Washington Monthly | The Real Mueller Report Hasn’t Been Seen Yet

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Michael_Novakhov
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from Washington Monthly.

Special Counsel Robert MuellerJames Ledbetter/Flickr

I haven’t seen Mueller’s report. No one I know has seen it. None of the columnists and pundits who are opining on it have seen it. What they and I have seen is a self-serving memorandum that attorney general William Barr sent to the chairmen and ranking members of the congressional judiciary committees. This is one reason that I won’t be joining my colleague Joshua Alvarez in his end-zone dance that “the Mueller report [didn’t] amount to much of anything.”

If you want to know what part of the Mueller investigation matters, it’s not the part that sought to prove that Trump told the Russians to hack into the DNC, DCCC, and John Podesta’s email. It’s not the part that looked into any possible coordination on how and when that hacked information was utilized. It’s not the part where they tried to discover if the Russian fake-news troll factory in St. Petersburg coordinated with the campaign in some way. These theories were floated and run down by Mueller’s team, and they seem to come up short of anything they were willing to bring into a court room. It’s these theories that could collectively be called “collusion” and that William Barr was able to inform Congress had not been proven.

What we need to do here is to take a step back and reflect on how these theories all got started in the first place. In the summer and fall of 2015, few people were taking Donald Trump seriously as a candidate for the Republican nomination, but he was getting a lot of attention from the press mainly because he was famous and outrageous. He said a lot of politically incorrect or unorthodox things, but one of his themes was particularly curious. He kept saying nice things about Vladimir Putin and making excuses for his murderous behavior.

In 2015, most American politicians were concerned that Russia had been busy interfering in elections and boosting far-right white nationalist parties on two continents, downing passenger jets, throwing journalists out of windows, poisoning and assassinating people in their homes on foreign soil, and killing others with radiation and military grade nerve agents. But Trump was different. He approved of Russia’s move into Syria on the spurious rationale that they would fight ISIS there rather than prop up the genocidal regime of Bashar al-Assad. He doubted that Putin really had any journalists killed and stated that even if he did it was no worse than the things the American government does on a routine basis. In addition to being crazy, these comments made no political sense.

Trump’s rhetoric about Putin was odd enough that it aroused suspicion that he had some hidden financial motivation. In October 2015, Republican donor Paul Singer, through his magazine The Washington Free Beacon, contracted with Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS to investigate Trump’s foreign business ties, including those with Russia. This contract ended when Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee, but the suspicion didn’t go away and the Clinton campaign retained Fusion GPS to continue their investigation.

As it turns out, the suspicions were correct. The same month that Paul Singer hired Glenn Simpson, Trump signed a letter of intent to build the tallest building in Europe. The location was Moscow. For more than three years afterwards, Trump would deny that he had any financial ties to Russia or was pursuing any business deals there. Every one of those denials was a lie.

So, to summarize how this began, Trump said things about Putin and Russia that made people suspect that he was either protecting or pursuing business interests there. That is precisely what he was doing. He lied about it. The Russians knew he was lying about it. This gave the Russians leverage over Trump, because they could reveal his lies at at any time. They could have sunk his chances of winning either the Republican nomination or the general election, but they refrained from doing that. Instead, they sent emissaries to talk about sanctions relief. They launched a massive multi-faceted campaign to damage Hillary Clinton and assist Donald Trump.

Without rehashing all the familiar contacts between Russia-linked operatives and the Trump campaign (which now number 102), we shouldn’t have any difficulty understanding that Russia cultivated and assisted Trump because they wanted to get out from under the sanctions that were imposed on them after they annexed Crimea. Putin also felt a personal animosity toward Hillary Clinton, but that was secondary and still related to the issue of money.

If you stop and think about the rumored “pee tape” for a minute, it’s clear that the reason people were willing to believe it is because they needed some explanation for Trump’s behavior. It seemed obvious that Putin had something he was holding over Trump, so maybe it was good, old-fashioned kompromat with hookers from the time Trump went to Moscow to host his beauty pageant.

But it didn’t need to be that at all. Trump was pursuing (and then hiding) his Moscow Trump Tower deal, and that alone was enough to compromise him.

After the intelligence community established that Russia was responsible for hacking the Democrats, Trump inexplicably refused to credit their findings. He did this on the campaign trail, in the presidential debates, and even after he had been given detailed intelligence briefings. He continued to do it when he was president-elect. He even resumed doubting the evidence after he had officially accepted it.

After the election, the intelligence community went further and declared that Russia had intervened on Trump’s behalf, and at that point he may have felt that it was a way of denying him full credit for his victory, but his denials began the day that the leaks were first blamed on Russia, way back in June 2016.

Once elected, he immediately signaled that he would move to lift sanctions on Russia, even as the Obama administration was putting down new sanctions as punishment for the election interference. The contrast is what caused the first scandal of the Trump administration and the resignation of his national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Since Trump has been in office he has continued to say and do things that indicate or strongly suggest that he is indebted somehow to Vladimir Putin. Here are some examples:

1. Advocating that Americans pull their troops out of the Far East.
2. Advocating that Americans pull out of Syria and arguing that the Russians only want to be there to fight ISIS.
3. Arguing that Crimea rightfully belongs to Russia because many ethnic Russians live there.
4. Saying NATO is obsolete.
5. Refusing to commit to the protection of former-Soviet NATO members in the Baltics.
6. Refusing to commit to the protection of NATO member Macedonia.
7. Attacking the European Union.
8. Calling the European Union a “foe.”
9. Supporting the United Kingdom’s split from the European Union.
10. Supporting the same Euro-skeptic far right white nationalist parties that Putin supports.
11. Attacking and undermining the governments in London and Berlin, which present the strongest resistance to Putin’s influence in Europe.
12. Attacking the U.S. intelligence community and federal law enforcement agencies to undermine their credibility with the American public.
13. Decimating the Department of State.
14. Pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership

He also arranges to meet with Putin privately whenever he can, and the results have been suspicious every single time. When my colleague Joshua Alvarez says that the “the narratives of Trump-the-Manchurian-Candidate” and “Trump-the-Russian-Agent,” have been debunked by Mueller’s report, he doesn’t have much to support his claim.

With the firing of FBI director James Comey, the intelligence community made a decision that they could no longer avoid the main topic raised by Trump’s behavior with respect to Russia. He actually crowed to the Russian ambassador and foreign minister in an undisclosed Oval Office meeting the next day that he’d fired Comey and thereby released himself from great pressure. While he was doing that, he divulged sensitive information about Syria that we had obtained from the Israelis. New FBI director Andrew McCabe authorized a counterintelligence investigation into Trump within the week. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein quickly authorized a Special Counsel investigation which then inherited the counterintelligence investigation.

This wasn’t a look at what the Trump campaign had known about the hacking or how they might have coordinated with the Russians during the campaign. It was a look at whether the president was compromised in some way and under the influence of a foreign power.

This is the “real” Mueller Report, and we have not yet heard a peep about it. Before anyone does any end-zone dances, we need to see the conclusions of this report. And, as NBC News reports, that will allegedly happen soon:

Two senior U.S. officials told NBC News on Monday that the FBI is prepared to brief congressional leaders on the counterintelligence findings of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

The FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation into President Donald Trump, and the letter sent to Congress on Sunday by Attorney General William Barr about the Mueller probe is silent on the question of whether investigators found that Trump or anyone around him might be compromised or influenced by Russia.

The officials said they expect the FBI to brief the so-called Gang of 8 — the leaders of the House and the Senate and the chairmen and ranking members of the intelligence committees — in closed session.

No briefing has been scheduled, a third U.S. official familiar with the matter said, but one of the officials said it could happen within the next 30 to 60 days.

In the weeks and months before the Mueller investigation concluded, I began to worry that Trump had succeeded in making everyone think the main concern was “collusion.” On January 22, I wrote A Compromised Administration Is as Bad as a Colluding One, and on March 20, I wrote, It’s Not the Collusion, Stupid! It’s the Compromise. These were efforts to refocus people’s minds on the primary thing that matters. What matters is not what William Barr reported on to Congress. What matters are the counterintelligence findings of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

As a public relations matter, Trump had a fantastic week and now he seeks to demolish his enemies for seemingly having come at the king and missed. In this, he’s being inadvertently assisted by a lot of pundits and reporters who bought into the idea that the problem is that Trump may have cheated in the election. The problem has always been far deeper and more serious than that. The problem is that Trump appears to be compromised and unable to fulfill the duties of his office.

Obviously, we must see the evidence of obstruction of justice that William Barr dismissed, and clearly Trump is facing investigations into everything from his charities to his hotels to banking, wire, and insurance fraud to the conduct of his inaugural committee. But the main thing we must see is what our counterintelligence experts have concluded about the president. That’s the real Mueller Report.


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Trump news – live: Follow latest updates after Mueller report findings released

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Michael_Novakhov
shared this story
.

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo has announced the expansion of a Trump administration ban on US aid being given to foreign groups that promote or provide abortions.

“This is decent, this is right and I’m proud to serve in an administration that protects the least amongst us,” Mr Pompeo said.

“This administration has shown that we can continue to meet our critical global health goals, including providing health care for women, while refusing to subsidize the killing of unborn babies.” 

Known as the Mexico City Policy, it was first established by Republican president Ronald Reagan in 1984 and is typically rescinded when Democratic presidents take office, then reinstated by Republicans. 

Donald Trump did so after his inauguration in 2017 to apply to more global health assistance programmes, like those for HIV, maternal and child health and malaria. 

To qualify for US funding, groups have to certify they won’t perform or promote abortion as a method of family planning, even with funds from other non-US sources.


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William Barr Memo Leaves Much Unanswered About Mueller Report Findings | Rachel Maddow | MSNBC

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Michael_Novakhov
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From: msnbcleanforward
Duration: 12:44

Rachel Maddow reviews Attorney General William Barr’s memo to Congress about the conclusions of the Mueller Report and asks some of the questions that are not addressed and also newly raised.
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MSNBC delivers breaking news and in-depth analysis of the headlines, as well as informed perspectives. Find video clips and segments from The Rachel Maddow Show, Morning Joe, Hardball, All In, Last Word, 11th Hour, and more.

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William Barr Memo Leaves Much Unanswered About Mueller Report Findings | Rachel Maddow | MSNBC


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President Donald Trump, Allies Distort Reporting On Russia Investigation | Morning Joe | MSNBC

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From: msnbcleanforward
Duration: 16:06

Sam Stein, Kasie Hunt and Dan Drezner join a discussion on AG Barr’s letter to Congress on the Mueller report and WH and conservative criticisms against the media for reporting on Russia and Trump associates.
» Subscribe to MSNBC: http://on.msnbc.com/SubscribeTomsnbc

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President Donald Trump, Allies Distort Reporting On Russia Investigation | Morning Joe | MSNBC


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Pentagon to reshuffle funds after $1B approved for border wall

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Michael_Novakhov
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Duration: 01:34

Acting Defense Secretary Shanahan finds himself in the crosshairs of Democrats over his authorization to divert money to the southern border; Lucas Tomlinson reports.

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After Mueller report, is U.S. still in danger of Russian hacking?

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From: CBSNewsOnline
Duration: 04:59

12 Russian operatives and 3 Russian entities have been indicted in connection with U.S. election meddling, despite Attorney General William Barr saying there was insufficient evidence of collusion by the Trump campaign. CNET senior producer Dan Patterson joined CBSN to discuss the risk Russia still poses to the U.S. He says no collusion does not mean Russia didn’t manipulate social media.


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Ghosts of the Balkan wars are returning in unlikely places

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Michael_Novakhov
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from Spectator USA.

Why is the Christchurch far-right terrorist obsessed with the crazy-haired Serb that the UN just sentenced to life in prison? How Balkan war criminals became idols to Western extremists is a bizarre story that shouldn’t be real, but is.

Twenty years ago this week, NATO decided to take Kosovo away from Serbia. The Rambouillet Agreement of March 18, 1999, named for the château outside Paris where negotiations failed to resolve that Balkan crisis without wider war, set the stage for an independent Kosovo under NATO administration and protection.

Five days after US, British, and Albanian delegations signed the Rambouillet Agreement – Serbian and Russian delegations refused to sign – NATO bombs started to fall on Serbia, and they kept falling for 78 days. The Kosovo War was a nearly bloodless affair for the Atlantic Alliance but not for the Serbs and Albanians.

NATO’s victory over Belgrade, achieved by airpower alone, made the Pentagon and associated think-tanks giddy. At last the age of truly high-technology war had arrived, rendering slogging it out in the mud with ground troops unnecessary. They forgot that NATO’s infantry in Kosovo was supplied by the tenacious Kosovo Liberation Army, determined to liberate their homeland from Serbian misrule. As a result, the US military invaded Iraq in 2003 carrying rucksacks filled with Balkan illusions about the magical power of technology in war and how easy foreign occupation can be when the locals sincerely greet you as liberators.

Neither were the West’s long-term costs here limited to the Middle East. For the Kremlin in particular, Kosovo represented a humiliation never to be repeated. Never again would Russia allow itself to be sidelined when Slavic Orthodox ‘brothers’ were being pummeled by NATO – a point Vladimir Putin has made many times over the last 20 years through clenched teeth. If Russia had the tough Putin rather than the boozy Boris Yeltsin in power in the 1990s, it’s difficult to see how NATO interventions in Kosovo or earlier in Bosnia could have happened at all.

That latter conflict is back in the news this week too. Today, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY: pronounced ‘ick-tee’ by Balkan cognoscenti) gave the hated Radovan Karadžić a life sentence for war crimes and genocide. The UN’s court in The Hague threw out an appeal by the 73-year-old Karadžić, the political leader of the Bosnian Serbs during Bosnia’s ugly 1992-95 war, and the sentence handed down today means the ardent Serbian nationalist will never see his homeland again.

Not that there’s much sympathy for Karadžić outside hardline Serbian nationalist circles. His once-fiery paeans to Serbdom and Orthodoxy have cooled with age and incarceration. While Ratko Mladić, the Bosnian Serb military leader in the war, inspired fierce loyalty from his troops – Mladić, too, has been sentenced to life behind bars by the ICTY – Karadžić and the pols around him were reviled for their wartime profiteering by Serbs serving at the frontlines.

Nevertheless, the Karadžić and Mladić sentences (the latter is appealing but that appeal is expected to be thrown out too) represent the end of the ICTY’s quarter-century run at dispensing justice for the bloody conflicts of the 1990s, what can be termed the wars of Yugoslav succession. Overall, the ICTY’s legacy is mixed. Although the court eventually sent away big fish like Karadžić and Mladić, that was at the end, and a lot of other big fish escaped justice. Even some who wound up in the dock, for instance top officials of Serbia’s sinister secret police, who had ample blood on their hands, inexplicably walked away free. Nevertheless, most Serbs consider the ICTY to be a kangaroo court biased against their nation, while many Croats view the court suspiciously too. These assessments seem unlikely to change anytime soon.

Westerners forgot about the Balkan mayhem of the 1990s long ago, and over the past couple decades a whole generation has come of age for whom mention of Srebrenica requires a Wikipedia check to grasp any meaning. Eclipsed by 9/11 and the longer wars that followed it, the unpleasant wars in Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo exist as historical footnotes in most NATO countries now, even though the political, economic, and cultural wounds inflicted by those nasty conflicts are far from healed.

Not all Westerners have forgotten, however. For a tiny minority, Balkan events linger as something of an obsession. On the fringes of the Left and Right, it’s not difficult to find Westerners eager to denounce NATO interventions of the 1990s as ‘neo-imperialism’ in identical terms – which also happen to closely resemble piquant Kremlin critiques of the recent Balkan wars.

Such a Balkan obsession appeared again with Brenton Tarrant, the 28-year-old Australian who murdered 50 innocents last Friday at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Although the exact ideology which motivated Tarrant’s terrorism spree is difficult to pin down beyond a generic far-right obsession with Muslims, demographics, and immigration, his 87-page manifesto offers many hints.

Its intellectual heft is lacking – a lot of the poorly organized thoughts of the personal trainer turned mass murderer are no more than shitposting – but what shines through is how much Tarrant admires Serbs. He played an infamous Serbian nationalist song from the 1990s – called ‘Remove Kebab’ on the far-right, it calls for killing ‘Turks’ and name-checks Radovan Karadžić – as background music for the snuff film he streamed online of his killing spree. Tarrant wrote the names of venerable Serbian heroes in the fight against the Ottomans on the rifle magazines he used to gun down Muslims at prayer.

Tarrant visited the Balkans in recent years in a quixotic hajj of sorts to honor his heroes in their centuries’ long fight against Ottoman rule, which he sought to emulate in some sinister fashion. Neither is this strange Serbophilia unique to Tarrant. Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian terrorist who murdered 77 people back in 2011, was likewise obsessed with the Balkans and their history of resisting Islam by force, which he viewed as a model.

It wasn’t just ancient history that Breivik found inspiring. He stated that his weird far-right ideology ‘was, in a way, imported from Serbia’ while viewing the Serbs who died under NATO bombing during the Kosovo War as ‘crusaders.’ For Breivik, NATO’s bombing of Serbia in the spring of 1999 was an outrage and ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’ for him, leading to a path of violent mayhem.

Such self-styled Serbophilia represents for angry, maladjusted Westerners like Breivik and Tarrant a way to assemble a deeply anti-Muslim worldview without any taint of Nazism or anti-Semitism. Regardless, it’s profoundly ironic and disturbing that veneration of Radovan Karadžić seems to be rising among the West’s lunatic fringe just as the Serbs themselves are about to close the door on him and his doomed style of violence-prone hyper-nationalism.


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FBI Accused of Omitting Evidence From 9/11 Report

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Michael_Novakhov
shared this story
from Courthouse News Service.

WASHINGTON (CN) – Nearly two decades after the deadly Sept.
11 attacks, a lawyers’ group claims the federal government did not properly
assess evidence known to the FBI but left out of the 9/11 Review Commission findings,
including reports of pre-placed explosives at the World Trade Center.

The Lawyers’ Committee for 9/11 Inquiry and Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth filed a complaint Monday against U.S. Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray, claiming the FBI failed in its federally mandated duty to assess all the evidence available that previous 9/11 commissions may have missed.

“The FBI’s 9/11 Review Commission, and the FBI itself,
failed to assess and report to Congress, as mandated, several other categories
of significant 9/11 related evidence known to the FBI via reports in the press,
via the web, and via public events and/or reflected in the FBI’s own records,” according
to the lawsuit filed in Washington, D.C., federal court by lead attorney Mick
Harrison.

Although the 9/11 Review Commission’s 2015 report details
several avenues of evidence explored in its investigation, the plaintiffs argue
that investigators failed to address a few key points of evidence, including
potential explosives placed before the attacks, individuals seen celebrating
the attacks nearby, certain surveillance videos and phone calls, and
alternative Saudi Arabian funding sources for the attackers.

Regarding the pre-placed explosives, the lawsuit claims that
testimony from over 100 first responders describes “sights or sounds of
explosions on 9/11 which due to the circumstances and timing and specific
details observed and reported could not be explained by plane impacts or
resultant office fires.”

These allegedly included “‘bombs,’ ‘explosions’ at the
lowest level and the highest level of the buildings before the collapses,
flames being blown out, a ‘synchronized deliberate’ kind of collapse, like a
‘professional demolition,’ ‘pop, pop, pop, pop, pop’ sounds before the
collapses.”

Following a 2014 mandate from Congress, the FBI appointed
former Attorney General Edwin Meese, former congressman and ambassador Tim
Roemer, and Georgetown counterterrorism expert Bruce Hoffman to head the 9/11
Review Commission.

The commission’s tasks, under executive director and former
CIA Deputy Director John Gannon, involved reviewing the FBI’s preparedness for
modern, global threats as well as analyzing the bureau’s “analysis of
institutional lessons learned and practical takeaways” from other high-profile
counterterrorism cases.

It was also tasked with reviewing any evidence from the
Sept. 11 attacks that was may have been known by the FBI but not considered
during the first 9/11 Commission in 2002.

The complaint asks a federal judge to compel the government
to finish carrying out its mandate by “undertaking a new thorough external
independent assessment of any evidence known to the FBI that was not considered
by the 9/11 Commission related to any factors that contributed in any manner to
the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.”

The Justice Department did not immediately respond Tuesday morning
to a request for comment.

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Supreme Court Won’t Hear Company’s Appeal in Mueller Subpoena Case | GOP fears putting voter data in Trump’s hands | The Early Edition: March 26, 2019 – 9:47 AM 3/26/2019

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Michael_Novakhov
shared this story
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Supreme Court Won’t Hear Company’s Appeal in Mueller Subpoena Case | GOP fears putting voter data in Trump’s hands | The Early Edition: March 26, 2019 – 9:47 AM 3/26/2019

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