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Westlake Legal Group > Robert Mueller

Hyper Partisan FEC Chairwoman Loses Her Crap After Her Conspiracy Hoax Is Rejected

One of the many side alleys of the mainstream Russia Hoax was the idea that Russia was funneling cash into the NRA so the NRA could support Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. This was a baldfaced attempt to bootstrap the hoax aimed at removing President Trump from office into a way of neutering the influence of the nation’s major gun rights organization.

This leftwing fantasy began as a McClatchy article published on January 18, 2018. The article was by Greg Gordon and Peter Stone who have a rather sordid record of being in the middle of a lot of the controversial reporting on the Russia Hoax. They reported that Michael Cohen’s cell phone had been detected in Prague (false) and that the FBI was looking into how Breitbart and InfoWars were helping the Russians help Trump (also false).

One of the battalion of liberal “watchdog” groups, American Democracy Legal Fund, filed an FEC complaint on Jan. 31, 2018 citing this article as its only proof.

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then. Most notably the Mueller report found nothing at all about this nonsense and the woman at Ground Zero, Maria Butina, pleaded guilty to failure to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. All in all, this was a transparent smear. One that seems to have been hatched by Glenn Simpson’s merry band of cretins at Fusion GPS because Simpson pushed the story to his go-to guy in Justice, Bruce Ohr. In fact, those allegations kicked off an investigation of the NRA by the FBI.

On May 28 of this year, the career lawyers in the FEC’s office of legal counsel recommended dismissing the case because it was vague, based on a single newspaper article, and provided zero details of the alleged offense.

On July 9, the FEC voted to drop the investigation. The FEC chairwoman, an anti-Trump Democrat named Ellen Weintruab, went ballistic.

Some allegations are too serious to ignore. Too serious to simply take Respondents’ denials at face value. Too serious to play games with. Yet in this matter, my colleagues ran their
usual evidence-blocking play and the Commission’s attorneys placed too much faith in the few facts Respondents put before us.

As a result, this agency barely lifted a finger to find out the truth behind one of the most blockbuster campaign finance allegations in recent memory.

In this matter, the complaint credibly alleged that a significant violation of the Act may have occurred. It was based upon a news report from a reputable news source that led with this
striking paragraph:

The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency, two sources familiar with the matter have told McClatchy.

You can read the whole screed here.

Bottom line, this high performing imbecile or low rent Democrat apparatchik (those Venn diagrams are largely the same, but, for the sake of fairness you can choose which description you think best describes Weintraub) demanded that the FEC launch an investigation based on a single article by a couple of McClatchy writers who have a tendency to grossly misrepresent the facts. And by misrepresent I mean “totally make up.”

The mischief this sort of policy would create should be obvious to anyone. It means that a single article by virtually anyone would meet the threshold for kicking off an FEC investigation even thought the career staff thought it was bogus.

What makes Weintraub’s panty wetting episode all the more egregious is that everything she wishes to investigate has already been investigated and nothing was found. Not a huge surprise as at the time of the alleged influx of Russian cash, the NRA was expecting, like the rest of us, a Hillary Clinton presidency and a highly politicized Justice Department climbing up their butt. Her play here was simply an attempt to create another corrupt investigation to replace Mueller’s, but one without any supervision by anyone. And when that failed, she’s trying to dirty up her Republican colleagues as stooges hiding Russian influence.

So shameful. So typically Democrat.

But, at least Rachel Maddow now has a reason to live

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The post Hyper Partisan FEC Chairwoman Loses Her Crap After Her Conspiracy Hoax Is Rejected appeared first on RedState.

Westlake Legal Group ellen-weintraub-fec-chairman-300x200 Hyper Partisan FEC Chairwoman Loses Her Crap After Her Conspiracy Hoax Is Rejected Russia Probe russia hoax Robert Mueller republicans Politics nra Maria Butina Government Front Page Stories Featured Story ellen weintraub donald trump democrats Allow Media Exception aleksandr torshin   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Dear American Left, You’ve Lost the Right To Be Upset Over Anyone Spreading Conspiracy Theories

Westlake Legal Group comey-mueller-620x433 Dear American Left, You’ve Lost the Right To Be Upset Over Anyone Spreading Conspiracy Theories Steele dossier Russia Probe Robert Mueller Politics Jeffrey Epstein Front Page Stories Featured Story donald trump democrats Christopher Steele Allow Media Exception

FILE – In this Sept. 4, 2013, file photo, then-incoming FBI Director James Comey talks with outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller before Comey was officially sworn in at the Justice Department in Washington. On May 17, 2017, the Justice Department said it is appointing Mueller as special counsel to oversee investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

On Saturday, accused human trafficker and pedophile Jeffrey Epstein was found hanged in his cell in the Metropolitan Correctional Center. Being a firm believer in the idea that there really is no logical floor on the level of bureaucratic incompetence, I’ve never had much of a doubt that it was actual suicide but I was sort of surprised that he had the actual guts to do it. Anyway, the circumstances immediately set off a wave of conspiracy theories or hints of conspiracy theories like this by Joe Scarborough:

Westlake Legal Group scarborough-620x446 Dear American Left, You’ve Lost the Right To Be Upset Over Anyone Spreading Conspiracy Theories Steele dossier Russia Probe Robert Mueller Politics Jeffrey Epstein Front Page Stories Featured Story donald trump democrats Christopher Steele Allow Media Exception

A guy named Terrence K. Williams, who is billed as an actor and comedian (full disclosure, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of him before today) sent out his addition to the Epstein suicide oeuvre and Donald Trump retweeted it.

Westlake Legal Group epstein-conspiracy-tweet-terrence-williams-1-620x316 Dear American Left, You’ve Lost the Right To Be Upset Over Anyone Spreading Conspiracy Theories Steele dossier Russia Probe Robert Mueller Politics Jeffrey Epstein Front Page Stories Featured Story donald trump democrats Christopher Steele Allow Media Exception

The left, rather predictably, went nuts.

We can argue the propriety of Trump doing this. We just aren’t going to argue it with anyone in the media or on the left. In fact, if you pushed the Russia hoax at any point you really need just to put a freakin bag over your head and sit this one out.

These people have spent nearly three years peddling the most ridiculous conspiracy theory to come down the pike since “fire can’t melt steel” was all the rage during the days right after 9/11.

For three years the Steele dossier and ancillary materials have been touted by the left as proof of some grand plot by which Russia engineered the election of Donald Trump by way of $100,000 in Facebook ads and convincing Hillary Clinton to ignore Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Stupid stories were spun involving secret servers giving the Trump campaign direction, of Michael Cohen’s trips to Prague, of Trump cavorting with Russian hookers, of Russians coordinating the theft of Clinton emails with the Trump campaign. These conspiracy theories didn’t rate moral opprobrium, they got a bevy of Pulitzer Prizes for two of the nation’s most prestigious newspapers.

So, lefties, if you want to criticize this, you need to first apologize for your conduct since about September 2016 and retract any statements you made about the Russia hoax. If you can’t do that, well, at least have the decency to just shut up. Because you have no reason to criticize anyone for spreading any conspiracy theory.

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The post Dear American Left, You’ve Lost the Right To Be Upset Over Anyone Spreading Conspiracy Theories appeared first on RedState.

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Great news: The people who brought you Russia-collusion want to stop Epstein conspiracy theories

Westlake Legal Group nadler-schiff Great news: The people who brought you Russia-collusion want to stop Epstein conspiracy theories The Blog Russian collusion Robert Mueller Jerrold Nadler Jeffrey Epstein House Judiciary Committee House Democrats House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform conspiracy theories Al Green adam schiff

Just how seriously should we take this effort by Congress to head off conspiracy theories in the wake of Jeffrey Epstein’s suicide? “Where you have few facts, you have much speculation,” says … Rep. Al Green (D-TX), the man who has pushed articles of impeachment almost since Donald Trump’s inauguration. Rest assured we can take this seriously in the same House where Jerrold Nadler and Adam Schiff are still flogging the Russia-collusion theory.

And you know who’d take the lead on this, right?

Members of Congress, furious over Jeffrey Epstein’s death in federal custody, are set on getting to the bottom of it before the many conspiracy theories swirling around the accused serial sex offender’s demise completely overshadow the facts.

They are, obviously, running far behind. By the time the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to the Federal Bureau of Prisons on Monday demanding answers about the circumstances of Epstein’s apparent suicide, the country already had two full days to marinate in President Trump’s retweet of a conspiracy theory that former President Bill Clinton was somehow to blame. …

“Where you have few facts, you have much speculation,” said Rep. Al Green (D-TX). “If we don’t get facts before the people… we will find ourselves dealing with speculation about what happened in that cell.”

The House Judiciary Committee is currently chaired by none other than Jerrold Nadler. When the nation needs a thorough debunking of conspiracy theory thinking, Nadler’s just the man for the job. We’ll have to wait until he finds every last Russian under the beds of every last Republican, but he’s gonna be on top of it after then.

To be fair, some of the members want the Oversight Committee to take on the job, including Green:

Green, for his part, told The Daily Beast the Epstein case warrants a federal fact-finding effort on par with the Warren Commission that investigated the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The Texas Democrat has written to Trump asking him to appoint a special investigator to head up such a probe; he has also requested that House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) open up an investigation.

While the Judiciary Committee oversees federal prisons, the Oversight Committee’s broad jurisdiction has prompted members to call on Cummings not only to investigate Epstein’s death but also his criminal conduct and others who may have been implicated in it. Spokespeople for Cummings did not respond to requests for comment about the chairman’s plans.

Cummings would be better than Nadler, but … that’s a pretty low bar. The Russia-collusion conspiracy theory was spread far and wide across the House Democrat caucus over the last two-plus years. They don’t have much credibility as conspiracy-theory scolds at this point, especially not with Nadler and Schiff still assaulting the dead equine on practically a daily basis.

This isn’t really a job for Congress anyway, except in a more general sense of resource allocation. If they’re interested in finding out what the suicide rate is in federal detention centers and how to provide resources to address it, that’s a good Oversight or Judiciary topic. Investigating a specific incident such as Epstein’s suicide requires actual criminal investigators acting with discretion in the immediate term, and in this case an Inspector General probe to review all of the pertinent information to determine the facts. Rushing factoids out in public hearings before people can connect dots and present them in context will drive conspiracy thinking, not combat it.

That would be true even if House Democrats hadn’t spent two years promising that Russia collusion was “proven” before Robert Mueller slapped the pie in their faces. Post-Mueller, this is a good opportunity to sit down, shut up, and demand that William Barr do his job rather than try to do it for him.

The post Great news: The people who brought you Russia-collusion want to stop Epstein conspiracy theories appeared first on Hot Air.

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Muellerama continues: Obama advisor trial opens

Westlake Legal Group craig Muellerama continues: Obama advisor trial opens Viktor Yanukovich Victor Pinchuk Ukraine The Blog Robert Mueller Hillary Clinton Greg Craig Clinton Foundation

In political terms, Greg Craig’s trial might be more of a sideshow in the Robert Mueller circus. In terms of its impact on lobbying, his prosecution has already transformed the industry by instilling a new respect for the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA). But will Barack Obama’s former White House counsel be the first Democrat to go to prison over a Russia-collusion theory that turned out to be largely empty in the first place?

Former Obama White House counsel Gregory B. Craig faces trial Monday for allegedly lying to the Justice Department in a prosecution that has shaken up the capital’s billion-dollar foreign influence industry.

In charging Craig — one of Washington’s most prominent attorneys, in connection with his work for the Ukraine government at a leading law firm — the Justice Department signaled a new era for the Foreign Agents Registration Act, a once nearly dormant law that since 2017 has been invoked in more than 20 federal prosecutions aimed at combating foreign interference in U.S. politics.

Craig has pleaded not guilty in federal court in Washington. The charge against him stems from alleged public relations work, rather than lobbying, while with the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. He is accused not of failing to register as a foreign agent under the law, but with lying and withholding information from Justice officials seeking to determine whether he was required to register.

Craig, who also served as a legal advisor to Bill Clinton, took part in the rough-and-tumble of Ukrainian politics before the ouster of Viktor Yanukovich. His firm had worked for the Russia-friendly government along with Paul Manafort to spin the results of the kangaroo-court corruption trial of Yanukovich’s main political enemy Yulia Tymoshenko. At one point in 2012, Craig leaked an independent analysis of the trial to the New York Time’s David Sanger, which is the crux of the charge Craig faces.

According to the indictment, Craig lied to investigators about the nature of his communications with Sanger. Craig insists that he didn’t leak to Sanger to promote the PR efforts of Yanukovich but to correct against them. Craig’s attorneys will argue that the spin Manafort wanted to put on the report would have done serious damage to Skadden Arps and its credibility, and Craig leaked the report to Sanger to make sure the NYT could publish the less-credulous version of the report.

That’s what happened, whether it was truly Craig’s intent or not. The NYT offered a very skeptical view of the Tymoshenko trial, although noting that Skadden Arps seemed to be in the bag for the government in its analysis:

In a report commissioned by the government of Ukraine, a team of American lawyers has concluded that important legal rights of the jailed former prime minister, Yulia V. Tymoshenko, were violated during her trial last year on charges of abusing her official power, and that she was wrongly imprisoned even before her conviction and sentencing.

The lawyers, led by President Obama’s former White House counsel, Gregory B. Craig, concluded that Ms. Tymoshenko was denied legal counsel at “critical stages” of her trial and that at other times her lawyers were wrongly barred from calling relevant witnesses.

Those two findings suggest that she could have some success in a pending appeal before the European Court of Human Rights.

But over all, the lawyers, from the firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, seemed to side heavily with the government of President Viktor F. Yanukovich, which commissioned their report. They concluded that Ms. Tymoshenko’s conviction was supported by the evidence presented at trial, and they found no evidence in the trial record to support to her main contention: that her prosecution was a politically motivated effort by Mr. Yanukovich, her archrival, to sideline her and cripple Ukraine’s main opposition party.

Craig himself appears in the story co-written by Sanger, dodging the question about whether the trial was a political hit on Tymoshenko:

“We leave to others the question of whether this prosecution was politically motivated,” he said. “Our assignment was to look at the evidence in the record and determine whether the trial was fair.”

The article says that the report was commissioned by the Yanukovich government, but most of the money came from a Ukrainian oligarch, Politico notes:

“The Times wrote an appropriately skeptical story [that] raised questions about the political nature of the trial and about the compensation that Mr. Craig’s firm was paid for the report,” McCraw said.

The Times article said Craig wouldn’t comment on the funding of the report. The bulk of the more than $4 million came from a Ukrainian steel oligarch, Victor Pinchuk. Prosecutors say part of why Craig did not register was to avoid revealing the financing for the report. They also suggest he didn’t want to register because it could affect his ability to serve in a high government post in a future administration.

In case readers don’t recall, Pinchuk’s name has come up a few times in connection with the Clintons. He was a major donor to the Clinton Foundation, as well as an envoy on Yanukovich’s behalf to Hillary Clinton herself. Those ties existed while Hillary served as Secretary of State and Pinchuk was violating sanctions against Iran. During that four-year span, Pinchuk put over eight million dollars into the Clinton Foundation and planned to spend even more on the Clinton Global Initiative.

Craig may have had more than one reason to lie to cover up Pinchuk’s involvement, in other words. If Hillary Clinton won in 2016, would any of this been uncovered?

It’s out in the open now, and Craig appears to be in real trouble. If the special counsel is correct that Craig was leaking the report to benefit Yanukovich, then he and Skadden Arps were acting as foreign agents and needed to register as such. They allege that Craig lied and withheld evidence of this exchange with Sanger in order to keep that failure a secret from investigators. If Craig’s correct, though, it means that Skadden Arps was independent of Yanukovich and Manafort and didn’t need to register under FARA, so the obstruction charges are meritless. Unfortunately for Craig, Skadden Arps has already settled their end of the case and paid $4.6 million in admitting that they should have registered under FARA, and Judge Amy Berman Jackson has refused to dismiss the charges.

It’s curious that this trial has started at all after that. Either Craig’s convinced he can beat the rap, or Mueller’s team is convinced he can’t. We’ll soon see who made the wisest bet.

The post Muellerama continues: Obama advisor trial opens appeared first on Hot Air.

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Hillary to House Dems: Maybe stop grandstanding over impeachment

Westlake Legal Group Hillary-Clinton Hillary to House Dems: Maybe stop grandstanding over impeachment The Blog Robert Mueller Richard Nixon Jerrold Nadler impeachment Hillary Clinton donald trump adam schiff

And if anyone knows this, it’s Hillary Clinton. She had a ringside seat to two impeachment efforts and perhaps more than a passing interest in a third. A year ago, she sat down with the Nixon Library for an interview to discuss her role in the House effort to investigate Richard Nixon, which led to his resignation in 1974, and the lessons she took from it. Politico captures Hillary’s advice to lawmakers who clearly haven’t adopted it — shut the hell up:

Hillary Clinton has a message for lawmakers contemplating impeachment: Steer clear of politics, don’t hold press conferences and avoid leaks.

“I think that it’s such a serious undertaking. Do not pursue it for trivial partisan political purposes. If it does fall to you while you’re in the House to examine abuses of power by the president, be as circumspect and careful as John Doar was,” Clinton said of the Judiciary Committee’s lead impeachment staffer, a Republican who served as a civil rights chief during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations.

“Restrain yourself from grandstanding and holding news conferences and playing to your base,” Clinton added. “This goes way beyond whose side is on you’re on or who’s on your side. And try to be faithful purveyors of the history and the solemnity of the process.”

Clinton pointed out that the investigation effort into Watergate was more bipartisan from the beginning, and that it dealt with certainties rather than legal theories. Doar drilled into the legal staffers, including Clinton, that they could not talk to the press nor even allow emotional reactions in public. In fact, she told her interviewers, the process was so focused on gathering evidence that staffers didn’t think ahead to whether it would result in impeachment.

“He said, ‘Don’t talk to anybody. Don’t make facial expressions. Don’t portray any opinion. We were there just to make a presentation to the members of the committee.’ So, it was a matter of honor that we would maintain the secrecy that was so critical for this, for this whole investigation,” she said. …

The no-leaking rule also went a long way, Clinton said, toward giving credibility to the House proceedings, which resulted in the Judiciary Committee’s passage of three articles of impeachment and Nixon’s resignation before the Senate could hold a trial.

Politico then dryly notes how much has changed:

It’s a very different story in 2019, where both Democratic and GOP committee aides coming from their respective partisan silos provide reporters with background updates about the status of the Trump impeachment debate. At the same time, panel leaders including Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler and Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff, as well as rank-and-file lawmakers, frequently talk about the process on cable TV and social media.

It’s a very different story in a lot of ways. In the first place, Watergate involved actual crimes at the center of a conspiracy run by people who worked for Nixon. In the second place, Nixon committed clear acts of corruption and abuse of power in relation to the FBI, CIA, and IRS. In the third place, much of that was caught on tape, providing clear and objective evidence of the crimes, and not just rhetorical bantering over whether Oval Office venting that resulted in nothing equates to obstructive intent.

But yes, it also differs in the seriousness of the people involved in the investigation. Nadler and Schiff have been grandstanding over Russia collusion for over two years now, wildly overstating the case for political purposes. Both have claimed collusion had already been proven for months before Robert Mueller concluded that no evidence exists for it. In response, both Nadler and Schiff have become Olympic-class goalpost movers, shrieking over supposed obstruction and moral treason rather than acknowledge that they either were lying or ignorant the entire time.

It’s that lack of fundamental seriousness and fairness that has made impeachment a fringe political movement. It’s so clearly soaked in partisan bitterness over losing the 2016 election that even most Democratic voters think it’s a waste of time after the collapse of the Russia-collusion theory. Hillary Clinton’s advice was wise, especially since it was given in the middle of the Nadler/Schiff circus. Too bad Nadler, Schiff, and the rest of the House Democrat Hysterics didn’t take it.

Today’s the 45th anniversary of the only presidential resignation in US history, which was the unspoken catalyst for today’s Politico story. I remember this when it happened, but only dimly understood its historical import at that time. Richard Nixon’s strange V-for-victory salute as he boarded Marine One on the White House lawn may be better remembered, but this somber speech was the better valediction. As Nixon later remarked, it was “an admission of guilt” from a man struggling to retain as much dignity for himself and the office as possible — a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions for Nixon and the nation. As Hillary Clinton rightly advises, this isn’t a clown show for fundraising, or at least it shouldn’t be.

The post Hillary to House Dems: Maybe stop grandstanding over impeachment appeared first on Hot Air.

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Remember Mueller’s Peculiar 9-Minute Press Conference In May? There Was A Reason For It

Westlake Legal Group mueller-hearing-3-j-620x317 Remember Mueller’s Peculiar 9-Minute Press Conference In May? There Was A Reason For It Special Counsel Robert Mueller Rep. Tom McClintock Mueller Investigation Judge Dabney Friedrich Front Page Stories Featured Story Congress Allow Media Exception Abuse of Power 2020

Former special counsel Robert Mueller listens to committee members give their opening remarks before he testifies before the House Intelligence Committee hearing on his report on Russian election interference, on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Wednesday, July 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

 

In a little noticed exchange during former special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee last month, Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) tried to determine why he had held his peculiar press conference on May 29th.

McClintock asked, “Did your May 29th press conference have anything to do with the fact that the previous day, the judge threatened to hold your prosecutors in contempt for misrepresenting evidence?”

Mueller replied, “No.” (Please scroll down to view a transcript of this exchange.)

U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich, who presided over the special counsel’s case against two Russian internet “trolling” firms, wished to question prosecutors from the Mueller team about a concern she shared with the defendants’ attorneys. She called for a closed hearing to be held on May 28th.

Judge Friedrich and the defendants’ attorneys claimed that the Mueller report contained “misleading language” about the Russian government’s role in 2016 election interference. Recently released court documents suggest she insisted on changes and “privately threatened to hold his [Mueller’s] team in criminal contempt of court.”

The hastily arranged press conference held the next day appears to be the Mueller team’s attempt at “damage control.”

If this is proven to be true, then Mueller may have perjured himself when he told Rep. McClintock (under oath) that the hearing held on May 28 had nothing to do with his press conference the following day.

It almost goes without saying that the Mueller team wished to leave the impression that “the Kremlin had interfered in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win.”

Real Clear Investigation’s Paul Sperry reported:

Although no reporters were allowed inside, it is now known that Friedrich agreed with one defendant’s claims that Mueller had overstated the evidence when he implied in his report to Congress that the trolls were controlled by the Russian government and that the social media operations they conducted during the 2016 presidential campaign were directed by Moscow. News organizations had seized on the highly suggestive wording in his report to report they were part of a Kremlin-run operation.

Judge Dabney Friedrich ordered Mueller to stop overstating evidence of Kremlin-directed interference.

Concerned that Mueller’s words could prejudice a jury and jeopardize the defendants’ right to a fair trial, Friedrich ordered the special prosecutor to stop making such claims and “to minimize the prejudice moving forward” — or face sanction.

Friedrich’s ruling stated, “The government shall refrain from making or authorizing any public statement that links the alleged conspiracy in the indictment to the Russian government. Willful failure to do so in the future will result in the initiation of contempt proceedings.”

The judge explained that Mueller’s report improperly referred to the defendants’ “social media operations” as one of “two principal interference operations in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections” carried out by the Russian government. She also pointed out that he referred to their Internet trolling as “active measures” — a term of art that typically includes operations conducted by Russian intelligence to influence international affairs. She said this was a departure from the government’s original February 2018 indictment, which “does not link the defendants to the Russian government” and “alleges only private conduct by private actors.”

Friedrich further directed the prosecution to make clear that its allegations are simply that and “remain unproven.” She also admonished Mueller’s team from expressing “an opinion on the defendant’s guilt or innocence.”

The next day, Mueller called the press conference in which he read a prepared statement and took no questions afterward. I wrote about it here, here and here.

Mueller’s most important words, and everyone seemed to miss their significance at the time, were that the “Russians he had indicted were “private” entities and “presumed innocent.””

In order to satisfy Judge Friedrich’s demands, the Mueller team needed to drop the part of their narrative that tied the defendants to the Russian government.

It appeared to have worked. Friedrich’s July 1st opinion was unsealed later that month. She wrote that Mueller had “demonstrated the government had complied with her order with his statements to the media.” The opinion read:

In delivering his remarks, the special counsel carefully distinguished between the efforts by ‘Russian intelligence officers who were part of the Russian military’ and the efforts detailed ‘in a separate indictment’ by ‘a private [italics in original] Russian entity engaged in a social media operation where Russian citizens [italics in original] posed as Americans in order to interfere in the election.’

The media was unaware of this behind the scenes action until the court records were unsealed. Even then, it was not a major news item.

Which brings us back to Rep. McClintock’s exchange with Robert Mueller during his disastrous July 24th testimony before Congress.

As mentioned above, Mueller refused to acknowledge to McClintock that his press conference was related to his team’s dealings with Judge Friedrich.

Sperry contacted McClintock who said, “It certainly doesn’t pass the smell test…If he lied, he’s guilty of perjury and lying to Congress. I think this would be of interest to the U.S. attorney investigating misconduct in this matter and the inspector general’s office.”

But McClintock knows that House Judiciary chair, Jerry Nadler, would never refer Mueller to the DOJ for lying to Congress, and obviously wishes circumstances were different. After all, Mueller has charged Trump associates with similar offenses.

Transcript of McClintock questioning Mueller:

McClintock: Your report famously links Russian Internet troll farms with the Russian government. Yet at a hearing on May 28 in the Concord Management-IRA [Internet Research Agency] prosecution that you initiated, the judge excoriated you and [Attorney General William] Barr [who publicly recited Mueller’s claims from the report] for producing no evidence to support this claim. Why did you suggest Russia was responsible for the troll farms, when in court you’ve been unable to produce any evidence to support it?

Mueller: Well, I am not going to get into that any further than I — than I already have.

McClintock: But — but you — you have left the clear impression throughout the country, through your report, that it — it was the Russian government behind the troll farms. And yet, when you’re called upon to provide actual evidence in court, you fail to do so.

Mueller: Well, I would again dispute your characterization of what occurred in that — in that proceeding.

McClintock: In — in — in fact, the judge considering — considered holding prosecutors in criminal contempt. She backed off, only after your hastily called press conference the next day in which you retroactively made the distinction between the Russian government and the Russia troll farms. Did your press conference on May 29th have anything to do with the threat to hold your prosecutors in contempt the previous day for publicly misrepresenting the evidence?

Mueller: What was the question?

McClintock: The — the question is, did your May 29th press conference have anything to do with the fact that the previous day the judge threatened to hold your prosecutors in contempt for misrepresenting evidence?

Mueller: No.

The post Remember Mueller’s Peculiar 9-Minute Press Conference In May? There Was A Reason For It appeared first on RedState.

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RCI: Mueller might have committed perjury in congressional testimony

Westlake Legal Group mueller-mcclintock RCI: Mueller might have committed perjury in congressional testimony Tom McClintock The Blog Russian collusion russiagate Robert Mueller perjury Mueller report Department of Justice

Did Robert Mueller lie to Congress and mislead them about his intent in holding a May press conference? Under normal circumstances, the answer to this question would be no. Using the standards applied by the special counsel himself to several individuals charged with making false statements to investigators, however, Robert Mueller might have found himself in serious legal jeopardy.

Paul Sperry at Real Clear Investigations provides some significant background to a question Mueller answered two weeks ago in his congressional appearance:

On May 28, U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich called attorneys prosecuting the case into her courtroom for a closed hearing. Although no reporters were allowed inside, it is now known that Friedrich agreed with one defendant’s claims that Mueller had overstated the evidence when he implied in his report to Congress that the trolls were controlled by the Russian government and that the social media operations they conducted during the 2016 presidential campaign were directed by Moscow. News organizations had seized on the highly suggestive wording in his report to report they were part of a Kremlin-run operation.

Concerned that Mueller’s words could prejudice a jury and jeopardize the defendants’ right to a fair trial, Friedrich ordered the special prosecutor to stop making such claims and “to minimize the prejudice moving forward” — or face sanction.

“The government shall refrain from making or authorizing any public statement that links the alleged conspiracy in the indictment to the Russian government,” Friedrich stated in her ruling, which was private at the time. “Willful failure to do so in the future will result in the initiation of contempt proceedings.”

The judge explained that Mueller’s report improperly referred to the defendants’ “social media operations” as one of “two principal interference operations in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections” carried out by the Russian government. She also pointed out that he also referred to their Internet trolling as “active measures” — a term of art that typically includes operations conducted by Russian intelligence to influence international affairs. She said this was a departure from the government’s original February 2018 indictment, which “does not link the defendants to the Russian government” and “alleges only private conduct by private actors.”

It was the very next day when Robert Mueller held his surprise press conference to announce the end of his tenure as special counsel. No one had expected any such public statement; most people thought the report itself would be the extent of Mueller’s public commentary. In fact, Mueller’s stated reluctance to appear before Congress seemed to be the only substantive point the special counsel made during his press conference that wasn’t already in the report.

That is, it was the only apparent substantive point. Mueller stepped back carefully from the report in one key passage, which went largely unnoticed at the time, emphases mine:

As alleged by the grand jury in an indictment, Russian intelligence officers who were part of the Russian military launched a concerted attack on our political system. The indictment alleges that they used sophisticated cyber techniques to hack into computers and networks used by the Clinton campaign. They stole private information and then released that information through fake online identities, and through the organization WikiLeaks. The releases were designed and timed to interfere with our election and to damage a presidential candidate.

And at the same time, as the grand jury alleged in a separate indictment, a private Russian entity engaged in a social media operation where Russian citizens posed as Americans in order to influence an election.

That distinction between the sources of the two efforts was rarely if ever made publicly by either Mueller or those working off of the same material. The closest that the unredacted Mueller report comes to characterizing the Internet Research Agency (IRA) to Russian intelligence is to note that the IRA was funded by a Putin crony, Russian oligarch Yevgeniy Prigozhin. Yet Mueller’s team and Congress often conflated the two separate operations into one government-run mission, which might still be the case but not what the grand jury alleged.

In retrospect, now that we know about the judge’s order from the day before Mueller’s public statement, it appears that mitigating Mueller’s standing in court was his main objective for his statement. And it worked; Judge Friedrich ruled on July 1 that the presser put Mueller back in compliance:

“In delivering his remarks,” she said, “the special counsel carefully distinguished between the efforts by ‘Russian intelligence officers who were part of the Russian military’ and the efforts detailed ‘in a separate indictment’ by ‘a private [italics in original] Russian entity engaged in a social media operation where Russian citizens [italics in original] posed as Americans in order to interfere in the election.’”

This brings us to Mueller’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on July 24th, two weeks ago today. Republican Tom McClintock asked Mueller directly about this very point, to which Mueller eventually gave a denial (~ the 3-minute mark):

McCLINTOCK: In — in — in fact, the judge considering — considered holding prosecutors in criminal contempt. She backed off, only after your hastily called press conference the next day in which you retroactively made the distinction between the Russian government and the Russia troll farms. Did your press conference on May 29th have anything to do with the threat to hold your prosecutors in contempt the previous day for publicly misrepresenting the evidence?

MUELLER: What was the question?

McCLINTOCK: The — the question is, did your May 29th press conference have anything to do with the fact that the previous day the judge threatened to hold your prosecutors in contempt for misrepresenting evidence?

MUELLER: No.

McClintock thinks Mueller flat-out lied, a conclusion that the now-unsealed ruling from Judge Friedrich more than suggests. McClintock told Sperry and RCI that “it certainly doesn’t pass the smell test”:

The congressman suspects that Mueller knowingly gave Congress a false statement under oath, and he wants to see the former special counsel’s sworn testimony referred to the Justice Department for investigation of possible perjury — a charge for which Mueller has sent Trump associates to prison. Most of them were prosecuted for lying to federal agents, but Mueller busted Trump lawyer Michael Cohen specifically for lying to Congress last November.

“If he lied, he’s guilty of perjury and lying to Congress,” McClintock said, adding that “I think this would be of interest to the U.S. attorney investigating misconduct in this matter and the inspector general’s office.”

Under normal circumstances, a perjury prosecution requires two elements: materiality and intent. The state would have to prove that the question was material to the proceeding in such a way that it impaired it, and that there was a criminal mens rea to lie about it. This seems to fall short on both counts, especially to the extent that any evidence could conclusively show either. You’d have to prove that Mueller’s intent for the presser was beyond a reasonable doubt solely or primarily aimed at satisfying the judge and that the point was relevant to the committee review of Mueller’s investigation. It’s very possible to construct a theory of perjury or obstruction in this case, but prosecuting it successfully would likely be impossible.

Of course, some of the people caught up in the Mueller team’s process crimes had the same complaint about their supposed obstruction, too. Defenders of both George Papadopoulos and Michael Flynn have argued that Mueller’s team took the worst possible interpretations from their interviews and used them as a bludgeon to bully them into plea deals. Judge T.S. Ellis had similar issues with Mueller’s team in their prosecution of Paul Manafort, and at one time seemed prepared to throw out the case because of it.

At the very least, though, Mueller was less than fully honest and forthcoming with that answer. After all, someone made the argument to Judge Friedrich that Mueller’s public statement had been responsive to her order, and it seems very doubtful that it was the attorneys for the defendants in the case. If Mueller was judged by Mueller’s own standard, he might be facing a similar fate as those he prosecuted. He still might get some attention from Inspector General Michael Horowitz, who is conducting a review of all the DoJ actions in relation to Russiagate. The last word on this will almost certainly be Horowitz’, and it might not be kind at all.

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Gowdy: FBI transcripts may well show FBI targeted Trump campaign, not Russian interference

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Just what do the still-classified transcripts from the FBI’s Operation Crossfire Hurricane reveal? Only a few people know for sure, and former Rep. Trey Gowdy is one of them. He told Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo that the transcript of George Papadopoulos’ interview would be a “gamechanger” in how the public views the Russia-collusion investigation, and it’s not the only such transcript that could leave the impression that the FBI targeted Donald Trump’s campaign rather than the Russians (via Conservative Treehouse):

Gowdy, who has declined to provide specifics about the contents of the classified FBI document, neither confirmed nor denied that the transcript involved Papadopoulos and Halper, but strongly hinted that Bartiromo was correct.

Gowdy told Bartiromo that this transcript “certainly has the potential to be” a game changer and said that he was “lost” and “clueless” as to why it hadn’t been made public yet, stating that he didn’t think it contained any information that would have an impact on relationships with our allies.

Gowdy further said that the transcripts would show “what questions [the FBI] coached the informants or the cooperating witnesses to ask of the Trump campaign officials” and implied that the questions would show that the FBI had been targeting the Trump campaign rather than simply attempting to combat Russian election interference.

Gowdy claimed that if the transcripts showed that the FBI was “veering over into the campaign or your [the FBI’s] questions are not solely about Russia, then you [the FBI] have been misleading us for two years.”

“The good thing about transcripts they don’t have to remember,” Gowdy said. “All you got to do is read them. They don’t have bad memories. Just release the transcripts and we can tell for ourselves when it began and what it was about.”

Why haven’t the transcripts been released? Trump himself could order them declassified, which would allow for their publication at some point. It’s possible that they do contain significant information about intelligence sources and methods, although those could also be redacted in that case. Even while complaining that the investigation was a “witch hunt” that was politically aimed at his campaign, Trump has been slow to use his declassification authority.

That reluctance made sense when Robert Mueller’s special-counsel investigation was still active. As the Mueller report showed, investigators were highly sensitive to potential obstructive actions, and selectively declassifying material to undermine the investigation’s credibility might have been added to their Volume II catalog of (near-)obstructive acts. But Mueller’s done now — packed up and gone home, with the exception of a single day that Jerrold Nadler would likely want to take back if he could. Why not declassify all of this now?

The short answer is that the investigation of the investigation is still ongoing. Inspector General Michael Horowitz will shortly conclude his probe into the beginnings of Operation Crossfire Hurricane, which might rely heavily on those still-classified transcripts. Declassifying them prematurely might have complicated Horowitz’ ability to depose others involved in the investigation. Horowitz’ report will be out soon enough at this point that declassifying these transcripts isn’t urgent as much as it may be necessary at some point.

The longer answer may be that Horowitz’ investigation might not be the last word. Horowitz could refer the matter to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution, depending on what evidence he uncovers in his probe. The odds that William Barr would proceed with a prosecution are small, thanks to the highly politicized environment surrounding Operation Crossfire Hurricane now, but they’re not zero either. Keeping key evidence out of public view allows for the selection of a relatively unbiased jury if the need arises. And since the person who would enjoy such a trial most is also the man who would have to order the declassification of the materials — Trump, of course — he’s probably not keen on closing out the possibility of prosecution through premature declassification and release.

Let’s not forget, too, that Gowdy’s word won’t be the last one about the transcripts. Gowdy’s been a highly reliable voice on such matters and he’s hardly a Trump apologist, but he may not have the full scope on what those transcripts mean. Horowitz will, and that’s why Horowitz’ voice will be the authoritative one on these matters. Still, Gowdy thinks he’s seen more than smoke in those transcripts, and it’s a safe bet that Horowitz’ probe is making a lot of people very nervous.

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Judicial Watch: FBI found leaked memos at Comey’s house just before admission to Congress

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Did the man who gave Hillary Clinton a pass for mishandling classified material commit the same misconduct? Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton announced yesterday that a new trove of material from a FOIA demand shows that the FBI had to retrieve several memos written by James Comey as FBI director and retained at his home after being fired by Donald Trump. The seizure of the documents might have prompted Comey’s admission to Congress the next day of leaking them to a reporter through a cut-out:

Judicial Watch announced today it received six pages of records from the FBI showing that in June, 2017, a month after FBI Director James Comey was fired by President Donald Trump, FBI agents visited his home and collected “as evidence” four memos that allegedly detail conversations he had with President Trump. One of his memos was written on June 6, a month after he was fired.

Comey was fired by Trump on May 9, 2017. The memos obtained by Judicial Watch were collected from Comey by the FBI on June 7, a month later, and are dated February 14, 2017; March 30, 2017; April 11, 2017; and one is dated “last night at 6:30 pm.”

The FBI documents also revealed that Comey recalled writing two other memos after conversations with Trump that he claimed were “missing.” The FBI visit and interview took place on June 7, the day before Comey admitted leaking the memos in testimony to Congress.

Fitton refers to the documents as “newly classified,” and demands that a criminal investigation begin into Comey’s actions:

“These extraordinary FBI docs further confirm that James Comey should never have had FBI files on President Trump at his home and that the FBI failed to secure and protect these private and classified files,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.  “Mr. Comey’s illegal leaking these FBI files as part of his vendetta against President Trump (directly resulting in the corrupt appointment of Robert Mueller) ought to be the subject of a criminal investigation.”

On June 8, 2017, Comey testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee that he leaked memos of his conversations with President Trump “because (he) thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel.” Columbia University Law professor Daniel Richman, a friend of Comey’s, reportedly“turned over copies of the former FBI director’s explosive memos … to the FBI, sidestepping a request by congressional committees to deliver the materials to Capitol Hill.”

The Justice Department previously argued to the court in a separate case that Comey’s leak of the memo regarding former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was unauthorized and compared it to WikiLeaks. Comey admitted to Congress regarding the “Flynn” memo, “I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter [for The New York Times] … I asked him to because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel.” The New York Times published a report about the memo on May 16, 2017. Special Counsel Robert Mueller was appointed the following day.

We knew about the leaks two years ago, and thus we already knew that Comey had retained the material. It created a debate at the time as to whether Comey had violated rules and/or laws regarding document handling. Comey’s defenders claimed that the memos were personal, but his role as FBI director and the clear purpose of the memos made them work product, at least arguably. To the extent the documents discussed classified information, Comey would have had to store them with proper regard to their classification regardless of his job status or commit a violation of the same kind Hillary committed — and for which Comey gave her a pass. However, it’s not quite clear what the FBI classified and why.

What wasn’t known, or at least not widely known, was the timing. Comey had been scheduled well in advance to testify on June 8, 2017. The run-up to that testimony was akin to the anticipation of Robert Mueller’s testimony last week, if not even greater, with some brinksmanship between Comey and the White House taking place for several days prior to his appearance. What caused the FBI to drop by Comey’s house the day before his testimony, and did that have anything to do with Comey’s decision to come clean about the leak? Did Comey himself invite the FBI to come get the memos? Either way, why hadn’t Comey turned the memos over immediately after Robert Mueller’s appointment?

We may know the answers to these questions sooner rather than later. Trump’s attorneys had demanded that the Inspector General investigate Comey’s actions with the memos, but Michael Horowitz ended up conducting a much wider investigation into the FBI’s actions in Operation Crossfire Hurricane. That report is due to come out soon — perhaps as soon as next month — and early rumors say that it will not paint Comey in a favorable light. If in fact the report does show that Comey lied to Trump to set him up and used a spy inside the White House, these memos might be the least of Comey’s troubles, and for that matter the FBI’s.

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RCI: Russiagate hinges on Mifsud — and the mystery of why Mueller didn’t pursue him

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Who exactly is Joseph Mifsud, and what prompted his approach to George Papadopoulos in early 2016? The centrality of Mifsud to “Russiagate” and the mysterious lack of follow-up in Robert Mueller’s investigation remains the key unanswered question of the scandal, Eric Felten argues at RealClearInvestigations today.

Before we go there, let’s recall this exchange in the Mueller hearings in which Rep. Jim Jordan made the investigation’s strange pass on Mifsud a major story. Mueller’s team indicted Russian intelligence operatives for their interference operations and several Trump-world figures for lying to investigators, but Mifsud had done both — and never got named in any indictment. Jordan tried to get an answer from Mueller as to why, but Mueller refused to say:

Felten explains why this has become a big issue with Republicans, who are skeptical that the Mueller team investigated the full scope of Russian interference:

It was Mifsud, the report alleges, who took a trip to Moscow, and on his return “told Papadopoulos that the Russian government had ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of emails.”

Not so, said Mifsud in February 2017 when FBI agents interviewed him in the lobby of a Washington hotel. As Mueller recounted it in his report, Mifsud “denied that he had advance knowledge that Russia was in possession of emails damaging to candidate Clinton, stating that he and Papadopoulos had discussed cybersecurity and hacking as a larger issue and that Papadopoulos must have misunderstood their conversation.” The special counsel blamed Papadopoulos’ dissembling for disabling the FBI agents’ ability to get the goods on Mifsud: “The false information and omissions in Papadopoulos’s January 2017 interview undermined investigators’ ability to challenge Mifsud when he made these inaccurate statements.”

Maybe Mifsud was telling the truth. After all, the evidence to the contrary is supplied by someone who has done (a very little) time in jail for telling federal officials falsehoods. Which would at least explain why the special counsel did so little to pursue the professor. Having wrung a confession out of Papadopoulos for false statements about Mifsud, the special counsel’s team may have anticipated the difficulty they would face basing accusations against Mifsud on Papadopoulos’ say-so.

But it is another hypothesis altogether that is gaining traction with Republican lawmakers: the notion that the professor was indeed an intelligence asset, just not for Russia. “Joseph Mifsud is the key figure in the FBI’s opening of the official investigation of the Trump campaign, yet no one knows who he was working for,” Devin Nunes tells RealClearInvestigations.

Even though Mifsud is portrayed as the original contact between Russia and the Trump campaign, and key to the alleged reason the FBI took the rare and controversial step of opening a counterintelligence probe against a presidential campaign, Nunes says the FBI and the special counsel were strangely blasé about the professor. “Mifsud has contacts throughout western governments, none of whom seem concerned that they’ve been compromised by a Russian agent.”

Part of Nunes’ rationale for speculating that Mifsud was an American intel asset was because of his links to Western institutions. It seems more likely that such connections would make Mifsud more valuable to Moscow rather than the CIA. It’s also possible that Mifsud worked both sides of the street, or neither at all. However, if Mifsud was indeed a US intel asset, then Congress will need to find out who ordered him to bait Papadopoulos, and why. That’s why Republicans want to know about Mifsud, because it might point back to a political-hit operation that would make Watergate pale in comparison.

At the moment, the prospects for getting an answer to the question seem poor. Michael Horowitz’ inspector-general investigation into the beginnings of Operation Crossfire Hurricane will get released soon, perhaps in September, but Horowitz’ scope is the Department of Justice. The CIA would be beyond his purview, which means he’d only be able to determine what the FBI knew about Mifsud, if much of anything.

Appointing John Ratcliffe as director of national intelligence might uncork more, but if there is more, why isn’t CIA director Gina Haspel providing it? Mifsud’s name and picture are all over the place, so it’s not as if he can operate as an active asset now, if indeed he ever was one in the first place. As president, Trump can choose to declassify anything he likes (although with some potential for drastic consequences). Jim Jordan shouldn’t have to be berating Mueller about Mifsud; if there’s something besides smoke there, Trump and his team can provide it.

The best guess for why Mifsud hasn’t been fully explained is because he’s just not fully explainable. The lack of charges against him should be explained, however, because it certainly leaves the impression that the special counsel was playing favorites with obstructors.

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