Aaron Mate on New #Russiagate Bombshells, Plus More From the Stupid Bay of Pigs | Useful Idiots

Aaron Mate of the Grayzone and ‘Pushback’ joins the show to talk recent developments in #Russiagate, how it’s helping Trump, plus Matt and Katie continue to dive into the Stupid Bay of Pigs

When Justice Is Partial

The Clinton campaign paid Fusion GPS to compile a dossier against Mr. Trump, a document that became the basis of the Russia narrative Mr. Mueller now investigates. But the campaign funneled the money to law firm Perkins Coie, which in turn paid Fusion. The campaign falsely described the money as payment for “legal services.” The Democratic National Committee did the same. A Perkins Coie spokesperson has claimed that neither the Clinton campaign nor the DNC was aware that Fusion GPS had been hired to conduct the research, and maybe so. But a lot of lawyers here seemed to have been ignoring a clear statute, presumably with the intent of influencing an election

.. But under this standard, where are the charges against the principals of Fusion GPS, who Sen. Chuck Grassley has said look to have been lobbying on behalf of powerful Russians against a U.S. sanctions law, with its payment again funneled through a law firm? This was a sideline to its dossier work, but Mr. Mueller usually has no issue with sideline charges.

.. Or what about an evenhanded look at dossier author Christopher Steele ? FARA also requires foreigners to register if they act on behalf of a foreign principal. Recently disclosed emails from senior Justice Department official Bruce Ohr show the British Mr. Steele pleading the case to the Justice Department on behalf of a Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska.

Of the seven U.S. citizens Mr. Mueller has charged, five have been accused of (among other things) making false statements to federal officials. But there have been no charges against the partisans who made repeated abjectly false claims to the FBI and Justice Department about actions of their political opponents. There have been no charges against those who leaked classified information, including the unprecedented release of an unmasked n between former national security adviser Mike Flynn and a Russian ambassador. Nothing.

Some of these charges might not stand up in court, but that’s beside the point. Plenty of lawyers would poke holes in the campaign-finance charges against Cohen, or the “lying” charges against Mr. Flynn. Special counsels wield immense power; the mere threat of a charge provokes plea deals. It’s the focus that matters.

Prosecutors can claim all they want that they are applying the law equally, but if they only apply it to half the suspects, justice is not served. Mr. Mueller seems blind to the national need for—the basic expectation of—a thorough look into all parties. That omission is fundamentally undermining any legitimacy in his findings. Lady Justice does not wear a blindfold over only one eye.

Michael Cohen Drops Defamation Suits Against BuzzFeed, Fusion GPS Over Russia Dossier

Decision comes amid investigation of Donald Trump’s personal attorney for potential bank fraud and campaign-finance violations

President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, has dropped a defamation lawsuit against BuzzFeed over the publication of an unsubstantiated intelligence dossier that alleged he played a role in working with Russia to help Mr. Trump become president.

Mr. Cohen is also dropping a similar defamation suit against Fusion GPS, the private investigation firm responsible for the dossier.

Since filing the suits in January, Mr. Cohen has come under criminal investigation for potential bank fraud and campaign-finance violations. His attorney said the probe made it difficult to continue with the defamation cases.

Devin Nunes’s Nothingburger

The important questions, however, are:

  1. First, did the F.B.I. have solid reasons to suspect that people in Donald Trump’s campaign had unusual, dangerous and possibly criminal ties to Moscow?
  2. Second, did this suspicion warrant surveillance and investigation by the F.B.I.?

.. Paul Manafort, the Trump campaign chairman until August 2016, is credibly alleged to have received $12.7 million in “undisclosed cash payments” from then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, a Russian stooge.

.. Had Manafort not been exposed, he might have gone on to occupy a position of trust in the Trump administration

.. George Papadopoulos, the young adviser who pleaded guilty last year to lying to the F.B.I., spent his time on the campaign trying to make overtures to Russia. In May 2016 he blabbed to an Australian diplomat that Moscow had political dirt on Hillary Clinton — information that proved true and was passed on to U.S. intelligence. This was the genesis of an F.B.I. counterintelligence investigation, as the Nunes memo itself admits.

.. Page happens also to be highly sympathetic to the Putin regime. The Russian phrase for such characters is polezni durak — useful idiot.

No wonder he was invited to give a commencement speech at a Russian university in the summer of 2016. That’s how assets are cultivated in the world of intelligence.

.. Given the profile and his relative proximity to team Trump, it would have been professionally negligent of the F.B.I. not to keep tabs on him.

.. Yet the bureau only obtained a surveillance warrant after Page had left the campaign and shortly before the election, and it insisted throughout the campaign that Trump was not a target of investigation. How that represents an affront to American democracy is anyone’s guess.

.. The memo does seem to have uncovered conflicts of interest at the Justice Department, most seriously by then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, whose wife was working for Fusion GPS (and thus, by extension, the Clinton campaign) on opposition research on Trump. The memo also claims this relationship was not disclosed to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court when the Justice Department applied for a surveillance warrant on Page.

.. Nor does the Nunes memo claim that the information provided by the F.B.I. to the foreign intelligence court was, in fact, false. The closest it gets is a quote from ex-F.B.I. Director James Comey saying the Steele dossier was “salacious and unverified,”

.. The Stormy Daniels story is also salacious and almost certainly accurate. “Unverified” is not a synonym for “untrue.” And since when do pundits who make a living from their opinions automatically equate “bias” with dishonesty?

.. The larger inanity here is the notion that the F.B.I. tried to throw the election to Clinton, when it was the Democrats who complained bitterly at the time that the opposite was true.

“It has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisers and the Russian government,” then Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid angrily wrote James Comey in late October 2016. “The public has a right to know this information.”

.. Maybe so. But the G-Men kept quiet about their investigations, and Trump won the election. How that represents evidence of a sinister deep-state conspiracy is a question for morons to ponder.

The Republicans’ Fake Investigations

Republicans have refused to release full transcripts of our firm’s testimony, even as they selectively leak details to media outlets on the far right.

.. As we told the Senate Judiciary Committee in August, our sources said the dossier was taken so seriously because it corroborated reports the bureau had received from other sources, including one inside the Trump camp.

.. The intelligence committees have known for months that credible allegations of collusion between the Trump camp and Russia were pouring in from independent sources during the campaign. Yet lawmakers in the thrall of the president continue to wage a cynical campaign to portray us as the unwitting victims of Kremlin disinformation.

We told Congress that from Manhattan to Sunny Isles Beach, Fla., and from Toronto to Panama, we found widespread evidence that Mr. Trump and his organization had worked with a wide array of dubious Russians in arrangements that often raised questions about money laundering. Likewise, those deals don’t seem to interest Congress.
.. Yes, we hired Mr. Steele, a highly respected Russia expert. But we did so without informing him whom we were working for and gave him no specific marching orders beyond this basic question: Why did Mr. Trump repeatedly seek to do deals in a notoriously corrupt police state that most serious investors shun?
.. After the election, Mr. Steele decided to share his intelligence with Senator John McCain via an emissary. We helped him do that. The goal was to alert the United States national security community to an attack on our country by a hostile foreign power.
.. It is time to stop chasing rabbits. The public still has much to learn about a man with the most troubling business past of any United States president. Congress should release transcripts of our firm’s testimony, so that the American people can learn the truth about our work and most important, what happened to our democracy.

The FBI’s Trump ‘Insurance’

The texts explain why Mr. Mueller would remove Mr. Strzok, though a straight shooter wouldn’t typically resist turning those messages over to Congress for as long as Mr. Mueller did.

.. Yates had every right to resign at the time if she felt she couldn’t implement Mr. Trump’s order. But she had no authority as an executive branch official to defy a legitimate presidential order. Mr. Weissmann’s support for her insubordination was a declaration that he is part of the “resistance.” This should be unacceptable in a ranking FBI official, much less someone charged with conducting a fair-minded investigation.

.. he wouldn’t elaborate on the news that Nellie Ohr, the wife of senior Justice official Bruce Ohr, worked for Fusion GPS, which hired Mr. Steele to gin up his dossier.