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Mueller vs. Mueller: The Conspiracy Right Before His Eyes

According to AG William Barr, special counsel Robert Mueller did not find enough evidence to suggest a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. But we also know from Mueller’s court filings that WikiLeaks and DCLeaks released some 150,000 illegally stolen emails they received from Russian government hackers, that Trump friend Roger Stone encouraged and coordinated with Julian Assange to release those emails, and that Stone kept the Trump campaign informed about the email dumps all along the way.

So how the heck did Mueller not see a criminal conspiracy in his own facts?!

Here are the relevant facts from the criminal indictment of Roger Stone with the names filled in. These are Mueller’s own words. Taken together, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Roger Stone and “senior Trump campaign officials” including campaign chairman Steve Bannon were colluding with WikiLeaks to help coordinate the email dumps. You be the judge.

FROM THE ROGER STONE INDICTMENT. THESE ARE MUELLER’S EXACT WORDS:

During the summer of 2016, ROGER STONE spoke to STEVE BANNON about WikiLeaks and information it might have had that would be damaging to the Clinton Campaign. STONE was contacted by Bannon and other senior Trump Campaign officials to inquire about future releases by WIKILEAKS.

Around July 2016, STONE informed senior Trump Campaign officials that he had information indicating WIKILEAKS had documents whose release would be damaging to the Clinton Campaign.

After the July 22, 2016 release of stolen DNC emails by WIKILEAKS, a Senior Campaign Official was directed to contact STONE about what other damaging information WIKILEAKS had regarding the Clinton Campaign. STONE thereafter told the Trump Campaign about potential future releases of damaging material by WIKILEAKS.

STONE also corresponded with associates about contacting WIKILEAKS in order to obtain additional emails damaging to the Clinton Campaign. (AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is no longer passive. Stone is now active in the conspiracy.)

On July 25, 2016*, STONE sent an email to JEROME CORSI with the subject line, “Get to Assange.” The body of the message read, “Get to Assange and get the pending WikiLeaks emails. They deal with [The Clinton] Foundation, allegedly.”

On August 2, 2016, CORSI emailed STONE, saying: “Word is Assange plans 2 more email dumps. One shortly after I’m back. Second in October. Impact planned to be very damaging. Time to let more than Podesta be exposed as in bed with the enemy if they are not ready to drop HRC. Would not hurt to start suggesting HRC [is] old, memory bad, has stroke, and [is] not well. I expect that to be much of the next [email] dump focus, setting stage for [Clinton] Foundation debacle.”

On August 8, 2016, STONE attended a public event at which he stated, “I have communicated with Assange. I believe the next tranche of his documents pertain to the Clinton Foundation, but there’s no telling what the October surprise may be.”

On August 25, 2016, Julian Assange was a guest on RANDY CREDICO’s radio show. Shortly after, CREDICO sent a text to STONE that said, “Assange has kryptonite on Hillary.”

On September 18, 2016, STONE emailed CREDICO, “Please ask ASSANGE for any State Dept. or HRC e-mail…that mention [a rumored Clinton scandal] or confirm this narrative.”

On September 19, 2016, STONE texted CREDICO again, “Pass my message to ASSANGE.” CREDICO responded, “I did.”

On October 1, 2016, CREDICO sent STONE a text that stated, “Big news Wednesday. Hillary’s campaign will die this week.”

On October 2, 2016, STONE emailed CREDICO, with the subject line “WTF?,” a link to an article reporting that WIKILEAKS was canceling its “highly anticipated Clinton email dump due to security concerns.” CREDICO responded to STONE, “head fake.” Later that day, STONE texted CREDICO and asked, “Did ASSANGE back off?” CREDICO responded, “I think it’s on for tomorrow.”

On October 3, 2016, STONE wrote to a major Trump campaign supporter, “Spoke to ASSANGE last night. The payload is still coming.”

Also on October 3, 2016, STONE received an email from a reporter asking, “ASSANGE – what’s he got? Hope it’s good.” STONE responded, “It is. I’d tell [STEVE] BANNON but he doesn’t call me back.”

On October 4, 2016, STONE received an email from STEVE BANNON asking about the status of future releases by WIKILEAKS. STONE answered that there would be “a load every week going forward.” (NOTE: This is the Trump campaign chairman now coordinating with Stone about Clinton email dumps.)

Later that day, a major Trump campaign supporter asked STONE via text if he had heard anymore from Assange. STONE told the supporter that more material would be released and that it would be damaging to the Clinton Campaign.

Three days later, WIKILEAKS released the first set of emails stolen from Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta. Shortly after WIKILEAKS’s release, an associate of STEVE BANNON sent a text message to STONE that read “well done.” (NOTE: This again is the Trump campaign chairman coordinating with Stone about the email dumps and acknowledging the campaign’s appreciation.)

It should be noted that Stone repeatedly lied to the FBI and investigators about all these matters, falsely denying most of them, and was also charged with Obstruction of Justice in this matter. As the New York Times Editorial Board stated, Mr. Stone participated in and helped conceal an effort by the Trump campaign to cooperate with WikiLeaks in publicizing thousands of emails stolen from the Clinton campaign, which was done to devastating political effect.”

The Roger Stone  indictment – with the charges set forth above – was signed by Robert S. Mueller. If he does not see a criminal conspiracy in these facts, I would love to learn why not.

 

* Where the indictment said “On or about” a date, author changed it to “On” for easier reading. Some missing prepositions and connective words were filled in for clarity.

Life After Mueller (Ep. 199)

On this week’s episode, the gang does a post-mortem on the findings of the Mueller Report and its impact on the 2020 election, the once-rumored pairing of Joe Biden and Stacey Abrams, and whether Pete Buttigieg could emerge as a real 2020 contender.

The Kelton Report (On What Should Be In The Mueller Report)

Dear Mr. Attorney General,

While we await public word of what is in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, here is a summary of the publicly known facts and evidence in the matter of Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election for president of the United States and the Trump campaign’s direct complicity in those efforts.

In June 2015, Donald John Trump announced his candidacy for president, and by April 2016, he had secured enough pledged delegates to become the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party. Russian President Vladimir Putin has publicly admitted he had a strong preference to see Trump defeat his Democratic Party opponent, Hillary Clinton, and Russia began a series of covert espionage efforts to help Trump win.* (*See the enclosed links for details and evidence of all findings in this summary.) The facts and evidence that the Trump campaign was involved in this criminal conspiracy to effect the outcome of the election are as follows:

The Conspiracy

During the months of April through November 2016, agents of the Russian government began a secret espionage campaign to advance Trump’s candidacy and harm Clinton’s reputation and candidacy. As court records show, 12 Russian intelligence officers have been indicted in this effort, and many more agents of the Russian government worked to advance that effort. Part of this effort was to secure and make public emails and other private documents owned or relating to the Democratic candidate, the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and other high officials of the Democratic campaign. The Russians were able to hack into DNC email servers and private servers to steal private electronic correspondence that they believed would be harmful to the Democratic candidate.

In August 2015, Trump publicly parted ways with his longtime friend and political advisor, Roger Stone, a well-known political operative with a reputation for “dark arts” dirty tricks campaigns. It’s believed Trump and Stone set up their public fallout as a pretext for plausible deniability so that Stone could conduct his dark arts dirty political tricks for the Trump campaign without being tied back to the candidate. Indeed, Trump has publicly asserted this deniability several times to the press, even though Trump and Stone stayed in constant contact during the presidential campaign.

In April 2016, Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort gave the campaign’s private polling data to his business client, Russian operative Konstantin Kilimnik. It is reasonable to surmise that Russian operatives then used that data to craft how they could most effectively target American voters with the hacked emails and their content.

On June 9, 2016, Manafort, Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner met with Russian operative Natalia Veselnitskaya and other Russians to discuss how they could work together to disseminate those illegally stolen emails to the American public to maximize damage to the reputation and candidacy of the presumptive Democratic nominee. Once this meeting became public knowledge, President Trump dictated a factually false press statement to cover up the collusion element of the meeting. Further, Trump Jr. lied to congress and committed perjury in an effort to hide the true surreptitious intent and content of the meeting. In that way, both President Trump and his son attempted to obstruct justice to cover up their role in the conspiracy to mislead and defraud the American public.

On July 22, 2016, candidate Trump in a televised press conference urged the Russians to make public any stolen emails they may have in their possession. “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let’s see if that happens.” Later that day Russian hackers began attempts to break into and hack DNC servers.

From July through October 2016, Trump associates Roger Stone and Jerome Corsi had multiple contacts with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and a Russian agent known as “Guccifer 2.0” about the imminent release of those hacked emails. It’s known that Stone bragged about these contacts to Corsi, radio host Randy Credico, and on radio and YouTube broadcasts hosted by InfoWars owner Alex Jones. In August 2016 Stone tweeted, “It will soon [be] the Podesta’s time in the barrel”, a reference to the chairman of the Democratic campaign, whose hacked emails were publicly released by WikiLeaks six weeks later.

There is evidence that Stone and Corsi conspired with Assange to arrange the email “dump” at a time of maximum damage to the Clinton campaign. Further, there is evidence that  this conspiracy was communicated to Trump campaign Chief Executive Stephen K. Bannon in an email exchange between Stone and Bannon on October 4, 2016. In that exchange, Stone told Bannon that there would be “a load every week going forward.”  The email evidence suggests that Bannon was “directed” to contact Stone by someone in the campaign. As the campaign chairman, the only person who would be in a position to direct Bannon was his boss, candidate Trump. Further, there is sworn testimony from Trump attorney Michael Cohen that Stone personally advised candidate Trump about the coming WikiLeaks email dump in a phone call overheard by Cohen in July 2016, and that Trump responded “Wouldn’t that be great.”

It is reasonable to surmise from this pattern of facts that candidate Trump knew about and was involved in the efforts of his campaign staff to enlist and encourage the Russian government to release the stolen emails. There is evidence that, as president, Trump has taken numerous actions to cover up this conspiracy up to and including criminal obstruction of justice.

In all, there is evidence of at least 102 contacts between Trump campaign staff and associates and operatives of the Russian government. And there is a multitude of evidence that Trump and his associates lied about and attempted to cover up those connections. As president, Trump fired FBI Director James Comey and took other actions designed to hamper the investigation into his campaign and thereby obstruct justice.

The Payback

At the Republican National Convention (July 18-21, 2016), Manafort approved of and led a successful effort to amend the Republican Platform to be favorable to the Russian government’s position un Ukraine. We have evidence to suggest that candidate Trump knew of and approved of this effort to reward the Russian government with the platform amendment.

Trump defeated the Democratic candidate on November 8, 2016 to become the president-elect. In one of his first major moves, Trump appointed campaign associate Michael Flynn to be his National Security Advisor. Flynn subsequently secretly met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak to discuss lifting U.S. sanctions against the Russian government. Flynn then lied to the FBI to cover up those discussions.

On January 20, 2017, Trump was sworn in as President of the United States. Within days Trump led efforts to lift sanctions on Russia that had been imposed by the Obama Administration, but congress reportedly blocked those efforts. In 2018 Trump successfully lifted sanctions on a company owned by Oleg Deripask, a Russian oligarch with deep ties to Vladimir Putin. As president, Trump has also made numerous public statements and pushed foreign policies that are favorable to Russian interests. Further, Trump has held private, secret diplomatic talks with Putin without the presence of advisors or an official transcript, suggesting a continued secret quid-pro-quo relationship and possible conspiracy to advance Putin’s agenda in return for his help in winning the 2016 election and support of Trump’s private business interests. 

Conclusions

In these ways, it can be proved beyond reasonable doubt that a conspiracy existed between Trump, his campaign, and elements of the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 presidential election through hacking, espionage, and other illegal means, and that Russia was paid back through foreign policy decisions highly favorable to Putin and Russia by the Trump administration and the president himself. Further, Trump engaged in multiple counts of criminal obstruction of justice in an effort to avoid detection and prosecution for those crimes and to avoid impeachment in the United States Congress.

Based on the facts set forth above, I hereby propose a citizen’s arrest of Roger Stone, Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Stephen Bannon, Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., and President Donald John Trump, and recommend indictments of each individual for a coordinated conspiracy to steal and disseminate private emails, conspiracy to commit espionage with a foreign power, obstruction of justice, and a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States.

Sincerely,

Kevin Kelton, concerned citizen

Kevin Kelton is a cohost of The More Perfect Union podcast and runs the Facebook political group, Open Fire Politics.

 

Trump Leaves Syria With Fight Against Daesh Unfinished and With Putin Ascendant

by D.J. McGuire

Those who know about my long and strange trip through Election 2016 know that I landed on my eventual choice (Hillary Clinton – yes, for those of you who didn’t know, thatHillary Clinton) due to one issue – Syria.

A quick refresher:

…I saw reports from the United States (Reuters) and from the region itself (al-Hayat, although the Jerusalem Post has a better translation, it also gets Akram al-Bunni’s name wrong). They revealed the preference of the Syrian opposition – the real opposition, not the Iraqi Ba’athists who keep Daesh operating – for Mrs. Clinton.

That tipped the balance, and countered Johnson’s superior positions on economic matters, at least to me. This year has been a long-running internal conflict between my inner neoconservative and my inner libertarian…and in the end, the neoconservative won.

For the analyst in me, this is a real leap of faith, but if there is a chance of a free Syria, I have to take it. If that means voting for Hillary Clinton, then God help me, that’s what I must do.

Obviously, we never got to see if Mrs. Clinton lived up to that. Her Republican opponent, by contrast, insisted that all he cared about in Syria was ISIS. He even contradicted his own running mate’s critique of Syrian tyrant Bashar Assad (CNBC).

Only we now know Trump was more interested in the appearance of defeating Daesh (as ISIS is known in the locale) than the reality of defeating Daesh – for he claimed a premature victory this morning and announced he was pulling troops out of Syria (CNN).

Trump issued his first public comments on the decision Wednesday evening in a video message posted to Twitter, in which he pointed to the sky to reference US military personnel who have been killed in Syria.

“We have won against ISIS,” Trump said. “We’ve beaten them and we’ve beaten them badly. We’ve taken back the land and now it’s time for our troops to come back home. I get very saddened when I have to write letters or call parents or wives or husbands of soldiers who have been killed fighting for our country.”

There was only one problem with Trump’s assertion: it was a lie – as folks in his own Administration acknowledged:

Resistance to the move was strong among some in the administration. A senior administration official told CNN’s Jake Tapper that the President’s decision to withdraw US troops from Syria is “a mistake of colossal proportions and the President fails to see how it will endanger our country.”

“Senior officials across the administration agree that the President’s decision-by-tweet will recklessly put American and allied lives in danger around the world, take the pressure off of ISIS — allowing them to reconstitute — and hand a strategic victory to our Syrian, Iranian and Russian adversaries,” the official said.

No matter, Trump wants his victory lap – and he’ll have it even if the race is still going on.

In the meantime, Russia and Iran now know there is no one to stop them from propelling Bashar Assad to regain total control of Syria. Any attempt to use the area we controlled to allow Syrians to build a future free of Ba’athismis out the window.

Oh, and in case anyone – anywhere – tries to discount the accusations and evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Putin regime with the what-did-Putin-really-get-for-it question, we have the answer right in front of us.

Putin got Syria. He got his chief client state in the region (the Tehran mullachracy) as the pre-eminent power in the northern Middle East. The forces of tyranny are ascendant in the region (and worldwide) as we retreat.

Once again, for emphasis, the battle with Daesh was notover (CNN).

Tobias Ellwood, a minister in the British Ministry of Defense, said in a tweet that he “strongly” disagrees with Trump’s comment on Wednesday that ISIS had been defeated. “It has morphed into other forms of extremism and the threat is very much alive,” Ellwood wrote, while the Defense Ministry told CNN there would be no immediate change to its current operation in Syria.

If anything, the only real surprise here is that people are surprised. Trump has been an isolationist for decades, and has always preferred the big splash of symbolism over the hard work of real action. He has repeatedly promised to pull our troops out of Syria; it has been his staff that pulled a Sir Humphrey Appleby and prevented it until now.

I also understand and appreciate those who are concerned about the lack of Congressional authorization. One could argue that this deployment was consistent with the anti-al Qaeda authorization of 2001, given that Deash was once al Qaeda in Iraq, but even I consider that a slender reed on which to lean. A far more robust argument should have been made by Trump himselffor Congressional authorization against this specific enemy at the very least. Instead, Trump is pretending the battle is over as a cover for his decision to cut and run.

When it became clear Trump had defeated Clinton two years ago, I hoped against hope that I would be able to say I was wrong, and that Trump had confounded my very low expectations of him. Instead, he validated them.

Again, this was the issue that led me to switch from Gary Johnson to Hillary Clinton. I knew it was a leap of faith then. I have been proven right now – in the worst way imaginable.

Donald Trump lost Syria – check that, he gave Syria away.

D.J. McGuire – a self-described progressive conservative – has been part of the More Perfect Union Podcast since 2015. He is also a contributor to Bearing Drift.

Border Disorder (Ep. 183)

This episode looks at the tragic chaos at the southern border, the comical chaos of the Trump administration, and the looming chaos of the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries.

Real debate without the hate!

The Russia Show

by Kevin Kelton

The other day on MSNBC’s “The Beat with Ari Melber,” HuffPost Editorial Director Howard Fineman said that he doesn’t think Special Counsel Robert Mueller will be able to make a case for obstruction of justice against the president, but he does think Mueller has a strong case for collusion. One hour later on the same network, former RNC Chairman Michael Steele told Chris Matthews that he doesn’t think Mueller can make a case for collusion, but does have strong one for obstruction.

Two knowledgeable political experts, two opposite opinions.

The truth is that when it comes to the Trump-Russia investigation, no one but Mueller and his top deputies knows anything. Not you, not me, not the TV experts. Yet Facebookers on both sides of the partisan seesaw keep spouting nonsense about it with absolute certainty.

One of my favorite silly talking points is, “Collusion is not a crime.” This comment is laughable for its utter lack of legal context. It’s true, if you and I collude to get the best price on a used car, that is not a crime. But if we collude to steal the car, it is. Collusion to commit a crime is called “conspiracy,” and yes, it’s very much against the law. Don’t believe me? See here and here.

Another ludicrous argument is, “There isn’t one shred of evidence supporting collusion.” Actually, there’s a whole bunch. First, you have the Don Jr. June 9 Trump Tower meeting, which was shown in texts to be about meeting with Russian nationals to get and use stolen Hillary Clinton emails with the express goal of changing the outcome of a U.S. presidential election. Second, you have the candidate himself asking Russia on national television to hack (i.e., steal) and publish private citizens’ emails with the express intent of affecting the outcome of the election. He even promised a quid pro quo by saying, “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

Think of it this way: a man involved in a contentious divorce goes into a crowded restaurant and says for everyone to hear, “I’m urging someone to break my ex-wife’s legs. I think you’ll be rewarded mightily for it.” A few days later his wife turns up beaten with a broken leg and broken arm. Don’t you think that is evidence of his complicity in the act? It may not be enough to convict him by itself, but along with other evidence it creates a powerful argument for his guilt.

On the liberal side, my favorite gibberish is that Trump’s cabinet may soon invoke the 25th Amendment. Think about it. Let’s just say for a moment that someone, say Rex Tillerson, was secretly considering it. Who would he whisper it to? Ben Carson? Betsy DeVos? Steve Mnuchin? Sonny Perdue? Wilber Ross? Every one of them would run to the Oval Office to report the traitor in a heartbeat. Go find me four Trump Cabinet appointees you think would support this kind of unprecedented American coup d’état, let alone eight. It’s preposterous. Trump is ready to jail Hillary Clinton for her purported crimes against America. What do you think he’d do to a handful of treasonous ex-Cabinet plotters?

But I think my favorite argument is, “Who cares if Russia stole the DNC emails? Isn’t the content of what’s in them more important?” The simple answer is, no.

Because an election campaign should be based on relatively equal transparency, especially where private material is concerned. If I can see and review one candidate’s tax returns, I should be able to see and review the others’. If I can get my hands on one candidate’s medical records, I should get them for both. If I can view one candidate’s criminal conviction record, it’s only fair to make the other’s public as well. Judging one candidate on personal information that the other one doesn’t have to release is fundamentally unfair.

So to have the DNC emails purloined and published without releasing the RNC’s emails as well was an inequitable prejudice against Clinton. Had the RNC emails also been leaked, we most likely would have seen just as much dirt and ugliness in the Republican primary race as we saw in the Democrats’. (Which, frankly, wasn’t really all that bad.)

And by the way, for those who don’t know history, the Watergate break-in was about stealing the DNC’s private files. It doesn’t matter what’s in them; if you steal private campaign information and use it you are breaking the law. In the electronic age, it’s called Data Theft and it’s prohibited by several state and federal statues.

But maybe the most delicious irony of The Russia Show is that everyone who used to detest James Comey now adore him, and everyone who used to adore him now thinks he’s a conniving, lying enemy of the state.

What is true is that the Trump-Russia investigation has become catnip Facebook groups like Open Fire. Like any good TV soap opera, everyone has their favorite villain and plenty of theories as to how it will all end.

What’s your favorite talking point about Trump, Mueller, Comey, and Russia?