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Westlake Legal Group > investigation

Epstein’s attorneys: We’re not fully buying the suicide ruling

Westlake Legal Group epstein-autopsy Epstein’s attorneys: We’re not fully buying the suicide ruling The Blog suicide mcc lawsuits Jeffrey Epstein investigation Department of Justice autopsy

As I said yesterdayjoin the club. Jeffrey Epstein’s legal team announced yesterday that they will launch an independent investigation into his death, including why authorities housed Epstein in the “medieval conditions” at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC). His attorneys aren’t ruling out suicide, but they’re not embracing it as an explanation either:

Three of Mr. Epstein’s lawyers, Martin G. Weinberg, Reid Weingarten and Michael Miller, challenged the findings and vowed to conduct their own investigation.

“We are not satisfied with the conclusions of the medical examiner,” said the lawyers, who had hired a private pathologist to observe the autopsy, in a statement. “We will have a more complete response in the coming days.”

NYT reporter Michael Gold tweeted out their entire statement:

Not to be too crass, but who’s going to pay for such an investigation? It’s not going to be cheap to fight the government for access to all of this, and perhaps to conduct a separate and independent autopsy as well as depose witnesses and bring in experts. Epstein probably set up a legal fund to deal with all of the attorneys he was going to have to pay, but he was paying them to sit with him for hours on end at MCC for the last several weeks, as well as doing all of the normal legal work of a man facing federal prosecution. If those funds run out or if Epstein was paying them directly, his estate will have to pay for the investigation — and it might get tied up in more pressing matters such as the avalanche of lawsuits coming from Epstein’s victims.

Perhaps his attorneys foresee a lawsuit of their own and think it will eventually be a self-funding effort. From what has already emerged, there seems to be ample grounds for a lawsuit over incompetence and fraud at MCC, and it might benefit some of the people detained in the facility now by forcing the government to properly staff and resource it. However, even if a jury was inclined to rule in favor of Epstein’s team in a wrongful-death suit, how much would such a jury award in damages over the loss of Jeffrey F’in Epstein? Hope they don’t mind post-mortem pro bono work.

For now, their skepticism may be warranted but it’s also strategic. It’s in their interest to maintain the narrative of Epstein The Wronged whether accurate or not. Note too that they’re not entirely rejecting the conclusion that Epstein committed suicide, although they’re leaving rejection open as a possibility. Their tactical ambiguity leaves open a wide range of possibilities, from outright murder and “assisted” suicide all the way down to reckless endangerment as a catalyst for an actual Epstein suicide.

The threat of an independent investigation might also be a strategic bluff, or an overstatement; it will keep the Department of Justice on its toes as it conducts its own investigations into Epstein’s death and the conditions at the MCC. Right now, everyone’s antennae are up and no one’s going to embrace any initial conclusions on the case until we see lots and lots of evidence for them.

Addendum: This look at Epstein’s last days — and his environment — from the NYT makes suicide look more plausible, at least:

But in his final days, Mr. Epstein’s efforts to lessen the misery of incarceration seemed to be faltering.

He was seldom bathing, his hair and beard were unkempt and he was sleeping on the floor of his cell instead of on his bunk bed, according to people at the jail. …

“One thing I can say for sure is when I left him he was very, very upbeat,” said Mr. Schoen, who never had the chance to join the team.

But in the days that followed, Mr. Epstein started appearing more haggard, according to lawyers and prison staff.

“He’s deprived of communication with third parties, looked disheveled, sleeping on the floor sometimes,” a lawyer said.

Be sure to read it all, and marvel that the suicide rate isn’t higher at MCC than it already is.

Update: Will these same attorneys explain what took them so long to file a motion to dismiss based on double jeopardy? It may not have succeeded, but if it did, Epstein would have been out of MCC.

The post Epstein’s attorneys: We’re not fully buying the suicide ruling appeared first on Hot Air.

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Jeffrey Epstein Had a Painting of Bill Clinton In a Blue Dress For Some Reason

Westlake Legal Group 34_politics002-drew-angerer-edited-580.v1-620x414 Jeffrey Epstein Had a Painting of Bill Clinton In a Blue Dress For Some Reason weird sex trafficking report Politics Pedophile Island painting Jeffrey Epstein investigation Front Page Stories Front Page Featured Story democrats Blue Dress Bill Clinton

A new report, including pictures, came out today exposing that Jeffrey Epstein had a painting of Bill Clinton on the wall of his New York mansion. That would be weird enough, but the painting also included the odd detail of the former President posing while wearing a blue dress. I guess this was a humorous throwback to the Monica Lewinsky saga?

Jeffrey Epstein had a bizarre portrait which appeared to be of Bill Clinton in a dress hanging in his Manhattan mansion, DailyMailTV can reveal.

The picture depicting the former president apparently lounging on a chair in the Oval Office, wearing red heels and posing suggestively in a blue dress redolent of Monica Lewinsky was in a room off the stairway of the Upper East Side townhouse.

The painting was secretly snapped inside the pedophile’s lavish $56 million home in October 2012, four years after Epstein completed his sweetheart deal for prostitution of a minor and seven years before he was accused of running a sex trafficking ring of underage girls.

Well, alrighty then. We can probably just close up shop on the internet for the day because this can’t be topped in its absurdity.

Bill Clinton had numerous connections to Epstein, including taking 27 flights on his “Lolita Express” private jet and being pegged as present on Epstein’s island, famous for its sex trafficking. The Daily Beast also exposed a rash of private meetings, including events at the White House during the 90s.

What all that adds up to is currently unknown but suspicions have been rightly raised. The news of this painting just adds another layer to their relationship. You’d think they were pretty close if Epstein had this joke painting hanging on his wall. We’ll have to see where the evidence actually takes us though.

In the meantime, if I never see Bill Clinton in a dress again, it’ll be too soon.

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The post Jeffrey Epstein Had a Painting of Bill Clinton In a Blue Dress For Some Reason appeared first on RedState.

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DOJ Seeks Secret Tape Between Papadopoulos and Informant, Called a “Game Changer”

Westlake Legal Group papadopoulos-620x341 DOJ Seeks Secret Tape Between Papadopoulos and Informant, Called a “Game Changer” Trey Gowdy Steven Halper Russia Protecting Each Other Politics joseph mifsud investigation george papadopoulos Front Page Stories Front Page Featured Story FBI donald trump democrats Dan Coats crossfire hurricane corruption cia azra turk

Image via George Papadopoulos’s LinkedIn account

I’m not much for dramatic descriptions in the Russia investigation because I’m generally cynical anyone will be held accountable, but “game changer” are Trey Gowdy’s words, not mine.

At this point, it’s getting hard to keep track of all the different informants the government ran against George Papadopoulos, but one in particular made a recording that is getting renewed scrutiny by the DOJ. It involves possibly “exculpatory” evidence that was purposely not presented to the FISA court in subsequent renewals against Carter Page.

The Justice Department is intent on reviewing transcripts of recordings that at least one government informant made of conversations with former Trump campaign associate George Papadopoulos.

Little is known about these classified transcripts, including who is the source, other than the growing hype about them in conservative circles. Former Rep. Trey Gowdy called them a “game changer” in a Fox News interview in May.

Here are some of the scant details revealed so far.

Investigators looking at why certain “exculpatory” material from these transcripts was not presented in subsequent applications for surveillance warrants against another Trump campaign aide, Carter Page.

“I think it’s the smoking gun,” one source said.

Without Trump’s declassification order, one source said Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats would not have allowed anyone to have access to these mysterious records. But another source stressed that Coats as well as FBI Director Christopher Wray and CIA Director Gina Haspel are cooperating with DOJ’s investigation.

It should shock no one that Dan Coats was trying to stonewall this until the president stepped in.

It never ceases to amaze me how pervasive the scheme to protect each other is within our federal bureaucracies. They hide behind claims of “sources and methods,” but if a law (or even department policy) was broken, how is it proper to hide behind secrecy? Without transparency in the face of malfeasance there can be no accountability, and that’s apparently exactly how the FBI likes it.

So who is on the recordings? The best guess is that it’s Steven Halper and Azra Turk. Turk is known for having asked Papadopoulus if Trump was working for the Russians. At this point, it’s essentially been confirmed that she was an FBI informant, with even The New York Times reporting on it. This of course all leads back to Joseph Mifsud, the mysterious man who first told Papadopoulus the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton. That was the beginning of the investigation dubbed Crossfire Hurricane. The lack of prosecution against Mifsud, despite the fact that he lied to the FBI and Mueller’s team at least three times, points to the fact that he was also working for U.S. intelligence, otherwise there would be no reason to continue protecting him.

When you put all this together, you get Papadopoulus as nothing more than a poor sucker who was baited by the U.S. government and used as a pretext to start an investigation against the Trump campaign.

If this recording turns out to show that Papadopoulus actually rebuffed Halper or even that his interest was mostly innocent, it’s going to be another black eye against the FBI’s conduct. I say FBI because if the CIA is involved, then things really get bad for the government from a legal standpoint. Hopefully, AG Barr and the Durham investigation are getting to the bottom of this. The fact that they are going after these recordings does give me hope that they are pulling on every thread.

Time is of the essence though. This can’t drag out into the 2020 election. Things need to start going public sooner rather than later.

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The post DOJ Seeks Secret Tape Between Papadopoulos and Informant, Called a “Game Changer” appeared first on RedState.

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It Sure Looks Like Robert Mueller Didn’t Even Write That “Snitty” Letter to AG Bill Barr

Westlake Legal Group mueller-hearing-4-j-620x317 It Sure Looks Like Robert Mueller Didn’t Even Write That “Snitty” Letter to AG Bill Barr the washington post Special Counsel Robert Mueller Politics obfuscation Not In Charge Mueller report letter investigation hearings Front Page Stories Front Page Featured Story disaster democrats bill barr attorney general

Former special counsel Robert Mueller testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 24, 2019, before the House Judiciary Committee hearing on his report on Russian election interference. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

As several of us have written over the past twenty four hours, one of the key takeaways from Robert Mueller’s disastrous testimony yesterday was that he not a man in charge of his own investigation. Time and time again, we saw evidence of that spill out in the hearings. Mueller often didn’t know basic facts and he couldn’t recall things that were in his own report. He also patently refused to answer any questions, even questions clearly in bounds, that wouldn’t allow him to give a boilerplate deflection referencing the report, again calling into question his knowledge.

One such instance involved a much discussed letter from Robert Mueller to Attorney General Bill Barr. Billed as a “bombshell” by left-wing media, it contained a claim that Barr’s initial summary of the top line findings failed to “fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of the Mueller report.

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III wrote a letter in late March complaining to Attorney General William P. Barr that a four-page memo to Congress describing the principal conclusions of the investigation into President Trump “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of Mueller’s work, according to a copy of the letter reviewed Tuesday by The Washington Post.

This was of course nonsense. Barr’s release of the top line findings was, by its very definition, not meant to reveal all the context and substance of the report. Something stunk about that letter, as well as the way it got to The Washington Post. The tone was also unlike Mueller according to Bill Barr, who called it “snitty,” speculating that someone else wrote it.

Republicans brought all this up in yesterday’s hearings and while Mueller naturally obfuscated, he said enough to basically confirm the speculation.

Here was the first exchange.

Madeleine Dean:          00:07                Thank you. I wanted to ask you about public confusion connected with Attorney General Barr’s release of your report. I will be quoting your March 27th letter. Sir, in that letter, and at several other times, did you convey to the Attorney General that the “Introductions and executive summaries of our two volume report accurately summarize this office’s work and conclusions.”?

Robert Mueller:            00:35                I’d have to say that the letter itself speaks for itself.

Madeleine Dean:          00:39                And those were your words in that letter. Continuing with your letter, you wrote to the Attorney General that “The summary letter that the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24th did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office’s work and conclusions.” Is that correct?

Robert Mueller:            01:00                Again, I rely on the letter itself for its terms.

Madeleine Dean:          01:04                Thank you. What was it about the reports, context, nature, substance, that the Attorney General’s letter did not capture?

Robert Mueller:            01:12                I think we captured that in a March 27th responsive letter.

Madeleine Dean:          01:17                And this is from the 27th letter. What were some of the specifics that you thought-

Robert Mueller:            01:22                I direct you to the letter itself.

Madeleine Dean:          01:24                Okay. You finished that letter by saying, “There is now public confusion about critical aspects as a result of our investigation.” Could you tell us specifically some of the public confusion you identified?

Robert Mueller:            01:39                Not generally. Again, I go back to the letter. The letter speaks for itself

Madeleine Dean:          01:41                And could Attorney General Barr have avoided public confusion if he had released your summaries and executive introduction and summaries?

Robert Mueller:            01:49                I don’t feel comfortable speculating on that.

Mueller continually points to the letter itself, even though the letter doesn’t provide the answers to the questions being asked. Keep in mind, this letter is not covered under any privilege and was actually leaked by Mueller’s own office. Yet, he refuses to answer even the most basic questions about why he wrote it and what its purpose was.

Then things started to break down for Mueller. He’d later be asked about the letter again, including its leaking.

Martha Roby:                03:59                On March 27, 2019, you wrote a letter to the attorney general essentially complaining about the media coverage of your report. You wrote, and I quote, “The summary letter the department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 didn’t not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office’s work and conclusions. We communicated that concern to the department on the morning of March 25th. There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the result of our investigation.” Who wrote that March 27th letter?

Robert Mueller:            04:29                Well, I can’t get into who wrote it. The internal deliberation-

Martha Roby:                04:36                But you signed it.

Robert Mueller:            04:37                What I will say is, the letter stands for itself.

Martha Roby:                04:39                Okay. Why did you write a formal letter since you had already called the attorney general to express those concerns?

Robert Mueller:            04:45                I can’t get into that. Internal deliberations.

Translation: He didn’t write the letter.

Someone who was confident in A) what the letter said and B) that he wrote it, would not refuse to answer a question as basic as “who wrote the letter.” He also would be able to deal with the letter’s accusations instead of constantly saying the letter stands for itself, which it does not. How does the letter answer the question of why he didn’t just call Bill Barr? It simply doesn’t.

Rep. Roby would then press Mueller on the letter’s leaking and that only led to more confusion.

Martha Roby:                04:47                Did you authorize the letter’s release to the media, or was it leaked?

Robert Mueller:            04:52                I have no knowledge on either.

Martha Roby:                04:55                Well you went nearly two years without a leak. Why was this letter leaked?

Robert Mueller:            05:00                Well, I can’t get into it.

Martha Roby:                05:02                Was this letter written and leaked for the express purpose of attempting to change the narrative about the conclusions of your report? And was anything in Attorney General Barr’s letter, referred to as principal conclusions, inaccurate?

Speaker 3:                    05:15                The time of the gentle lady is expired. The gentle lady [crosstalk 00:05:17]

Martha Roby:                05:16                Can he answer the question, please?

Robert Mueller:            05:21                And the question is?

Speaker 3:                    05:21                He may answer the question.

Martha Roby:                05:21                Was anything in Attorney General Barr’s letter, referred to as the principal conclusions letter dated March 24th, inaccurate?

Robert Mueller:            05:28                Well, I am not going to get into that.

Speaker 3:                    05:31                Time of the gentle lady is expired.

Huh?

So he can’t tell us who wrote the letter. He can’t tell us who leaked the letter and claims to not know. He can’t even say that there was nothing inaccurate in his letter. This doesn’t sound like a man who was in control of his own investigation. It sounds like his “deputies” wrote this letter and put it in front of him to sign. I’m not sure if Mueller was truly so out of it that he couldn’t even process what was going on, but its pretty jarring to see him unable to answer baseline questions about a letter he claims is his words.

Mueller would later say in testimony that he didn’t even believe his office leaked the letter. That’s simply an insane contention given the letter originated from his office and that there’s no logical reason Bill Barr would have leaked it given it was harmful to his account.

The only thing that makes sense here is what’s becoming more and more obvious. Robert Mueller was a figurehead. A nominal “Republican” providing cover for a team of partisans that were actually running the show. Andrew Weissmann clearly had more power and more say in the Mueller report than Robert Mueller himself did. That’s apparent by not only the wording at times, but by the presence of Part II (which breaks DOJ guidelines on slandering unindicted people) and Mueller’s own inability to discuss his own report.

The bottom line is this. Mueller never should have been appointed as special counsel, especially if as Sen. Graham claims, that it was common knowledge that Mueller was “mentally feeble.”

What we ended up with was a group of Hillary donors, including people who attended her “victory” party, running wild. They ignored criminality by others in a rabid pursuit of only people connected to Donald Trump. Robert Mueller showed little control over his investigation and allowed DOJ policy to be blatantly violated.

This was a travesty of justice and there needs to be a reckoning.

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The post It Sure Looks Like Robert Mueller Didn’t Even Write That “Snitty” Letter to AG Bill Barr appeared first on RedState.

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NYT hints: Mueller aide Aaron Zebley was actually running the Russiagate probe

Westlake Legal Group rm NYT hints: Mueller aide Aaron Zebley was actually running the Russiagate probe zebley The Blog testimony russiagate Russia obstruction mueller investigation

Maybe not the only one running it, the Times suggests, but Bob Mueller doesn’t seem to have been a core part of the leadership team.

“It’s inconceivable that Robert Mueller ran this investigation,” said Andy McCarthy on Fox News this morning after taking in Mueller’s performance yesterday. “One thing that was evident in seven hours of testimony is that he only has a remote familiarity with his own report and with the investigation. He was actually staff-driven and that’s what the president has been saying all along.” Kellyanne Conway echoed the point elsewhere, albeit in a kinder way — sort of:

“I am first and foremost who I will always be, which is a daughter, a mother,” Conway told conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt during an interview on his show Thursday morning.

“And, of course, I feel great empathy and compassion for folks who, as some of these headlines suggest, may be feeble or not understanding some of the questions — asking them to be repeated, clearly not conversant with the facts and with his own report,” she continued.

Mueller’s halting testimony made the question of who was really in charge inescapable. The Times provides a probable answer: It was Aaron Zebley, the aide who accompanied him to yesterday’s hearing and was allowed by House Democrats to “advise” him on his answers. For good reason, it seems.

Soon after the special counsel’s office opened in 2017, some aides noticed that Robert S. Mueller III kept noticeably shorter hours than he had as F.B.I. director, when he showed up at the bureau daily at 6 a.m. and often worked nights.

He seemed to cede substantial responsibility to his top deputies, including Aaron Zebley, who managed day-to-day operations and often reported on the investigation’s progress up the chain in the Justice Department. As negotiations with President Trump’s lawyers about interviewing him dragged on, for example, Mr. Mueller took part less and less, according to people familiar with how the office worked…

The calendars of one of the team’s top prosecutors, Andrew Weissmann, suggest that he met infrequently with Mr. Mueller apart from a daily 5 p.m. staff meeting, which typically lasted 45 minutes.

Instead, the calendars cite Mr. Zebley’s initials 111 times, often next to “team leader” meetings, suggesting he may have led them.

Has this ever been reported before anywhere? I’m not one of the Internet’s Russiagate obsessives, familiar with minutiae of the probe, but I followed it as closely as anyone who comments on national news for a living might be expected to. I can’t recall even reading the name “Aaron Zebley” before this week, although doubtless it showed up in Mueller stories in passing. I know I’d remember seeing it if any mainstream news source had suggested that Mueller wasn’t fit for command and was serving in a largely figurehead role while his deputies, led by Zebley, handled the business of the investigation. That would have been a bombshell, throwing the probe’s credibility into doubt; Trump surely would have amplified it too in his daily rants about the investigation. “Daffy old Bob Mueller can’t find his way home! How can he find the truth about my innocence?”

Remember, Zebley previously represented the IT aide who set up Hillary Clinton’s email server. If it had been previously reported that he was the de facto head of the probe, you think POTUS might have noticed? Instead, not a peep.

And so: Are we to believe that American media knew nothing about Mueller’s … situation for two years until yesterday, when House Democrats inadvertently forced him to reveal his unfamiliarity with some of the basics of the case? Or did they have reason to believe that Mueller was unfit and/or not actually leading the probe but kept that fact quiet for their own ideological reasons, knowing how Trump would exploit it if he knew? Politico noted yesterday afternoon that “House Democrats caught wind of Robert Mueller’s reluctance earlier this year: the special counsel may not be ‘up to’ testifying after he concluded his Russia probe,” calling the chatter “second-hand and cryptic.” If House Dems were hearing it, reporters were surely hearing it too.

Did they try to chase it down? The news value of that scoop obviously would have been momentous.

I won’t fault anyone who chooses to believe that they knew and looked the other way to protect Mueller and the left’s chances of taking down Trump. But I can also see how it would have been hard to nail down a “Bob Mueller’s not up to leading the Mueller probe” story. For starters, Team Mueller was famous for not leaking about the investigation. Imagine how much more reluctant they would have been to leak about the “condition” of Bob Mueller, a man whom they admired and whose unfitness might have jeopardized the entire probe had it been public knowledge. For all Mueller’s deputies knew, Trump might have seized on news of Mueller’s frailty as a pretext to fire him and try to end the investigation, risking a constitutional crisis. They may have kept this as their most closely guarded secret, with no one breathing a word to the media. The fact that Mueller refused to do interviews, believing that a prosecutor should speak only through his indictments, made that option tenable.

Also, without an official diagnosis from a doctor, how could a news outlet feel confident enough about a claim that Mueller had grown frail to print it on page one? It’s unlikely that aides and friends would say bluntly that they feared he’d become “feeble” or senile. More likely they’d dance around it, allowing that he’d “lost a step,” which means … what, precisely? Mueller is still sharp enough to have (barely) gotten through two House hearings yesterday. So if you’re a New York Times reporter and you have a couple of people telling you he might not be “up to” running the probe but you also inevitably have other people insisting that he’s fine, just fine, never better, what do you do with that information? Do you run it, knowing that you’d be throwing a match into a political powder keg based on a couple of people’s unscientific perceptions, or do you wait and sniff around for stronger evidence?

Look at it this way: If the media had heard about Mueller’s condition, chances are high that Washington Republicans were hearing about it through the grapevine too. Yet I don’t recall any GOPers, starting with Trump, ever attacking Mueller along these lines — and the Trump-era GOP isn’t know for fighting by Queensbury rules. They would have used if they had had it. So maybe they didn’t have it. And if they didn’t, maybe reporters didn’t either.

Exit question: If Mueller’s condition was commonly known in D.C., would House Dems really have allowed him to testify yesterday? Or would they have manufactured some excuse and asked Zebley to testify instead? Come to think of it, will Zebley testify now? Or has the public’s attention span for all things Russiagate finally been extinguished?

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Democrats are desperate to resurrect the dead Mueller report in hearings

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The Democrats in Congress continue to fail to learn the lessons of the Trump presidency. Rule number one is no one cares about the Mueller report except for Trump’s opposition in Congress and the reporters who cover them. The American public greeted the arrival of the Mueller report with a yawn. They will do it again this week when Mueller appears before two House committees.

Congressional leadership in the House is frustrated that most Americans took a hard pass on reading the Mueller report for themselves. In order to ram it down our throats, the chairmen of the House Judiciary Committee and the House Intelligence Committee plan to ask Robert Mueller to read aloud his findings when he appears before the committees this week. The plan is for them to ask Mueller about something on a specific page of the report. Then they will ask him to read his findings in that section of the report.

Rep. Adam Schiff acknowledged that most Americans have little free time to enjoy some leisurely reading, and certainly don’t want to spend that time reading a political report. He went on to say that his solution is to let Mueller read it to them in an interview on Face the Nation.

California Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, is expecting special counsel Robert Mueller to bring his exhaustive report “to life” during hours of testimony before Congress this week by offering the American public a compelling, televised account of alleged wrongdoing and unethical behavior by President Trump and his 2016 presidential campaign.

“Since most Americans, you know, in their busy lives haven’t had the opportunity to read that report — and it’s a pretty dry, prosecutorial work product — we want Bob Mueller to bring it to life,” Schiff said on “Face the Nation” Sunday.

The Mueller report concludes that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. The Democrats are holding on for dear life to the possibility of pursuing obstruction of justice charges, as well as a desire for Russian help by Team Trump. Their political life, mind you, is what they are holding on to, not the actual life of our American Constitution or justice system. We can’t trust Attorney General Bill Barr either, you know.

“It’s a pretty damning set of facts that involve a presidential campaign in a close race welcoming help from a hostile foreign power, not reporting it but eagerly embracing it, building it into their campaign strategy, lying about it to cover up, then obstructing an investigation into foreign interference again to try to cover up,” Schiff said.

“Who better to bring them to life than the man who did the investigation himself?” Schiff said, referring to Mueller, who is scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary Committee in the morning and the House Intelligence Community in the afternoon.

Schiff said Mueller’s high-stakes congressional testimony, which had to be postponed from an earlier date in July, will also serve as an indispensable opportunity for the special counsel to talk about his investigation without any interjecting statements from Attorney General William Barr, who Democrats have accused of shielding the president.

On another Sunday morning show, Rep. Jerry Nadler, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee used his interview on Fox News Sunday to proclaim President Trump as guilty of committing “high crimes and misdemeanors”. He, like Rep. Schiff, will ask Robert Mueller to back up his hyperbole.

“The [Mueller] report presents very substantial evidence that the president is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors and we have to present — or let Mueller present those facts to the American people and then see where we go from there,” he said.

“Because the administration must be held accountable and no president can be above the law.”

Nadler went on to disclose his plan of action in advance and to brush off any questioning that Republicans may do about the Steele dossier as just a waste of time.

“Well, we hope it won’t end up being a dud,” he replied. “And we’re going to ask specific questions about — look at page 344, paragraph two, please read it. Does that describe obstruction of justice and did you find that the president did that, for example.”

Nadler also said he isn’t worried about Republicans asking probing questions about the investigation’s origins via the Steele dossier, and claimed they’d only be wasting their time.

We won’t know if Mueller will play this game with Congressional Democrats until he appears before the committees. He agreed to appear after he said the report is finished and he has nothing else to say about it. Who knows? Maybe he’s up for a little performance art. Which brings me to what all of this conjured up in my mind Sunday morning. I watched both of the shows and all I could think about was the production put on by some Hollywood actors who, like Congressional Democrats, are desperate for America to see the impeachment of President Trump as the endgame.

If you don’t know what I’m referring to, you are not alone. Most Americans ignored the Hollywood version of the Mueller report, too. The actors gave a dramatic reading of the Mueller report, putting their own emphasis on whatever words they thought sounded more ominous than the others. They used their professional training to sound as sincere and concerned as possible. As a matter of fact, their seriousness was what made it particularly entertaining for me. It’s hard to not point and laugh at these hypocrites. It was a live performance, live-streamed on a liberal website.

Some of the actors participating in this political exercise were Annette Bening, Kevin Kline, John Lithgow, Sigourney Weaver, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Mark Hamill, Justin Long, Piper Perabo, Michael Shannon, and Zachary Quinto. Not exactly a swoon-worthy cast but you get the idea. The production was live-streamed by more than a million viewers but in a country of over 300 million people, that’s not exactly a big number. The executive producers were members of the Disney family.

The play was pulled together in 25 days, unlike the 18 months of the actual Mueller investigation, which found no collusion on the part of Trump’s campaign. The play was directed by Scott Ellis and executive produced by Susan Disney Lord, Abigail Disney, and Timothy Disney. Producers were David Permut, Suzi Dietz, and David Bender.

Who knew the Mueller report was a comedy? Even Vanity Fair wasn’t impressed. “Most of The Investigation played out like a classroom of bored high schoolers being asked to recite Shakespeare aloud in English class.” Yikes! Let’s see if Robert Mueller can top Hollywood’s performance this week.

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State Department’s Chief of Protocol ousted, skipping G-20 with Trump

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Welp. Another one bites the dust. Sean Lawler, President Trump’s chief of protocol since December 2017 is out. Assistant chief of protocol, Mary-Kate Fisher, is in. Apparently, if the president frequently asks why a person is still working in the White House, it’s time for that person to go. He was told to pack his things Monday. There is, allegedly, a State Department investigation afoot. Lawler is suspended indefinitely.

This all comes at an odd time. President Trump is flying to Osaka, Japan as I write this. He is going to the G-20 summit, an occasion where the skills of the chief of protocol are needed to make arrangements for meetings and determine the stream of visitors for President Trump, among other duties.

The protocol chief assists the president on overseas trips, and when foreign leaders visit the White House, by making introductions and briefing the president on protocol. Lawler, a fixture in the Oval office during dignitaries’ visits, served as the president’s liaison to the diplomatic corps at the State Department.

Diplomatic fine points handled by the protocol chief include helping determine where to hold meetings and in what order participants should enter a room.

No one is commenting officially about an investigation that may or may not be underway. A State Department spokeswoman would neither confirm or deny a specific investigation. It looks like this is a behavioral matter on his treatment of staff.

One of the State Department officials described what multiple others told CNN was a pattern of behavior on Lawler’s part. “In my decade of government service, I have never seen someone so unprofessional, abrasive and rude as him,” the official said. “His bad behavior was terrible, and it was obvious. I personally saw it myself, as did a good chunk of the office.

“For example, in a recent meeting — a very routine planning meeting — when he asked a question, if he didn’t like the answer, he would immediately raise his voice, get angry, start using profanity, and use the ‘F word.’

“Then, a moment later, like the flip of a switch, he’d calm himself down and it would be like nothing happened. This has happened before. Many times. And everyone would talk about it after. Their reaction was, ‘What the hell just happened? Did he just start screaming at someone younger, or a woman, or an African American, in an extremely derogatory, condescending fashion? Did he just use the ‘F word’ several times? Did that really just happen?’”

The chief of protocol position is confirmed by the Senate and Lawler has the rank of a diplomat. It isn’t a trivial position. He micro-manages the president on overseas trips and during visits from dignitaries in the White House. In the case of Lawler, this isn’t his first rodeo. He should be well aware of proper behavior.

Lawler has worked for the government for almost three decades, according to his State Department biography. He’s a U.S. Navy veteran who has served in diplomatic roles at the White House National Security Council and U.S. Cyber Command in Maryland.

Lawler’s departure is awkward in its timing but Mary-Kate Fisher and her acting deputy Cathy Fenton have the experience to lead the office of protocol without on the job training. Fenton served in the George W. Bush White House as social secretary and before that also handled social affairs‎ for Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush.

There is one unusual claim in the accusations against Lawler. Not only did he intimidate his staff but he carried a whip in the office. There are no further details on the whip but it leaves me to ponder – was it a short whip like a riding crop or was it a full-on Indiana Jones style whip? I can’t be the only one curious about that little tidbit.

NBC News reports that Lawler will submit his resignation to President Trump when he returns from his overseas trip.

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Bernie: No, I don’t believe Trump and Pompeo when they say that Iran attacked those oil tankers

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Another reminder of how strange it is that an anti-war conspiracy theory is circulating in respectable-ish wings of American politics and not only is Donald Trump not a proponent, he’s the head of the government that’s being targeted by it.

Bernie’s British counterpart, Jeremy Corbyn, also questioned Iran’s culpability in the tanker attack recently and got ripped for it by the Tory foreign secretary:

Sanders won’t be so easily shamed. He came to his MSNBC interview today armed with the proverbial receipts for his position, the Gulf of Tonkin incident and the Saddam WMD fiasco, and he enjoys some unlikely support for his skepticism among top U.S. allies. In particular, the Japanese government is reluctant to spoil its friendly relations with Iran by accepting American claims that Iran bombed the tankers without further proof:

But Japanese government officials remain unconvinced, the sources said. “The U.S. explanation has not helped us go beyond speculation,” said one senior government official.

Japan has been seeking more concrete evidence through various channels, including Foreign Minister Taro Kono who is likely to have made the request during a call with his counterpart on Friday, the sources said…

If having expertise sophisticated enough to conduct the attack could be a reason to conclude that the attacker was Iran, “That would apply to the United States and Israel as well,” said a source at the Foreign Ministry.

Iraq is on their minds too:

“We can’t make any statement based on a presumption,” said the senior diplomat, adding that the U.S. government should disclose more information on the Hormuz incident.

Another government source referred to the Iraq war, which the United States initiated after intelligence analyses of Iraq falsely pointed to the country possessing weapons of mass destruction…

A former Cabinet member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party even suggested the possibility of a U.S. conspiracy behind the tanker attacks.

Angela Merkel has been more diplomatic about it, claiming that she takes the United States’s allegations about Iranian culpability “very seriously,” but she’s noncommittal too. Germany’s more worried about what remains of the nuclear deal falling apart if Iran doesn’t get some relief from U.S. sanctions soon. Siding with Trump on the tanker incident might rupture relations between Tehran and Europe, raising tensions in the Gulf further, risking a U.S.-Iran war, and possibly leading Iran to attempt a nuclear “breakout.”

As Ed noted earlier, Trump himself is attempting to find a path between his hawkish advisors on the one hand and his interest in some sort of grand bargain with Iran on the other. He’s siding with U.S. intelligence (this time) in accusing Iran of bombing the tankers — but he’s downplaying the incident, calling it “very minor,” certainly not grounds for war. That’s one thing that makes Bernie’s false-flag insinuations here ring hollow: There’s little evidence that Trump himself wants a military conflict, in which case the alleged “false flag” with the tankers is supposedly a pretext for … what, exactly? Presumably Sanders would say that he’s less concerned about Trump’s appetite for war than about Bolton’s and Pompeo’s, but Trump’s advisors haven’t led him around by the nose on foreign policy. His two summits with Kim Jong Un doubtless made his hawkish deputies’ skin crawl, but they happened anyway. CNN is reporting this afternoon, in fact, that Trump has warned his staff recently that “he isn’t interested in wading into another conflict in the Middle East” and “regime change should not be in the cards.”

To my mind, the best argument for believing that Iran really is behind the tanker attacks is how “very minor” they were. An enemy power looking to frame Iran for the bombing wouldn’t have an incentive to go small; they should have wanted to go big, making the attack as devastating as possible. The more blood and oil spilled in the explosion, the more ruthless and renegade Iran would appear. In reality, the mines that exploded on the tankers’ hulls not only didn’t do much damage, they were placed safely above the water line seemingly to ensure that the ships wouldn’t be flooded. The bombings smacked of a symbolic gesture, something calibrated to send a message without damaging the ships so heavily that a military response would be required. That’s exactly in line with Iran’s goals. They wanted to signal their impatience with U.S. sanctions and to suggest to their European friends that they might close oil commerce in the Gulf if they don’t get economic relief soon, but they didn’t want to risk a conflagration from it. So they took a couple of potshots at the tankers. Point made, no harm done. Who else in the region would have that same incentive?

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DoJ getting ready to go after Google

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Just how big has Google become? That almost seems like a silly question in 2019. The company is omnipresent. If you own an Android phone and want to ask a question, you don’t address “Siri” or “Cortana.” You say, “Okay, Google.” The name of the company has become a verb. Most of us don’t talk about doing a web search. We say, “let me Google that.” When asking for the location of a particular place, Google Maps is the go-to answer.

So have they gotten “too big” for their own good? Perhaps. The Department of Justice is opening another investigation to see if the company is in violation of anti-trust laws. And if they are, they could conceivably be broken up just like Bell Telephone was back in the day. (Associated Press)

The U.S. Justice Department is readying an investigation of Google’s business practices and whether they violate antitrust law, according to news reports.

The search giant was fined a record $2.72 billion by European regulators in 2017 for abusing its dominance of the online search market. In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission made an antitrust investigation of Google but closed it in 2013 without taking action.

Now the Justice Department has undertaken an antitrust probe of the company’s search and other businesses, according to reports by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and Bloomberg News. They cited unnamed people familiar with the matter.

So is Google a monopoly or not? The EU clearly thinks so, having fined them billions of dollars. But let’s keep in mind that the current European Union is pretty much the epitome of Big Brother governance. We’ve seen pro and con arguments over Google’s monopolistic traits for years now. Back in 2017, Ryan Cooper, writing for The Week, made the argument that Google was most certainly a monopoly and needed to be broken up. But nearly the entirety of Cooper’s argument consisted of saying that Google’s success was unearned since they only grew massively because they were in the right place at the right time. Even if we accept this argument, to the best of my knowledge there is still no law against being lucky.

Conversely, James Pethokoukis made the argument last year that there is absolutely zero evidence that Google is a monopoly. He bases this conclusion on the belief that Google fears competition and spends “tens and hundreds of billions of dollars a year on R&D.” He also notes that there is no empirical evidence to suggest that the company’s operations are bad for consumers.

It seems to me that there are three possibilities to consider. First, does Google control infrastructure that allows them to shut out possible competition the way Bell did through owning all of the phone lines? No, they don’t. You can delete your bookmarks to Google any time you like and use Bing, Yahoo, or any other search engine you prefer.

Another question is whether or not Google is squashing the competition by preventing them from doing business. They do buy an awful lot of companies, but I’ve yet to see one market segment where they don’t have competitors available. In fact, some of their efforts have failed spectacularly. You may recall how they tried to break into the social media market by launching Google Plus. That landed with a thud and they stopped supporting the service a while back.

All that leaves us with is the possibility that Google grew so large because they simply offer a family of products that people like to use. And yes, perhaps they benefitted from a bit of luck in the beginning. But neither of those concepts are particularly nefarious.

Don’t get me wrong. Google is most certainly up to all sorts of shady things. From selling off all of your data to the highest bidder and tracking your every move, there’s plenty to complain about. They largely avoid legal problems in the United States because Google relies on the fact that most of the people in the government who are assigned to investigate them probably couldn’t tell you much more about how the internet operates beyond saying that it’s like a large series of tubes. But I’m not yet convinced that they’re operating in violation of anti-trust laws or need Uncle Sam to dismantle them.

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CNN Goes Don Corleone in Headline on John Durham’s Appointment to Investigate the Trump-Russia Probe

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John Durham has been appointed by AG Bill Barr to investigation the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation and that’s got some people up in arms.

The problem is that Durham has been so lauded on a bi-partisan basis in the past that it’s going to be difficult for Democrats to now paint him as a Trump sycophant.

That didn’t stop CNN from signaling that there’s only one outcome to his investigation that they’ll accept.

What exactly is putting his apolitical reputation on the line?

It almost sounds like CNN is threatening to destroy his reputation if he doesn’t come to the right conclusions. Make no mistake, if he finds criminal wrongdoing, that’s exactly what they’ll do. Durham will immediately become a pariah that must be discredited as a partisan.

The odd thing is that I don’t ever remember the media spinning Mueller’s investigation as a test of his apolitical reputation. Because when the investigation is into a Republican and his associates, it’s just law enforcement doing their job and don’t you dare question their motives. But when there’s an investigation into Obama officials, suddenly, it’s a test of the prosecutors apolitical reputation and he must tread carefully.

In other words, CNN is telling Durham “that’s a nice reputation you’ve got there, be a shame if anything were to happen to it.”

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