erik lundegaard

Politics posts

Saturday July 14, 2018

The Ambassador

How dare you: Trump headline

Suggestion: Sub in a shot of the Trump blimp baby. At least we'll get a laugh out of it. 

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Posted at 07:32 AM on Jul 14, 2018 in category Politics
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12 Russian Intelligence Officers Indicted

Trump balloon baby

The indictments were announced as Pres. Trump was in the midst of a European trip involving meetings with NATO leaders, British Prime Minister Teresa May, the Queen of England and Putin.

“Today is actually a significant moment in American history. We‘ve only had 45 presidents. And here we now know that one of them was elected with the explicit and intentional help of a foreign power, in violation of American law, with the aggressive and open support of the candidate who was the beneficiary of those crimes.”

—Jeffrey Toobin, last night on Anderson Cooper 360, in the wake of special counsel Robert Mueller issuing a 29-page indictment on 12 Russian intelligence officers, charging them in the hacking of the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. A good piece and podcast on the indictments can be found at LawFareBlog.

A lot of the above is already known, or assumed, but we get some interesting details:

  1. By the end of June 2016, Russian military intelligence (GRU) had hacked into at least 33 computers in the DNC orbit.
  2. Though the DNC hired a cybersecurity agency, malware remained on some computers until at least October.
  3. The conspirators created an online persona, Guccifer 2.0, a “lone Romanian hacker,” in order to undermine and misdirect claims of Russian responsibility.
  4. By August, Guccifer 2.0 received and responded to requests for intel from:
    1. a U.S. congressman
    2. a reporter regarding Black Lives Matter
    3. “a person who was in regular contact with senior members” of the Trump presidential campaign
  5. On July 22, 2016, the government asserts, Wikileaks released more than 20,000 emails and documents stolen from the DNC network by the conspirators and “did not disclose Guccifer 2.0’s role in providing them.”

Plus, as they say, much, much more. And more to come. At the least, the names of the congressman, reporter, and Trump presidential campaign contact.

BTW: I highlighted the above in Toobin's quote because as I heard it I was thinking this charge might relate to new info from the Mueller indictments. It doesn‘t. It relates, I assume, to Trump’s July 2016 public declaration that Russia hack Hillary's emails. Toobin is tying it all together. The bow isn't neat yet—I doubt it will ever be, even Watergate remained messy—but it's not looking good for Trump. Which means it's looking good for the rest of us. 

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Posted at 03:58 AM on Jul 14, 2018 in category Politics
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Friday July 13, 2018

Star Strzok

Other Peter Strzok text messages

Other Peter Strzok text messages, per Rachel Maddow.

This won't shut up the GOP but it would be great if it helped shut them down. 

Much-maligned FBI agent Peter Strzok (pronounced: Struck) was trotted before the House of Representatives yesterday as a sacrificial lamb in the GOP's and Pres. Trump's attempts to accuse the opposition (hard-working Americans, basically) of its own crimes. In this alternative reality, the narrative of which gets aired daily on Fox News and the like, the FBI, in the person of James Comey, didn't help Trump win the 2016 election; the Bureau actively tried stopping him. Exhibit A is Strzok, who, in private text messages with an FBI lawyer with whom he was having an affair, slammed Trump during the 2016 campaign. Here, for example, is one from July 21:

“Trump is a disaster. I have no idea how destabilizing his presidency would be.”

More prescient than anything. The one the GOP likes to wring its hands over is from a few weeks later:

Lisa Page: Trump's never going to become president, right?
Strzok: No. No. He's not. We‘ll stop it.

OMG! A smoking gun!

Not so fast, says Strzok. The “we,” he’s said constantly, is not the FBI but the American people. Who, sadly, were not up to the task Strzok gave them. We stopped shit. 

Anyway, in the hearing yesterday, Strzok didn't stop there. Not nearly. He laid out the apparently revolutionary idea, to Republicans, that one can still be a professional even though one has political opinions. Unlike the GOP, and folks like Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), he puts the professional before the political:

I can assure you, Mr. Chairman, at no time in any of these texts did those personal beliefs ever enter into the realm of any action I took. Furthermore, this isn't just me sitting here telling you. You don't have to take my word for it. At every step, at every investigative decision, there are multiple layers of people above me—the assistant director, executive assistant director, deputy director, and director of the F.B.I.—and multiple layers of people below me—section chiefs, supervisors, unit chiefs, case agents, and analysts—all of whom were involved in all of these decisions.

They would not tolerate any improper behavior in me any more than I would tolerate it in them. That is who we are as the F.B.I. And the suggestion that I, in some dark chamber somewhere in the F.B.I., would somehow cast aside all of these procedures, all of these safeguards, and somehow be able to do this is astounding to me. It simply couldn't happen. And the proposition that is going on, that it might occur anywhere in the F.B.I., deeply corrodes what the F.B.I. is in American society, the effectiveness of their mission, and it is deeply destructive.

Cf., my review of “The Post.” Also see the above image. Strzok not only didn't like Trump; he didn't think much of Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Loretta Lynch. He was like much of America in 2016 in this regard. 

The New Yorker's John Cassidy has a nice piece on Strzok's testimony, and ends it this way:

As Strzok spoke, Gowdy leaned back in his chair, a cold look on his face. What was he thinking? He hasn't served entirely as a White House patsy on the Russia affair. At one point, he suggested that Trump should start acting more like he is innocent. But Gowdy and other House Republicans invested what was left of their credibility in a conspiracy theory that was now blowing up in their faces, live on television. After Strzok said the words “deeply destructive,” there was a brief silence in the hearing room. Then there was a round of applause from the public gallery.

Great ending. But you know the GOP. They simply ignored reality and shopped its narrative to the usual suspects. They have way too much invested in this.

What a sad side they've chosen. 

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Posted at 12:26 PM on Jul 13, 2018 in category Politics
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Saturday July 07, 2018

This is the President of the United States

This is the president of the United States. 

This is the president of the United States cheering for the failure of American businesses. 

This is the president of the United States cheering against the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. 

This is the president of the United States equating our two greatest newspapers, fact-checking bastions of free speech, with the often-Russian bots whose lies and slander helped elect this president of the United States.

This is not normal. Don't let this be normal. 

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Posted at 02:33 AM on Jul 07, 2018 in category Politics
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Monday July 02, 2018

Flip a Cohen

Has Michael Cohen flipped? Based on a new interview with George Stephanopoulos, particularly Cohen stating “My wife, my daughter, and my son, and this country have my first loyalty,” New York Magazine's Jonathan Chait says all signs point to YES. 

This, he adds, would be bad news for Trump, for the following reasons:

  • Cohen apparently made illegal payments on Trump's behalf (See: Stormy)
  • Cohen kept a lot of evidence (300,000 communiques, with only 161 designated “privileged”)
  • Cohen can't be pardoned by Trump (Mueller is working with NY state prosecutor)
  • Cohen dealt with Russia during the campaign (Prague, fall, 2016)
  • Cohen may have collected bribes after Trump's election (see: Viktor Vekselberg)

Looking forward to the day when those apparentlys and may haves are removed.

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Posted at 05:22 AM on Jul 02, 2018 in category Politics
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