Sunday, September 29, 2019

Don't Deny Coercion. Defend It.

Sunday was a good day for the Democrats. Let's concede that. Every major television network devotes an hour of their Sunday morning programming to their political shows, and today, all anybody was talking about was the Ukraine conversation. The Democratic Party sent a message today through their MSM allies that the president is corrupt, and he should be impeached. If the only political news you ever got came from Sunday morning TV, you probably think so too. There were a few token voices of reason like Hugh Hewitt and Rich Lowry, but for the most part, the opposing side of the debate did not get an invitation to the party. And don't get me started on Rudy Giuliani! 

It is axiomatic in military strategy terms that if you are going to engage in warfare, you should do what you can to choose the ground upon which you will do battle. The Republicans have failed to heed that advice. There are too many poor souls in the Republican Party who are trying to deny that Trump offered Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky a quid pro quo. It's true that it was not explicitly stated in the conversation, but it can be reasonably argued that it was implied. As the Democrats are quick to point out, when you are a helpless supplicant like Ukraine and your potential protector asks you for a favor, you would be foolish indeed to ignore the wider implications of that request. The existence of that quid pro quo is deniable I suppose; maybe even legitimately so. But why pitch your tent on such shaky ground? President Trump was engaged in diplomacy, and nothing in diplomacy is free. Everything is a quid pro quo. President Trump was engaged in some arm twisting. It was gentle and polite arm twisting perhaps, but arm twisting nevertheless. 

President Trump wanted some favors. In diplomacy, favors are defined as things I want you to do for me for which I will do something in return. President Trump asked for two favors in particular, and you could argue about the relative importance of each favor. In order of precedence, the first favor, and perhaps therefore the most important, was help in the investigation into the origins of the Russia collusion scandal. The Obama Justice Department and Intelligence Community spied on the Trump campaign in 2016. There are credible allegations that some of the Steele Dossier material upon which that spying was predicated came from Ukrainian sources. President Trump believes that the Dossier was a hoax; a political dirty trick. The president wants an investigation, and he has a right to expect Ukraine to assist Attorney General Barr in completing that investigation. 

The second favor is a bit more problematic. (Thank you Captain Obvious!) The president asked Ukraine to look into the Bidens. Again, choose your ground for battle. The optics of that request are terrible. Don't deny that. Defend it! Yes, it is bad optics for the president to request a foreign country to investigate a political rival. You know what else has terrible optics? Hunter Biden accepting $600,000 a year from a foreign company to perform a job for which his only qualification is his last name. How about them optics? I've heard critics of the president point out that if it was really corruption that concerned Mr. Trump, then Ukraine is apparently the only place on earth where the president is bothered by corruption. That may be true, but the fact of the matter is that sometimes this president does the right thing by accident. American politics are conducted as a form of Kabuki theater in which an elected Republican defender of the president can't say that the president did the right thing by accident, but I can say it. Devin Nunes or Jim Jordan may have to pretend that the president's motivations were saintly and insightful, but I don't have to pretend that. And to claim that the actions of Joe and Hunter Biden in Ukraine are beyond scrutiny because of Joe's presidential candidacy is like giving a Get Out of Jail Free Card to any politician under suspicion of corruption. Just run for office and you're untouchable. The president did the right thing for the wrong reasons. There! That wasn't so hard, was it? Trump was looking for a little extra help in the 2020 race. He wasn't looking for money. He wasn't looking for Facebook ads. And there is absolutely no indication that he was looking for investigators in Ukraine to lie, no matter what kind of parody Adam Schiff can conjure up as he beclowns himself. Trump was looking for information. Information does not have a nationality. There is no such thing as American information or Ukrainian information. Since 2016, Democrats have attempted to stigmatize foreign sourced information as somehow tainted or illegitimate. Personally, I think that as long as it is the truth, information is always welcome no matter where it comes from. I felt the same way about the now infamous Trump Tower meeting, the Democrats' squawking about campaign finance and “thing of value” not withstanding. Information is like speech. To stifle information is to stifle free speech. At the end of the day, the president was pursuing information. Were the optics bad? Yes. But did that situation cry out for an investigation? Oh hell yes! The president may have done the crime, metaphorically speaking, but he shouldn't do the time. The proposed punishment is pure politics. If the voters disagree, well that's what we have elections for. 

 But what about Trump's withholding of aid? Surely that cannot be defended. Of course it can. We do not know, and we should not presume, that the president intended to withhold that military aid indefinitely. I don't think I am naïve to believe it was merely a bargaining position; quickly abandoned once the president got what he wanted, and never intended to be kept in place even if the president's requests had been refused. And who are the Democrats to bemoan a slight delay in the release of this lethal aid? The Obama administration flat out denied lethal aid to Ukraine all together. 

Well what about the attempt to cover up the conversation? What were they trying to hide? As is clear from the Democrats' reaction to this conversation, it is obvious that due to the optics of President Trump's request, this conversation had the potential to be spun to the president's disadvantage. White House staff apparently recognized that, even if the president did not. And a little extra context is important here. This is the same White House which may still employ the author of that September 5, 2018 NY Times op-ed “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration.” Remember that several other conversations between President Trump and other heads of state have been leaked to the press with the purpose of embarrassing the president. Under the circumstances, the fact that the record of this conversation was placed on a highly classified server is of little concern to me. 

 Finally, a word about the Democrats' desperate attempt to subvert the results of the 2016 election. There is mounting evidence that this latest “scandal” was a coordinated effort between “resistance' elements inside the White House, inside the Intelligence Community, and in the Congress, to sabotage this president. At the risk of inviting accusations of being a conspiracy theorist, I'd go so far as to suggest that the pending release of DOJ IG Michael Horowitz' report and the ongoing Barr/Durham “investigation of the investigators” may have played a role in the timing of this whistleblower's complaint. 

Today was a bad day for the president. The Dems scored some unanswered points this morning. But tomorrow is another day. I'm hopeful that Team Trump still has a few special plays up its sleeve.

Friday, July 19, 2019

The Trial of Bijan Rafiekian

  The following is a compilation of articles about the trial of Flynn business partner Bijan Rafiekian.  It was due to Flynn's anticipated testimony/cooperation at this trial that his sentencing in his own matter of lying to the FBI has been repeatedly delayed.


Recently, the government suddenly changed course and announced they would not be calling Flynn as a witness following his refusal to state that he knowingly filed a false FARA document. 


Subsequent to that refusal, the government also reversed course on their position that Flynn was not a co conspirator in the Rafiekian trial, now maintaining that he wss a co conspirator.  If they could support this claim in court, it would allow them to present hearsay evidence from Flynn against Rafiekian that they otherwise not be able to present.


My focus on this case has more to do with what effect it will have on sentencing in the lying to the FBI case.  Flynn wa still willing to cooperate/testify, but not willing to admit knowingly falsifying the FARA. 

Michael Flynn Attorney Suggests Special Counsel Withheld Key Information From His Defense

Michael Flynn’s new attorney Sidney Powell suggested the special counsel may not have produced classified information relevant to Flynn’s case. Powell intends to obtain it.



Defense straddles strategies as trial opens for Flynn business partner


LAWYERSPOTTING: Among the onlookers at opening statements in Flynn business partner Kian's trial today: Flynn attorney Powell, Flynn prosecutor Van Grack, and US Atty for EDVA Terwilliger

Flynn’s ex-lawyer takes witness stand for the prosecution


It's not every day a defense attorney gets called to testify for the prosecution, but it happened today to Gen. Mike Flynn's ex-lawyer, Rob Kelner. The cross-examination produced some friction. More here:

Flynn juggled Trump campaign role with foreign lobbying, jurors told

His foreign lobbying role has been central to the case against Bijan Rafiekian, a former business partner.

At trial today of Gen. Mike Flynn's business partner, a retired FBI agent recalled this blunt response to the defendant's plan to avoid registering as a foreign agent: 'I wouldn't f--- around with that.'

PAY TO PLAY? We knew that while sending over $500,000 to Flynn during the campaign, his Turkish client was complaining to a Flynn aide that Trump wasn't being supportive enough. In court today, we found out Flynn heard those pleas directly

Judge withholds ruling on acquitting Flynn partner

Bijan Rafiekian is on trial for acting as an unregistered agent for Turkey during his work for Flynn Intel Group, a consulting firm.

NEW: Prosecutors narrowly escaped a judge-ordered acquittal today for Flynn business partner charged with foreign-agent crimes following Mueller probe. Looks like judge will let jury deliberate in case, while not ruling out tossing it--or part of it--later

After completing his testimony at trial of Flynn biz partner Bijan Kian on foreign-agent charges, lobbyist
did something unusual for a prosecution witness: gave the defendant a firm, enthusiastic handshake in front of the jury

Latest Development In Flynn Case Proves Special Counsel Was A Cover For Taking Down Trump


His former lawyer’s latest testimony establishes two facts, both of which benefit Michael Flynn and both of which the media has missed.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Trump vs "The Squad": We're at an Inflection Point

 We're watching realignments taking place on both sides of the political spectrum.  For several months now,  the Democrats have been engaged in a food fight between Speaker Pelosi, and an outspoken "squad" of freshman Congresswomen who are determined to transform their party overnight into an openly socialist, no borders, anti-semitic, and pro al Qaida party.

And judging by statements from the Democratic presidential candidates, the so called "squad" is meeting with some success.  The rhetoric has gotten so heated that Pelosi was accused by those same members of being biased against women of color.  That epithet, the dreaded race card, is usually reserved for Republican opponents.  Remember the good old days when we used to think that Nancy was the radical face of her party?.  Yeah...good times!  Anyway...

 The Republicans have been doing some realignment of their own, thanks largely to the overwhelming persona of one Donald J Trump.  In contrast to the volatility of Democratic politics in recent days, most of the fireworks on the Republican side took place in the run-up to the 2016 election.  That's not to say that things in Republican circles have gone completely dark since Trump's election, but the fight for the heart and soul of the Republican party has been taking place on a more intellectual plane, largely unnoticed by the mainstream press.  Most conservative thinkers have grudgingly acquiesced to Trump's ownership of the party, but a compact nucleus of staunch Never Trumpers still persist in their opposition to the president.  Unlike the Democrat's recent conflagration, the Republican's debates have been more restrained.

Sohrab Ahmari used to write for conservative Commentary Magazine.  As a regular listener to the Commentary Podcast, I am familiar with his thinking.  He is not blind to Trump's manifest flaws, but he has come to terms with the man, and like many conservatives, he accepts Trump on a transactional basis.  He's the president.  We'll support him when he's working towards shared goals.  He has recently moved on to become the Opinion Editor for the New York Post.

David French writes for the National Review, another of my go to publications.  He's a principled conservative and remains solidly Never Trump to this day.  Sohrab is a Catholic.  David is an evangelical Christian.  Both men's politics are strongly influenced by their faith.  At the end of May, Sohrab published an essay on the First Things website entitled Against David Frenchism  where he makes the case for full throated support for Trump despite his flaws.  To do any less is just ceding territory to a relentless opposition who will exploit any advantage to mercilessly pursue their cultural agendas.  A couple of excerpts from Ahmari's piece illustrate his thinking.

With a kind of animal instinct, Trump understood what was missing from mainstream (more or less French-ian) conservatism....

French’s response to these developments on the right has been predictable: He has spent two years promoting the now-discredited Russian “collusion” theory; moralizing and pretending we don’t face enemies who seek our personal destruction (just ask Justice Kavanaugh); and haranguing his fellow evangelical Protestants for supporting Trump, as if they were the only American voting bloc ever forced to compromise. As an activist, French has benefited from the Trump GOP’s ascendance, but he has kept his hands clean, his soul untainted.

 Then there is this:

Progressives understand that culture war means discrediting their opponents and weakening or destroying their institutions. Conservatives should approach the culture war with a similar realism. Civility and decency are secondary values. They regulate compliance with an established order and orthodoxy. We should seek to use these values to enforce our order and our orthodoxy, not pretend that they could ever be neutral. To recognize that enmity is real is its own kind of moral duty.  

Ahmari has clearly staked out his position.  We're at war.  We can't afford to play by the enemies rules.  Rules which they have no intention of observing themselves.  If any nation should recognize the hazards of rules of engagement that are too circumscribed, it is the United States.  As you can imagine, there has been pushback from French and his supporters.  This back and forth has continued over the past six or seven weeks.  It's largely a Twitter phenomenon and has remained under the radar of the mainstream press.  But it is the rare politically active conservative who isn't familiar with the debate and who doesn't have an opinion on the matter.

If the vigor of this dialogue was on the ebb, recent events are likely to re-ignite the debate.  The president recently posted a series of Tweets where he challenged the aforementioned squad of Congresswomen.  If they didn't like America, they should leave .

  • So interesting to see “Progressive” Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly......
    8:27 AM · Jul 14, 2019 · 
    Replying to
    ....and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how.... is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!

    Democrats and the press were howling about the so called racist Tweets.  Trump was criticized for apparently not realizing that three of the four women in question were in fact born in the United States.   Republicans were criticized for being too slow and not enthusiastic enough in their condemnation of the president.  Trump, for his part doubled down in a Rose Garden press conference two days later.

    The squad responded that same evening with a press conference of their own where notably, Rep. Ilhan Omar refused to disavow al Qaida.

    I think we witnessed a watershed moment with those dueling press conferences.  An inflection point.  The president has never been shy about what he believes.  It's kind of his trademark.  But yesterday was a significant departure from the norm; even for him.  The president declared war yesterday, and "the Squad" answered back in kind.  Clausewitz famously said, "War is the continuation of politics by other means."  And make no mistake.  We're at war.  That's why the Sohrab Ahmari-David French debate is so timely now.  It's time for conservatives, Republicans, libertarians, and independents to make a choice.  The Democratic agenda as put forward by these Congresswomen and the Democratic presidential candidates (who's leading who?) represents an existential threat to the America that was.  I don't know anybody who doesn't have a few ideas about how to make America better, but do we really want "the Squad" driving that bus?  Venezuela of the North is what they want because, as they'll likely tell you, socialism has only failed everywhere it's ever been tried because there wasn't enough of it.  They have an agenda, and there doesn't seem to be any lack of commitment on their part. Trump has gone all in on the presumption that voters will despise what the Democrats have become more than they despise him.  I'm not so sure he's right.  Trump never asked me if I was willing to bet it all and roll the dice, but that's where we stand.  No turning back now.  Will we support him or will we insist, as Ahmari suggests David French does, "on keeping our hands clean, and our souls untainted?"  It's time to choose.  I feel like a passenger in a car where the driver has decided to engage in a high speed game of chicken.  No one asked me if I wanted to play, but I'm stuck in the passenger seat, and it's too late to get out.  It's high risk, and we're all in this together.  There's no turning back.

    I'm reminded of a scene from The Hunt for Red October when Fred Thompson's character says, "This business will get out of control. It'll get out of control, and we'll be lucky to live through it!"  It's time to buckle up.  Trump just told the more timid members of his party to step up or step out! It's no time for faintheartedness.  He needs a wartime consigliere.  

    Monday, July 8, 2019

    Jeffrey Epstein: Some links

    7 July 2019  YouTube  Mike Cernovich and Stefan Molyneux discuss new indictment

    6 March 2019  Ann Coulter Summary at Breitbart  Includes audio  

    Part I Miami Herald Story from 28 November, 2018 by Julie Brown 

    Part II

    Part III

    Epsteins Connections


    Palm Beach County’s Democratic prosecutor Barry Krischer abetted Epstein

    Palm Beach Police Chief Michael Reiter blew the whistle

    The [Palm Beach County] sheriff, Ric Bradshaw, would not answer questions, submitted by the Miami Herald, about Epstein’s work release.

    Read more here:

    Acosta made a deal with Washington, D.C. attorney Jay Lefkowitz, his former colleague, at a breakfast meeting in October 2007, according to the Miami Herald.

    “How in the world, do you, the U.S. attorney, engage in a negotiation with a criminal defendant, basically allowing that criminal defendant to write up the agreement?” Bradley Edwards, a former state prosecutor who represents victims of Epstein, told the Miami Herald. 

    Acosta, in 2011, would explain that he was unduly pressured by Epstein’s heavy-hitting lawyers — [Jay] Lefkowitz, Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, Jack Goldberger, Roy Black, former U.S. Attorney Guy Lewis, Gerald Lefcourt, and Kenneth Starr, the former Whitewater special prosecutor who investigated Bill Clinton’s sexual liaisons with Monica Lewinsky.

    In email after email, Acosta and the lead federal prosecutor, A. Marie Villafaña, acquiesced to Epstein’s legal team’s demands, which often focused on ways to limit the scandal by shutting out his victims and the media, including suggesting that the charges be filed in Miami, instead of Palm Beach, where Epstein’s victims lived.

    Read more here:

    Read more here:
    In 2014, the brilliant conservative lawyer Paul Cassell and Bradley Edwards brought suit against the federal prosecutors for violating the Crime Victims’ Rights Act in the Epstein case.

    A prosecutor under New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance argued on Epstein’s behalf, telling New York Supreme Court Judge Ruth Pickholtz that the Florida case never led to an indictment and that his underage victims failed to cooperate in the case. Pickholtz, however, denied the petition, expressing astonishment that a New York prosecutor would make such a request on behalf of a serial sex offender accused of molesting so many girls.

    Mike Cernovich claims he initiated the lawsuit (as intervenor) later joined by the Miami Herald that led to judgement to release thousands of pages of documents to the public.  Those documents, not yet released will expose the details of the Epstein case and are the reason the new charges are being filed.  Had these documents remained secret, the Epstein case would never have been revisited.   The case has to do with a civil suit from 21 Sep 2015 by alleged Epstein victim VIRGINIA GIUFFRE against Epstein girlfriend and procurer Ghislaine Maxwell for defamation.  Maxwell had called Giuffre a liar for accusations related to procurement.

    3 Jul 2019 US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruling in favor of  intervenors Mike Cernovich, Miami Herald (Julie Brown), and Alan Dershowitz to unseal docket in Maxwell v Giuffre Request for Summary mJudgement filing.
    This pending release of documents is said to be the reason why new charges were being filed against Epstein.  May show others involved.

     Guardian story about settlement of Virginia Roberts Giuffre's defamation lawsuit against Ghislaine Maxwell  24 May 2017

    Read more here:
    Vicky Ward Vanity Fair profile of Jeffrey Epstein from March 2003

    Jan 6, 2015 Vicky Ward story from The Daily Beast (updated July 8, 2019) distills the lengthier March 2003 Vanity Fair story, but includes the references to the two sister whom Epstein allegedly abused (cut from the Vanity Fair article by editor Graydon Carter after pressure from Epstein)

    8 July, 2019 Daily Caller on then U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Now Sec Labor Alex Acosta  

    Two unidentified John Doe parties petitioning lower court NOT to release sealed docs that Appeals Court said should be unsealed
    My guess is that the impending release of these docs was all that prompted the Feds to indict Epstein.  They knew that once public, they'd look even worse that they already do for having given Epstein the sweetheart deal in 2008.

    Hugh Hewitt interviews thriller writer James Patterson who, in 2016, departed from his usual genre to write the non fiction book Filthy Rich about Jeffrey Epstein.

    He says he was shocked he couldn't get the media interested, perhaps because, rightly or wrongly, they were concerned too vigorous an exploration of the subject might lead to Bill Clinton.

    Epstein argument for bail INCLUDES NON PROSECUTION AGREEMENT FROM 2007.

    Government argues against bail

    Sunday, July 7, 2019

    Breaking News: Dog Bites Man

    **Snowflake Alert**  I use the term illegal aliens.  I don't use terms like undocumented worker  or other euphemisms that try to normalize their status.  If that bothers you, stop reading now.

    Furthermore, I understand and sympathize with their reasons for coming here.  I don't hate them. But we can't take them all.  It's our country.  We have a right to make the rules on who we accept and we have the right to enforce those rules.

    President Trump said something stupid the other day.  Yeah, I know.  What's so unusual about that?  That's hardly a man bites dog story.  The president is always saying something stupid.  The difference is that this time, I didn't recognize how stupid it was until I consulted my handy Pocket Constitution.

    The president was giving one of his impromptu news conferences as he walked out to Marine One on the way to somewhere or other, and someone asked him about the citizenship question on the Census.  Here was the stupid part of his reply starting at the 45 second mark:

    "But you need it for many reasons.  Number one, you need it for Congress, you need it for Congress, for districting, you need it for appropriations."

    Fair enough I thought.  It certainly doesn't make sense to allocate Congressional seats to a constituency that can't vote, right?  But wait a minute.  What are the actual rules for allocating those seats, I wondered.  If I recall correctly, it's spelled out quite specifically in the Constitution.  Why not go to the source and see what it says?

    I encourage you to keep reading, but 


    If you're like me, you're not gonna like the answer.  The original description of how House seats are allocated was spelled out in Article I of the Constitution, but it was changed by Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment.  (Remember that whole 3/5 person kerfuffle in Article I, Section 2?  Yeah it's that part!)  Anyway, here's how the rules stand now:

    "Amendment 14, Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State."
    So you don't need to be a citizen to count toward Congressional representation.  You only have to be a person.  Nothing says you need to be a citizen or even a legal non citizen to count toward a Congressional seat.  Illegal aliens count toward House representation.  It's in the Constitution!  Yeah, I know.  It sucks right?  But it's the law.

    So if you were like me, and you thought it was totally reasonable to ask about citizenship as a means to prevent a misallocation of Congressional seats, I've got some bad news for you.  Citizenship doesn't enter into it.  And neither does illegal status.  All persons count.  Who knew?  Not me, and apparently not Trump.

    Now I know why liberal politicians are promoting sanctuary cities and sanctuary states.  Those illegals can't vote, not directly and not legally at least.  But they do count toward how many Congressmen those sanctuary cities and states can elect to Congress to represent THEIR interests as opposed to YOUR interests.

    I used to think that these liberal politicians promoting sanctuary cities were just pandering to their minority constituents who favored more lenient policies toward illegals.  Now I realize that their motives are much more nefarious.  They've discovered a back door means of getting more clout in Congress.  Even if illegals aren't directly voting in our elections, the Constitution creates an incentive for unscrupulous pols to offer them this back door voting franchise via greater Congressional representation.  Welcoming more illegals garners your city or state more votes in Congress than they would otherwise be entitled to.

    By the way, when you consider the game being played here, it puts Trump's threat to send the thousands of illegals intercepted at the border to sanctuary cities in a whole new light.  Rather than burdening those sanctuary cities with the responsibility of caring for the thousands they would welcome into their midst, the  policy would only serve to empower those sanctuary cities by enhancing their influence in Congress.  In fact, the best thing Trump could do with these thousands of newcomers would be to move them all to Red States.  At least until after the Census is complete.  How's that for irony? 

    I've always opposed open borders because I thought they were not compatible with our welfare state.  I also vehemently oppose a path to citizenship for any illegals already here who, for practical reasons having to do with the sheer numbers,  we choose not to expel.  They should count themselves lucky they are just left alone, and that includes the DACA folks. But to the extent that I now view this whole sanctuary city situation as nothing more than a cynical ploy to gain more representation in Congress for policies I oppose, I find myself even less sympathetic to the status of illegal aliens in this country than I was before.  Even if illegal aliens are not voting in any appreciable numbers, a concession I make ONLY for the sake of argument, they still represent a potential distortion in make-up of the House of Representatives.  That is no small thing.

    (BTW, there's nothing in the Constitution that says you need to be a citizen to vote either.  The second paragraphs of both Articles I and II say the individual States get to decide who qualifies to vote.  But that's a discussion for another day)

    Thursday, July 4, 2019

    Howard Zinn's America is Not My America

    I have a message for Nike and Colin Kaepernick:

    Just Blow Me!

    I've been pondering something for a few weeks now, and this Fourth of July seems to offer the perfect opportunity to commit my thoughts to (digital) paper.  I have more than a few friends, some in "meat space", but mostly on social media, who seem to be adherents of the Howard Zinn school of American history.  In 1980, Zinn first published his A People's History of the United States.  To quote Wikipedia, Zinn considered it to be:
    "a different side of history from the more traditional fundamental nationalist glorification of country. Zinn portrays a side of American history that can largely be seen as the exploitation and manipulation of the majority by rigged systems that hugely favor a small aggregate of elite rulers from across the orthodox political parties."

    Apparently, when it comes to America at least, Professor Zinn is a really tough grader.  Too tough in my opinion.

    I'd be the first to admit that the simplified and sanitized version of American History that we all learned in elementary school and even high school was probably a little heavy on patriotism and a little light on critical analysis.  Nevertheless, "exploitation and manipulation of the majority by rigged systems..." is a little too much of a swing of the pendulum to an alternate reality.  

    I think a lot of the people who believe and promote Zinn's version of America only do so because of the perceived cachet attached to the new and more radical interpretation.  Kind of like the early adopter who brags about his new 85" 4K TV even though it's way too big for his tiny apartment, and we're years away from any significant amount of 4K programming. 

    Take away all the Zinn acolytes who are just trying to be the "wokest" kids on the block, and a lot of those who are left (pun intended), just hate America.  

    So this Independence Day, I'm celebrating America.  Not just the America of myth that I learned about in high school, but also the real America that I've learned about since.  American exceptionalism is still the real deal.  Even with all her flaws, I can't think of anyplace in the world I'd rather live.  We're flying the flag on the front porch today, and if Nike and Colin Kaepernick don't like it, I have a message for them.

    Just blow me!

    Tuesday, May 14, 2019

    Congressional Republicans to Robert Mueller: Thanks for Coming to Testify Before Us. We've Got a Few Questions of Our Own!

    Everyone is anticipating the stir that will be created if Robert Mueller ever comes to testify before Congressional Democrats. Think of all the bad press for Donald Trump as they dredge up every one of the ten or eleven potential obstruction of justice charges alluded to in the Mueller Report. Quite a gold mine right? But isn't that old news by now? What about the opportunity Mueller's testimony will provide to Congressional Republicans? That's where the real bonanza is.  

    I hope the president is smart enough to allow Mueller to testify despite the potential for a bad news cycle.  I think he's got a lot more to gain than to lose.  I wonder if he knows that and is perhaps goading Democrats into demanding Mueller appear.  I've made a list of some of the questions I'd like the Republicans in Congress to ask Robert Mueller. 

    Are you aware of an FBI investigation code named "special?"

    If yes, can you tell us the subject of that investigation?

    When was that investigation initiated?

    Was it a criminal investigation or a counter intelligence investigation?

    Was Peter Strzok associated with that investigation?

    Director Mueller, your mandate was to investigate Russian influence in our 2016 presidential election. Is that correct?

    When in your investigation did you determine that there was no coordination or conspiracy on the part of Donald Trump or any members of his Campaign to assist the Russians in that effort?

    You had no problem releasing other partial results of your investigation.  I'm referring to the plea agreements of George Papadopoulos and General Flynn.  Why was there no preliminary report to disclose the absence of any findings of so called "collusion?"

    While you were investigating Russian influence in the 2016 election, did the possibility ever occur to you that the Russians might have fed misinformation about candidate Trump to the FBI and the Intelligence Community via another candidate's opposition research efforts?

    If that had happened, would that constitute a form of Russian interference?

    If that had occurred, would it have been included in your mandate to investigate Russian election interference?

    Did you in fact investigate that possibility?

    If not, why not?

    If so, where is that portion of your report?

    How about if instead of being duped by the Russians into pursuing such an investigation, certain elements in the upper leadership of the DOJ, the FBI, and the Intelligence Community actually promoted such an investigation themselves?  If they knew the story to lack merit, would that be a reasonable thing for you to have investigated?

    Did you investigate that possibility?

    If not, why not?

    If so, where is that portion of your report?

    In your report you stated that from the beginning you determined not to recommend an indictment of the president since the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) ruling wouldn't allow prosecution of a sitting president.   You said that to recommend indictment without the possibility of a trial would rob the president of his due process rights. If that is the case, why did you lay out all the potential evidence of obstruction of justice? Aren't you guilty of doing what James Comey was accused of doing; besmirching a person's reputation, but then not indicting?

    If not for the OLC guidance, do you think there is evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that the president committed obstruction of justice?

    Is the evidence such that you think the government would prevail if it went to court?

    If no, shouldn't you have said as much in your report?

    If you do think the government would prevail in court, do you believe your difference of opinion with Attorney General Barr on this matter is due to an honest disagreement on the law, or is Bill Barr acting as the president's lawyer instead of the people's lawyer?

    If you do think the government would prevail in court, why not a sealed indictment to be unsealed after the president leaves office. By failing to do that, aren't you contradicting the premise that the government has a winnable case?

    Director Mueller, do you recognize the name Joseph Mifsud?

    Olga Polanskaya?

    Is the last name Obaid familiar at all?

    Do you recognize the name Stefan Halper?

    Asra Turk?

    Arvinder Sambei

    Svetlana Lokhova?

    Henry Oknyansky?

    Alexei Rasin?

    Do you recognize the last name Claggett?  Someone who may have been implicated in offering information to Trump Campaign official Michael Caputo about missing Hillary Clinton emails?

    On the subject of Mike Flynn:

    It has been reported in the media that there were concerns about certain contacts General Flynn had had with Russians as early as February 2014.  Are you familiar with those media reports?

    Prior to the FBI investigation into General Flynn's conversation with Russian Ambassador Kislyak, was General Flynn under investigation by any agencies of the Federal Government based on the concerns described by those media reports?

    I asked earlier about Stefan Halper and Svetlana Lokhova. Ms Lokhova is a Russian born British citizen who is a historian in Cambridge with a research interest in Soviet era espionage.  She claims that in February 2014, she was invited by Stefan Halper to a dinner sponsored by the Cambridge Security Initiative where General Flynn was a guest.  She believes the purpose of her being invited was so that her host Stefan Halper could later start and spread a rumor that General Flynn had had an illicit and unreported contact with a woman of Russian origin.  Based on your investigation into General Flynn's having lied to the FBI regarding his discussions with Ambassador Kislyak, were you aware of these other allegations?

    If so, do you believe there is any truth to those other allegations against General Flynn?

    General Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about a conversation he had with Russian Ambassador Kislyak. How did the FBI become aware of the true nature of General Flynn's conversation?

    Did that information flow directly to the FBI through authorized channels?

    Was there any point in the flow of that information from its source to the FBI that the information could be said to have been leaked in an unauthorized fashion?

    If yes, is that leak being investigated?

    At any point in the discovery of the true nature of this conversation was an unmasking request made to formally identify General Flynn, and if so, by whom?

    It's been reported in the media that the FBI agent who interviewed General Flynn came away with the impression that General Flynn had been truthful in his interview, yet you had him plead guilty to making false statements. Can you clear up that discrepancy?

    Returning to the subject of Stefan Halper:

     I searched the Report for the name of Stefan Halper, but it wasn't there.  Quite a few people whose names do appear in your report have met Stefan HalperStefan Halper met with Carter Page at a symposium in Cambridge July 11-12, and several other times later in Halper's home in Virginia.  Stefan Halper met with Sam Clovis, then National Co-chairman of the Trump Campaign, and offered to help him with the Campaign.  Stefan Halper flew George Papadopoulos to London, put him up in a hotel, and paid him $3000 to write a research paper.  Oh, and he introduced him to his research assistant, Asra Turk, who the press seems to think may not be who she claims to be.  Is there a reason why someone who has had contacts with so many people of interest in your report didn't themselves warrant a mention in the report?

    Is it possible that the name Stefan Halper may come up in Michael Horowitz pending IG Report, or is this a sources and methods issue?

    The FBI claims that Crossfire Hurricane, the investigation into Russian interference into the 2016 election, and possible involvement by members of the Trump campaign, began on July 31, 2016.  Is it possible that Stefan Halper was working for somebody other than the FBI when he started contacting members of the Trump campaign in the middle of July?  Perhaps one of the intelligence services, either ours or the Brits?

    Alternatively, is it possible that the FBI was being less than forthcoming when they stated their investigation didn't begin until the end of July?

    We know that you were aware of the potential conflict of interest present when the Peter Strzok and Lisa Page text messages were discovered.  You dismissed them from your team.  One of those texts from Strzok to Page from Dec 28, 2015 states "You get all our oconus lures approved?"  Do you have any idea what that text might have referred to?

    Could Stefan Halper, Asra Turk, Olga Polanskaya, and perhaps Joseph Mifsud be among the lures he was referring to?

    How about Alexander Downer or Arvinder Sambei?

    On the subject of Henry Oknyansky aka Henry Greenberg aka Gennadiy Vasilievich Vostretsov:

     On page 69 of the Mueller Report you describe the efforts of a man named Henry Oknyansky who contacted Michael Caputo from the Trump campaign in late May, to provide him with derogatory information about Hillary Clinton. You describe a meeting which took place in which Oknyansky and a Ukrainian man named Alexei Rasin met with Roger Stone. Your report suggests Oknyansky says Caputo was present at the meeting, but Caputo says he was not.  Caputo claims he sent Stone.  Caputo says you should know Caputo was not present as you apparently have text messages and emails from Caputo to support his version of events. Yet, you leave the narrative in your report to suggest that it is an unresolved he said he said situation. Do you have evidence to dispute Caputo's claim that he was not present at the meeting?

    Caputo has expressed the opinion that Oknyansky was likely an FBI asset directed at Caputo in an attempt to link Caputo and the Trump campaign with efforts to gather derogatory information about Hillary Clinton from Russian sources. Caputo states he has evidence of a 2015 court filing (Pg 19 Greenberg Dossier) where Oknyansky claims to have worked on behalf of the FBI for the past 17 years.  Caputo also claims to have evidence of multiple FBI related visa waivers for Osnyansky despite a lengthy violent criminal background in both the U.S. and  his native Russia.

    Was Henry Oknyansky working for the FBI?

    Was Rasin?

    Do you have any information suggesting Oknyansky or Rasin were FBI or other government assets directed at Caputo and the Trump campaign?

    Speaking of Michael Caputo:

    Caputo also claims that on May 9, 2016 he was approached through an intermediary by a man named Claggett claiming he was a former NSA contractor with knowledge that the NSA had missing Hillary Clinton emails. Caputo now believes this was also an attempt to entrap him into accepting stolen documents on behalf of the Trump campaign, some of which might contain classified material. Do you know of any such operation by any agency of the US government to contact Mr. Caputo or any other official or former official of the Trump campaign?

    On the subject of George Papadopoulos:

    The “overseas professor” referred to on Page 2 of the 5 October 2017 Statement of the Offense against George Papadopoulos was subsequently identified in the press and more recently in the Mueller Report as Joseph Mifsud. You refer to this professor as someone whom Mr. Papadopoulos

     “understood to have substantial connections to Russian government officials.” 

    I'm impressed by your turn of phrase here. He understood it to be the case. That's interesting. Some in the press have implied that Joseph Mifsud is an agent of the Russian government.  Were you implying that Professor Mifsud actually was a Russian agent?

    Do you believe Professor Mifsud is or was an agent for the Russian government?

    Professor Mifsud has been labeled by other members of the press as an intelligence asset of a Western government. Do you believe Professor Mifsud is or was an intelligence agent or asset of a Western government?

    Also on Page 2 of the charging document, you refer to a “Female Russian National” whom Mr Papadopoulos met on or about 24 March, 2016. In your Report, you identify her as Olga Polanskaya, whom Mifsud introduced as a former student of his who had connections to Vladimir Putin.  Papadopoulos told the FBI, he had been led to believe she was in fact Putin's niece.  Do you believe Olga Polanskaya is her real name?

    Do you believe Olga Polanskaya is an agent or asset of the Russian government either by that name or any other name?

    Do you believe Olga Polanskaya is an agent or asset of  Western intelligence or law enforcement, either by that name or any other name?

    Two of the three lies Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to related to whether he met Mifsud and the  “Female Russian National” before or after he joined the Trump campaign. Papadopoulos agreed to join the campaign in early March 2016, but the announcement wasn't made until March 21, 2016. Papadopoulos met Mifsud on March 14, 2016; after accepting the position with the Campaign, but before it was publicly announced.   He met Polanskaya, the Female Russian National on March 24, 2016; three days after the announcement.  Contrary to what Papadopoulos told FBI investigators, both meetings were after he had accepted the position. One meeting took place before the announcement and the other after the announcement. Is that correct?

    The date of the interview when Papadopoulos told these lies was January 27, 2017, roughly 10 months later, is that correct?

    Did it occur to your investigators that after 10 months had passed, Papadopoulos might have simply misremembered the exact dates when he met Mifsud and Polanskaya relative to the date he accepted a position on the campaign, these dates all being clustered in March of 2016?

    The third and final lie that Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to was that he claimed that Professor Mifsud was “a nothing” and “just a guy talk[ing] up connections or something” when in fact Papadopoulos “understood that the professor had substantial connections to Russian government officials”. There's that very carefully worded phrase again, “understood that the professor had substantial connections to Russian government officials.” Papadopoulos may have understood that in March of 2016 when he first met Mifsud, but did Papadopoulos still understand that to be the case ten months later in January 2017, when his FBI questioning took place?  By then, as your charging document makes clear, no arrangements had been made for any meetings between Trump and the Russian government. Your charging document makes clear that was why Papadopoulos was pursuing the connections to Mifsud and Polanskaya. By January 2017, it would have been obvious to Mr. Papadopoulos that he'd been scammed by these two. They never could deliver a meeting as they'd promised. Furthermore, Papadopoulos had by then discovered that Putin didn't have a niece.  Might George Ppapdopoulos have been telling the truth when he referred to Mifsud as “a nothing” and “just a guy talk[ing] up connections or something?”

    On Page 201 of the Mueller Report, you state that Joseph Mifsud was questioned on February 10, 2017 in the lobby of a Washington, DC hotel. Unlike many of the other interviews mentioned in your report, there is no footnoted 302 reference for that interview.  Why was that?

    Is it customary practice for an interview of this sort to be conducted in a hotel lobby?

    Who actually conducted this interview?  Was it members of the FBI, members of your staff?  Who?

    In your Report, you state,

    “During that interview, Mifsud admitted to knowing Papadopoulos and to having introduced him to Polonskaya and Timofeev [an official from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs]. But Mifsud denied that he had advance knowledge that Russia was in possession of emails damaging to candidate Clinton, stating that he and Papadopoulos had discussed cybersecurity and hacking as a larger issue and that Papadopoulos must have misunderstood their conversation.  Mifsud also falsely stated that he had not seen Papadopoulos since the meeting at which Mifsud introduced him to Polonskaya, even though emails, text messages, and other information show that Mifsud met with Papadopoulos on at least two other occasions - April 12 and April 26, 2016.  In addition, Mifsud omitted that he had drafted (or edited) the follow-up message that Polonskaya sent to Papadopoulos following the initial meeting and that, as reflected in the language of that email chain ("Baby, thank you!"), Mifsud may have been involved in a personal relationship with Polonskaya at the time. The false information and omissions in Papadopoulos's January 2017 interview undermined investigators' ability to challenge Mifsud when he made these inaccurate statements."   

    Papadopoulos told the FBI that Mifsud told him about the Russians having "dirt" on Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of emails. Mifsud claims otherwise. Papadopoulos says it happened.  Mifsud says it didn't.  Somebody must be lying.   In charging Papadopoulos, you say it did happen, and in fact, the FBI is claiming that Papadopoulos's informing a representative of a foreign government of this fact formed the basis of the entire Russia investigation. Is it reasonable, therefore, to presume that Joseph Mifsud lied to investigators in that DC hotel lobby?  And not just about emails, but about further meetings with Papadopoulos and his relationship with Polanskaya?

    If Joseph Mifsud lied to investigators, why have we not heard of an indictment against Joseph Mifsud?

    Is there a sealed indictment somewhere with his name on it?

    Back to the hotel lobby for a moment.  This interview took place on February 10, 2017.  Do you know why Joseph Mifsud was in Washington, DC on the 10th of February?

    Mifsud was in Washington to speak at the large annual conference for Global Ties U.S., an organization that has been a partner of the U.S. State Department for over 50 years. Several State Department officials also spoke at the conference.  Mifsud sure has a lot of western affiliations for somebody who some in the press are portraying as a Russian spy.  Does that concern you?

    In the Statement of the Offense, page one is an introduction of sorts.  Page two describes the actual offense, lying to the FBI.  Then pages 3-9 list a timeline of extraneous information about Mr. Papadopoulos's contacts with Mifsud, Polanskaya, and one Ivan Timofeev an official with the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  The timeline includes details of Papadopoulos's efforts on behalf of the campaign, all quite legal, to arrange a meeting between Candidate Trump and the Russian government.  One page for the offense.  Seven pages for the extraneous and quite legal actions of Mr. Papadopoulos.  Is it possible that Page 2 was for the court, and pages 3-9 were for the press?

    On page 97 of the Mueller report, we learn about the meeting where Professor Mifsud tells George Papadopoulos about the damaging information the Russians have about Hillary Clinton. I'm curious about the phrasing of the narrative.

    “During that meeting, Mifsud told Papadopoulos that he had met with high-level Russian government officials during his recent trip to Moscow. Mifsud also said that, on the trip, he learned that the Russians had obtained "dirt" on candidate Hillary Clinton.”

    I noticed that you never say here that Mifsud says they have emails. Just “dirt”, and you put that in quotes. You never claim in your narrative that Mifsud actually said anything about emails.  Is it your position that Mifsud mentioned emails, or just dirt?

    Then you go on to say,

    “As Papadopoulos later stated to the FBI, Mifsud said that the "dirt" was in the form of "emails of Clinton," and that they "have thousands of emails."

    So Papadopoulos told the FBI that the dirt was in the form of emails.  But as far as I can tell, nobody else ever mentions emails.  Not Mifsud, and not the representative of a foreign government to whom Papadopoulos later spoke.

    For instance, later:

    “On May 6, 2016, 10 days after that meeting with Mifsud, Papadopoulos suggested to a representative of a foreign government that the Trump Campaign had received indications from the Russian government that it could assist the Campaign through the anonymous release of information that would be damaging to Hillary Clinton”

    Once again, there is no mention of emails.  This informant, this "representative of a former government", doesn't appear to have mentioned emails either.  Is it your position that the representative of the foreign government who later reported his conversation with Papadopoulos to the FBI said they discussed emails or only an anonymous release of information that would be damaging to Hillary Clinton?

    We now know that this representative of a foreign government was Alexander Downer, an Australian diplomat.  He has stated publicly that no mention was made in their conversation of emails.

    So we are informed that Papadopoulos told the FBI that Mifsud said the Russians had emails, but we're told the representative of a foreign government only represented the conversation as "an anonymous release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton."

    Nowhere in your narrative do you claim that anybody but Papadopoulos in his January 2017 interview says anything about emails.

    So my question is this: Without all the deceptive shrouding of the facts, can you tell me if it is your position that Professor Mifsud ever mentioned anything about emails, or did he only say “dirt”?

    And furthermore, is it your position that the representative of the foreign government claims to have been told about emails, or only that the Campaign “had received indications from the Russian government that it could assist the Campaign through the anonymous release of information that would be damaging to Hillary Clinton?”

    Director Mueller, we are told that the FBI initiated this investigation on 31 July, 2016 following a communication from Alexander Downer who, after learning of hacked DNC emails, informed the FBI that Trump campaign staffer George Papadopoulos had told him about an April 2016 discussion about stolen emails.  And the way the narrative in your report reads, it sounds like the report supports that position.  But once you parse out what was really testified to, another picture emerges.  It looks to me as if your narrative was constructed in such a way as to imply that it corroborates the FBI's position, but in fact it does not.  I believe your report was written in such a way as to deliberately mislead the public on this critical point.  We now know that Mifsud never mentioned emails, and Downer never claimed Papadopoulos told him anything about emails.  I'm confused, and I'm inclined to doubt the story put out by the FBI and deceptively supported by the narrative in your report that Papadopoulos was the reason we got the Russia investigation?  Can you resolve this for me please?  Can you clear up my confusion?  Can you dispel my doubts?

    Director Mueller, can you understand why many of us don't believe the FBI's story about how and particularly when this investigation began and on what it was predicated?  On the one hand, there is evidence of Confidential Human Sources (Mifsud and Polanskaya) already probing the Trump campaign as early as the middle of March 2016.  Then there were several other suspicious contacts in May and early July (Oknyanksy, Rasin, Halper, and Turk.)  Furthermore, based on what we actually know about various conversations with George Papadopoulos, it seems implausible that he was really the spark that lit that fire.  In fact, what emerges is a scenario where it seems much more likely that an intentional distortion of the facts surrounding George Papadopoulos was used as an excuse after the fact to falsely claim a justification for the Obama Justice Department, the FBI, and the Intelligence Community to start an investigation into a rival political campaign; an investigation that may have started as early as December 2015.

    A note on the FBI's tactics here, if in fact it was the FBI orchestrating all of this:

    It's worth pointing out that there has been a remarkable amount of consistency here in the tactics used to try and entrap the various members of the Trump Campaign.  In April of 2016, we have Mifsud dangling the so called "dirt" on Hillary Clinton.  In early May, it's the NSA contractor Claggett dangling the elusive promise of Clinton emails to Michael Caputo.  In late May it's Henry Oknyansky dangling derogatory Clinton information to Michael Caputo and Roger Stone.  And of course, we all know about the June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower where the Russian lawyer Veselnitskaya was dangling derogatory Clinton information about the unsavory sources of one of Hillary's campaign contributors.  Everybody has been obsessing about how the folks in that meeting in Trump Tower would have been willing to accept derogatory information if only it had proven more useful.  I'm not shocked or surprised that Don Jr took the meeting.  I'll be honest with you.  I'm surprised more of the parties being coaxed with this information did not take the bait.  The offers were coming in fast and furious in the first half of 2016.  Now one might argue that the Trump Tower lawyer was a Russian.  Nothing to do with the FBI.  True, but this Russian lawyer was also working with Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS.  And do we know how the details and purpose of that meeting were first revealed to the public?  We first became aware of this meeting more than a year after it took place.  On 8 July, 2017, the New York Times published the story that revealed this meeting.  Here is the first paragraph of the story:

    "Two weeks after Donald J. Trump clinched the Republican presidential nomination last year, his eldest son arranged a meeting at Trump Tower in Manhattan with a Russian lawyer who has connections to the Kremlin, according to confidential government records described to The New York Times."

    "According to confidential government records described to The New York Times."  Well isn't that special.  I wonder how that information came into the possession of the New York Times.  Good journalism?  Or maybe somebody in a position of power with an agenda to execute?  We don't have time in this hearing to even begin delving into what sorts of convoluted relationships are implied by the connections between the Deep State, Fusion GPS, and the Russian lawyer, but someday soon, somebody should probably look into that.  By the way Director Mueller, did you ever interview Ms Veselnitskaya or Glenn Simpson?

    Back to Joseph Mifsud and the Link Campus in Rome: 

    Footnote 454 on Pg 96 of the Mueller Report refers to an email from Mifsud to Papadopoulos and Obaid.  A quick Google search and I come up with a Saudi family named Obaid who are affiliated with the Link Campus in Rome.   I'll come back to the Link Campus in a moment, but first:

    Apparently, there is a Saudi charity called the Essam & Dalal Obaid Foundation (EDOF), and it is run by four members of the Obaid family.  Tarek Obaid, the founder; Dalal Obaid, the Chairwoman; Dr. Nawaf Obaid, the CEO; and Karim Obaid, the Executive Vice President.   This charity joined forces in May of 2017 with the Link Campus in Rome to form  The Centre for War and Peace Studies.  The first Director of this Centre was, coincidentally, the mysterious Joseph Mifsud.  I'm not quite sure what if anything all this means, but if for no other reason than that there appears to be an intersection here between Joseph Mifsud, the Link Campus, the Obaids, and George Papadopoulos, I thought it might be worthwhile to ask, which Obaid was referred to in the Mifsud email to Papadopoulos?

    Why was this Obaid person included in the discussion.  Would this committee find anything of interest in that email beyond what we already know about Professor Mifsud and George Papadopoulos?

    The Link Campus is a private (for-profit) university with accreditation from Italy's education ministry. There are six Italian politicians on its governing body – two of them former foreign ministers – and it is also reputed to have links with Italian intelligence services. One of the university's courses is an MA degree in Intelligence and Security.  It was on a trip to the Link Campus on the insistance of London Centre for International Law Practice colleague Arvinder Sambei, that George Papadopoulos first met fellow LCILP colleague Joseph Mifsud.  Oddly, the LCILP urged Papadopoulos to make this trip after he announced that he was leaving to join the Trump Campaign.  The Link Campus has been discussed in the press quite a bit of late.  It is comprised of quite a prominent faculty of diplomats, politicians, intelligence personnel and law enforcement officials.  Many of the references I've read portray the place as some sort of an international spy school. If all this is true, shouldn't we be worried that the nefarious Joseph Mifsud has so many connections to this place?  As Lee Smith wrote in a May 30, 2018 story for Real Clear Investigations:

    "If Mifsud truly is a Russian agent – which is key to the collusion narrative – he could prove to be one of the most promiscuous spies in modern history. Western intelligence agencies and European politicians would have to spend the next few decades repairing the damage he did to global security by infiltrating key institutions and personnel. As of yet, however, there is no indication that any intelligence service has begun the embarrassing, but highly important, assessment of how it was penetrated and how it can re-fortify the vulnerabilities that Mifsud may have exposed. There has been no public effort to arrest him." 

    Director Mueller, you are in a position to know whether Joseph Mifsud poses a risk to Western Intelligence.  Is he a Russian spy, or is he one of us?  Should we be concerned?

    If we should be concerned, have you informed the relevant agencies of the nature of the threat?

    If he is a spy, don't many western intelligence agencies have a lot to answer for?

    If not, then should we be skeptical of the FBI's claim to have initiated the Trump/Russia collusion investigation on the basis of Mifsud's conversation with George Popadopoulos?  Isn't it more likely that Mifsud was really a Confidential Human Source directed at the Trump Campaign by the FBI or one of the western Intelligence agencies, either ours or one of our allies?

    One final series of questions Director Mueller.  Once more for the record, just so I am clear on your position here.  You've spent 22 months on this investigation,  at an estimated cost of somewhere between $25 million and $35 million, depending on who you believe. According to Attorney General William Barr's letter to Congress dated 24 March, 2019, you employed 19 lawyers who were assisted by a team of approximately 40 FBI agents, intelligence forensic accountants, and other professional staff. You issued more than 2,800 subpoenas, executed nearly 500 search warrants, obtained more than 230 orders for communication records, issued almost 50 orders authorizing use of pen registers, made 13 requests to foreign governments for evidence, and interviewed approximately 500 witnesses.  Is that more or less accurate?

    Did your investigation establish that the Russians interfered with the 2016 presidential election?

    Did your investigation establish that the Russian interference changed the results of that election?

    Did your investigation establish that any Americans, including any members of the Trump Campaign,  knowingly participated, coordinated, or conspired in those Russian efforts to influence the election?

    Keeping in mind that your task was never to exonerate, but only to recommend or decline to recommend indictments, did your investigation establish that the President obstructed justice?

    Did your investigation establish that Joseph Mifsud was an agent of the Russian government, an agent of a friendly government, or would you rather not say?

    Did your investigation establish that Olga Polanskaya was an agent of the Russian government, an agent of a friendly government, or would you rather not say?

    Did your investigation establish that Henry Greenberg, either by that name or any of his aliases, was an agent of the Russian government, an agent of a friendly government, or would you rather not say?

    Did your investigation establish that Alexei Rasin was an agent of the Russian government, an agent of a friendly government, or would you rather not say?

    Did your investigation establish that Svetlana Lokhova was an agent of the Russian government, an innocent bystander, or would you rather not say?

    Based on the results of your investigation, is there anything you can tell us about the actions of  Stephan Halper, Asra Turk, and a certain Mr. Claggett who approached Michael Caputo, or would you rather not say?

    In the instances above where you would rather not say, would that be due to concerns about disclosing sources and methods, or would you rather not say?

    Thank you Director Mueller.  I have no further questions at this time.