Thursday, November 8, 2018

No Way Matthew Whitaker Should Recuse

I was expecting some good analysis from Andrew McCarthy, and he did not disappoint. I re-read Matthew Whitaker's 2017 CNN op-ed after reading the McCarthy piece, and I think McCarthy nailed it. I can understand why those on the left who want a 24/7 investigation of Trump right up until the day he leaves office in January, 2025 would be clamoring for Whitaker to recuse himself. They would demand that from anybody Trump nominated. But recusal is meant to apply specifically to individuals who might be biased by reason of previous direct involvement in the circumstances surrounding the situation being investigated. That's why Sessions recused, and why Rosenstein, of all people, should have recused from the start. McCarthy goes into the reasons that Rosenstein is conflicted quite convincingly. You can't expect recusal simply because the individual shares opinions with the president on the generally accepted legal procedures to be followed in conducting and supervising a special counsel investigation. Of course the president is going to choose someone on the same page. Democrats would never be happy with anyone the president chose unless he chose Adam Schiff for crying out loud.

So the left can protest all it wants about the choice of Matthew Whitaker to replace Sessions. The media will have their back. But this has nothing to do with justice, if it ever did. This is all political. Trump knows this, and the gloves are off. I'm looking forward to the fireworks. The conflict at Trump's press conference yesterday that got Jim Acosta barred from the White House is a good example. It has always been a polite fiction that the press only reported the news and had no bias and no agenda. That's been bullshit from the start, and everybody knows it. It looks like Trump has decided to bring the fight out in the open and expose the press for what they are. A bunch of preening, strutting peacocks hiding behind some bogus patina of their so called objective impartiality. Mark Twain once said never pick a fight with somebody who buys ink by the barrel. But Mark Twain didn't know about Twitter or the internet. My money's on Trump.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Next Step

It was late last night when I saw the headlines about the new allegations. My task this morning is to dig in a little further and see what they amount to. But here is my first impression about the way forward. Keep the schedule for the Ford/Kavanaugh hearing on Thursday. Dems will push for more concessions and insist that more witnesses be called, and may even surface some new allegations. If the list of witnesses is allowed to expand at all, that list will continue to grow as new charges are leveled.  It's important from a point of consistency that Grassley holds the line on just Kavanaugh and Ford lest this become more of a circus than it already is. I think it is important to force Dr Ford to testify. If she backs out, as I expect she may try to do, it is important that it is obvious that the decision was hers. The opportunity was there. If she chooses to refuse, it's important that it be obvious to reasonable people that her excuse is a lame one. 

Kavanaugh should testify anyway and state his case. He should be prepared to be humiliated. He can turn that to his advantage. He should have certain boundaries in his mind as to what he will refuse to answer on the grounds that it is too personal and of no value to the committee. And he should be prepared to be politely belligerent to hostile questioners. He's not going to get a single Democratic vote anyway, and Red Americas wants to see Kavanaugh punch back. The Democrats' strategy was to make Ford look sympathetic before hostile Republican men. Grassley and Kavanaugh can turn the tables on them. Kavanaugh needs to project strength and confidence. He needs to be honest, but stand up for himself when questions are obviously fishing for embarrassing details of his life. He should rely on the answer that he is there to respond to Dr Ford's allegations and everything else is off limits. It should be confrontational with the likes of Kamala Harris and Cory Booker and such. Kavanaugh can't be a pussy. When it is over, the women in America should want him and men should want to be him. Hard core lefties will never stop with the allegations. No sense trying to please them. It's us against them. Once it is over, if the Republicans have the votes, they should press forward and hold the vote over all objections. That's what having the majority is all about. It's time to break some eggs and get this omelet made. 

If they don't have the votes, then defecting Senators need to be relentlessly pursued out of office. If Collins and Murkowski can't see through the drive by mugging being perpetrated against Brett Kavanaugh, then they need a withdrawal of Republican funding and primary challengers at their next election!



I have been liberated from the agony of trying to decide if I believe these Kavanaugh stories or not because the test I apply is, "If it's true, is it disqualifying?" I don't know if any of it is true, but it doesn't matter because, worse case scenario, none of this rises to the level of anything other than crass behavior on the part of a drunk and immature teenager. 
Saul Alinsky's rules for radicals #4 is 
"Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules." 
If your ethics say never get drunk and never pay unwanted sexual attention to a woman, that's fine. But if you can't forgive this behavior from a teenage boy which falls well short of rape or sexual assault by any measure except that of some radical feminist, then you deserve to lose sleep at night agonizing over did he or didn't he.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

More Thoughts on the Kavanaugh Allegations

Even under normal circumstances I can get very animated about politics, but these Kavanaugh allegations have made me furious.  Now Ford's lawyers are saying she will testify, but not on Monday.  They want a full investigation first.  Details in this Politico article

This totally destroys any shred of credibility she ever had with me.  And I say that as someone who always conceded that there might be some truth to her story.  For instance, I can't think of a very good reason why Mark Judge prefers NOT to defend Kavanaugh under oath before a Senate panel if there isn't at least some truth to it.  Ford claims Judge was present when the alleged assault occurred.  There may be a good explanation for his reluctance, but I'd like to hear something more convincing than simply, I prefer not to testify.  

I think there is a 50/50 chance that something might have happened 35 years ago, but I am way past caring about it.  If something did happen, I am not convinced it was as serious as it has been portrayed.  I'm not willing to substitute the judgement of a 15 year old girl for my own judgement in assessing the motives, intentions, and seriousness of the unwelcome attention.  Even if everything alleged is true, I don't find that bad behavior, falling well short of rape, of a drunk 17 year old a disqualifying event.  Especially in light of the fact that it happened 35 years ago and there is no evidence of a pattern of repeated behavior of this nature.   As a friend of mine recently commented, most of us are better than the worst thing we have ever done.  It's clear to me that all the Democrats care about is defeating Kavanaugh at all costs.  The sick irony of the Feinstein quote in the Politico article is evidence of that, and it makes me want to strangle her. 

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the panel, said that the hearing scheduled for Monday should be delayed, adding: "We're better than this." “I agree with her 100 percent that the rushed process to hold a hearing on Monday has been unfair and is reminiscent of the treatment of Anita Hill. I also agree that we need the facts before senators — not staff or lawyers — speak to witnesses," Feinstein said. “We should honor Dr. Blasey Ford’s wishes and delay this hearing." 

She is the one who had this information in July and sat on it until the 11th hour.  Now she whines about fairness?  What a pathetic POS she is.  

The Democratic Party that defended Ted Kennedy and Bill Clinton, and who are now trying to protect Keith Ellison from being held responsible for much worse behavior than Brett Kavanaugh has been accused of is somehow holding themselves out to voters as the protector of women.  What a sick world we live in.  This sick exercise is about one thing only.  Delay by any means necessary.  ANY MEANS NECESSARY!

Ford has been given the benefit of the doubt and offered a chance to make her case.  Any investigation she thinks might be warranted could very easily and more reasonably be considered AFTER we hear what she has to say and have had a chance to assess its credibility.  She has been offered the opportunity to testify in private session if she prefers with no cameras present.  She will not be forced to be present on the same panel as Kavanaugh, as had been alleged.  Yet still she is reluctant.  Any and all sympathy I ever had for this woman is gone.  She is at the very least a coward, and at worst a liar. 

The reputation of a good man has been seriously damaged and can never be fully repaired thanks to her, and she is worried that some people who don't believe her story may say something mean to her?  At this point, I don't give a shit what happens to her.  I don't know if she was ever a victim, but I know that the only victim now is Brett Kavanaugh.


Monday, September 17, 2018

What's Next for Brett Kavanaugh?

I had a feeling David French of National Review would address the latest in the Brett Kavanaugh situation, and sure enough, this was published last night.  I think his analysis is pretty measured.  I have a few new thoughts of my own, now that we have more facts, and the alleged victim has come forward.

I recognize that this story must now receive serious attention. I still believe it deserved to be dismissed when it first surfaced for so many reasons:

The alleged victim's request for anonymity
Senator Diane Feinstein's apparent lack of faith in the story to the point that she didn't question Kavanaugh about it either in private or in the public hearings, and didn't even inform her Senate colleagues.

The fact that 30 years have elapsed since the alleged incident.

No evidence of contemporaneous reporting of the event, even to friends. 

No corroborating proof.  This was always, and still is, a he said she said situation, and before the alleged victim came forward to be identified, we didn't even know who she was.

The fact that the story was only revealed at the last minute just as the Senate Judiciary Committee is prepared to vote on Thursday.

The fact that the allegation only surfaced after a previous series of shameful tactics by Democrats to derail, on ridiculous grounds, the nomination of an otherwise qualified candidate.  (I'm thinking particularly of the despicable nature of  questioning by Corey Booker and Kamala Harris.  It seemed like just one more lame, despicable attempt to defeat a solid candidate for the Supreme Court.  On balance, it still seems like that to me, even though I now have some doubts.

And finally, to allow this tactic to succeed now would lead to a near certainty that in the future, anytime some group wanted to derail a political nomination, the precedent would have been set that all one needs to do is to find some woman willing to level an unsubstantiated, and unsubstantiatable claim of sexual misconduct against the person in question.

Now, the situation is different.  Now, the allegations must be evaluated.   I'm angry about the way this has been handled.  I'm angry at Senator Feinstein for the release of the story without naming the alleged victim. I'm angry at the last minute nature of the allegation, and it makes me all the more suspicious of the story.   I'm angry at the alleged victim for making such an accusation without having the guts to do so publicly and in a more timely manner when the nomination was first announced. 

I'm suspicious that this could have been the strategy all along:  To level this accusation at the last minute only after nothing else was successful to defeat the nomination.  This could have been reserved for use only in the final week as a desperation tactic in order to delay the vote long enough for the possibility of a Democratic majority in the Senate.  Had this allegation been made public in July when this woman first wrote the letter, it could been investigated then, and if found credible, a different person could have been nominated with plenty of time for confirmation in this Congress. 

I'm angry that if Kavanaugh is blocked as a result of this allegation, you can count on this tactic being used again to hobble qualified candidates for positions as judges or cabinet secretaries by partisans of the opposing party willing to lie to assassinate the character of an otherwise qualified candidate. 

We will come to regret the day this woman came forward with her allegation.

And now for my more politically incorrect views:

What if the allegations are true?  Or what if people start to at least believe they might be true?  It will be time to ask ourselves what constitutes disqualifying behavior for future office holders.  Do one's actions as a 17 year old constitute grounds for permanent disqualification for positions of responsibility as an adult?  Should the fact that alcohol may have been involved be considered a mitigating factor?

There was no rape.  By the alleged victim's description, there was unwanted sexual attention.  At what point does it become sexual assault?  And who's definition of sexual assault do we use?  The alleged victim or the perpetrator?  There are militant feminists who speak of toxic masculinity.  Do those militant feminists (also known in some circles as militant lesbians) know of any masculinity that they do not consider toxic?  Are they the ones who will define what constitutes sexual assault? 

There is apparently some discrepancy or confusion about how many boys were involved.  That could be due to a note taking error on the part of the alleged victim's 2012 therapist.  Still, is it reasonable to base a decision about a Supreme Court nominee on the faded impressions of a 15 year old girl over something that happened 30 years ago?  She also said she thought at one point her attacker might inadvertently kill her.  She wasn't killed.  Did she over react?  Was her perception of the seriousness of the groping incident an over reaction too?  And this speculation is based on a presumption that the alleged victim might be telling the truth.  What if she is lying for political purposes?

So what happens now?

I'll be curious to see if the vote goes forward as planned.  I wouldn't be surprised if the Senate Judiciary Committee delays its scheduled Thursday vote.  But for what?  If this is to be investigated, how do we know it will ever be resolved to anything other than he said, she said?  Should the vote go forward then?  Or will the fact that some shred of doubt will always remain mean that the nominee should withdraw?  What would be the implications for any future nominee for high office?  Should every future nominee  simply expect as a matter of routine to find himself accused of sexual misconduct for his trouble?

Possible outcomes:

The vote goes ahead as planned.  This won't happen unless they know they still have the votes.

One or more Republican Senators on the Judiciary Committee gets cold feet and withdraws his support pending further investigation.

Investigation changes nothing.  They vote anyway and confirm.

Investigation changes nothing.   They never vote.  Kavanaugh withdraws.

Investigation raises serious enough doubts.  Trump or Kavanaugh withdraws.

If Kavanaugh is defeated, I suspect the prospects for the Senate to remain in Republican hands are still pretty favorable.  It's back to the drawing board to choose another candidate.  My suggestion would be Amy Coney Barrett.  Democrats will be longing for the days when they had a chance to put Brett Kavanaugh on the bench.


Wednesday, July 25, 2018


The Discovery

 So I was in the middle of responding via email to a friend of mine about the recent release of the Carter Page FISA warrant.  
I was commenting that I was shocked to find that there was disagreement on what it revealed.   My usual conservative sources claimed that the FISA release vindicated everything that the Nunes Memo said, while an episode of Meet the Press with Katie Tur on MSNBC yesterday afternoon claimed just the opposite. I said that the stark difference prompted me to start reading the actual FISA release, and that so far, my conservative sources had been vindicated, and Katie Tur and MSNBC had been exposed as partisan hacks and totally unworthy of the trust my friend routinely places in them.
I then went on to list some of the inaccuracies and downright misrepresentations Katie Tur was guilty of.

I still believe I am correct in that assessment, but I got sidetracked trying to document with links to sources a particular erroneous claim about Carter Page. The left is fond of pointing out that the FBI had interviewed Page in June of 2013 in reference to a Russian attempt to recruit him as a resource. This is true. They tried. The FBI had been surveilling the Russians who attempted the recruitment, and they eventually indicted them. Page was not believed to have known that he had been a target of recruitment and was never charged with any crime. Still, the left continues to refer to this incident as somehow providing evidence that the later surveillance of Page was justified.

Well I remember reading an article from February 2018 that tried to make the case that not only was Carter Page's behavior completely innocent during this episode, but that Page actually assisted the FBI in making their case against the spies by delivering some binders of energy related information to the spies that concealed hidden microphones.
The recordings from these hidden microphones were instrumental in making the case against the Russians. There is no doubt that the hidden microphones were used in collecting the evidence.  The article to which I am referring made a very convincing case that two people referred to in the indictment of the Russian spies, Male #1 (Carter Page by his own acknowledgement) and Undercover Employee #1 who planted the microphones, were the same person.  The story was quite convoluted. I remember spending hours at the time tracing the various documents and news articles to which the author had referred to confirm for myself that this was indeed true. As a result, I have believed since February that Carter Page has been particularly hard done by in the media. Not only was his attempted recruitment by the Russians no reflection on his character, but the press never mentioned his cooperation in the case and his critical role in indicting the spies. I had often wondered why this never got any coverage in the press. I was attempting to use this as one of my talking points in my email to my friend as to why Katie Tur and MSNBC were full of s**t. In an attempt to document this claim in my email, I revisited the original article and the sources to which the author had referred. I was trying to reproduce the evidence for my friend in a simpler, more concise format. As I said, when I first read the article, I spent hours on the project. I couldn't subject my friend to that sort of a demand to make my point. Not if it could be simplified. So I retraced the steps that had led to the conclusion that Carter Page was a hero, not a goat. Eventually I constructed a time line of events. To my dismay, I discovered two things:

1) The claim that Carter Page was the one who planted the microphones is not supported by the time line, and what's worse,

 2) It appears that the author of the article in question intentionally misrepresented the substance of a NY Times story to support his proposition. He provided a quote which took two sentences that did actually appear in the NYT article. But in the original NYT piece, the sentences were separated by several paragraphs. In his article, he juxtaposed the two sentences next to one another. In the process, he entirely altered, in a critical way, the meaning of the two sentences. He separated the two sentences with a […] implying that he had left out some extraneous verbiage in between. But clearly, the verbiage in between was anything but extraneous. The context totally alters the meaning of the paragraph. The author might claim that he honestly disclosed that he had abbreviated the wording by the use of the […] device. That is simply not true. I think it was done to provide the author with plausible deniability if caught in his fraud. My take? The author's denial of his fraud is not plausible.

This author is quite prolific. I read his stuff regularly. He has disclosed any number of narratives in the past that I had not previously been aware of.  I never simply accepted what I read without examining the sources of the information and whether the logic employed passed the sniff test, but even so, I am now left wondering what other misrepresentations he has made in the past? What else do I believe as a result of my reliance on this website that I should now re examine?

The Details

On January 23, 2015 an indictment was filed in the Southern District of New York against three Russians.  Two of the Russians had diplomatic status and one was working for a Russian Bank in Manhattan under what is referred to as Non Official Cover, or NOC.  In reality, all three worked for the the Russian Federation's Foreign Intelligence Service, the SVR.  The banker, Evgeny Buryakov, also known as Zhenya, was arrested in January 2015.  The two diplomats, Igor Sporyshev and Victor Podobnyy were not arrested as they had already left the country.

The indictment claims the three men had been operating in New York since 2012.   Starting on page 12 of the indictment, paragraph 32, the documents describe the efforts of the Russians to recruit a person referred to as Male-1 as an intelligence resource.  Male-1 is described as an energy consultant.  The following is a transcription of a clandestinely recorded conversation held by the two defendants with diplomatic cover.  From the indictment:

Paragraph 32.
Also on or about April 8, 2013, IGOR SPORYSHEV and VICTOR PODOBNYY, the defendants, discussed PODOBNYY's efforts to recruit a male working as a consultant in New York City ("Male-1") as an intelligence source:

VP: [Male-1] wrote that he is sorry, he went to Moscow and forgot to check his inbox, but he wants to meet when he gets back.  I think he is an idiot and forgot who I am.  Plus he writes to me in Russian [to] practice the language. He flies to Moscow more often than I do. He got hooked on Gazprom thinking that if they have a project , he could be rise up. Maybe he can. I don't know, but it's obvious that he wants to earn lots of money...

IS: Without a doubt.

VP: He said that they have a new project right now, new energy boom.

VP: He says that it is about to take off.  I don't say anything for now.

IS: Yeah, first we will spend a couple of borrowed million and then . . . .

VP: [UI] [laughs] it's worth it .  I like that he takes on everything. For now his enthusiasm works for me. I also promised him a lot : that I have connections in the Trade Representation, meaning you that you can push contracts [laughs].  I will feed him empty promises.

IS: Shit, then he will write me. Not even me, to our clean one.

VP: I didn't say the Trade Representation . . . I did not even indicate that this is connected to a government agency. This is intelligence method to cheat, how else to work with foreigners? You promise a favor for a favor. You get the documents from him and tell him to go fuck himself. But not to upset you, I will take you to a restaurant and give you an expensive gift . You just need to sign for it . This is ideal working method.  

 Then, in paragraph 34, the indictment states that the FBI agents interviewed Male-1

Paragraph 34

On or about June 13, 2013, Agent-2 and I interviewed Male-1. Male-1 stated that he first met VICTOR PODOBNYY, the defendant, in January 2013 at an energy symposium in New York City. During this initial meeting, PODOBNYY gave Male-1 PODOBNYY's business card and two email addresses. Over the following months, Male-1 and PODOBNYY exchanged emails about the energy business and met in person on occasion, with Male-1 providing PODOBNYY with Male-1's outlook on the current and future of the energy industry. Male-1 also provided documents to PODOBNYY about the energy business. 

 Male-1 has been revealed to be Carter Page.  The description as an energy consultant with connections to Russia fits Page's profile.  His identity was outed in an Ali Watkins article in Buzzfeed from April 3, 2017 and also in an ABC News article by Brian Ross from April 4, 2017.  Page has acknowledged that he is the Male-1 referred to in the 2015 Southern District of New York indictment of the three Russians.

On a fascinating side note: 

Ali Watkins is the journalist who was sleeping with James Wolfe, head of security for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) and allegedly received documents from Wolfe.  Wolfe is currently under indictment.  Watkins has since come up in the world and has moved from Buzzfeed to the New York Times.  Brian Ross also allegedly received documents from Wolfe, but he hasn't fared so well.    Ross got fired from ABC in early July of this year for a mistake he made about dates.  Ross incorrectly reported in December 2017 that Donald Trump, while a candidate for president, had directed Michael Flynn to make contact with the Russians. Instead, the request to Flynn, who was briefly national security adviser, came when Mr. Trump was president-elect.  And how's this for irony?   One source I read has speculated with a very convincing argument that the document that Wolfe leaked to both Watkins and Ross which revealed Carter Page to be Male-1 from the 2015 indictment was none other than the secret Carter Page FISA Application which was the subject of my recent email to my friend and, in a round about way, the genesis of this very article.  If that isn't ironic enough for you, the source of the speculative article suggesting that the document that Wolfe leaked to Ross and Watkins was in fact the Carter Page FISA Application is none other than The Conservative Treehouse.  The website that published the February2018 article I am currently writing about which I believe to be a fraud.  Looks like I've some more work to do once I finish this article!

No mention is made in the indictment of microphones being clandestinely smuggled into the Russians' office in the binders of energy related documents.  That information appears in a Reuters article from March 9, 2016 and a press release from the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York dated two days later on March 11, 2016.
Here are the relative paragraphs from the Reuters article:

"NEW YORK (Reuters) - The FBI eavesdropped on meetings involving Russian intelligence personnel in New York City, including a suspected spy posing as a trade representative, by hiding recorders in binders containing supposedly confidential information about the energy sector, U.S. prosecutors said." 
"According to prosecutors, in April 2012, Sporyshev met an undercover FBI employee posing as an analyst at a New York energy firm at an oil and gas industry conference.
Over the next two years, they met to discuss the industry and other economic and political issues, prosecutors said, with Sporyshev providing gifts and cash for information.
In 2013, the FBI employee began providing Sporyshev with the binders containing purported industry analysis he wrote, supporting documents, and “covertly placed recording devices,” prosecutors wrote."
"As the undercover employee said his company would fire him if it learned he disclosed confidential information, Sporyshev would promptly return the binders after reviewing them, prosecutors said.  The recordings that resulted captured statements of Sporyshev, Podobnyy, and other Russian intelligence personnel from January to May 2013, prosecutors said"

And here is the relevant statement from the press release:

"The FBI obtained the recordings after Sporyshev attempted to recruit an FBI undercover employee (“UCE-1”), who was posing as an analyst from a New York-based energy company.  In response to requests from Sporyshev, UCE-1 provided Sporyshev with binders containing purported industry analysis written by UCE-1 and supporting documentation relating to UCE-1’s reports, as well as covertly placed recording devices.  Sporyshev then took the binders to, among other places, the Residentura."

Notice that the descriptions of Male-1 and UCE-1 are similar.   From the indictment, Male-1 is described as follows:

"[T]he defendants, discussed PODOBNYY's efforts to recruit a male working as a consultant in New York City ("Male-1") as an intelligence source:"

And from the Reuters article, the person who planted the microphones (labeled UCE-1 in the SDNY Press Release) is described thusly:

"[I]n April 2012, Sporyshev met an undercover FBI employee posing as an analyst at a New York energy firm at an oil and gas industry conference."
 One could be forgiven for mistakenly wondering if Male-1 from the indictment (Carter Page) is the same person as UCE-1 from the press release, the person who planted the microphones.  The article from The Conservative Treehouse claims they must be.  Not only that, but the author provides that (deceptive) excerpt from the April 4, 2017 New York Times article (pay wall) in support of that claim.  Let me show you how the Conservative Treehouse author presented the information from the New York Times:

Russian intelligence operatives tried in 2013 to recruit an American businessman and eventual foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign who is now part of the F.B.I. investigation into Russia’s interference into the American election, according to federal court documents and a statement issued by the businessman. 

The businessman, Carter Page, met with one of three Russians who were eventually charged with being undeclared officers with Russia’s foreign intelligence service, known as the S.V.R.  The F.B.I. interviewed Mr. Page in 2013 as part of an investigation into the spy ring, but decided that he had not known the man was a spy, and the bureau never accused Mr. Page of wrongdoing.

The court documents say that Mr. Page, who founded an investment company in New York called Global Energy Capital, provided documents about the energy business to one of the Russians […] To record their conversations, the F.B.I. inserted a listening device into binders that were passed to the Russian intelligence operatives during an energy conference, according to a former United States intelligence official. 

 These three paragraphs are the first three paragraphs of the NY Times article.  The third paragraph is interrupted before the end by the [...] device.  The three line sentence which follows immediately in the Conservative Treehouse version doesn't appear in the original NYT version until several paragraphs later (bolded and highlighted in yellow).  It is displayed in its proper position with its proper context below:
According to the court documents filed in 2015, the F.B.I. secretly recorded Mr. Podobnyy and another Russian operative named Igor Sporyshev discussing efforts to recruit Mr. Page, who was then working in New York as a consultant.
To record their conversations, the F.B.I. inserted a listening device into binders that were passed to the Russian intelligence operatives during an energy conference, according to a former United States intelligence official. The Russians then took the binders into a secure room where they thought they could evade American intelligence eavesdropping attempts.
In a transcript of the conversation included in the court documents, Mr. Podobnyy tells his Russian colleague that Mr. Page frequently flies to Moscow and is interested in earning large sums of money. Mr. Page was apparently interested in striking a deal with Gazprom, the Russian state-run oil firm, according to the transcript. Mr. Podobnyy called Mr. Page an “idiot” but said he was enthusiastic.
 As you can see, context is everything.  Yes, the descriptions of Page and UCE-1 sound similar, but they are decidedly not identical.  And while the deceptive quote from the New York Times implies that the two people are one in the same, the accurate quote in the proper context shows nothing of the kind.

 Also, the descriptions of when the Russians first encountered Male-1 and UCE-1 are not consistent with them being the same person.  From paragraph 34 of the indictment, referencing Page's June 13, 2013  FBI  interview:

"Male-1 stated that he first met VICTOR PODOBNYY, the defendant, in January 2013 at an energy symposium in New York City"

 UCE-1, on the other hand is referenced in the Reuters article thusly:

"According to prosecutors, in April 2012, Sporyshev met an undercover FBI employee posing as an analyst at a New York energy firm at an oil and gas industry conference"
So the real UCE-1 met the Russians in April of 2012, and Male-1 (Page) didn't meet them until January, 2013.  

Furthermore, Page could not have planted the microphones that picked up the Russians talking about their attempts to recruit him.  The time line is all wrong.  According to the Reuters article, the recordings were made from January through May, 2013.  The indictment's transcript of the taped conversation of the Russians discussing the attempts to recruit Page comes from April 8, 2013.  But we know from paragraph 34 of the indictment that the FBI didn't interview Page until June 13, 2013.    Presumably Page could not have planted the microphones before he had even been interviewed by the FBI.

Here's the timeline pieced together from the relevant articles and documents:

April 2012, Sporyshev met an undercover FBI employee (UCE #1) posing as an analyst at a New York energy firm at an oil and gas industry conference.  Over the next two years, they met to discuss the industry and other economic and political issues, prosecutors said, with Sporyshev providing gifts and cash for information. (Reuters)

2013, the FBI employee [UCE-1] began providing Sporyshev with the binders containing purported industry analysis he wrote, supporting documents, and “covertly placed recording devices,” prosecutors wrote. (Reuters, Press Release)

January, 2013 Page first meets Podobnyy at an NYC energy symposium per Pages FBI interview (Indictment)

January to May 2013 The recordings that resulted from the microphone placement by UCE-1 captured statements of Sporyshev, Podobnyy, and other Russian intelligence personnel.  (Reuters) 

April 8, 2013 Russians recorded having conversation about attempted recruitment of Male #1 (Indictment)

13 June, 2013  FBI interviews Carter Page re contacts with Russians (Indictment)

Jan 2015   Buryakov arrested (Reuters)

 23 Jan, 2015  Date of indictment filed under seal (Indictment)

 8 Mar, 2016   Papers filed in federal court and announced (Reuters)

 9 March, 2016 Reuters article published.

11 March, 2016 SDNY Press Release announcing Buryakov guilty plea

4 April, 2016  Original scheduled trial date before guilty plea.  (Reuters)


The Conservative Treehouse made a very convincing case in February that Carter Page was not only Male-1 in the Buryakov indictment, but also UCE-1, the guy who planted the microphones.  It turns out that he was Male-1, but not UCE-1.  The distinction is important.  As Male-1, his character has been impugned by the left wing media even though it appears by all accounts that he was just an innocent businessman trying to advance in the Russian oil and gas industry.  The fact that he was targeted by the Russians is no reason to question his patriotism.  The FBI saw no reason to charge him of any wrongdoing.  If he had been UCE-1, he'd actually be a bit of a hero.  As it is, we're left with the Russians' assessment of him as a bit of an idiot.  I'll admit, he comes across as somewhat clueless in the TV interviews I've seen.

But the real subject of this piece isn't Carter Page, but the Conservative Treehouse.  I have come to look forward to the latest from this author.  His articles are usually very detailed and complex, but often insightful.  They frequently offer interesting perspectives that I had not previously considered.  And they usually prove credible after a thorough evaluation on my part.  But not this time.  The flaws in this article will prompt me to be more skeptical in the future.  I could excuse this if it was a mistake.  Especially this mistake in light of the fact that the descriptions of Male-1 and UCE-1 were vaguely similar.  But this wasn't a mistake.  It's not just that he got it wrong, but he deceived his readers to do it.  There is little chance that this occurred by accident.  I don't see how the critical New York Times citation can be explained as anything other than an intentionally misleading quote.  In other words, a fraud!  What could have been his motive for such a breach of integrity.  Has he been willing all along to make whatever claims were convenient just to sell a pro Trump narrative.  That is what concerns me, and that is what I will have to be on the lookout against in the future.  As I stated in the title of this piece, you can't believe everything you read on the internet.  I always knew that was true, but usually the errors can be attributed to stupidity or sloppiness.  But as this Conservative Treehouse article illustrates, sometimes it can also occur through fraud and malice.  Lesson learned!


January 23, 2015  indictment  

The Conservative Treehouse Article:  In March 2016 Carter Page Was an FBI Employee – In October 2016 FBI Told FISA Court He’s a Spy…

Reuters article from March 9, 2016

 Press Release US Attorney for the Southern District of New York dated 11 March, 2016

Ali Watkins article in Buzzfeed from April 3, 2017.

Brian Ross Article for ABC News from April 4, 2017

NY Times Article from April 4, 2017 ( Behind a pay wall.  Try opening in a private window)

 Conservative Treehouse article Speculating that James Wolfe leaked the Carter Page FISA application to Watkins and Ross

Carter Page FISA warrant.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Trump Putin Summit: What I believe.

I just finished watching the Trump/Putin post summit press conference.  I only caught the last half of it.  Then I made a point of listening to the CNN and MSNBC post conference coverage.  Self flagellation?  No.  Just looking for the worst case scenario of interpretation.  Whew boy.  Sure got what I asked for!

So I guess we've heard the last about children at the border or that Kavanaugh will set the cause of women's rights back four decades.  I expect that for the next couple of weeks or maybe months, all we'll hear about is that Trump refused to call out Vladimir Putin, and that when a journalist asked Trump to choose between his own intelligence community or Vladimir Putin, Trump equivocated.

Former CIA Director John Brennan is tweeting about high crimes and misdemeanors, and the liberal press is losing their shit.

So in anticipation of all the rhetoric with which we are about to be deluged,, let me tell you what I believe:

I believe that Putin hated Hillary and see's Trump as a fool he can manipulate more easily.
I believe he may be right about that or he may be wrong about that.
I believe that Trump looked like a fool at the press conference.
I believe Putin acted on his preference for Trump to the point of commissioning the social media business which was the subject of Mueller's first indictments.
I believe he probably commissioned the GRU agents to hack the DNC which is the subject of Mueller's most recent indictments.
I believe that these combined actions of Russia may have tipped the scales to let Trump win the election.
I believe we'll never know for sure.
I believe the FBI may have blundered its way into having more influence on the election outcome than the Russians could have ever hoped to have.
I believe it is a moot point now.  Can't be changed.  Time to move on.  Trump is president.  Want to change it?  You'll get another crack at it in 2020.  Don't fuck it up with a shitty alternative!
I don't believe there was any collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.
I believe Trump probably believes his intelligence community and he knows Putin is lying about the interference.
I believe that we engage in election meddling as well, and have used it in places like Ukraine and maybe even Russia itself.
I believe Trump knows this or at least believes it as well.
I believe Trump's view is that we all do it.  Outrage over it is merely posturing.
I believe Trump has a serious agenda that he wants to accomplish with Putin.
I believe that agenda includes resolving elements of the Syria problem.
I believe that agenda involves protecting the interests of Israel in that resolution.
I believe that agenda involves diminishing the influence of Iran in Syria to further the interests of both the US and Israel.
I believe that when Trump talks about non-proliferation, which he has often done in connection with these talks, he is primarily referring to denying Iran a nuclear weapon.
I believe  Trump is convinced that Putin can help with that, maybe out of mutual interest or maybe at a price.
I believe the outrage over Trump's failure to call out president Putin over election interference is largely faux outrage manufactured by the left for political purposes.
I believe Trump believes the outrage is mostly political as well, and regardless of whether it is political or not, Trump doesn't share the concern.  As I said before.  We all do it.
I believe Trump is willing to take the hit over failure to call out Putin in order to achieve more substantial concessions on Syria/Israel/Iran/whatever else is on the serious agenda.
I believe that in order to maintain a cordial, non confrontational relationship and to avoid escalation of our differences and to promote mutual cooperation on these issues that actually matter, Trump spared Putin the embarrassment of calling him out in person, in public, and from a shared stage.
I believe Trump could very easily have told Putin behind closed doors that we know he did it, he may have acknowledged both sides do it.
I believe that  he may have warned that if Putin does it again, we will respond forcefully at a time of our choosing in a manner of our choosing and in a way that may or may not be directly attributable to us.
I believe that if that happened, we may never know about it.
I believe that we will know the summit was a failure if Bolton, Kelly, Pompeo, or Mattis resign.
I believe that we may suspect the summit was a success if the situation in Syria gets better and the prospects for Iran get worse.
I believe it is possible we will never know whether this summit was a success or not.


Friday, May 25, 2018

Why is the Left Demonizing Devin Nunes?

Devin Nunes has become the poster child from the left's point of view of the blindly sycophantic Trump apologist.  His sole purpose, according to them, is to run interference for Donald Trump.  Any attempt to investigate the Justice Department or the Intelligence Community is nothing more than a transparent attempt to sabotage the reputations of those noble, vigorously non partisan, and infallible servants of truth, justice, and the American way.  And oh, by the way, in the process he aims to destroy the credibility of the Mueller investigation.  

Devin Nunes:  I Don't See Any Horns

I don't believe that, and I'm not sure if the folks on the left really believe it either.   They may just be attempting some character assassination of their own on a target who seems pretty effective in exposing the glaring flaws hidden down in the bowels of the deep state.  I'm not going to waste a lot of time trying to resurrect the reputation of Devin Nunes.  But I am going spend some time examining the circumstances of the incident that brought him to prominence as a favorite target of the left.  

That incident was his dramatic, the left would say overly dramatic, exposure of irregularities in the behavior of the Obama Intelligence Community and National Security staff during the presidential transition in late 2016 and early 2017. It all started in March of 2017.  This is a 25 minute video of the two press conferences Devin Nunes held on the subject of the politically motivated unmasking of the subjects of incidental collection.  One briefing took place on Capitol Hill before going to inform the president, and the other after exiting the White House having spoken with the president.  It's worth listening to get the details of his concern and a sense of whether he is sincere or not.  The executive summary is this:

Some one or some ones came forward through proper channels to inform Nunes of irregularities in the dissemination of intelligence products.  It seems clear that many of the journalists didn't understand the meaning of the phrase "incidental collection" by the questions they repeatedly asked on the subject.

There are all kinds of communications data that are routinely monitored by the intelligence community.  How they perform that monitoring is strictly controlled by rules, some of which are in place to protect the rights of American citizens.  The monitoring might be for a criminal investigation, a counter intelligence investigation or routine collection from foreign sources NOT associated with any specific investigation.  Nunes was reluctant to characterize the nature of the collection he was shown, possibly because, as he said, he only saw a limited amount of data related to perhaps a few dozen incidents.  There may have been more that he was as yet unaware of so he was reluctant to characterize what he saw.  Or perhaps it was a mix of routine, criminal, counter intelligence collection.  Whatever.

The point is, The intelligence community can legally listen to communications between foreign persons and US persons and between foreign persons ABOUT a US person.  But, in the recorded data about this monitoring, the name of the US person must be masked to protect their 4th Amendment rights "to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects."  If there is no reason to suspect the American of anything criminal, then the name remains masked.  If it sounds like the American person is part of something criminal, then certain persons can request an unmasking of the name when included in the intelligence reports.  But there has to be good reason.  Nunes is suggesting that he discovered multiple incidences of unmasking when there was no obvious intelligence or law enforcement value.  Perhaps only political value.

So what he never quite says, but what he is clearly worried about is that someone (we later learn that the big offenders were Susan Rice and Samantha Powers) was unmasking names of Trump and/or Trump associates during the transition for no discernible legitimate reason, and incorporating the information into distributed Intelligence Community products.  Separately, it has been reported that in the last days of the Obama White House, the distribution lists of the various intelligence products were significantly expanded.  Someone was intentionally making an effort to disseminate a broader scope of covert communications intelligence to a broader cadre of people.  You could argue that there could be a legitimate reason for it or an illegitimate reason for it as Nunes suspects.  The point is, it happened.  Denying it happened is the first step to damaging the credibility of the deniers.

Back to the phrase Incidental collection.  Nunes' concern is that going into the transition, he witnessed a dramatic increase in the number of illegitimate unmasking requests of incidental collection subjects, said requests being initiated by high level members of the outgoing Obama administration, and they appear to be politically motivated.  This comes roughly 2-1/2 weeks after Trump Tweets the following:

“Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”

Trump got the technical language wrong, and the Nunes information refers mostly to the transition, not the campaign, but the essence of what Trump tweeted was accurate. Trump was widely criticized at the time for tweeting uncorroborated nonsense. Turns out he was right.

From this series of press conferences up to the present day, Devin Nunes has been the target of constant barrage from the left.  Here's a link to an LA Times story.  Its tone is more polite than most.  It's mostly factual, but the anti Nunes bias bleeds through never the less.  I think I can correct for their bias.  Read the story first.  It's short.

The hit on Nunes from this time forward has been that, though we haven't learned the identity of the source, we have learned that he or she was located within the White House.  And since the source of the information was in the White House, Nunes' going from the Congress to the White House to inform the president had to be play acting for dramatic effect.  That's crap.  As a Nunes' spokesman later explained, the material was classified and the property of an executive agency that had not previously provided it to the Congress.  Furthermore, it had to be viewed in a classified setting.  I assume they're referring to a SCIF.  A Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility.

Congress has a SCIF, but the information was not located on Capitol Hill. Let's speculate the executive agency that has the information is the NSA. I  think that fact may have actually been subsequently revealed.  I'm not sure, but it isn't relevant to this discussion.  Maybe the source is someone working at the White House, but not someone with direct access to the president. And transporting such material must conform with significant safeguards. So the story that Nunes had to go to the White House to view the information in their SCIF instead of the information being brought to Capitol Hill to be viewed in the Capitol Hill SCIF is totally credible. I can think of plenty of people in the White House who could have brought the information directly to the president without involving Devin Nunes. Maybe someone on the National Security Council. But that's not the point. All one needs to do is to come up with one person who works inside the White House whose chain of command does NOT lead directly to the president, but who might logically be expected to respond to Nunes' request for information which he refers to in his press conference. That person would need Nunes to come to the White House to view the information. I don't know who that person might be or what their job description would be to fit the criteria that I just described, but it is NOT far fetched. Folks on the left (cough, Adam Schif, cough) whose motivation is to cover up malfeasance on the part of the Obama Intelligence Community, FBI, DOJ, and National Security staff or other so called deep state actors might use Nunes' back and forth to create a narrative of over dramatization for effect or a lack of credibility on Nunes' part. The truth might be a lot more obvious and a lot less nefarious. 

 Furthermore, this line in the LA Times story needs addressing:

"Later that day, his spokesman conceded that Nunes did not know "for sure" that any Trump aides had actually been subject to surveillance, just that their names had appeared in intelligence reports, which could have resulted from other people talking about them." ​

This statement implies that Nunes had been misleading journalists during his press conference and that Nunes had claimed Trump or Trump aides had been the target of illegitimate surveillance . As I mentioned earlier, Nunes went out of his way to clarify that Trump or his aides were not the targets of illegitimate surveillance, but the subjects of incidental collection that were illegitimately unmasked. There's a big difference, and despite the journalists at the press conference having a difficult time understanding that, Nunes bent over backwards to repeat several times where his real concerns lay.

Nunes has been a constant target of venom spewed from the left. It seems to have started with this March 2017 effort on Nunes' part to uncover what was going on during the campaign and the transition period that followed. Some people might infer that Nunes is tainted because of all the bad press he is getting. I'd be inclined to consider the source and largely discount the press attacks. I view the campaign to impugn Nunes' character in the following light: 

When you're starting to take flak, it is a sure sign that you're over the target!


Thursday, May 24, 2018

Facts, Schmacts!

I first saw the headline for this Ben Shapiro article a few days ago and made a mental note to come back to it.  I finally read it this morning, and it rings true.  Trump's Superpower:  He Can Make Democrats Defend Anything.  We can bemoan Trump's constant lying as much as we like, but how much do you want to bet that the Democrats will field a candidate for president in 2020 that is even more repugnant to more Americans than Donald Trump? 

I was watching Stephanie Ruhle this morning on MSNBC.  I call it opposition research , but in reality, it's partly that and partly that I think she is hot!  She seemed incredulous that, here they were explaining the truth to Americans every day, and the president is still rising in the polls, and the generic ballot for Republicans in the midterms keeps getting better and better.  She can't understand it.  Then she moves on to a story about the NFL owners and the kneeling players, and Trump's dumbass comment that maybe those guys should leave the country.  But of course, Ruhle needs to defend the kneelers.  And she can't understand why Trump is winning.

Many of you share my concern that Trump is a damaging influence on the country, and in my case to conservatism.  But at least I've got the consolation that, in the short term anyway, the Dems seem to be destroying themselves marginally more quickly than the Republicans are.  Of course, it can all turn on a dime if Mueller comes up with something.  But the bar gets higher every day he delays.  The longer he takes, the more egregious Trump's sins will need to be to have as big an affect.  Maybe Mueller's problem is that he doesn't understand politics any better than Stephanie Ruhle.


Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Trump's New Strategy: The Chicago Way

Yesterday we saw the first elements of Trump's new strategy for escaping the clutches of Robert Mueller.  It was inspired by the movie The Untouchables.  Remember that scene where Sean Connery's character explains "the Chicago way" to Eliot Ness?

He pulls a knife, you pull a gun.  He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue.  That's the Chicago way, and that's how you get Capone!

You can follow the evolution of Trump's strategy by reviewing the make up of his legal team.  It started off with people he knew like Marc Kasowitz, and Jay Sekulow.  These guys were not really ready for prime time.  They may have known their way around New York real estate sharks, but they were clearly out of their league in the DC swamp.  Then Trump brought in folks from outside his circle like John Dowd and Ty Cobb who presented a more establishment approach to the problem.  The early days of the Trump-Mueller interaction were characterized by cooperation.  Trump and Trump surrogates often cite the 1.2 million documents that Trump has provided upon request.

But as the months passed and the Mueller strategy got more aggressive, think the Manafort and Cohen raids, Trump fell back to his instincts.  He brought in Rudy Giuliani as part of his legal team, and empowered the more pit bull surrogates like Dan Bongino, Joe DiGenova and the panoply of FoxNews talking heads to try to discredit Mueller.

Then a clearer picture of the forces arrayed against him started to emerge.  Evidence began to surface that elements within the Department of Justice (DOJ), the FBI, and the Intelligence Community (IC) had had the Trump campaign under surveillance during the presidential campaign in 2016.  These elements of the so called "deep state" were the same ones who had gone easy on Hillary Clinton during the investigation of her private email server.  They were the same ones who were now stonewalling Congressional committees and individual Congressmen and Senators and refusing to release documents that would make their actions in these disputed matters more transparent.

I think Trump has decided to fight fire with fire.  The push is now on to create a new Special Counsel.  Nineteen Congressmen in the House led by Representative Lee Zeldin, a Republican from New York's First Congressional District, have proposed a resolution to establish a second Special Counsel with a mandate to investigate whether or not elements in the FBI, DOJ, and the IC engaged in a politically motivated attempt to enhance Hillary Clinton's chances of winning the 2016 presidential election and to undermine a legitimately elected president Trump.  Some of those nineteen Congressmen held a 50 minute press conference yesterday to make their case.  It's a long video, but it paints a pretty comprehensive picture of the circumstances justifying a special counsel. 

Members of the press were keen to learn whether any of the proponents of the resolution had spoken to president Trump about requesting the Attorney General to appoint a second Special Counsel.  They all denied having spoken to the president, but the press were clearly skeptical.

In a possibly related development yesterday, former Trump campaign official Michael Caputo appeared in an interview with FoxNews' Neal Cavuto claiming that in May of 2016, he had been approached through an intermediary by someone identified as a contractor for a US Government agency offering to provide missing Clinton emails that were in the possession of that agency.  Caputo declined to name the contractor, the agency or the intermediary in the Cavuto interview.  On the previous night, Caputo had appeared on Laura Ingraham's Fox show where he first indicated that he had been approached in 2016 by someone whom he now thought might have been acting on behalf of the FBI as had Stefan Halper, the American professor from Cambridge University who has been the focus of so much attention recently for his suspicious contacts with at least three members of the Trump campaign in 2016.  Caputo expressed reluctance to offer any further specifics while he discussed alternatives with his attorney.  In his follow up interview with Neal Cavuto the next day (yesterday), Caputo claimed he had not accepted the offer for the emails out of concern that he may have been put in a position of having accepted classified documents, thereby making himself and the Trump campaign subject to criminal charges.  He suggested the source take advantage of whistle blower statutes to expose the existence of the emails.  Caputo further claimed that this alleged attempted contact was particularly significant since it was coming from a second person other than Stefan Halper, and the incident occurred in early May, 2016, almost three months from the 31 July date the FBI claims marked the beginning of the Trump/Russia counterintelligence investigation.

Then in a truly bizarre turn of events, late yesterday evening, Michael Caputo recanted the claims he had made on Fox with Laura Ingraham and Neal Cavuto.  In a written story from the Daily Wire's Ryan Saavedra, Caputo claims the who thing was just a misunderstanding.  WTF!!  If you listen to this Caputo/Cavuto interview (as if this whole story isn't confusing enough), you'll be hard pressed to explain how Caputo could have gone from such certainty about the nature of the contact to believing it was all just a misunderstanding.  UNLESS...

I have two theories.  Theory One is somebody got to Caputo to convince him to shut up.  Somebody from the FBI, or the CIA, someone on Mueller's team or some other tentacle of the "deep state" threatened him with prosecution, jail time, financial ruin, or worse if he didn't abandon his story.  That's possible, but I don't believe it. 

Theory Two is that having gotten the story out there without specifically naming any names or identifying the agency involved, he was insulated from any direct retribution.  And in the retraction story from the Daily Wire, reporter Saavedra names the intermediary, a friend of Caputo's named Kirk Bell.  Saavedra also describes a conversation he had with the alleged contractor though Saavedra does not name the contractor or the agency he worked for.  The contractor says it was all a big mistake.  A misunderstanding.  He didn't have direct knowledge of any Hillary emails, but had simply overheard some vague conversation.

I can't help but wonder if this was some subtle way for Caputo to break the story without names, thereby shielding himself from direct consequences, and then revealing the name of the intermediary in a story where he claims it was all a mistake.  Caputo is never on record as having claimed person X and Agency YYY are involved in suspicious outreach to the Trump campaign and yet, the story is out there, and at least one journalist knows the identity of the suspicious email "vendor".  Is it only a matter of time before the name becomes more widely known and more journalists begin investigating the background of said vendor?  This story might be starting to get even more interesting.

So what have we got?  We have an embattled president starting to feel some heat from Robert Mueller.  One can have differing opinions about whether that heat is justified.  What's important is Trump's perception and Trump's reaction.  Past efforts to end the affair only lead to escalation on Mueller's part.  Trump decides to go all Eliot Ness on the Democrats.  They want to put him in the hospital?  He'll put them in the morgue.  Out go the pit bulls to tarnish Mueller's reputation and his conduct of the investigation.  Republicans in the House are uncovering some serious, and very real evidence of malfeasance on the part of the investigators.  The Caputo piece may or may not further this narrative.  Michael Horowitz, the DOJ IG is due to publish a report in the next week or two which by most reports will be quite damning to the reputation of the FBI and the DOJ, and conveniently timed to coincide with that report we have a push by House Republicans to put another Special Counsel in place with some real teeth to hit Trump's opponents at least as hard as they are trying to hit him.  Trump has decided to bring a gun to a knife fight.  He may be just a local boy from Queens, but he has learned what he needs to know about the Chicago Way.

How does this all end?  Here's how I hope it ends.  I hope we get a second Special Counsel.  I hope they chase Bill and Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation down every rabbit hole they find.  If they are guilty of using their power and influence to enrich themselves and their vast phalanx of cronies and hangers on, then I hope every one of them gets prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  As Reagan aide Lyn Nofziger once said, "Once a year we should hang someone in government as an example to his fellows."  And if the "deep state" is found to have let political concerns rather than justice drive their investigation of Trump and the Russians, then I hope every one of them ends up in the dock with Team Hillary.

And if Mueller is actually pursuing a counterintelligence investigation like he is supposed to be doing, then I hope he continues until he is done.  If that entraps Trump in some way, then so be it.  If, as I suspect, the Mueller investigation is more political than counterintelligence, then I hope he is persuaded to go away as soon as possible.  Maybe the current trajectory of the politics of this affair are swinging enough in Trump's favor to the point where Mueller abandons the investigation as counter productive to his political objectives.

Here's how I'm afraid this story might end.  Trump only wants the new Special Counsel as leverage to castrate Robert Mueller.  Trump either abandons that pursuit in return for Mueller ending his investigation, or he gets his Special Counsel and they clandestinely negotiate a resolution where "little people" go to jail as scapegoats, and the big fish get away scott free while patting themselves on the back about how justice was served on both sides.  All the while, the average American will be barely be able to tear himself away from Dancing With the Stars long enough to even notice.  Think I'm too cynical?  I like this quote from Lily Tomlin. 

"No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up."

Or, in the words of Yakov Smirnoff, "America!  What a country!"