Fake Whistleblower: no quid pro quo on Ukraine call
Turns out the "whistleblower" story is a dud, just as suspected. Presidents can conduct foreign policy pretty much how they please, and Trump wasn't linking financial or military aid to the investigation of Biden. Rather, he was pressuring Ukraine to investigate a former Vice President who allegedly (and to some extent admittedly!) engaged in corrupt acts with US funds in an attempt to interfere with the US elections. Bear in mind here that conditioning US funds on conducting an investigation is not necessarily illegal; the problems come when the investigations are themselves fake or corrupt (Manafort and the black ledger; and Biden pressuring them to drop an investigation of his son). Certainly conditioning US aid packages on investigating political opponents would be questionable. Allowing investigations of the same conduct less so.
First, I don't trust Barr or Trump on guns. Barr has history on the issue, and it's not favorable. Trump is a rich guy from New York City; New York City has unfavorable attitudes on guns. Trump has relied on gun owners for political support to some degree, but he's not a gun rights advocate in the sense that many of us are.
Second, I have a policy that the antis get nothing for free. This fact sheet has nothing for us, only things against us. It's a non-starter like that, if you want support from us.
The fact sheet focuses on "advertised commercial sales", which is not well defined, but which I suspect is intended to cover sales at gun shows and sales via internet sites like gunbroker which are currently considered private sales between individuals. It creates a new class of FFLs who do not hold inventory but can conduct background checks. It imposes recordkeeping requirements on sellers and/or the FFL who conducts the background check. It produces a criminal referral for every failed background check (which seems OK, but is hugely problematic when you realize that many background checks come back failed for non-criminal reasons that are eventually cleared up.
And it purports to target "gun smugglers" which was the exact excuse used by the BATFE under Obama to justify Fast and Furious.
If Trump knows what's good for him politically, he'll back off this proposal. If he insists on presenting it, it had better come with national CCW reciprocity or some other positive.
Ex-DOJ and SpyGate figure Andrew McCabe is clearly feeling the walls closing in, to turn a phrase. Last week, he was claiming practically the whole Obama administration would show up at his trial as character witnesses... until they denied it. This week, he's preemptively announcing -- before any indictment is announced -- that he will never take a plea deal. The combination says very interesting things about his state of mind, and I think we are seeing negotiations play out in public view here.
Mccabe's first big public splash was probably a call out to people he thinks are his allies, along with a bit of a veiled threat: "Help me! We must hang together, or we will surely all hang separately!" But.. the answer he got to that was a big, fat nope. People said no. Clearly he was the sacrifice that was being offered.
So, denied the help he expected from his friends, he realized that he really is being offered up. And he panics, in a sophisticated sort of way. He says -- publicly and with emphasis -- that he will never cut a deal. He's clearly afraid of being Epsteined. (Something that appears to be common recently).
There's another level to this too. The Clinton/Obama team are offering up McCabe for reasons besides the obvious. McCabe's sins, at least that he is in danger of indictment at the moment for, are basically leaking about the Clinton email investigation. Clinton and Obama can spin that as McCabe betraying the inner circle. He turned and so he gets hung out to dry. They might close ranks if Trump and Barr try for more.
I have to say, I feel a lot better about the possibility of McCabe getting indicted now, watching him squirm, than I did last week.
Richard Stallman forced to resign from MIT over a simple opinion
Despite literally a lifetime of contributions to computer science in general and the free software movement specifically, a media firestorm over a few misconstrued remarks are going to force him out of his position.
Two reporters propagandists wrote articles alleging sexual assault by Justice Kavanaugh (of course, long before he was nominated to the bench). They left out of the article the fact that their alleged victim refused to speak to them and her friends said she had no memory of the alleged incident. They were aware of that -- it's in their book -- but left it out of their articles and book promotions.
It hasn't been used in the positive ways people think it should be because it's hard to overcome judicial inertia, I think... and also because no one with money wants to litigate the NFA on those grounds. It's trickier than it looks to put together a winning case that doesn't also lose us something. And, if we're being honest, at the Supreme Court level the justices aren't really ruling on the merits of the case in something like this. For something this foundational, they're going to end up ruling on politics. The benefit of a long campaign of minor victories in a legal campaign is that it makes the politics embarrassing to the losing side.
What if Hickenlooper has already been exposed as a two-faced Janus to the gun rights community due to his actions as governor of Colorado? The Democrats are unlikely to care much, but the Republican centrists and independents with a gun rights flavor are unlikely to accept Hickenlooper as any kind of moderate candidate.
It's now generally accepted, if not 100% proven, that the Trump Tower meeting between Trump campaign officials and a mysterious Russian woman was set up by Fusion GPS. Among other evidence, the woman met with Fusion GPS both before and after the meeting. And, of course, Fusion GPS was working with the Hillary campaign and Christopher Steele to convince the FBI to investigate the Trump campaign for Russian collusion that did not exist.
As far as I know, this is new information, and it would be devastating to the FBI's narrative if they were directing Sater to encourage deals with the Russians while they were trying to investigate the Trump campaign for Russian connections. And, yes, the Russian building angle has been used in various Democrat attempts to smear Trump, most particularly with respect to Cohen's congressional testimony.
And, conveniently, Sater was mentioned in the Mueller report several times but not his status as an informant. That's not necessarily surprising (it's reasonable to put a high priority on protecting the names of sources) but when those sources are being used to entrap innocent people and conduct a political coup, the public interest outweighs the secrecy.
So, is the intended narrative shift that the FBI political surveillance operation dating all the way back to 2012 (and Obama's re-election campaign against Romney, shortly before the Tea Party IRS spying operation began to be exposed in 2013) was necessary to engage in counterintelligence against this Russian threat?
Scandal-free presidency my ass. Obama's been out of office for years and we're still uncovering what he did.
So why recycle this when they lost the first time?
I suspect it's a combination of three things:
1) They know SpyGate revelations are coming and need to get their base distracted and fired up to keep the news cycle focused somewhere else;
2) They know Ruth Bader Ginsburg, recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, has a very small chance of surviving a second Trump term;
3) If Trump gets another seat, no matter from who, the Left will have lost their control of the court until at least 2025, if not longer.
So the attacks on Kavanaugh serve as battlespace prep for the likely Supreme Court nomination to come, a form of intimidation against anyone Trump might nominate, as well as a useful distraction from the possible SpyGate news. Possibly, also, a shiny impeachment object to throw at their base instead of trying to impeach Trump.
The full transcript of a call between Trump lawyers and Flynn lawyers has been released by the judge overseeing Flynn's sentencing. A partial transcript of the conversation was included in the Mueller report as one of the claimed instances where Trump might have obstructed justice. The basic claim is that Trump was dangling a potential pardon for Flynn in return for a "heads up" about information that "implicates the President". Transcript here.
Problems with this: No pardon was dangled. Trump's lawyer basically said Trump still likes Flynn. This is entirely reliant on implication.
No confidential information was requested. The Executive branch has legal privileges that it may need to assert with respect to anything Flynn tells the special counsel. And as national security advisor (even briefly) Flynn would also have information relevant to national security generally.
The conversation was between two lawyers and thus subject to attorney-client privilege.
In the same story, we find out that Mueller's legal team refused to provide the judge with full transcripts of other recordings they have of Flynn, or make public any additional information they have. That's suggestive that the full transcripts support Flynn's story rather than the FBI's story, and likely that the FBI has many more transcripts of Flynn's conversations than they have admitted (indicating he was personally under surveillance). We'll see how well the judge takes that refusal.
I speculated about the possibility that Carter Page was a cooperating target some time ago. It was just speculation, and it's still just speculation. While that would make the FBI's life easier in some ways, it would still be a fraud on the court. I don't think that would be a get out of jail free card for anyone, especially as there are likely other FISA targets.
Andrew McCarthy thinks it is unlikely the grand jury voted against indictment, suggesting that sealed charges, a more complicated case (ie, prosecutors want more time), or just jurors wanting more information is a more likely explanation. Those are all reasonable possibilities, but they mostly rely on the idea that it's easy to get a grand jury indictment (the classic "ham sandwich" case).
What bothers me is that that only applies if the prosecutor actually wants an indictment. If they want a no-bill they can blame on the jury, that seems like something they could easily arrange.
The FBI under Wray is trying to keep secret information that would likely (according to Solomon's sources) cast doubt on the veracity and credibility of Steele's information, which was used days later to apply for a surveilance warrant from the FISC. While we have only seen redacted versions of that document publicly, the FISA does state that no negative information about Steele as known. We've already seen other messages from Kavalec (at State) to the FBI about Steele and his information -- messages that noted major flaws such as the reference to a non-existent Russian consulate in Miami.
Wray is abusing the classification system to try to protect bad actors at the FBI from the consequences of their actions, along with, perhaps, the reputation of his agency. But neither deserves that protection.
The way to protect the reputation of the FBI is to root out the bad actors and subject them to the full force of the law for their transgressions, and then reform the policies and procedures as necessary to prevent any repeat offenses.
That should start with Wray. Obstruction of justice seems appropriate.
Beto wants credit card companies to impose gun control
The Left have been nibbling around the edges of this idea for a while, but this is the first time I've noticed one of their candidates pushing it openly instead of trying to sneak it in through the back door with pressure from regulators quietly. They think that with the NRA distracted they can run on this and break the ability of gun owners to stop their gun confiscation laws. That's pretty bad. Worse, though, is that they can try to apply this sort of pressure outside of traditional political channels. They don't even have to win elections or appoint biddable judges. They think they can do it with public relations pressure on a few key gatekeepers. Let's make sure they are wrong.
This is supposed to be the big kahuna, the report that breaks the scandal wide open and puts people in jail. While we may see a lot of information become public, I've grown skeptical on Barr's ability and desire to bring actual prosecutions. Notably, we got this news on Friday the 13th, the week of 9-11, in the late afternoon. That's where stories go to die. And the IG is an Obama appointee who has already whitewashed the Clinton investigation.
There are still review steps that need to take place before any actual release, so if the usual pattern holds, we'll see leaks from the report designed to spin it as much as possible before it is actually released. Any big SpyGate news breaks in the next few weeks, figure that's what it is doing, and read it closely.
Read the whole thing. I'm not 100% sure I agree with the premise -- that the generation usually known as the Millennials is really made up of two extremely polarized groups driving the current political conflict -- but I'm not 100% sure I reject it either. The left-ward side fits: Antifa, gender and pronoun police, and so on. I'm just not seeing so much of the other side of that coin. Some, to be sure.
is his connection to Ruby Ridge. If he was willing to cover up what happened there, where 3 innocent people died, why would he be unwilling to cover up FISA abuse and political spying? And even if Barr is honest and trying to expose the abuse -- still an open question -- then wouldn't his involvement in Ruby Ridge serve as leverage to the people at the FBI and DOJ desperately trying to cover their asses in the present?
McCabe is merely the first of many scapegoats and fall guys to be offered up to assuage the public fury. But notice how "it was unclear... whether that would happen". Jessie Liu, who has already made decisions not to prosecute other SpyGate figures, doesn't want to go out on a limb publicly and recommend against for McCabe. But there are other people who can say no, and the grand jury itself (convened in DC) might decline. A prosecutor who doesn't really want to indict can easily convince a grand jury to make that decision for her.
And still not even a hint of charges for Comey, Brennan, Clapper, Nellie, Strzok... never mind the real decision-makers, Clinton and Obama.
They claimed they lost their own notes and are still refusing to produce evidence Flynn's new lawyer can describe with specificity. Note that they aren't denying it exists; they just won't give it to the defense. There are also allegations that additional Page/Strzok messages were withheld, along with evidence Mifsud was working for the FBI.