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Russia investigation

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.

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.

 

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 Mueller Report NOT To Expect


                                                     
           

September 1, 2018

 

The Honorable Rod J. Rosenstein, Deputy Attorney General
United States Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.

 

          Re:  Final Report from the Office of Special Counsel

 

Dear Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein and Members of Congress,

          It is with great regret that I must issue this Final Report from the Office of Special Counsel announcing that we hereby close our investigation into Russian Interference with the 2016 Presidential Election with no finding of wrongdoing in this matter. I am sorry to say that after fifteen months of rigorous investigation by the nation’s premier team of criminal investigators and prosecutors, and at a cost of millions of dollars to U.S. taxpayers, our efforts were all for naught. Quite simply, we were stymied by the superior intelligence and cunning of Donald J. Trump and his campaign cohorts. In short, we failed.

          Specifically, while my team was successful at chasing down thousands of leads and obtaining some 19 indictments and five guilty pleas from individuals and companies who worked together to elect Mr. Trump, we were helpless to build a case proving their illicit actions really happened. Even with bank records, wire-tapped conversations, thousands of emails, and other incontrovertible evidence of their web of conspiracy to affect the 2016 election, we have decided to hang it up and call it quits without attempting to make a case to the American people, the task we were specifically assigned and sworn to carry out.

          While there is ample evidence that campaign staffers Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos and Carter Page met with Russian operatives to discuss publishing materials meant to discredit candidate Hillary Clinton in exchange for a more favorable foreign policy toward Russia once the election was over (including changes to the RNC platform made at the behest of campaign manager Paul Manafort to benefit Russia in the Ukraine), we are stymied about how to prove said quid-pro-quo conspiracy so that rural voters and GOP Senators might comprehend it.

          Further, despite thousands of documents showing unreported illicit financial transactions and favors of influence between Russian oligarchs and Mr. Trump’s family, we were unable to connect the dots of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, even though the President himself is on public record asking for their help to smear Mrs. Clinton with illegally hacked emails, and even though the President’s son, son-in-law and campaign associates met and spoke repeatedly with Russian operatives in furtherance of their efforts to illegally obtain and release her emails, and even though Mr. Trump and family would have been the sole beneficiaries of said collusion to affect the outcome of the election.

          Moreover, while we have documented proof through emails, tweets and sworn witness testimony that Trump confidant Roger Stone personally engaged Julian Assange and the Russian hacker Guccifer 2, who went on to procure and release DNC and John Podesta emails to damage Clinton’s campaign only days after Stone predicted those events on multiple media outlets, we felt we had no choice but to accept his explanation that he was merely joking and the timing and specificity of his “jokes” was a coincidence. True, we could have called Mr. Stone to testify under oath and catch him in multiple changes in his story, but why bother? He said it was a misunderstanding and we have to take an upstanding man like him at his word. To have done less would have been a perjury trap.

          Similarly, the fact that the President attempted to obstruct justice by firing FBI Director James Comey and through other documented efforts to derail our investigation is simply beyond our capacity to prove in court. As you know, the President claims it was all a misunderstanding, and the American people would surely believe a sitting U.S. president with a 13% “honest and trustworthy” rating over contemporaneous FBI memos, the sworn testimony of multiple eye witnesses, and every single officer of the U.S. Department of Justice.

          I know you and the American people were hoping to find closure through our investigation. But frankly, the only way to do that would have been to put the key witness on the stand. And any effort to subpoena the President to testify under oath, as was done in Clinton v. Jones and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, would have been an unconscionable perjury trap and may have insulted the President’s feelings as well. No president of the United States can be expected to testify truthfully and get his multiple different stories straight under that kind of pressure.

          In all candor, it appears that Mr. Trump and his team of neophyte political amateurs were just too cagey and sinister for us. For that, and for all the negative press generated by the President’s disinformation campaign while we professionally and meticulously investigated this case out of the public eye as we were constitutionally charged to do, I humbly apologize. And if you’ll authorize it, I would like to testify in front of Congress so I may publicly clear the President’s good name and admit the folly of our partisan attempt to reverse his magnificent electoral mandate.

          Oh wait!… No, I take that all back. I don’t know what I was thinking. It was 2 in the morning and I was Ambien writing.

          We are still investigating. Further criminal indictments and referral for impeachment forthcoming.

Sincerely,

 

 

Robert S. Mueller III

(As dictated to Kevin Kelton, cohost, The More Perfect Union podcast)

Bank Robber Cornered By Police, Claims Robbery Is ‘Fake News’

by Kevin Kelton

Like most people, I turn on cable news every morning and am endlessly bemused to hear the same story reported the same way time after time after time, all the while reporting it like it’s some great mystery what’s going on. Here’s what the news sounds like to me every day:

Good morning. Breaking News overnight… a bank robber just sent a Tweet claiming that there was no robbery. The bank robber says that news reports of a bank robbery having happened are “fake news.” Breaking: The bank robber just hired a new criminal defense attorney who says there was no bank robbery and his client is 100% innocent of being involved in the bank robbery, and yet he refuses to let the police talk to the bank robber. I wonder why?

Whoops… more Breaking News… the bank robber just rubbed out two people who witnessed the bank heist and could testify about it. I can’t figure out why he did that. Hmm. And it’s now being reported that the bank robber is telling everyone there was no robbery and no bank and no money was stolen and that the FBI made up the whole bank robbery because they hate him. I wonder why he said that? Do you think the FBI is out to get the bank robber? Why would they do that? My, the bank robber sure seems to be acting a little suspicious, don’t you think? Or maybe he’s just tired of hearing about the “fake” bank robbery, and he’s fed up with it distracting from his getaway. Yeah, I can see how that would be very annoying to the bank robber. 

Channel Flip…

Breaking News… the bank robber just said the FBI is the one that robbed the bank. And that ‘Crooked Hillary’ was the real bank robber. But he still claims there was no bank robbery. Wow, I can’t figure out why the bank robber would say all that. Do you think somebody really robbed the bank? We know there is bank money missing, and we found lots of evidence pointing to the bank robber at the crime scene. And he announced on TV two years ago that he’d like some help robbing a bank… right before a big bank robbery. But he says he was just joking. Do you think he was?

Channel Flip…

Here’s video of the bank robber congratulating Vladimir Dillinger on his rigged re-election victory and saying how much he admires him for being a strong bank robber. Dillinger was caught by the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, and 14 other law enforcement agencies planning the bank robbery. But the bank robber still says he doesn’t believe it happened. I wonder why.

Channel Flip…

Breaking news… the bank robber just fired his new criminal defense lawyer and hired a *new* new criminal defense lawyer. And the new new criminal defense lawyer swears his client didn’t do it and insists the police stop investigating the bank robbery or else the bank robber may have to fire the police chief. And all the bank robbers’ friends are saying don’t fire the police chief or we may not believe you didn’t rob the bank.

Channel Flip…

Have you ever noticed that the bank robber never says anything bad about Vladimir Dillinger, the guy who helped him rob the bank and almost certainly has proof of that the bank robber is guilty… evidence that could get the bank robber in a lot of trouble. I wonder why the bank robber won’t say anything bad about him. And won’t condemn him for robbing the bank they both robbed. Isn’t that strange? I don’t get it.

Channel Flip…

Why don’t the police stop investigating this fake bank robbery? The bank robber said he didn’t do it. And I believe him over the police, the bank manager, all the tellers, and the bank video. Don’t you? Plus Vladimir Dillinger just said there was no bank robbery, and that corroborates what the bank robber said, so it must be true! Why does the FBI hate the bank robber so darn much?

Channel Flip…

Whoops… more Breaking News… the bank robber just bought something with the marked stolen money. So, was there a bank robbery or not? I’m so confused.

 

Kevin Kelton is a co-host of The More Perfect Union podcast and founder of the Facebook debate group, Open Fire Politics.

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?

How The Trump Stole Christmas (Ep. 132)

This week’s “More Perfect Union” podcast covers the post-script on the Alabama senate race, the imminent passage of the Trump tax reform (“tax deform”) bill, the net neutrality debate, the latest in the Russia investigation, government revelations about UFO sightings, and Greg’s very strange “Dayton Conspiracy.” Plus lots of holiday cheer from your friends at The More Perfect Union.

Franken’s Fall: How It All Began (Ep. 130)

This special episode of The More Perfect Union podcast talks with KABC radio host Doug McIntyre, who first broke the Al Franken sexual misconduct scandal. Doug explains his role in breaking the story and the humorously strange path of how it came to light, a path that included SNL producer Lorne Michaels, the late comic Garry Shandling, Matt Drudge, and Roger Stone. Doug also talks about sanctuary cities, the Kate Steinle murder after the acquittal of the illegal immigrant who shot her, and his take on the Trump-Russia investigation and tax reform.

Like what you heard? Subscribe on iTunes and don’t miss a podcast. 

And if you like talking politics, join us in our Facebook political debate group, OPEN FIRE, where you can discuss news and politics with Kevin, D.J., Greg, Rebekah, and lots of other smart, fun people. 

Find us on Twitter at @MPUpodcast

Rand Paul Gets Punched (Ep. 125)

Episode 125 of The More Perfect Union podcast finds the gang mourning yet another mass shooting, looking at the upcoming off-year elections in New York, New Jersey and Virginia, expressing dismay at Senator Elizabeth Warren, and showing compassion for Senator Rand Paul.

Like what you heard? Subscribe on iTunes and don’t miss a podcast. 

And if you like talking politics, join us in our Facebook political debate group, OPEN FIRE, where you can discuss news and politics with Kevin, D.J., Greg, Rebekah, and lots of other smart, fun people. 

Find us on Twitter at @MPUpodcast

All About the Base…No Treble (Ep. 112)

Episode 112 of The More Perfect Union podcast touches on the final days of The Mooch and who might replace him, the Trump immigration bill and his battle with sanctuary cities, and the Russia probe’s new grand jury. Then the gang must make some faustian choices between hypothetical 2020 presidential opponents.

Like what you heard? Subscribe on iTunes and don’t miss a podcast! 

And if you like talking politics, join us in our Facebook political debate group, OPEN FIRE, where you can discuss news and politics with Kevin, D.J., Greg, Rebekah, Cliff, Molly, Helena, and lots of other smart, fun people.

A Grand Juror Makes His Case

By William Gleed

Let’s begin here. A federal grand jury is no witch hunt, and it’s not about indicting a ham sandwich. A grand jury does not insult voters, nor does it subvert the Constitution. I know this because I served on federal grand jury in Concord, New Hampshire, for eighteen months from 2011-2012. Here’s some of what I learned.

There are only three things the federal government can compel a citizen to do: make you serve in the military, pay your taxes, and serve on a grand jury. I was happy to serve once I realized that, like death and taxes, I couldn’t get out of it.

Unlike a regular jury, as a grand jury juror you can question witnesses yourself, and you are encouraged to do so. You can subpoena documents (like a tax return) and compel testimony. You can tell a federal prosecutor and all the federal enforcement agencies that, no, you can’t charge and try that person on those charges, and the jury on which I served would and did do exactly that more than once. I’ve never had power like that before, and it was sobering.

I’m still sworn to secrecy about the actual testimony I took, so I can’t tell you about the cases I worked on or the evidence I saw. But I am proud to know I helped make a very bad day for some very bad people who very much deserved it.

The thing I can do is tell you how a grand jury operates.

My jury was made up 23 ordinary, individually unremarkable Americans who’d never met each other until the day we showed up to serve on the panel. We were from all walks of life, all levels of education, and all kinds of life experiences. A couple were teachers, some were small business people, some had retired. A grand jury is meant to protect you from overzealous prosecution. It’s part of our great strength as a nation that ordinary, “unremarkable” people are the ones who fulfill this mission.

All a grand jury does is to listen to the evidence and the law. Their only task is to decide if the evidence is enough to bring a charge and proceed to trial. That’s it. A grand jury doesn’t decide if you’re guilty or not. It just applies the law as twenty-three ordinary citizens understand that law. A trial jury makes the call on guilt.

So if I would advise the current POTUS, I’d tell him to stop acting so guilty, and stop trying to cloud the issue if he and his minions hope to avoid indictments. The way Mr. Trump is disparaging the process is very dangerous to our democracy, and I’ll bet you dollars to donuts it’s not winning him the benefit of the doubt among the jurors.

People have asked me if you can dodge a grand jury.

You don’t dodge a grand jury.  A grand jury can come for you with the US Marshals, and will do just that, if you make them. There is no place you can hide, and that you try to run is evidence of guilt at your certain eventual trial. The jury can also jail you indefinitely for contempt if you ignore their subpoena. I think Mr. Trump would be safe from that, but where’s he going to run? Russia?

If POTUS, or anyone else, is not indicted in the Russia probe, what it means is that 12 out of 23 ordinary Americans didn’t think federal prosecutors have the evidence of a crime. They could have the evidence or more evidence in the future and bring it back to the same grand jury, who can then indict with the new evidence. But you should remember, a prosecutor doesn’t take a case to a grand jury unless and until they have the evidence. At least, that’s my experience.

Right now, I would guess – and it’s only a guess – that somebody is going to jail, or at least going to trial, though it remains to be seen who that will be.

People have asked me if POTUS could plead the Fifth amendment, were he called to testify. I tell them that he can plead the Fifth all he wants. He’s not at a trial or on trial. Nobody has been charged yet, so he might be premature.

But what would you think of someone who said he couldn’t answer your question because it might make him a criminal, and he was the president of the United States? Imagine YOU had the power to charge him for the crime if (and I stress “if”) the evidence is sufficient in your mind to substantiate your charge? How would you vote on that indictment?

I don’t remember anyone, in 18 months, and dozens of cases, who took the Fifth. And I sure don’t think it would have helped them if they had.

Finally, I want to tell you that If I were under investigation but knew myself to be innocent of those charges, I would want those accusations to go before a grand jury. Twenty-three ordinary people, doing their constitutional duty, the way the Founding Fathers meant it to work.

So what’s the Trump administration worried about?

William Gleed has taught writing and literature at Southern New Hampshire University, Franklin Pierce University, Middlesex Community College, and Northern Essex Community College in both New Hampshire and Massachusetts. He’s been a correspondent for the Portsmouth, NH Herald and Seacoast Newspapers. He received a graduate degree in  poetry writing from the University of New Hampshire in 1995.