Treasury whistleblower: Obama admin used Treasury to spy on Flynn, others
Including Congress, Manafort, senior staff on the Trump campaign, and Trump family members. At some point it has to become obvious that only the White House could be coordinating all these agencies, and that the targeting must be political. In fact the whistleblower says having a political predicate was routine.
It's now clear that Obama treated the United States exactly as a third-world dictator would.
He's doing it by executive order, which I find a bit questionable, but I don't know if he has that authority under Kentucky law. Clearly he thinks he does.
As a policy matter this is a complex topic. As a political matter, the Democrats are clearly implementing this policy for electoral purposes, the same way they encourage illegal immigration and resist voter id laws. Any state they take temporary control of, they immediately seek to strengthen their hold on.
Even California is being forced to admit they have a voter fraud problem.
Politics -- voting and elections -- are a system that controls billions of dollars in public funds that is ripe for the taking. Of course the unscrupulous will look for ways to cheat. We need to take reasonable measures to secure our elections systems (voter id being one of them, and cleaning the voter rolls being another). Until we do, politicians will find ways to game the system.
Will Trump be charged with campaign finance violations?
Andy McCarthy thinks so. I don't, but mostly because DOJ policy forbids indicting a sitting president. I think Mueller will write a report saying he would have indicted Trump if Trump was not the president. He will then pass it off to Congress and invite them to consider impeachment.
Will they? The Democrats just took the House. Of course they will at least consider it. They have the votes to do it if everyone votes straight party. They can even afford to lose quite a few weak seats if they want to try to protect them. On the other hand, trying to get Trump removed from the Senate is a political non-starter, needing 67 votes when they have only 47 or so. So, to the extent that they try to impeach, they will use it as a political weapon to damage his reelection chances.
Should they? Using very weak campaign finance charges combined with even weaker lying about sex and/or lying about Moscow hotel deals, all taking place before Trump became president, none of which at this point appears to involve Trump directly but merely his campaign, to try to remove a president is facially absurd. So far there's basically no proven personal nexus to Trump's actions; campaign finance violations are usually cured by fines not felonies; Trump has the "I trusted my lawyer to do it legally" defense; Cohen's cooperation and credibility have been destroyed by his admissions of lying and the violation of attorney-client privilege. You couldn't get a conviction in an ordinary court after the necessary cross-examination and tossing out of the tainted evidence.
Historically, lots of presidents have had various affairs, including payoffs, without facing impeachment. Clinton did face impeachment for lying about it, but not removed... and his impeachment was considered one of the biggest political mistakes in modern history. (I supported it, but mostly because of all the other crap he had done, ie, Waco, etc). Edwards, as a candidate in the primary, was charged with campaign finance violations for paying off his mistress in a similar but not identical scheme. He was not convicted, as I recall.
Mark Levin has convincingly argued that using personal money to make such payoffs is both legal and necessary as they are not "campaign expenses", which would negate any disclosure requirements. (Edwards used money from supporters to make the payoffs; the exact financial structure of Trump's payoffs is unknown).
As a layman, all I can tell you is that campaign finance laws are a legal morass that appears to be impossible to avoid violating. Politicians are regularly caught up in violations and pay fines. I can't recall any of them being removed from office over the matter.
What follows is my own summary of key information from the interview, but I urge you to listen to the whole interview at a minimum.
George was working (unknowingly) for an CIA-FBI front group. His employers set up the meeting with Mifsud (the supposed Russian agent) in a facility in Rome used to train western intelligence agents. The person who set up the meeting is the FBI's chief legal counsel in the UK. The people introducing Mifsud's companion as "Putin's niece" (she's not) were Director-level positions at the center, meaning they are all in the scheme.
George speculates (based on two news sources contacting him to ask about it) that there was a FISA warrant on him. That would be an explosive bombshell revelation, because we have only heard about the FISA warrant on Carter Page so far.
George describes traveling to Israel and being arrested and interrogated about social media campaign influence in the US. "Arrested" is perhaps an understatement; he said he was afraid for his life. (These were the people who gave him $10K intended to entrap him on returning to the US; George also suspects the bills were marked).
George describes a number of people offering him money and introducing him to women ("honeytraps"). One of them offered him $30K/mo and an office in New York... if he worked simultaneously for the Trump administration. That guy set up a lot of behavioral red flags and was recording the conversation. Papadopoulos refused the offer.
One of the honeytraps is named "Azra Turk" (a Turkish national). George suspects she is a CIA or western intelligence asset rather than FBI, which would also expand the scandal.
George describes a number of times when he was probably recorded, at least one in a meeting with Halper, and refuses to cooperate and asks to be left alone.
George describes his meeting with Australian ambassador Downer. It also included Downer's "girlfriend" an Australian intelligence officer. It was not a chance meeting, it was orchestrated. And George thinks that conversation was being recorded, and says emails did not come up during that conversation at all. George says that is false. George also says neither of the participants were drunk (one drink each) and that it was not a friendly meeting.
George says there was someone inside the Trump campaign acting as a confidential source and probably feeding information out to the FBI. Congress knows who they are. Hopefully the rest of the world will find out soon as the truth of this whole operation comes out.
California registering huge numbrs of illegal voters
So why the big effort? Well, there's no presidential race this time around, but House Intel Committee chair Devin Nunes is from California, one of their rare rural seats. They would love to make him stop investigating their party's abuse of the FBI in 2016.
Power Line on Trump on the Hunter and Collins indictments
I don't have a lot to add to this piece, except that I no longer trust the DOJ to act without political bias in these matters. I imagine that's true for Trump as well as anyone else who has been following SpyGate. And it's not just Spygate; Obama got to 60 votes in the Senate in part due to the FBI framing a sitting Republican Senator. I didn't know the guy, but we don't use trumped-up charges to win elections in this country, and this is twice in my own memory the FBI has been caught doing it.
If he's right, it's not the first time Halper engaged in a little election meddling on both sides. And there are some very large payments from government accounts to him. It looks very much like the intelligence community is for hire and willingly takes money to help decide elections. That's a bigger scandal than even I expected.
Yes, elections. He apparently has close ties to the Bush family, which has surprisingly amiable relations with the Clintons. There are indications he meddled in the Reagan-Carter race, in the other direction, perhaps explained by his connection to the Bushes (George Bush Sr was Reagan's VP candidate). And if he'll do it twice, why wouldn't he or others do it much more often than that?
The claims from the intelligence community that revealing his name would jeopardize his life seems absurd and self-serving. Unless, you know, they think someone would object to him fixing elections for the intelligence community rather violently.
Patterico is working himself into a lather over a detail...
Patterico is not quite a NeverTrump guy. He's a California lawyer (prosecutor) who is usually intellectually honest and doesn't much like Trump. I'm cool with that, because usually he has good reasons for not liking Trump. This time, I'm not quite as onboard with his reasoning. He's talking about the Nunes memo.
While Patterico is right that this admission does mildly weaken the point of the memo, it is far from fatal. Disclosing to the FISA court that the Trump dossier was put together by an unspecified political entity is a far cry from disclosing that the dossier was put together by the candidate running against him, her political party, and the political party of the sitting President who runs the surveillance apparatus that the FISA applications seeks to use. It also makes a difference when the surveillance request is not against Trump (remember, reports are they tried for a warrant that mentioned Trump and got rejected) but against a temporary unpaid volunteer member of the Trump campaign, Carter Page. Does surveillance against Carter Page raise red flags of political interference? Not really... unless you realize that authorizing Title I surveillance of Page will retroactively authorize surveillance of everyone on the Trump campaign he has been in contact with. Did the FISA application disclose that Page was a Trump campaign member and that authorizing surveillance of Page would expose the entire Trump campaign to the same surveillance authority? No? Oh, I see.
Oh, and the FISA application described Page as, essentially, a Russian spy. In actuality, it appears Page was an undercover FBI agent or informant who was cooperating with the FBI in exposing Russian spies. Was that disclosed? No?
Well, they might not get the warrant.
Did they disclose in the renewals that Steele had been terminated as a source? That he had very strong political motivations and was shopping his "research" to media outlets, including the outlets they had previously cited as corroboration? No? Why not?
But let's assume, for the sake of argument, that it was all disclosed properly and the Nunes memo was wrong to leave that out.
Why the FUCK did the FBI and DOJ request the FISA warrant? Why the FUCK did the FISA court authorize the warrant?
Saying "Gosh, it was all disclosed properly.." does not make the scandal go away. The FBI is still corrupt. The only thing that does is make the FISA court either corrupt, complicit, or incompetent. And before you say "Just one judge!", the FBI reportedly went to four separate judges, once each, to get the warrant and renew it. So four separate judges all saw this warrant request and approved it. If everything was disclosed, they are all implicated.
But I do agree with Patterico on one thing.
Release the Documentation. Let's see the FISA applications. Bring it all into the sunlight.
Claim: DOJ may have told FISA court of political origins of dossier
I rate this claim bullshit. Why bullshit? Because "ample disclosure of relevant, material facts" is just a way of claiming the court was informed without acting saying that the court was told that Hillary or the DNC funded the dossier. Because, you know, they can't claim that, because it isn't true.
There's a vast difference between saying, as the memo suggests, that the research into the Trump dossier was funded by "a US person" and saying that it was funded by "Hillary Clinton and her party organization who is running against Trump in the presidential election". A "US person" could be anyone, and while there are a lot of people who might have motive to research Trump in the hopes of finding something negative about him to damage his changes of winning the election, most of them have no particular motive to make things up, and even if they had such a motive, they lacked the media access to make a lie stick. Only someone with the resources of a national political party could reasonably expect to make something up and sell it to the media for long enough to swing an election.
So, yes, it makes a big difference whether you tell them the identity of the US Person funding the dossier. And also, you know, whether you tell the court that the source of the dossier is personally biased against Trump, is in fact self-admittedly "desperate" to ensure Trump does not win the election, and has been terminated from his position with the FBI over his partisan bias and contacts with the news media trying to publicize this.
So no, saying it was funded by a "US person" is not enough, not even if you also mention a political entity.
DOJ IG recovers missing text messages between Page and Strzok
Well, they sure didn't stay missing long, did they? As this incident should remind us, when the government wants to recover text messages, they can generally recover the text messages. When they don't want to recover the text messages, as with the case of the Lois Lerner IRS scandal, it's a cover up.
And speaking of coverups, I feel that I should point out that the IG had to use "forensic tools" to recover those missing text messages. That means someone tried to delete them, probably Page and Strzok themselves, which speaks to consciousness of guilt.
UPDATE: I meant to point out that the notification does not say "all" messages were recovered, which potentially leaves some wiggle room. We don't know how many messages were actually recovered, out of how many total.
The Clinton campaign and the DNC both paid Perkins-Coie for legal services. Perkins-Coie paid Fusion GPS for the Trump dossier. Perkins-Coie was basically used as a cutout to avoid the payments showing up in campaign finance reports. The Russian businessman linked to the Kremlin used similar legal cutouts. The dossier compiled by Steele quoted Russian intelligence sources extensively (they may have been paid; that issue is still unclear). And by "Russian intelligence sources" I mean "sources who work in Russian intelligence agencies". And the dossier, of course, was used to try to smear Trump during the election and potentially to justify using our own intelligence agencies to spy on Trump's campaign.
There's a lot of Russian collusion to influence the election there, but I don't see Trump being involved in it as anything more than the victim of a particularly nasty smear campaign and multiple felonies.