Monday, February 25, 2019

You Want Collusion? I'll Give You Collusion!

Yesterday in a comment I linked to the excellent Michael Smerconish interview with law prof Jonathan Turley. Now, Smerconish and Turley are both liberals, but they did chapter and verse on "collusion" and they both came to the same end point: Ain't no collusion. Turley said the obligatory nice things about what a straight arrow Mueller is, but he also went down the line on IG Michael Horowitz and AG Bill Barr. He couldn't praise those two guys highly enough. And then he pointed out something interesting: If you want to find collusion, look no further than Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 election. As Turley says, what Mueller has done a great job on has been exposing collusion with Ukrainians, but we're not hearing much about that. Watch the whole interview here--it's not long.

Of course, if you really want to find out about Ukrainian collusion, just read The Mechanics of Deception and you'll get enough detail on that to choke a horse. It's all out there--it's been out there for a long time--but some people don't want you to hear about that.

So, this morning at Powerline, Scott Johnson had a nice blog on A redaction mystery solved. It seems that Mueller's sentencing memorandum on Paul Manafort has redacted publicly available information. Why would he do that? Aren't redactions for, like, secret stuff? Ah, well, there's a bit of a story to that, but it's not long and it's not terribly complicated.

Johnson's source pointed out that what got redacted was information that's readily available in the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) database. Yes, your federal government allows you to search an online database to find out who is registered with DoJ as an agent of a foreign government--and which foreign government(s) they're registered with. FARA is a law that was passed to smoke out clandestine Nazi propaganda agents. It's long been honored in the breach (believe me, I know all about that) and, anyway, the real point is transparency. As long as you're acting openly (a la Manafort), who really cares? The answer is, nobody cared until Mueller wanted to flip Manafort against Trump.

So Johnson's source did his search and found out that Manafort had been working on behalf of Ukrainians through a registered foreign agent named Daniel J. Edelman, Inc. Edelman, Inc., is right up there near the top of any list of influential PR firms. So, as Johnson asks, "why the redaction?" Of course Edelman, Inc., would be in the business of representing foreign governments.

The answer to that question probably can be answered by searching "john podesta daniel edelman". If you run that search you'll see that the top three results all feature "John Podesta" and you'll be reminded that John Podesta who, unlike Edelman, Inc., was not registered with FARA until Team Mueller started nosing around, has for years been actively acting as the agent of foreign governments. Apparently Team Mueller engaged in an elementary subterfuge--which nevertheless was clever enough to fool the entire MSM--to keep you from being reminded about John Podesta. Just in case you might think the Mueller probe wasn't being entirely even handed in giving Podesta a pass.

Or maybe you really believe Team Mueller has turned Podesta's entire life inside out, using FARA as a hook (the criminal predicate) to look for something, anything, to prosecute Podesta for. Such people exist, but I'm not one of them. We all know how much money foreign governments are willing to pay the top adviser to the POTUS in waiting. Yes, a few things went wrong with that scenario, but Podesta got to keep the money, so things didn't go too far wrong for him. And the really good news for Podesta was that Team Mueller had no interest in conducting Gestapo--or should I say KGB?--style raids on his residence, indicting him, keeping him in solitary for month after month, and finally landing him in jail for the rest of his life. That treatment was reserved for Trump associates.

If you ran that search, "john podesta daniel edelman", you'll also have pulled up a link to an interesting article that ran in The Hill in April, 2017: Beyond Manafort: Both parties deal with pro-Russian Ukrainians. The article is nowhere near as detailed as The Mechanics of Deception. For example, it won't tell you about the Ukrainian intelligence links of any of the participants in the Trump Tower meeting, and their close ties to the DNC and Clinton campaign. But it's still worth a read. And the main point is right in the title--the Ukrainians in question with whom Democrats as well as Republicans were colluding were Pro-Russian Ukrainians. The other significant takeaway is that Trump's own involvement with Ukrainian interests--aside from Manafort, who was fired--was de minimis. Most of the Republicans who were involved were of the NeverTrump persuasion. Clever that a law prof like Turley read and remembered this, but people who get paid to know this stuff ...

And there you have it: Collusion. In plain view.


  1. Yes, that "Mechanics of Deception" is probably the most powerful pieces of work I have seen done on this entire scandal. I made it a bookmark the first time I read it, though I no longer remember how I came to it. Full of relevant information, and I still turn to it every few weeks to dig out the details of connections between these webs of people.

  2. The FBI should have to register as an agent of the Democrat Party.

    1. I guarantee that many former and current FBI agents feel the same way--to their chagrin.

  3. Ukraine's population is about 17% ethnic Russians. Furthermore, there is a lot of Ukrainian-Russian intermarriage. Practically the entire population speaks Russian fluently. Many of the country's Ukrainians have traveled, lived and even studied in Russia.

    Much of the population -- of all ethnic groups -- wanted to improve relations with Russia.

    In 2010, running on a platform of improving those relations, Victor Yanukovych won Ukraine's Presidential election. Election observers from the European Union declared that he had won fairly.

    However, ethnic-Ukrainian zealots in the capital Kyiv conducted street demonstrations continually for months in order to prevent Yanukovych from governing in a normal manner. (That agitation is somewhat similar to the constant Democrat harrassment of the Trump Administration.)

    The Obama Adminstration supported those Kyiv demonstrations with encouragement and advice. Eventually Yanukovych fled from his earned Presidency and from Ukraine.

    As a consequence, the regions of Ukraine that were populated overwhelmingly by Russians have voted to secede from Ukraine and join Russia.

    Thus, the Obama Administration's anti-Yanukovych's campaign ultimately blew up in the Obama Administration's face. That is why the Deep State's remaining Democrats hated Paul Manafort so much. He had worked for Yanukovych.

    1. All of that is reason that any close connection to any of the Ukrainian factions on the part of politically connected US persons should be viewed with circumspection from the standpoint of supposing that any of them have US interests at heart. After all, why should they? They have their own problems and all each faction wants is to get US muscle on their side, by hook or by crook. But that's why not just Manafort's connections but the Dem connections needed to be examined.

  4. Another conundrum. Barr (like Sessions before him) wants desperately wants to reconstitute the "old" DOJ standard of conduct (nominal independence and respect for the rule of law). He also understands that the reputation of DOJ/FBI is in shambles and can critically undermine their effectiveness going forward. Repairing this damage is his highest priority, and he believes that it will best be achieved by burying controversy as soon as possible. This means threading the needle by effectively letting the coup conspirators of the hook while obscuring that reality from the public. In his mind, staff turnover and a few new rules will do the trick internally, and persistent stonewalling will generally serve to hide reality from the public. A few minor players will get token accountability, and the big fish will get some public shaming, but that's about it. DC corruption will continue unabated in the shadows.

    The only real remedy can occur if there are still enough honest citizens left in the country that are prepared to march on Washington DC and demand more. Put a 100,000+ angry people on the mall and let Trump make a speech heard round the world. Congress and Barr would have to take real action.

    1. "Repairing this damage is his highest priority, and he believes that it will best be achieved by burying controversy as soon as possible."

      Did Barr tell you this?

      What makes you think that Barr considers

      1. Writing a 19 page memo to Rosenstein attacking Mueller's whole theory of obstruction as BS, and

      2. Telling the New York Times, on the record, that failing to investigate Hillary is a dereliction of duty on the part of the DoJ

      to be ways to avoid controversy. I have yet to see Barr do or say anything that smells of avoiding controversy. In his confirmation testimony he repeatedly refused to commit to measures of that sort, e.g., refused to commit to releasing Mueller's report to the public, refused to commit to following DoJ ethics recommendations re recusal, etc. None of that suggests "burying controversy" is any part of his priorities. In fact, the measures that he needs to take to repair DoJ/FBI are guaranteed to cause controversy.

  5. Without any evidence, I speculate that Paul Manafort's work in Ukraine was mostly to smuggle assets from Ukraine to the West. Yanukovych and his associates foresaw that they might be overthrown, and so they hired Manafort to prepare a future escape from Ukraine.

    I speculate further that Manafort's main "lobbying" was to arrange for those particular Ukrainians to resettle in the West.

    Supposedly, Manafort was hired to provide political advice to Yanukovych and his political party. I think that is absurd. As far as I know, Manafort cannot even read Ukrainian.

    In this sense, Manafort was involved in the political and economic corruption of Ukraine. However, he was not involved in any scheme to affect Ukrainian-US relations or Russian-US relations significantly. He was not acting in a pro-Russian or anti-Russian manner.

    Furthermore, I speculate that the US Intelligence Community has been well informed for many years about Manafort's activities in Ukraine. For many years the US Intelligence Community has been pro-Ukrainian and anti-Russian in Ukraine-Russia conflicts. There is no good reason for that bias. Simply because Manafort is a US person who has been involved peripherally in that conflict, the US Intelligence Community has been collecting information about him and causing trouble for him.

    The Ukraine-Russia conflict is not the USA's business. We should not be meddling in it. In particular, the USA should not be meddling in elections in Ukraine or Russia.

    1. How about this, Mike:

      "Supposedly, Manafort was hired to provide political advice to Yanukovych and his political party. I think that is absurd. As far as I know, Manafort cannot even read Ukrainian."

      Manafort wouldn't need to read Ukrainian if the political advice he was giving had to do with influence shopping in Washington DC.

    2. "Furthermore, I speculate that the US Intelligence Community has been well informed for many years about Manafort's activities in Ukraine."

      Mike, confirmation via Techno Fog from Mueller's Manafort sentencing memo:

      Citing a 2007 article: "Manafort's own work in Ukraine has been known to the highest levels of the US gov't"

      It wouldn't surprise me to learn that Manafort spoke regularly with the CIA. In fact, I'd be surprised if he didn't. All that went out the window when the CIA became part of the Russia Hoax coup conspiracy and Manafort became a "lesson" for anyone who wasn't on board.