Saturday, August 18, 2018

Tick tock

Not many hours ago, George Papadopoulos -- who clearly has returned to Trump's good graces -- tweeted "Tick tock."

What's that about? My first thought was that he had obtained advance word of a development in the Manafort trial. Hung jury. Pardon.  

But it is far more likely that he is referring to some development in his own case. I suspect that some conservative news outlet will publish a story indicating that Joseph Mifsud is an intelligence asset for MI6 or CIA or the FBI (as he very likely was). This story will initiate a propaganda blitz designed to convey the impression that Papadopoulos was the victim of one of those Deep State conspiracies that the Alex Jonesians love to blabber on about.

Of course, the whole brouhaha will be a classic case of misdirection and obfuscation. Papadopoulos said what he said while in his cups, and nothing can change that fact.

Don't forget that Mueller is accusing GP of protecting Mifsud.
Friday's 10-page filing provided fresh details of how Papadopoulos' lies impeded the FBI, according to prosecutors, who went on to say his lack of cooperation justified a prison term.

They said Papadopoulos' initial lies hindered investigators' ability to effectively question, challenge or detain a London professor who Papadopoulos said first told him that Russians had 'dirt"on Hillary Clinton in the form of emails.

The FBI located the professor in Washington about two weeks after Papadopoulos' initial Jan. 27, 2017, interview with Mueller's investigators, but the professor left the country on Feb. 11, 2017, and has not returned to the United States, prosecutors said
As Marcy Wheeler notes...
This claim is overly dramatic, but it makes the frothy right’s conspiracy about Mifsud being an FBI plant all the more interesting — if he’s an FBI plant, then why did Papadopoulos cover for him while he was in the US? (Yeah, I know the premise is insane but that’s what conspiracy theories do to sanity.)
The idea that Mifsud has worked for American intelligence is not insane, and Marcy's remark increases my suspicion that "tick tock" refers to some STARTLING! NEW! SHOCKING! revelation concerning Mifsud.

The right-wing Twitter chatter sure seems to point in that direction. Example. In order to better understand that ticking sound, check out yesterday's filing in the GP case by the Mueller team.

The pro-Trump conspiracy-scribblers are pretending that this document represents incredibly bad news for the FBI, although most people who read it will not understand what they hell those scribblers are squawking about.

I think I know what's coming. Someone on the right side of the web will publish a major piece arguing that Mifsud was an FBI asset all along. This assertion or revelation will be seen as a conflict with this section of the filing:
Seventh, the lies were material to the investigation. The defendant’s lies to the FBI in January 2017 impeded the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Most immediately, those statements substantially hindered investigators’ ability to effectively question the Professor when the FBI located him in Washington, D.C. approximately two weeks after the defendant’s January 27, 2017 interview. The defendant’s lies undermined investigators’ ability to challenge the Professor or potentially detain or arrest him while he was still in the United States. The government understands that the Professor left the United States on February 11, 2017 and he has not returned to the United States since then.
Oh my God! Mueller said that George hid Mifsud from the FBI, yet Mifsud worked for the FBI! Mueller is lying! Do you hear me? LYING! DEEP STATE! ILLUMINATI! SATANIC PEDOPHILES! AIEEEEE!!!!

Actually, there is no real conflict between the assertion that Mifsud was an informant for an American agency and the assertion that GP obstructed the FBI from tracking down Mifsud. Papadopoulos probably thought that Mifsud was a Russian asset, not an American asset.

In the first place, it is likely that Mifsud worked for CIA or MI6, not the FBI.

In the second place, it can be damned difficult to determine the ultimate loyalty of an asset or an agent. Some of you may recall the case of Anwar al-Awlaki, the subject of several previous posts. There is evidence that Awlaki worked, for a while, for us -- even though his true loyalties were with Al Qaeda.

But none of that matters. The Trumpers possess a remarkable talent for turning material that damns them into material that damns the FBI and Robert Mueller.

The most striking example: The FISA warrant on Carter Page. Page damn well ought to have been spied upon: The feds identified him as an FSB recruitment target as early as 2013, and he made a mysterious trip to Moscow in the heat of the 2016 campaign. Not spying on him would have been outrageous, and I say that as a privacy advocate. (And yes, I would say the same thing if he were a Democrat.) The Page story should have been devastating for Trump, yet Trump managed to convince his followers that a FISA warrant on Page was overreach or partisan harassment.

Using the same trickery and , the Trumpers will now "exonerate" Papadopoulos.

Propaganda. It's fucking amazing.

The problem is not "what conspiracy theories do to sanity." The problem is how fascists use conspiracy theories to mislead the populace. I'm convinced that many Fox-watchers and Breitbarters can't actually follow the details of the weird tales pushed at them every hour of every day. The details don't really matter; it's all about emotion. Trump supporters are insecure, rage-filled people who have a psychological need to claim "victim" status; they will fasten onto any argument, however ludicrous, in order to feel persecuted.

Trump will probably pardon Papadopoulos. Even if that doesn't happen, six months is nothing. GP will be amply rewarded in the future.

The House won't go blue. More evidence. I don't trust this Salvanto guy, but his credibility isn't the point. The point is this: He has provided a rationale for everyone to latch onto when the "wave" turns out to be a lot pinker than expected.
That’s why Salvanto is relying more on CBS’s ongoing tracking poll and less on random-sample telephone polling, ahead of this year’s midterm elections.

“That decision is very much informed by 2016,” Salvanto said.

A tracking poll sets up a panel of thousands of voters and returns to them repeatedly over months. That lets pollsters discern the factors driving voter decisions — and gauge how attitudes change as the campaign wears on. In 2016, only two major surveys’ final predictions foresaw a Trump victory. Both of them — from the LA Times/USC and IBD/TIPP — were tracking polls.

“It gives us a great advantage in trying to explain the meaning of the poll results,” Salvanto said.
In other words: Let's toss out everything we know about polling methodology. Let's switch over to some new method favored by the right. Never mind the fact that all polling experts in previous times would have denounced this new method, and never mind the fact that the old methods still work in other countries.

I well recall that USC poll. Throughout 2016, everyone dismissed it due to its bizarre methodology, which coughed up results differing from all other polls. Now we are told that we must toss out random sampling, even though randomness has heretofore been considered mandatory. Now we are told that the right way to do polling  is to track hand-picked respondents. For some reason, everything has suddenly changed.

Riiiiiight.

This is precisely the kind of subterfuge one should expect from a state transitioning from democracy to totalitarianism.

Whenever you hear a guy like Salvanto go quack-quack-quack, think "election fraud." Think about all of those stories you've read about how easy it is to hack into the voting tabulators. The vote-riggers need after-action rationalizations, and that's where Salvanto comes in: "If the final result conflicts with all of the polls, don't blame the machines. Blame the polls!"
Comments:
Mr. Cannon : Read all the words about WHC McGahn meets with the Mueller team with Trumps blessing and expanded words from Lawfare, Vox and John Dean. Then read Marcy Wheeler to get the real story.

She is one smart lady if you read everything twice with care. Here is the bottom line:

McGahn may have spent 30 hours blaming Trump for writing this obvious retrospective CYA piece (one piece of news in this piece is that McGahn has been called by for a third appearance by Mueller’s team, but the story doesn’t reveal when that was). But he wrote it. And he likely has some legal risk for having done so.

Which is one of my gripes with this story overall. In spite of describing how McGahn and his lawyer worried about the former’s legal exposure, exposure that led them to embrace the ability to appear before Mueller directly, the whole theme of this story is that McGahn “cooperated” with Mueller’s inquiry. The word, in some legal contexts, may mean “responded to legal requests in a way that limited a person’s own criminal exposure” and in others may mean “helped convict co-conspirators.”

In this story, the former connotation is used though the latter connotation is sold. Because the story doesn’t explain the difference in connotations, it makes McGahn look far more cooperative than he has necessarily been.

I mean, maybe he has been. But to make that case, you’d need to ask that basic question: is he also answering questions about the election conspiracy, questions that likely go beyond his own legal exposure?

There are two other details, regular features of Maggie and Mike’s stories on what White House lawyers tell them to say, that are pure PR. First (because people on Twitter never understand this point), Maggie and Mike repeat something that Rudy Giuliani appears to have them chanting in their sleep, that the end product of this investigation is going to be a report to Congress.

Mr. Mueller has told the president’s lawyers that he will follow Justice Department guidance that sitting presidents cannot be indicted. Rather than charge Mr. Trump if he finds evidence of wrongdoing, he is more likely to write a report that can be sent to Congress for lawmakers to consider impeachment proceedings.


---snip ---

We’ve already seen nods towards Trump’s involvement in a conspiracy, without any report to Congress. Laying out Trump’s criminal actions as unindicted conduct in indictments has several legal advantages over just reporting it to Congress, including it would raise the stakes on pardoning any co-conspirators and potentially force Trump to sit for an interview. Moreover, indictments are how Mueller has communicated thus far, and how Rod Rosenstein has said they intend to communicate. So perhaps the NYT should stop simply repeating Rudy’s spin on this point?
 
gadfly, I had read Marcy's piece on McGahn. Yes, obviously, he's covering his own ass. Predictable. I see nothing new here.

As for Mueller's grand finale: Sorry, but I too expect a mere report, which the Fox Newsers will soon be able to spin away. It'll affect the Trumpsters the way Lawrence Walsh's report affected the fate of the Contragaters -- that is, not at all.

In my fantasies, I envision Mueller using the interview with Trump as an excuse for an arrest. But that won't happen.
 
With exactly what went through your head: Uhh.
 
Trump is simply doing what Obama did prior to Obama's second term. No matter what Obama said, the right went crazy and unhinged, and this pushed the undecideds back to Obama. In this instance, Trump will continue to make actual sense on certain topics but will be fricasseed by the Progressive media, causing a backlash.

Trump's comments about California fires were not outrageous, but were treated as such. Recently Trump suggested that the Stock Market quarterly reports should be lengthened and would ask the FTC to look into it to see what they think, and that too sent the Progressive media into a tizzy.

The Progressive Media helped Hillary Clinton lose in 2016, so of course when properly manipulated they will help Trump win re-election in 2020, all Trump has to do is start sounding reasonable.
 
The intelligence community has always found it beneficial to be a wolf in sheep's clothing. They call it "cover".

Perhaps the revelations of the 1960's left the intel community's previous disguise a little threadbare, forcing them to shed their old disguise and spend the last 3-4 decades slithering into and gnawing out a hiding place in a more tolerant, more diverse, and much more unlikely host?
 
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