Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

Facebook: Digby Parton

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018 June 2018 July 2018


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Monday, February 12, 2018

There's definitely a cover up --- but don't forget the crime
by digby

I wrote about Trump's cavalier attitude toward national security for Salon this morning:

This latest Trump White House scandal, involving one high-level staffer's firing and another's hasty resignation, after reports surfaced that they had been accused of domestic violence, has been infuriating. As is par for the course, the president stepped forward to defend Rob Porter, the man accused of abusing not one but two wives, telling the nation that he was sad for the poor man and that he "absolutely" wished him well. It was reminiscent of his earlier comments after Charlottesville, when he expressed the sentiment that some of the Nazis who rallied there were "very fine people." He always seems to find the good in violent white men.

But this scandal is about more than the rampant misogyny surrounding Donald Trump. The irony in the fact that Trump's White House counsel, Don McGahn, and his chief of staff, John Kelly, allowed Porter to operate without a top security clearance in a job that handles the United States' most sensitive secrets cannot be overstated. This president ran an entire campaign insisting that his rival should be jailed for using a private email server for non-classified State Department correspondence. Yet here we are, a year after the inauguration, and the Trump White House is reportedly employing dozens of people who cannot qualify for a security clearance. One of them was in a job that requires the highest level of clearance and another, Jared Kushner, has apparently been given access to the same intelligence the president gets.

Aside from the ongoing horror at every aspect of this presidency, this issue once again raises the question of just how fast and loose Trump and his aides play with these national security issues. If they can be this cavalier about handling the nation's most sensitive secrets in the White House, is it really hard to believe they might have been open to a little deal-making with a friendly Russian or two during the campaign?

It seems as if many observers believe that special counsel Robert Mueller is homing in on Trump over issues of obstruction of justice. It is the one case that offers the most public evidence, mainly stemming from the testimony of former FBI Director James Comey and various leaks about Trump's clumsy demands that just about everyone who walks into the White House do whatever it takes to get him off the hook. It's not much of a stretch to think there might be a case there.

There is more to the Russian investigation than obstructing it, however. We don't have a clear idea what that might be yet, which is as it should be, but there is enough evidence in the public domain to see the basic outlines. Jonathan Alter and Nick Akerman stitched it together nicely in this piece for the Daily Beast.

They make the common-sense observation that during the Watergate scandal, President Richard Nixon was never shown to have known about the original crime and was done in by the coverup, but the current political environment is quite different and will likely require the underlying crime be proven as well. After all, this case is about a conspiracy with a foreign government and if there is evidence that actually happened, it's something that should be properly adjudicated. It's not your run-of-the-mill corruption investigation.

Alter and Akerman point out that Nixon's prosecutors had almost all the information they needed more than nine months before he resigned, and they assume Mueller too has amassed most of the evidence for his case, which they believe consists of "conspiracy, wire fraud, illegal foreign campaign contributions, or all three." For the conspiracy, they point to Michael Flynn's statement to the court admitting that he'd lied to the FBI about something that “had a material impact” on the FBI’s probe “into the existence of any links or coordination between individuals associated with the [Trump] Campaign and Russia’s efforts to intervene in the 2016 election.” They write:

The conspiracy case -- the heart of Mueller’s efforts -- almost certainly boils down to an old-fashioned quid pro quo. Flynn’s “quid” — the substance of his recorded conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak — was lifting the sanctions that President Obama imposed on Russia in late 2016 and the earlier sanctions related to Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine. The “quo” was collusion (“conspiracy” in legal terms) with Russians to harm Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, which Flynn effectively admitted was “material” to his lies after the election. Anyone associated with this deal is in deep legal trouble.

They note that fraud charges could be related to any "overlap between the illegal Russian fake news posts and the Trump campaign’s routine micro-targeted negative messages -- a painstaking but manageable set of data comparisons." There is also the suspicion that campaign contributions were routed through the NRA -- and there is the major line of inquiry into money laundering and the Trump Organization. That's the one we have seen the least amount of information about that could be the real blockbuster.

According to Alter and Akerman, the legal definition of "conspiracy" is simply “a mutual understanding, either spoken or unspoken, between two or more people to cooperate with each other to accomplish an unlawful act.” This understanding can happen before, during or after the crime. Furthermore:
“It is not necessary that a defendant be fully informed of all the details of the conspiracy, or all of its participants,” the model jury instructions continue. “You need not find that the alleged members of the conspiracy met together and entered into any express or formal agreement.”

With all the meetings and emails, public pronouncements and guilty pleas, it does appear that there may be more to all this than a coverup of a crime that never took place. Since this gang has been shown to be so lax about national security even after they entered the White House, it's entirely possible they didn't understand or didn't care about the implications of their actions during the campaign and the presidential transition.

Unfortunately for them, while being ignorant and careless may be a selling point in the Republican Party these days, it's still no excuse for breaking the law. This time around, the crime could very well be worse than the coverup.