Saturday, December 1, 2018

The Manafort/Assange Drama

From Mollie Hemingway at The Federalist:
Many media figures have swallowed whole, without evidence, a conspiracy theory that Donald Trump became president by treasonously colluding with Russia to steal the 2016 election from its rightful owner, Hillary Clinton. The information operation that pushed this story turned out to have been secretly developed and funded by Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, a fact uncovered only through the tenacious digging of Republicans on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in the face of major opposition from the media and Democrats on the committee. 
The information operation has been fed to an increasingly compliant and credulous media with nearly no resistance. Fusion GPS is the Clinton- and Democrat-funded group that initiated the Russia collusion story, although it is now, according to congressional testimony, being spearheaded by the Democracy Integrity Project and funded to the tune of $50 million. The Washington Post quietly admitted, buried the news, really, that the operation was funded by George Soros.
The latest questionably sourced information in support of this dramatic tale that opponents of Trump cling to in order to delegitimize the results of the 2016 election is that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort secretly met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in 2013, 2015 and, ominously, in spring of 2016, just as the Trump campaign was heating up. Assange is holed up in London at the Ecuadorian embassy there and published the hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton aide John Podesta. (Read more.)

From The Spectator:
A couple of observations about Paul Manafort’s plea bargain deal today. First, the nitty gritty: Manafort was convicted last month of failing to report some $16 million in income from consulting work in the Ukraine in the early 2000s. That conviction will earn the 69-year-old Manafort (who has been in jail since June because of accusations of witness tampering) a sentence of eight to ten years in the slammer. Today, he agreed to plead guilty to two additional criminal charges, forfeit four of his multimillion dollar homes as well as funds in several bank accounts. In exchange, he will avoid a second trial in which he was to face a long list of charges revolving around money laundering and obstruction of justice. 
Most reports of the plea bargain duly note that Manafort is (as The Wall Street Journal put it) ‘the fifth associate of President Trump to plead guilty in connection with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.’ 
‘In connection with,’ eh? 
The main thing to bear in mind about all of those guilty pleas—from those of General Mike Flynn and George Papadopoulos, who pled guilty to lying to the FBI, to Rick Gates, who had been in business with Paul Manafort—is that none of the pleas have anything to do with collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians, the putative reason for Mueller’s investigation in the first place. 
In the case of Flynn and Papadopoulos, it is now abundantly clear that both were set up by the FBI as part of a deliberate attempt to delegitimise Trump’s presidency. In the case of Manafort, Mueller uncovered real wrongdoing, but, again, it long pre-dated the 2016 campaign and had nothing to do with the Donald Trump or Russians. Altogether, Robert Mueller has brought indictments against some 30 people ‘in connection with’ his wholesale fishing expedition into the lives of anyone remotely connected with Donald Trump. What in heavens name does Stormy Daniels or her sleazy lawyer have to do with the ostensible purpose of Mueller’s investigation? 
Here’s another question: would any of the people indicted by Robert Mueller have been subjected to his meticulously methodical madness had they not been in Trump’s orbit? The answer, I believe, is No, though Manafort and Gates, like Autolycus in The Winter’s Tale, seem to have been ambitious ‘snappers up of unconsidered trifles’ (to say the least).
Stepping back and looking at Mueller’s campaign against the President as a whole, it is clear that Mueller’s activities are meant primarily to intimidate, pressure, and co-opt associates of Donald Trump in order to convince them to bear witness against him. As I have observed many times, I believe this is part of the biggest political scandal in US history. It involves the mobilisation of deep state actors in the Obama administration and the weaponisation of the FBI and other parts of the Department of Justice. 
As Lee Smith noted in a superb summary of the case so far in RealClearInvestigations, this sprawling campaign had two phases, an offensive phase to discredit Trump and help elect Hillary Clinton during the campaign of 2016 and then the ongoing defensive phase, which is intended to discredit the Congressional investigation into criminal misconduct by people in the Obama administration, the Department of Justice, and the FBI.
‘Initially,’ Smith writes, ‘the leaking was an offensive operation aimed at disrupting Trump’s agenda, especially through leaks alleging connections between his campaign and the Russians. Its early successes included leaks of highly classified material that led to the firing of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and the recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions from overseeing that probe.’ 
When the impossible happened and Trump won, the operation went into defensive mode. ‘The second phase,’ Smith notes, ‘which began roughly a year into the Trump administration – has been more defensive, pushing back against congressional oversight committees that had uncovered irregularities in the FBI’s investigation of Trump. This phase has been marked by the willingness of press outlets to run stories backing off earlier reported leaks that proved to be deeply misleading – including the roots of the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign and the relationship between Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr and the opposition research firm that produced a central document of that probe, the largely discredited “Steele dossier.”’ Someday, I predict, this complex and sordid tale of the abuse of power by the deep state will occupy a prominent place in the history books. How ever did we allow the state to run roughshod over constitutional protections in order try to overturn a free, open, and democratic elections? (Read more.) 


julygirl said...

When people are polled about 'Russian Collusion' the majority actually believe the Russians tampered with their local voting mechanisms!

elena maria vidal said...

And even Obama assured us that that could never happen.