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Thursday, September 17, 2020

Woodward lied. Plus: The Big Smear

On Lawrence O'Donnell's show last night, Bob Woodward repeated Barr's big lie that Mueller found no evidence that anyone on Team Trump colluded with Russia. Oh yeah? Former FBI agent and lawyer Asha Rangappa begs to differ.

Bully Barr, how do you obstruct justice? Let us count the ways: 

1. LIED about the contents of the Mueller Report, claiming that it found “no evidence” of colllusion or obstruction of justice

2. Attempted the redact material in Mueller Report which reveals that Trump DID collude

3. Tried to interfere in sentencing of Roger Stone, who we now know was communicating with Trump about said collusion 

4. Is trying to get the case against Flynn dropped, against the interests of justice as a former federal judge serving as amicus has stated 

Seth Abramson wrote a long, dense book titled Proof of Collusion, which I cannot summarize here. But I can link to this piece, which details how the recent Senate report proved the "collusion" narrative. 

Since the Mueller report came out last year, Trump and his minions have insisted it found no evidence of collusion. In fact, Mueller explicitly wrote that he was not investigating collusion at all. (“We did not address ‘collusion,’ which is not a legal term. Rather, we focused on whether the evidence was sufficient to charge any member of the campaign with taking part in a criminal conspiracy.”)

Unlike Mueller’s tightly circumscribed criminal probe, the Senate Intelligence Committee report did investigate collusion. The most important evidence of collusion has either already been exposed (Trump officials taking a meeting with a Russian agent offering Vladimir Putin’s help with the campaign) or happened right in front of our eyes (Trump going on television to ask Russia to steal and publish Hillary Clinton’s emails). The real question is how extensively or tightly Trump’s campaign managed to coordinate its activity with Russia. And while it lacked the broad-ranging investigative powers Mueller could have used if he wanted, the Senate Intelligence Committee turned up damning evidence.

The relationship between Trump's campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and Russian intelligence agent Konstantin Kilimnik, constitutes collusion. It's inarguable. No ifs, ands or buts. 

An argument can be made that Manafort himself was a kind of Russian agent. One could make a similar argument about Michael Caputo and Michael Flynn. 

There's also the fact that Manafort owed a great deal of money to a ruthless Russian oligarch named Oleg Deripaska. 

Trump Campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Rick Gates shared internal campaign polling data periodically with a Russian spy, Konstantin Kilimnik. “In accordance with Manafort’s instruction, [Gates] periodically sent Kilimnik polling data via WhatsApp; Gates then deleted the communications on a daily basis.” “Manafort expected Kilimnik to share that information with … Deripaska,” a Russian oligarch closely aligned with Vladimir Putin. “Manafort noted that if Trump won, Deripaska would want to use Manafort to advance whatever interests Deripaska had in the United States and elsewhere.” 

The Report’s wording – “whatever interests Deripaska had” — is notable given a well-known interview by Deripaska in which he said, “I don’t separate myself from the state. I have no other interests.”

Also see this piece, which offers six clear instances of collusion.
Trump knew about Russia’s interference and asked Manafort to keep him “updated” on WikiLeaks. Mueller outlines that then-candidate Trump was part of the effort to coordinate with Russian intelligence, informing one of his top campaign officials about upcoming information that was about to be released
Trump’s campaign chairman discussed the campaign’s strategy for winning Democratic votes in midwestern states and continuously shared polling data with a Russian intelligence agent.
The Trump Campaign developed a whole campaign plan based on their knowledge that more WikiLeaks releases were coming. Mueller found that the coordination with Russia was eagerly accepted and a central component of the campaign’s overall strategy
The Trump campaign knew it was coordinating with a Russian “spy.” Robert Mueller explains (p. 134 Vol I) that Rick Gates, who served as the Deputy Chairman of the Trump Campaign, believed that Konstantin Kalimnik was a “spy,” but the campaign continued to work with him.
  • The June 9 meeting: Donald Trump Jr. received an email from an emissary for a Russian oligarch explicitly offering dirt on Hillary Clinton “as part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” Trump Jr. not only eagerly took the meeting but brought in the campaign’s chairman and Jared Kushner, and even offered initial guidance for when to release the “dirt.”
  • George Papadopoulos and the hacked emails: George Papadopoulos, the Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, lied about meetings with a Kremlin-linked professor who told him in advance that Russia had stolen and planned to publish the Clinton campaign’s emails.
  • A suspected Russian agent was on the campaign: Carter Page, another campaign foreign policy adviser whom U.S. intelligence repeatedly concluded may be a Russian agent, traveled to Moscow during the campaign—with explicit permission from campaign leadership—to meet with high-ranking members of the Russian government.

The truly infuriating thing about the Mueller investigation is that it was not a counterintelligence investigation. We all thought it would be that kind of probe -- we expected one, we demanded one. But we didn't get one. Mueller didn't look at Trump's financial information (the obvious first step) and he didn't look at signals intelligence. 

The Mueller Report apparently omits any intelligence analysis and significant intelligence products such as signals intercepts, the kind of information that would also likely not be admissible at trial. What might those intelligence products add to the description of events? Consider this report by CNN in 2017:
“CNN has learned that investigators became more suspicious when they turned up intercepted communications that US intelligence agencies collected among suspected Russian operatives discussing their efforts to work with Manafort, who served as campaign chairman for three months, to coordinate information that could damage Hillary Clinton’s election prospects, the US officials say. The suspected operatives relayed what they claimed were conversations with Manafort, encouraging help from the Russians.”

The Mueller probe was, in short, nothing like what we were promised. The public was fleeced. And yet, as poor as the effort was, evidence of collusion was found. Moreover, there was plentiful evidence of obstruction. There would have been no need to obstruct if there were no underlying crime.

If I were Lawrence O'Donnell, I would have kicked Woodward off my show right then and there. 

Big Smear News. For more than a year, I've predicted that the 2020 election will hinge on an Epstein-related Big Smear directed against the Dems. The way has been prepared

But when she started sending texts last month on behalf of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, the responses she got back from the occasional Trump voters on her list surprised her.

“They immediately start calling Biden a pedophile,” she told me. “I send out 500 texts in a pop and maybe it’ll come up five to seven times.” 

When you consider that not every text is going to yield a reply and only a fraction of the recipients are Trump voters, that’s a pretty high response rate. Sometimes, the Trump supporters go into “really filthy detail about what kinds of things he’s doing or likes to do,” she added, though she never takes the bait and engages.

After we spoke, Silver checked the Slack channel he’s in for Biden text-bankers to see if this had happened to anyone else. “Looks like 72 or so texters reported getting replies about Joe being a pedophile,” he wrote to me.

Another volunteer I spoke with, who said she gets at least one pedophile comment during every text-banking shift, sent along a smattering of screenshots of responses her fellow volunteers had received. One voter said, “I personally believe that pedophiles should be fed feet first in to a woodchipper.” Another said that they could not support a candidate who would “associate with know [sic] pedophiles while being accused by the public to be a pedophile.” 

“I’d rather catch COVID-19 then [sic] vote for that pedophile…Trump 2020 bitch,” responded yet another.

This election ultimately will turn on false allegations of child abuse. The right has been preparing this attack for years. At this very moment, we are witnessing the most audacious -- and successful -- example of PsyWar in all of history.

Comments:
The problem with the Big Smear theory is that the people who are spreading it aren't voting for Biden anyway. QAnon is not even representative of the GOP as a whole. It is the extreme that many Republicans have disavowed. It is not going to convince Biden supporters to vote for Trump or sit out the election. Trump is the issue this election, not Biden. Biden voters are smart enough to know this is nonsensical; if there had been any truth to these stories, they would have come out decades ago.

Repeat, anybody who believes the crap about Biden weren't going to vote for him in the first place. In this election, there are very, very, very few undecideds. Not sure what your point is peddling this nonsense theory when it will have no impact.

I would be far more concerned about what Roger Stone is proposing.
 
Exactly. Only the Trump Chumps will believe this bullshit, and they were going to vote for him, anyway.

Tara Who?
 
Do not forget that Deripaska's Rusal has pledged $200 million in financing for a planned aluminum rolling mill to be built in Kentucky. Both McConnell and Rand Paul voted against reimposing sanctions on Deripaska's business.
 
I always wondered why the fact when there were multiple instances in WI where it was found that poll officials had padded votes for trump that a bigger story didn't result. In some of those rural towns I'm betting it'd be easy to do.
 
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