Jim VandeHei of Axios claimed to sum up on Sunday “what we already now know” about Robert Mueller’s findings in the Russia probe. His next claim was even more robust. “What we already now know is highly damning and highly detailed.”
If you want to — and I quote — “go deeper,” you can click a button that gives you “460 words” of how what we know is highly damning and highly detailed. It is, of course, not even close to either of those things. But it’s worth looking at to see how some D.C. figures are easily spun into thinking — or claiming to think — that things for which there is no evidence have “highly detailed” evidence.
Here’s the first allegedly “highly detailed” and “highly damning” assertion from VandeHei: “We now know several Russian officials reached out to a half-dozen Republicans very close to Trump and his campaign, including his eldest son, his closest adviser, his lawyer and his campaign manager. We now know they took the meetings, often enthusiastically, during and after the campaign.”
You will note the details aren’t robust enough for us to have a strong idea of what VandeHei is claiming, much less what in the world is damning about it. It’s almost comical. It is true that foreigners reach out to American campaigns, and that Russia is a foreign country. Presumably Mueller isn’t investigating whether Russia exists or has officials who reach out to campaigns, but rather whether there was any treasonous collusion to steal the 2016 election from its rightful owner Hillary Clinton. Perhaps this is a reference to a meeting with Russians that involved no collusion to steal an election, but an unsuccessful attempt to convince Trump affiliates to oppose Magnitsky Act sanctions against Russia.
If taking a meeting with foreign individuals is de facto proof of a crime, then how would these people characterize the hiring of a foreign spy to work with Russian officials to spread misinformation about an opposing campaign? After all, it was the Clinton campaign that funneled money to hire foreign ex-spy Christopher Steele, an unregistered foreign agent of the sanctioned, Kremlin-connected Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Steele invented a document sourced to Russian officials in and near the Kremlin with outlandish and discredited allegations that were fed to a compliant media and weaponized by U.S. government officials to spy on American citizens connected to Trump. Government officials illegally leaked false negative information about Trump-connected individuals to fuel the Clinton project.
The next “highly detailed” and “highly damning” item from VandeHei: “We now know Russia offered in those chats campaign assistance — ‘synergy,’ they called it. We now know no one around Trump alerted the FBI of this effort to subvert our elections.”
This dramatically overwritten item obscures the fact that the alleged “synergy” was offered by a Russian weightlifter, that the offer was not acted upon, and that the offer, even if it were from a someone higher up in Russian operations than the “weightlifter” portion, was in no way detailed enough to say it was an offer to “subvert our elections.”
VandeHei then alleges, without evidence, that Trump “lied” about being a global businessman trying to develop property in Russia. It is unclear what he’s referencing, since Trump’s statements have accurately noted that no business deal with Russia has ever been reached, and he had spent years talking publicly about developing property in Russia and various other countries. The suggestion that the American public did not know Trump wanted to build Trump towers throughout the world is difficult to swallow.
VandeHei then says, “We now know every arm of the U.S. intelligence community concluded Russia sought to systematically influence the election outcome.” In reality, only three intelligence agencies were party to the assessment, with the vast majority not spending time or resources looking into it, and it was a process that has received some criticism for the manner in which the assessment was made, and its lack of transparency. It is also not true, as VandeHei claims, that Trump rejects this assessment. He has repeatedly acknowledged Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections, part of a pattern of Russian interference going back decades. Trump has rejected the politicization of intelligence agencies, including their opposition to him, which he believes threatens national security.
Another “highly detailed” and “highly damning” item in Vandehei’s listicle is that the incoming president and his staff communicated with world leaders in preparation for Trump taking office, a practice that all incoming administrations have done to ensure that the new administration is able to hit the ground running upon inauguration.
VandeHei then drops a breaking news bombshell. We “now” know that Trump, who fired James Comey more than 18 months ago, is not a huge fan of his handling of the Russia probe. Apparently Axios also has sources that are breaking the news that Jeff Sessions also fell out of Trump’s favor for the same reason. Sessions was forced to resign after the election, following a tenure marked almost entirely by acrimony between him and Trump.
You know, I could begin every football season by telling myself that the Cowboys are going to win the Super Bowl because of “what we already know”, i.e., they have an offensive line, a defensive line, a quarterback and all the other accouterments. Yet to defy logic and reality would only lead me to bitter disappoint, usually by about week 4.
So I wonder why liberals, most of whom are long aware of the fact that the “Russian probe” referred mainly to the liberal media driving a probe deep up the rear of the American people, keep ginning this dead letter up, over and over and over and over and over and over and over.
Oh, that’s easy; that would be called “NOT a crime”. Everyone knows that the Constitution bears the fine print which clearly says, “Any action can be deemed a crime against Republicans, as the political needs dictates, but never under any circumstances can the same action or any actual crime be charged against Democrats”.
Oh, you mean like the FBI warned the Trump organization that they had “evidence” the Russians were trying to infiltrate their campaign? Oh, wait… they didn’t notify them. They just illegally spied on them.
Alex breaking his leg 3 weeks ago put the “Boys” at least into the Playoff Season!
Skins will need a lot of luck (no capital) to win 1 more game this season. If they could get Luck they may win 2.
In December 2016, Jared Kushner was attempting to set up a secret direct line of communication between the Trump transition team and the Kremlin, unknown to either the then-current Obama administration, the State Department, or to our nation’s intelligence community.
That’s highly irregular, and would represent a very serious security risk. Kushner had no official function and no security clearance at that point. It’s not entirely clear how he has a security clearance even now. Donald Trump himself would never have passed muster for a clearance. He has access to classified material by default.
@Greg: Kurshner also had no official government job. So, what’s the big deal?
I find Mark Warner trying to set up secret, untraceable line of communication with Russian conspirators much more troubling and indicative of a support of the coup against Trump.
Also, the Russians requesting the meeting with Trump Jr. being allowed into the country by Kerry, briefed by Hillary’s people before the meeting and debriefed after the meeting is also troubling and fits nicely into the coup narrative.
Oh, my, and we all know that the Russians always tell the truth, right?
According to WHAT U.S. officials? More of you “unnamed” sources? Of course, you believe every word written in the much discredited Washington Compost.
Again, the Ruskies are always truthful, right? And again, the “unnamed” U.S. officials.
Do you ever get tired of proving how gullible you are, Greggie. I guess not. You have no shame. You’re a Democrat Socialist and they never feel shame.
@Deplorable Me, #4?
By what conceivable authority was Kushner attempting to deal with the Russian ambassador to set up a secret line of communication with the Kremlin that would circumvent all legitimate U.S. governmental channels and security safeguards? They were none of them part of our nation’s government prior to Trump’s inauguration.
They haven’t had a clue from Day One, and if Kushner’s recent private coaching sessions with Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud about how to weather the storm following the slaughter of Khashoggi is any indication, they still don’t.
@Greg: Well, who the HELL says it was “secret”? Because they didn’t notify you? Why couldn’t he establish communication? Maybe he wanted to sell them some more uranium. Nothing wrong with that, is there?
You are desperately grasping at straws and it is, quite frankly, pitiful.
Hillary sure didn’t worry about any Saudi atrocities when she was accepting “contributions” from them while Secretary of State, did she? Neither did any other liberal. Now, a former confederate of bin Laden gets killed and the left is all in tears. Yeah, right. Like they care.
Oh, yes, how the lame stream media is all up in arms over the killing of a reporter the same lame stream news is now calling “an American” reporter.
Khashoggi was a Saudi, on foreign soil, murdered by his own. Now, all of a sudden he was “an American” reporter. Why hypocrisy on the part of the press.
But of course, FDR absolutely loved Stalin, who murdered how many, Greggie Gullible? And Obama didn’t have any problem cozying up to radical leaders of terrorist nations, or giving them $150 BILLION dollars.
You don’t care about Khashoggi. What you care about it parroting the left wing press and its fake outrage over an event that happens every day somewhere in the world. Journalists are murdered with frequency in Mexico. Where is the left wing press outrage about that? Or does the fact that Khashoggi was cut up in pieces make it worse? Journalists in Mexico and Brazil have been beheaded. Nothing to see there, move on.
But the Dems are not fans of the Saudi Kingdom so they are going to rag on Trump over not declaring WWIII on the Saudis. What b/s. And you are like a big mouthed bass swallowing hook, line and sinker.
You’re an idiot.
@Deplorable Me: This happening during a time when leaks were rampant, Trump was clued in on being spied on why wouldnt he want secured channels away from obvious outgoing insiders that were absolutely hostile. Even supposed allies were in on the dossier and setting up members of the Trump team. Setting up communications between super powers is not in any way unusual
Any private citizen can speak with any Russian it isnt illegal in any way. The only thing that seems to be illegal in ths country is Speaking with Mueller or the FBI, if they dont like you charges are filed.
@Deplorable Me, #7:
It was secret until it was discovered by way of a Russian communications intercept—most likely a result of that FISA warrant you all hate—and then deliberately leaked to put people in a position where they couldn’t block an entirely appropriate investigation, which you also all hate.
The whole damn setup would have been a means for the Trump administration to do an end run around the State Department and U.S. intelligence community, and a means to avoid appropriate congressional oversight. Trump could have dealt with Putin’s people without anyone knowing a thing about it. Fortunately some genuine American patriots were paying close attention, and are a hell of a lot smarter than Trump & Co. Trump’s “deep state” is nothing more than long-standing institutional mechanisms designed to keep this kind of bullshit from going undetected and unchallenged.
Because it was ILLEGAL. Trump was not yet president, and Kushner was nothing whatsoever. You aren’t suddenly empowered to conduct the nation’s business just because you’re a president-elect’s son-in-law. None of them had legal authority to be taking action to set up a secret line of communications with a foreign government. It’s even more suspicious in light of Putin’s little project to put Donald Trump in the White House.
I’m apparently smart enough to have observed some fairly obvious things that you either can’t or won’t. It doesn’t take much intelligence to make good guesses about a picture when there are so damn many dots to connect.
@Greg: Can you quote the statute that made it illegal for the President Elect to try to communicate with the Russian government, and why Barry was following Trump all over the planet after he was sworn in?
See whats happening in Europe?
Your news never cites statutes why it was illegal, but we know leaking Flynns name to the press was a federal crime 18 § 798 of the U.S. Code:
Whoever knowingly and willfully communicates … or otherwise makes available to an unauthorized person, or publishes … any classified information … obtained by the processes of communication intelligence from the communications of any foreign government … shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.
Comey, McCabe Yates and Rosenstein guilty of statute section 1746 of title 28 be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.
The “experts” trotted out for the drooling liberals on cable TV say such foolish things, on the same level as Avanetti in knowledge and legal skills, might not get you out of a speeding ticket or drunk driving charge. 05 is correct in the assessment of you.
They told Flynn not to have his lawyer present. He thought it was a social visit.
This was on January 24th — four days after the Inauguration.
Flynn had NO IDEA he was being interrogated. This is how Banana republics operate.
Ohhh…. like Hillary’s secret, private, unsecured server, right? She set that up to avoid FOIA requests and so she could delete all the secret dealings with the Clinton Foundation (payments for favors, uranium and such) rather than allow the American people know her Secretary of State gig was just a money making enterprise. But, I don’t think Kurshner had the same intent (greed, avarice) as Hillary did. I think this is merely a case of liberals seeing Russians behind every corner when, as Hillary was laying out her classified data buffet for the Russians, Chinese, Iranians and anyone else, liberals don’t seem to worry too much about incompetence allowing US interests to be compromised.
And, the Washington Post… really. They are becoming a punch line. Keep an eye out for their correction, but you have to be sharp to find them; they don’t get the headlines their usually flawed headlines get.
Why didn’t the Trump Tower bug detect this? Which agency made this disclosure; is it one still controlled by anti-government seditionists, as they were when Comey, McCabe, Clapper and Brennan were in charge? It never happened, so there is no evidence of it. Yeah, let’s get all excited over THAT.
EXACTLY. So, he was a private citizen. He did nothing wrong, certainly not to the level of Kerry negotiating with Iranians (which, of course, you applaud) to undercut Trump’s efforts to REALLY negotiate with them to end their nuclear program.
Putin wanted Hillary, the blackmail magnet.
Oh? Yet your observant gaze has missed Obama promising the Russians to be compliant with their wishes and then shutting down countermeasures to their election interference, Obama’s FBI getting illegal FISA warrants to illegally conduct illegal surveillance on the Trump campaign, the FBI giving Hillary a pre-pardon of her crimes before the investigation even started, Hillary committing perjury, an “investigation” that carefully selected anti-Trump, Hillary sycophants to conduct the “unbiased” investigations or the fact that after all the surveillance and “investigation” you’ve found NOTHING that even HINTS that Trump or anyone around him colluded with Russians to affect the election or for any other purpose.
That’s also how people who have done nothing wrong and don’t fear talking to the FBI act. Compare that to Hillary’s and Obama’s associates who either will not appear for questions or take the Fifth.
Try the Logan Act, and 18 U.S. Code § 953 – Private correspondence with foreign governments. As pointed out, until he was sworn in and took office, Donald Trump had no governmental authority or power whatsoever, nor did his sneaky little weasel of a sidekick, Boy Jared.
A President-Elect is not a President, nor does becoming one work retroactively, conferring powers and authority upon you in the past.
What their intentions might have been in attempting to set up a secret communication channel between Trump and the Kremlin—as in, secret even from our own State Department, intelligence community, and Congress—is another very big question. It’s probably the sort of question that keeps a lot of good people awake at night.
@Deplorable Me, #13:
Right. It was a routine social call from the FBI. They probably brought guest gifts with them and charmed him into a full confession.
Actually, his admissions followed upon many hours of formal interviews with the FBI, during which General Flynn was fully aware that an investigation was under way.
Pence, by the way, lied about what he knew concerning Flynn’s contacts with the Russians. He repeatedly dodged answering when asked if he was aware of the activities of Flynn’s son, and the efforts to get him a security clearance.
Who would be No. 3 in the line of presidential succession, if both the President and VIce President were given the boot? Ah… President Pelosi. (Just joking, of course. Like Trump’s election, such a thing would never happen.)
@Greg: If the original people found nothing why was the investigation taken up?
Because that little social call didn’t put their minds at rest. Flynn cordially gave them plenty to be concerned about. He probably realized he had made a serious judgement error the moment he knew the FBI was looking into his Russian contacts. Flynn is a very bright guy.
@Greg: That is not what the paper trail indicates. No deception, nothing inappropriate is what the documents say. A 302 dated months after the interview? why. What exactly sent their spidey senses tingling?
Who released the information to the Press?
@Greg: No, the Logan Act is not illegal because Kerry has not been charged. Neither has Hillary or Obama. Apparently it’s not a real law. It only gets used to serve a Democrat political purpose.
The Logan Act concerns carrying on conversations to subvert US policy. Obviously, since by their own admission Kurshner’s link was never established, even if he WAS trying, so NOPE, no Logan Act violation. Kerry, Hillary and Obama, on the other hand… GUILTY.
That’s what Mark Warner was trying to do in order to try and create more false evidence against Trump. Does that concern you?
Oh. Those who interviewed him said he didn’t. Perhaps THEIR 302 was destroyed and the NEW 302 filled out seven months later says otherwise. Seem fishy?
By the way, do you think it would be bad if the media lied to the American people?
Over the past 11 years the Saudis have officially executed 91.7 people per year.
On top of that are all the people they kill unofficially, via honor killings where the bodies are cut up then buried in the deep desert.
Koshoggi was cut up and buried in pieces, like an honor killing.
Under Sharia, on Saudi soil, like in an embassy, the Saudis are within their rights upholding their own Sharia law, like honor killing someone for insulting their version of Islam.
That was Koshoggi’s crime.
It is a death offence.
He might have thought he was safe inside Turkey, but, once he entered a Saudi embassy we was NOT in Turkey, he was in Saudi Arabia.
Really, Obama was going further off the reservation than the Saudis when Obama executed an unindicted “terrorist inciter” AND his teenage son on foreign soil.
Obama violated the Fifth Amendment with the assassination of American citizens, Anwar Al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son in Yemen without benefit of due process of law.
No, that’s what the FBI interviewers recorded as their impressions of Flynn’s behavior while he was being questioned. Those observations have been deliberately mischaracterized as the interviewer’s conclusions about the facts themselves, which they were not. The spin exploits the public’s unfamiliarity with the FBI’s interviewing protocol.
@Deplorable Me, #19:
Meanwhile, Mueller quietly and inexorably moves toward Trump’s day of reckoning. The truth will be Trump’s downfall. That’s why he does everything possible to surround and obscure it with contradictions and confusion.
@Greg: In your alternate universe no deception means deception, no further action was taken til after Mueller was beginning his inquisition. So they wait 7 months before a 302 is created? Is that the FBI’s interviewing protocol, or procedures? The no deception was Comeys testimony to lawmakers, when he was still employed.
What exactly was the lie?
@Nan G: Hillary is so upset about this Saudi abuse that she is considering almost thinking about maybe almost giving back the $10 to 25 million the Saudis gave her.
Yes, that was the view of those who did the interview. That was also Comey’s perception. Yet, when the 302 we now see is revealed, the perception changed. It has long been suggested that the 302 had been altered; this could be the proof. Who does an interview and writes down the details 7 months later? Cmon, Greg… use some common f**king sense.
Uh huh. Aside from wishful thinking, what gives you that perception? What happened to “Russian collusion”? Why isn’t Mueller looking into the lies that set this who theater in motion? There will be NO end to this “investigation” until the 2020 election. THAT’S the true purpose of it.
Are these people insane? Or are they trying to throw out so many contradictory statements that nothing will ever be accepted by the public as the truth?
Yesterday, January 20, 2019 — Giuliani: Discussions on Trump Tower in Moscow were ‘active’ throughout 2016 election
Today, January 21, 2019 — Giuliani walks back startling claims on talk about Trump’s Moscow tower plan
January 21, 2019 — Model who alleged Russian meddling in US election tells Moscow court she will not publish Deripaska recordings
After 10 months in a Thai prison she was deported, and then arrested by the Russians last Thursday while en route to Belarus. Whatever is on the tapes will likely never see the light of day. She would probably have a great deal of trouble getting life insurance, at this point.
@Greg: Deripaska, the FBI asset?
One agent who helped court Deripaska was Andrew McCabe.
Why do you think the Trump administration lifted sanctions on this guy? Those would be the same sanctions Trump previously touted as evidence that he was tough on the Russians. The sanctions deal they just cut will benefit Deripaska by ridding him of debt worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Monday, January 21, 2019 — Sanctions Deal Gives Russia’s Deripaska a Break
Trump belongs to these people. That is possibility that demands careful examination.
@Greg: Is this the same hooker that admitted she had nothing but lied to get out of jail? Like Cohen?
Why did Obama and Hillary approve the sale of uranium to a company known to be controlled by Russia, then allow them to move the uranium out of the country?
@Deplorable Me: The treasury secretary says ok to lift sanctions, senate nixes the removal but that is proof the President is a puppet…ok
Do not look at the deep FBI ties with the dude. He is so evil he tried to get an FBI agent out of Irans hands, nixed by the SOS Clinton, the agent to this day is still missing. Almost makes you wonder what the missing FBI agent knew or was investigating, almost. Why didnt Barry with all those billions secure his release?
@kitt: Yeah, the only way to direct attention from all the Hillary and Obama collusion is to invent collusion by Trump.