffer is not telling you that Flynn was recorded speaking to the Russian ambassador, who is always a legitimate target for surveillance. The ambassador did not operate out of Trump Tower. Frankly, I see nothing in Schaffer's statement that justifies those tweets.

Although I would place this interview with Schaffer somewhere between problematic and propagandistic, the man does raise a good point: Someone made a conscious decision to reveal Flynn's name.

Looking at the matter from an ethical viewpoint, one has to ask: Is Schaffer suggesting that the name should have remained hidden? If the National Security Adviser speaks covertly with the Russian ambassador -- on a line that both men think is secure, but isn't -- and if the conversation comes very close to an infraction of the Logan Act, and if Flynn neglects to tell the truth about this interaction, isn't that something which the intelligence community ought to reveal?

Woolsey. You probably already know about James Woolsey's claim that Michael Flynn, now known to be a paid agent of the corrupt Erdogan regime in Turkey, discussed the kidnapping of a Turkish national whom Erodgan considers an enemy.
As a representative of his consulting firm, Flynn Intel Group, Flynn met with senior representatives of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government in September 2016, Woolsey said. Woolsey was a Trump campaign adviser at the time and attended the meeting, but said he arrived after it was already well underway.

Woolsey claims that those present discussed sending Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim leader who Erdogan has accused of being behind a failed military coup to overthrow him, back to Turkey to face charges -- possibly outside the legal US extradition system.

"What I saw and heard was sort of the end of the conversation -- it's not entirely clear what transpired because of that," Woolsey said on "CNN Tonight" with Don Lemon. "But it looks as if there was at least some strong suggestion by one or more of the Americans present at the meeting that we would be able, the United States would be able, through them, to be able to get hold of Gulen, the rival for Turkey's political situation."

A spokesman for Flynn flatly denied Woolsey's characterization of the meeting.
Woolsey is an arch-neocon and a former pro-Trumper, so he's hardly my favorite person in the world. Nevertheless, it's hard to believe that a guy like Woolsey would simply make up a tale like this.

According to this DU thread...
Malcolm Nance just said with CONFIDENCE on AM Joy that 1st one to break will be Mike Flynn!
Nance said that James Woolsey has dropped the 'dime' on him.

Flynn is in deep shit for (allegedly) discussing how to kidnap Erdogan foe Fethullah Gulen and fly him back to Turkey.
I did not see the broadcast and cannot confirm that Nance actually said those words. From Nance's Twitter feed:
This is going to send Flynn to jail& force him to talk to see if Trump approved. Completely illegal to even discuss abduction of Americans.
Flynn and Nunes. Several sources have noted that, after Woolsey left Team Trump, there was another meeting between Flynn and Turkish officials at Donald Trump's hotel. And guess who was with him? Devin Nunes. This meeting was mentioned in the Turkish press but ignored by the American media.

Now let's turn to some non-Flynn news...

Blackmail? Palmer also reports that Russia is threatening to reveal some important secrets if the American government doesn't stop leaking information about what Russia is up to in Ukraine. Ooh! Does this mean that we might get a chance to see the watersports footage?
The lengthy briefing posted to Russian government website was conducted by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova, who speaks on behalf of Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov, and in turn speaks on behalf of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin briefing page is titled “The assassination of former Duma deputy Denis Voronenkov,” in reference to the former Russian politician-turned-dissident who fled to Ukraine, only to be gunned down earlier this week.

As Palmer Report has pointed out, Voronenkov would have been a star witness in the trial that the government of Ukraine is currently trying to assemble against former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Voronenkov was murdered just one day after proof finally surfaced of the longstanding assertion that Manafort had taken tens of millions of dollars from the Kremlin. It’s widely believed that Vladimir Putin had former Kremlin insider Voronenkov murdered in order to prevent him from exposing Kremlin secrets during any Manafort trial.

But the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson seems to be blaming the entire sequence of events on leaks from the United States government. In her briefing (source: she goes on to make the following claim, along with a rather dire threat: “I would like to say that if the practice of leaking information that concerns not just the United States but also Russia, which has become a tradition in Washington in the past few years, continues, there will come a day when the media will publish leaks about the things that Washington asked us to keep secret, for example, things that happened during President Obama’s terms in office. Believe me, this could be very interesting information.”
Are we to believe that the current Russian government and the current American government are protecting Obama? Doubtful. If Putin had dirt on Obama, Trump would know. More than that: Trump would tell. I'm fairly certain that any such material would have been all over our computer and teevee screens during the 2016 election.

Bye-bye Boris. This brand-new NYT report made me smile...
Boris Epshteyn, an official in the White House press office who had a contentious relationship with television producers and was once a frequent presence on TV himself, is leaving his job, according to three people with knowledge of the move.

The departure was treated with some mystery. Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, would not comment on the reason Mr. Epshteyn, an old friend of President Trump’s son Eric, was expected to depart the post.
As readers will recall, this humble blog tentatively identified Epshteyn as a likely source for certain claims made in the Steele dossier.
Writers for the Washington Post -- who have apparently seen an unredacted version of the dossier -- identified Source E as a Russian emigre who is very close to Donald Trump. But so far, no-one has given you a name.

Until now.

An anonymous informant tells me that Source E is Boris Epshteyn, the man who is running Trump's inauguration.
Everything fits. EVERYTHING.

He's a Russian emigre. He knows Moscow very well. (Source E knew Source F, who works at the Moscow Ritz-Carlton.) He's extremely close to Trump. He got "in" with the campaign via a relationship with Trump's son.
Here is the follow-up piece. If my informant was on the level -- if Boris really is "Source E" -- then he may be considering a move back to Moscow, now that the Russiagate scandal is starting to whirl out of control. The FBI may want to speak with him. A special prosecutor surely would seek an interview, given the man's expert knowledge of investment in Russia.

I'd also like to know just what it is that Ephsteyns' wife does at Google.

Finally: Did you catch Louise Mensch on Bill Maher's show last night? All of the guests were perfect, but she was plus‐que‐parfait. Russian propaganda outlets have launched an insane smear campaign against her which only gives her more credibility.

Yet I still don't trust her. Not completely. She's too close to the intelligence community.

All of our current "spooks against Trump" remind me of the role played by Bob Woodward in Watergate.

In 1973-75, liberals considered Woodward an unassailable hero because he helped to take down Nixon. Back then, everyone assumed that only a die-hard supporter of the Trickster would dare to suggest that Woodward had a covert side.

Only later did we learn (via Jim Hougan's book Secret Agenda) that Woodward had been a former intelligence briefer who got an important journalism gig at the Post despite a complete lack of experience or writing ability. In his Watergate coverage, he seems to have made a deal with CIA representatives to keep the Agency out of the WP's Watergate coverage. (See the Lukowski memo, published as an addendum in Secret Agenda. Also see what Hougan has to say here and here.)

Cut to: The current day.

Mensch, Schindler, and The Jester may be "pulling a Woodward." They are keeping everyone focused on the Putin connection while making sure that we all ignore the American intelligence community's role in Trump's election.

I'm simply asking you to keep Schindler's work in mind as you read this article in The Guardian, which reveals the important links between the Breitbart empire (funded by Robert Mercer) and Cambridge Analytica, a subsidiary of SCL Group, a company with strong ties to both the Trump campaign and (as we know from other sources) the American and British intelligence communities. Also see this interesting discussion of Breitbartiana.

Most of the "spooks against Trump" never talk about that stuff. With them, it's all Russia, all the time. They offer very few references to Cambridge Analytica or SCL Group, even though Mercer's firm specializes in propaganda and perception management.

The exception has been Louise Mensch, who has mentioned Cambridge Analytica: See here and here and here and here.

On Maher's show, Mensch did make the important point -- which too many have forgotten -- that Trump was (and is) protected by a coterie of FBI agents in New York. These agents may have been the ones who allowed Nunes to see those intercepts. In the course of her Twitter feed, Mensch has toyed with the notion that these FBI agents are Russian moles, a suggestion I consider silly. Still, we must never forget that this faction exists.

Beyond all of that: I may not trust Mensch completely, but I have developed a serious crush on her. She's just so damned brilliant and beautiful.

Kinda reminds me of Olivia de Havilland.


Petersen Leigh said...

Seth Abramson article at HuffPo attempts to explain Comey's pre-election behavior...

lastlemming said...


Marc McKenzie said...

Beyond all of that: I may not trust Mensch completely, but I have developed a serious crush on her. She's just so damned brilliant and beautiful.

Agree with you on this 100%. Beauty and brains...a lovely combination. :)

Anonymous said...

so joe, was it here i read about the mysterious connections between eric's wife lara yunaska and her NC roots, that being the 'location' of much of the cyber work behind the alleged weiner underage 'cyber-victim'? didn't she spill some revealing tweets or such around that time?

also, thx to p.leigh for that link; exceptional panorama provided there. mensch did note she believes comey is a good guy in a very messy agency, which abramson's piece also suggests. since (at the very least) 9/11, the rift/rivalry between the fbi and cia/etc has been quite suspect, without any public resolution. but perhaps worse than this would be a rift internal to the fbi, i'd guess between old school/hooverites and younger, more um, constitutionally motivated souls. the suggestions in that abramson piece, echoed by mensch, support this problem. and, i suppose, help explain the tightrope comey must be navigating. he may be the person most aware of the enormous powder keg he and the country are faced with now.

which leads to the question that's been nagging me since 11/9: namely, with all this control over our government, almost in toto, by the GOP/trumpsters, who would actually arrest them? i mean, it might be hard enough for comey to land an indictment, then get it thru DOJ (ha!), but then, who would take these suckers away?

dare we rely on the 'shame' of public exposure on the TV and twitter machines? might they simply mock us to our shocked faces? as they march us all off to our version of the gulag....

prowlerzee said...

"I wish I could devote the rest of this post to listing all of the crush-worthy screen goddesses of yesteryear, but we have a president to impeach. So let's get down to business." haha!

There is another headline out there "In and Out like Flynn." In Like Flint and Our Man Flint are my kinda movies so I got confused. It's OK because I have no clue about what's going on, either. Explain away....going back in to read the rest...the best I can.

Petersen Leigh said...

Whilst I find most of Mensch's postulations viable, the one that has always stuck out (as being "spooky") for me is that she thinks that Pence has no involvement in any naughty Russia stuff and will be the next POTUS. How could she know this? Is she being fed by a pro-Pence faction of the IC?