I'll be back soon with a largish piece on the strange affair of Mikhail Lesin. (At last, a Russian name that is easy to spell!) For now, this
. You no doubt saw yesterday's news stories about Alex Van Der Zwaan
. A recent filing against him asserted that Manafort's pal and partner Rick Gates knowingly colluded with a Russian GRU official whose status with the spy agency was known to Gates.
it is clear that Mueller is using Gates not to put Manafort in jail (deserved as that outcome may be) but to target Trump. Until state charges are leveled against him, Manafort himself will not turn. But Gates was so close to Manafort that he -- Manafort -- may not even be necessary, although his cooperation would obviously be helpful.
Gates may have information of value to prosecutors beyond his business dealings with Manafort, according to sources familiar with his role. He never grew close to Trump, but he had ties with other members of Trump's inner circle, including Manafort and Tom Barrack, a fundraiser and close friend of Trump's. He also developed a reputation for keeping tabs on what others were up to, one source said.
Gates worked alongside Manafort during the critical summer of 2016 when senior campaign officials, including Manafort, met at Trump Tower in New York with a group of Russians who had promised damaging information on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
"Was he in the strategy meetings? No. But he was an implementer," one person said of Gates. So while he may not have participated in the Trump Tower meeting with the Russians, he may still have knowledge of the meeting or whether those Russians were ever introduced to Trump himself.
"He would be the kind of person who would probably know that," this person said.
Even after Manafort was fired from the campaign, Gates stuck around. He then went on to work with Barrack, while Barrack ran the presidential inaugural committee following the election.
At this point, I don't know how anyone can doubt that collusion existed. The Republican strategy has been to pretend that everything traces back to the Steele Dossier, and that said dossier has been disproven. Neither assertion is true. I know of no assertion in that document which has been proven
wrong, although a few have been questioned. The most important aspects of the text have, in fact, been verified. At any rate, even if the dossier had never existed, we'd have ample indications that Trump campaign had awareness of Putin's aid, including the hacking of Podesta and the DNC.
Foreign aid of any kind to a domestic campaign is a crime. I am persuaded that this charge is going to be the key indictment leveled against Trump and his confederates, aside from the obvious obstruction of justice charges.
Presuming, of course, Meuller is allowed to finish the job.
He's been a rather rotten houseguest, by all reports. And now we learn the Ecuador is cutting off Assange's internet connection
-- which is akin to cutting off a runner's legs above the knees.
Ecuador’s government granted Mr. Assange citizenship in January, the latest step in a longstanding diplomatic standoff. But it said it had suspended Mr. Assange’s online communications on Tuesday because he had imperiled “the good relations that the country maintains with the United Kingdom, with the rest of the states of the European Union, and other nations” through his social-media messages.
The government did not provide specifics, but some speculated that the decision might have been related to the Western nations’ coordinated actions against Russia after the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain. In a series of Twitter posts this week, Mr. Assange was critical of Western nations’ expulsions of Russian diplomats.
What brought this about? It may have something to do with the Mueller investigation. We know that the Mueller has targeted Roger Stone in recent days, and the Stone/Assange connection is obvious. Ecuador may have decided to cooperate. Although I don't yet have an actual theory of these events, I feel fairly confident presuming a connection between the Stone inquiry and Assange's most recent troubles.