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Monday, May 6, 2019

The False Pretenses Behind The FBI's Trump-Russia Case

Andy McCarthy has a lengthy article today that ties the Mueller Report's--and, by extension, the FBI's--false pretenses surrounding their George Papadopoulos narrative in with the Steele Dossier. This is important for an understanding of what was going on at the FBI and DoJ during the summer of 2016. On the one hand, everything seems to be about the Steele Dossier, on the other hand the anti-Trump narrative (CIA, FBI, DoJ pre-Barr, Hillary partisans, Congressional Dems) have attempted, unconvincingly, to claim that the FBI's case (Crossfire Hurricane) was opened because of information received from the Australian diplomat/informant, Alexander Downer. This seeming disconnect is what McCarthy sets out to address in The FBI’s Trump-Russia Investigation Was Formally Opened on False Pretenses. Because of the factual density of McCarthy's account I'll try to separate out the essentials.

To start from McCarthy's conclusion, McCarthy concludes that Papadopoulos' interaction with Joseph Mifsud and Alexander Downer was purposely distorted and reframed to obscure the FBI's reliance on the Steele Dossier.

Prior to early July, when the FBI began receiving Steele-dossier reports (which the State Department would also soon receive), the intelligence community — particularly the CIA, under the direction of its hyperpolitical director, John Brennan — had been theorizing that the Trump campaign was in a corrupt relationship with Russia. Thanks to the Steele dossier, even before Downer reported his conversation with Papadopoulos to the State Department, the Obama administration had already been operating on the theory that Russia was planning to assist the Trump campaign through the anonymous release of information that would be damaging to Clinton. They had already conveniently fit the hacked DNC emails into this theory. 
Downer’s report enabled the Obama administration to cover an investigative theory it was already pursuing with a report from a friendly foreign government, as if that report had triggered the Trump-Russia investigation. In order to pull that off, however, it was necessary to distort what Papadopoulos had told Downer.

That's McCarthy's conclusion. To reach it, he needs to show that Papadopoulos' role was, in fact, systematically distorted. And that, I believe, he does. The easiest way to get a handle on what Mueller does in his Dossier is to go back to the beginning with McCarthy and watch McCarthy compare what is presented in the prosecution of Papadopoulos with what Mueller says about Papadopoulos in his Dossier.


McCarthy first points out this sleight of hand by Mueller:

Other than Papadopoulos’s own word, there is no evidence — none — that he was told about emails by Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese academic whom the FBI and the Mueller investigation deceptively portrayed as a Russian agent. As I’ve previously detailed, because the investigation could not establish that Mifsud was a Russian agent, Mueller’s charge against Papadopoulos is artfully framed to obscure this weakness. Carefully parsed, Mueller allegation is that Papadopoulos had reason to believe Mifsud was a Russian agent — not that Mifsud actually was one.
If Mifsud is the asset of any foreign intelligence service, it is Britain’s — but that is a story for another day.

Now, in another context, what Papadopoulos "had reason to believe"--with, as McCarthy points out, the false insinuation that Mifsud actually was a Russian agent--might have some relevance, but it doesn't in this context. McCarthy then does on to show how Mueller builds off the misconception he has created:

Although Papadopoulos is extensively quoted in the Mueller report, the prosecutors avoid any quote from Downer regarding what Papadopoulos told him at the meeting. This is consistent with Mueller’s false-statements charge against Papadopoulos, which includes the aforementioned 14-page “Statement of the Offense” that studiously omits any reference to Papadopoulos’s May 6 meeting with Downer, notwithstanding that it was the most consequential event in Papadopoulos’s case. (See pp. 7–8, in which the chronology skips from May 4 to May 13 as if nothing significant happened in between.) 
Instead, Mueller carefully describes not what Papadopoulos said to Downer, but what Downer understood Papadopoulos had “suggested,” namely that 
"the Trump Campaign had received indications from the Russian government that it could assist the Campaign through the anonymous release of information that would be damaging to Hillary Clinton."
The “Trump Campaign” here is Papadopoulos; the “Russian government” is Mifsud. But Papadopoulos was as low-ranking as it got in the Trump campaign, and Mifsud — the source of the “indications” — was not part of the Russian government at all.

And McCarthy follows that up by showing that what Mueller is doing is creating in the readers' minds impressions of what the facts might be or might have appeared to be, while avoiding making any actual factual assertions:

Moreover, the Mueller report does not allege that Papadopoulos ever claimed Mifsud told him the Russians would try to help Trump by anonymously releasing information damaging to Clinton. Again, instead of quoting Papadopoulos, prosecutors repeatedly and disingenuously stress the “suggestion” that Papadopoulos purportedly made — as if the relevant thing were the operation of Downer’s mind rather than the words that Papadopoulos actually used.

What McCarthy is saying here is that any misunderstanding on the part of Downer is utterly irrelevant--unless we are provided the actual words that Papadopoulos used. But, this Mueller declines to do, instead "repeatedly and disingenuously" stressing some purported "suggestion" that they--Mueller and his prosecutors--claim that Papadopoulos made to Downer. But it's a "suggestion" based on words that Mueller never provides to us!

Again, there are other opportunities for Mueller to provide us with the relevant facts regarding Papadopoulos, but he always somehow fails to do so:

Prosecutors acknowledge that Papadopoulos’s conversation with Downer is “contained in the FBI case-opening document and related materials” (Vol. I, p. 89, n. 465). But Mueller’s report does not quote these materials, even though it extensively quotes other investigative documents. Mueller does not tell us what Papadopoulos said. 
Here is how the report puts it (Vol. I, p. 192) in explaining why Papadopoulos was interviewed in late January 2017 (my italics): 
"Investigators approached Papadopoulos for an interview based on his role as a foreign policy advisor to the Trump Campaign and his suggestion to a foreign government representative [Downer] that Russia had indicated it could assist the Campaign through the anonymous release of information damaging to candidate Clinton. 
The “suggestion” that Papadopoulos said such a thing is sheer invention. ...

Note that well. Papadopoulos is said to have "suggested" that there had been an "indication." We are not told what words were used. But what all these "suggestions" and "indications" based on words that are never quoted leads to is this:

Papadopoulos never told Downer anything about emails. Moreover, the Mueller report provides no basis for Papadopoulos to have known that Russia was planning the anonymous release of information damaging to Clinton in order to help Trump; nor does the Mueller report allege that Papadopoulos actually told Downer such a thing. 
The State Department’s report to the FBI claiming that Papadopoulos had “suggested” these things to Downer was manufactured to portray a false connection between (a) what Papadopoulos told Downer and (b) the hacking and publication of the DNC emails. That false connection then became the rationale for formally opening the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation — paper cover for an investigation of the Trump campaign that was already under way.

All of this actually works well with a discussion I recently had with commenter Mike Sylwester (Briefly Noted: Trey Gowdy On The Opening EC And Consensual Monitoring). That discussion arose from a statement that Lisa Page made in her House testimony that

“July 28th [2016] … we received the predicating information for the Russia investigation.”

Now, there's every reason in the world to assume that at that point the FBI was already in possession of the Steele Dossier information that McCarthy, rightly, believes the FBI in reality relied upon to open their Trump-Russia investigation. So what's this about receiving "predicating information" on July 28th? I believe the explanation is that Page is not referring to a complete package of predication but rather to the Papadopoulos related material that provided the FBI with the "cover" (McCarthy's own word) for "an investigation of the Trump campaign that was already under way." This material was not predicating information in the true sense--McCarthy has amply demonstrated how actually threadbare it is. Rather, it was the material that, artfully and deceptively packaged, provided support and cover for the original Steele Dossier narrative that formed the true basis for the investigation. It allowed the FBI to claim that it was receiving similar accounts from multiple sources, rather than simply from Steele, thus significantly bolstering their story in the eyes of people like FISC judges, who would later be reading essentially the same probable cause.

Again, McCarthy provides lots more detail, but it's all starting to hang together. Which must be tremendously worrying for a lot of people, including Team Mueller members.

41 comments:

  1. You're right. McCarthy's explication of events is incredibly dense. But you don't have to be a rocket scientist or a mind reader to see that the 'density' is because one or more of Mifsud, Papadopoulos, Downer and Mueller (Weissman) are lying. Probably, in fact, all four.

    The truth, when we finally learn it, will turn out to be much simpler to understand.

    Cassander

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  2. The “Trump Campaign” here is Papadopoulos; the “Russian government” is Mifsud.

    If Mueller testifies to Congress, he should be asked to confirm that interpretation of his report:

    * The “Trump Campaign” here is Papadopoulos.

    * The “Russian government” is Mifsud.

    Mr. Mueller, is that what you meant? If you meant something else, then please clarify your intended meaning for our committee.

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    1. Every GOP rep who has commented has stated that they're perfectly happy to have Mueller testify. I'm sure they and their staff lawyers are hard at work preparing questions. Mueller may not have written this himself, but it's got his name on it and he's fronting for it. This is also probably why Barr says he has no objections.

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  3. The tell was always that Papadopoulos was interviewed for the first time in January of 2017. I think if the investigation is ever declassified, you will find that Papadopoulos wasn't investigated at all until then. What happened in January 2017 that might make Strzok and company realize that the Steele Dossier is a liability in being the predicate for Crossfire Hurricane?

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    1. I strongly suspect that you're right about that, and I assume you're question is totally rhetorical.

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  4. Andy McCarthy apparently does not know that George Papadopolous talked first with Erika Thompson on May 6, 2016. She was an assistant to Alexander Downer.

    Papadopoulos then talked with Downer on May 10.

    Robert Mueller conflates those two conversations. He insinuates that Papadopoulos said things to Downer that he perhaps said only to Thompson.

    Mueller is obfuscating deliberately here. The public is not supposed to know or think about the Thompson meeting.

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    1. Right. I was a bit surprised that he didn't pick up on it, since questions about that have been "out there". As you suggest, it actually probably strengthens his case.

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  5. For some reason, Erika Thompson is a problem in the RussiaGate hoax, more than Alexander Downer is a problem.

    She was some kind of assistant to Downer, and she talked with Papadopoulos on May 6, 2016, setting him up to talk with Downer on May 10. It seems to me that Mueller has a report that was written by Thompson and that alleges some Papadopoulos statements that the public is supposed to think were stated to Downer.

    Mueller wants to keep Thompson's report secret, but he will have to release it if he ultimately is challenged effectively about what Downer has stated about the Papadopoulos meeting.

    In the meantime, the public is being confused deliberately. McCarthy is trying to make sense of that confusion. He needs to understand that Papadopoulos talked with Downer's assistant, Thompson, four days before he talked with Downer.

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    1. My guess is that hiding Thompson's role was about preserving her diplomatic cover. She was obviously targeting Papadopoulos in an intel officer role, whereas Downer as an ambassador would seem natural to be contacting Papadopoulos and then talking about it to DoS. It wouldn't seem like a purely intel op.

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    2. I think this theory is precisely correct- it couldn't be publicly admitted that the Australians were running an intelligence operation against Papadopoulos because someone would then ask who, exactly, asked the Australians to do this, which can only have an inconvenient answer.

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    3. Tx. You put it better than I did.

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  6. I'm asking for some clarification from you about the first comment and your response.

    Are you of the opinion that Papa D is lying? I thought of him more as innocent victim who may be guilty of trying to save his own neck, but not someone who has broken the law intentionally.

    Same with Carter Page. In yesterday's comment sections of your posts, someone mentioned plants and dupes.

    Based on listening to Bryon York's podcasts with Carter and Papa D, I didn't sense that these men are anything other than innocent. Of course, that doesn't mean that I'm right.

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    1. Hi Joe -- Its my comments you're referring to. Let me first say, I don't know anything for sure.

      But here're my concerns.

      Papadopoulos is a nobody. Its not clear why the Trump Campaign would ever hire him. Aparently he worked for the Carson Campaign before 'volunteering' for the Trump Campaign. I wonder if he wasn't a plant from the git-go.

      Who hired him? There is some commentary floating around that it was Sam Clovis. Well, who is Sam Clovis? And who hired him? I can't find much about Clovis but he is another nobody who ended up co-Chairman of the Trump Campaign. And he's got plenty of military and national-security-type connections in his background.

      In one of my comments, I suggested to Mark that perhaps Clovis was a plant and he hired plant/dupe/stooges Papadopoulos and Page. Mark suggested (don't mean to put words in your mouth) that the 'first' plant might have been a former FBI, former congressman named (bad) Mike Rogers. That may be. I then wondered whether Rogers hired Clovis who hired Page and Papadopoulos.

      Speaking of Page, I'm more than a little suspicious of him. He has a military background and has been an FBI-informant/witness. Why sould we believe he is no longer an FBI informant/witness? Who hired him? He's another 'nobody' who brought nothing to the table but ends up the focus of the FBI FISA application. And while he worked for the Trump Campaign he osentatiously travelled to Russia and turned up in the presence of Russian officials. Which the Steele Dossier suggested was evidence of collusion. Maybe he did this on purpose. The FISA application stated that he was a 'Russian agent'. Presumably the application stated this three more times when it was renewed. But he was never charged. How's that? If he was a Russian agent why wasn't he charged?

      I've watched tapes of Papadopoulos and Page being interviewed and there's something (well, more than something) off about both of them.

      I confess I don't have a good explanation why Papadopoulos would plead guilty to lying to the FBI (when both he and at least one of the interviewing agents don't think he lied) and accept a criminal record and jail time. I can only surmise he was paid well to do so.

      The whole story about how Papadopoulos ended up getting a job offer in London and then quitting and then being sent to spy-school at Link and meeting Mifsud and then going to work for the Trump campaign doesn't add up. Neither, frankly does his meeting and marrying Simona Mangiante, a former colleague of Joseph Mifsud, during this time frame, add up.

      Not to mention that Papadopoulos' wikipedia entry says that he was an intern at the Hudson Institute, where (bad) Mike Rogers was a 'Distinguished Fellow'. Did they cross paths? Does the Hudson Institute have FBI/CIA connections?

      All I am saying is that there are lots of questions... none of which does the Mueller (Weissman) report address...

      Cassander

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    2. Cassander,

      Thank you for this post. As I recall, DJT had trouble signing up heavyweight policy experts for his campaign because he was so radical in his thinking and represented a threat to the Deep State. When he signed up little-known advisors such as Page and Papa D, I think that this is a reflection of his low standing with the Establishment. I read that he was being needled to show some firepower and he released his list with Page, Papa D, etc.

      It does seem interesting that he ends up with such a trophy wife, but stranger things have happened. I am not invested that he and Page are on the up and up. If they are shown to be bad actors, so be it.

      Listening to them, my sense is that they are telling the truth. Contract them to Comey, Clapper and Brennan and listen to how the Three Stooges bob and weave. Page and Papa D seem to be genuinely outraged. I'm sure that Michael Flynn is, too, and Roger Stone.

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  7. I'm not aware of Papadopoulos being untruthful.

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    1. Mark -- I hear you. Its a briar patch.

      But when you hear Papadopoulos say he doesn't know how or why he was hired by the London Centre of International Law Practice, do you believe him? When he says LCILP felt like a fake store front when he got there (but he kept working there...), do you believe him? When he quits his job at the LCILP to go work for the Trump Campaign, but is then sent to the Link Campus in Rome, but he doesn't know why and he just goes. do you believe him? And what are the LCIP and the Link Campus, anyway? Are they remotely legitimate? Do they have anything to do with anything...other that spying?

      And when he marries a former associate of Joseph Mifsud but says it a coincidence, do you believe him?

      Just wondering...

      Cassander

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    2. Obviously it's difficult to argue for credibility in this type of situation. However ...

      Yes, I assume that Page was regularly contacted by the CIA due to his Russian contacts. I also assume that the FBI closed him as an asset before framing him 1) because he was really a cooperating witness and the case was finally over and 2) they needed him to be a Russian agent. I tend to believe his side of things because 1) he went public immediately (2016) when stuff began appearing in media, and 2) he's never been charged despite continually speaking out. That said, everyone who has had anything to do with Page regards him as ... unusual. So did the Russians. Or rather, as an "idiot." That quality, I suspect, made him the perfect dupe.

      For similar reasons I believe Papadopoulos in this specific matter. If he had been paid for going to jail, then he should have kept his mouth shut--but he didn't and hasn't. Like Page, despite going very public, there have been no additional damaging leaks against him, despite the publicity.

      As for Papa-d, no, I wouldn't trust him generally, nor his wife. He was obviously on the make, and that might be the reason he jumped from one position to another, including some dodgy ones. He's making the most of this experience, and no doubt is saying a lot of retrospectively self promoting/justifying things. The FBI also, according to him, suspected him of working for Israel--apparently that goes back to his time at the Hudson Institute.

      Nevertheless, in this specific matter, the Russia Hoax, I haven't come across any reason to disbelieve him, whereas I've seen many reasons to disbelieve the US government--FBI, CIA, DoJ, WH. The same would go for people like Roger Stone. Would I ever trust him? No. Is he being framed? Yes. But I'd trust him over Andrew Weissmann or Bob Mueller.

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    3. There is evidence he was lying to the Trump Campaign. He sent an e-mail at one point that claimed he had met the Russian Ambassador to the UK, when he hadn't. A small, self-serving lie, but still a lie. However, I also take his public pushback as evidence he was really a patsy in all of this, same as I do with Page.

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    4. You're absolutely right. That's part of what I meant about him being "on the make." It's real life--people are like that. In intel or LE work you have to expect that and deal with it--to simply equate all lies is simplistic and ultimately can be self defeating. Some lies are what you describe as "small, self serving" ones. Very different than the type of lies a Comey or a Mueller tell. I can tell you that in my work days in an interview I didn't try to lay it on the line with people--tell me the truth!--so much as try to make it easier or more acceptable for them to tell the full truth. Show that I could understand their "issues."

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    5. And let's not forget Papadopoulos's youth and political inexperience. No way was he prepared for what got thrown at him. Seems like he'd have been a horrible deep state recruit - how could you count on him not to screw it all up? This one factor - youth - is hardly dispositive, but it sure needs to be thrown into the argument of why he acted as he did and what side he's playing for.

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    6. True, people tend to believe what they want to be true, and never more than when you're young and on the make.

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    7. Gentlemen

      No disagreement with your counter arguments. I would only note that Papadopoulos's youth and political inexperience are also factors that make his hiring so improbable -- to the point of inexplicable. Why would you ever hire him?

      Good question for Lewandowski or Rogers or Clovis or whoever did hire him.

      I also appreciate the point made above that Trump was having difficulty hiring heavyweight foreign policy advisors. So he ends up hiring Papadopoulos, who is not even a flyweight? Just doesn't make sense...

      Cassander

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    8. I don't think there's much doubt that these guys were hired by the Trump campaign simply to be able to say that the campaign had foreign policy advisers and really for no other reason. They may have agreed with Trump's views in a general way, but after an initial photo-op meeting as group I don't believe they ever spoke to Trump again--so they clearly weren't going to be making policy.

      Why Trump hired them doesn't appear to be at issue. The REAL issue is why were they hired and/or assiduously courted by VERY prominent people, all connected to the Establishment, and usually the Clintons or their proxies? Downer was a major doner to the Clintons, but there's actually much more, as this totally brilliant article by Mark Steyn shows: Tinker, Tailor, Clapper, Carter, Downer, Halper, Spy. I thought I had linked it previously, but apparently not.

      Page seems to have had some sense at the time that something was wrong, but blundered into the address in Moscow--an occurence about which I have regularly expressed concerns, as in, who really was behind the invitation to Page? Papadopoulos seems to have been more gullible (or less honest with himself) at the time, but certainly has expressed doubts after the fact.

      But both have spoken out loudly about their frame-ups.

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    9. Thanks for the link to the Mark Steyn article, Mark. Its terrific. Hard to believe its nearly a year old, and even with the release of the 'Mueller (Weissman) Dossier', the Dems, and MSM and Deep State won't let go.

      FWIW, whether Page, Papadopoulos and Clovis were plants (chosen for their weaknesses), pawns, stooges, dupes or bad guys, the actions of the Obama Administration and syncophants were horrifying.

      The comments to the Steyn article are, as is often the case, as interesting as the main piece. One of the themes is whether Trump will have the courage, stamina, resolve and power to expose the real treachery here. These comments were written a year ago before Barr came along and started asking questions. I fear the real battle is just beginning.

      Cassander

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    10. I'm really surprised Steyn's article hasn't gotten more play.

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  8. for your reading pleasure from Fox News.

    https://www.foxnews.com/politics/strzok-page-texts-intel-russa-senators

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    1. I have the Daily Caller version of that open in another tab. I found it absolutely hilarious. Hey, if you collude with the Agency you'd best be prepared to be stabbed in the back.

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  9. I think that Papadopoulos is basically telling the truth.

    I think that Erika Thompson wrote a report based on her meeting with him on May 6, 2016. She set him up to talk with Alexander Downer on May 10.

    As far as I can figure out, Papadopoulos and Downer did not talk significantly -- if at all -- about "dirt" or e-mails.

    Perhaps Thompson talked with Papadopoulos about "dirt" or e-mails and wrote something along those lines in her report. I'm just guessing.

    I think Thompson is an Australian Intelligence officer, with only an embassy cover. She is supposed to be kept out of this story. Therefore, a false impression is being made that Papadopoulos talked about "dirt" and e-mails with Downer.

    I do not assume that Thompson's report about her conversation with Papadopoulos is truthful. That report is supposed to stay secret and unchallenged by Papadopoulos.

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  10. Close to five hundred former US attorneys of various stripes have signed a letter stating that the President would've been charged if not for the policy that a sitting president can't be charged. (Notwithstanding Mueller claiming that this provision didn't come into play.)

    One of the names on the list is, wait for it,.....

    Mary McCord.

    You can't make this stuff up.

    Thanks for the Daily Caller note. I will read it.

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  11. "THE STATE DEPARTMENT'S report to the FBI claiming that Papadopoulos had “suggested” these things to Downer was MANUFACTURED"

    I believe McCarthy is spot on regarding the who - the State Department - and what they did - manufacture connections.

    McCarthy writes:

    "In late July, he personally went to the American embassy in London to report the two-month-old conversation to Elizabeth Dibble, the chargĂ© d’affaires."

    However, Chuck Ross has written:

    "Downer sent a cable back to Australian government authorities within 48 hours of the Papadopoulos encounter. The information was not provided to the FBI until months later when Joe Hockey, Australia’s ambassador to the U.S., passed it to American authorities in late July 2016. He was prompted to share the information by WikiLeaks’ release of hacked DNC emails."

    These accounts aren't mutually exclusive. Downer sent a diplomatic cable back to Canberra recounting his conversation, which was eventually passed from Hockey to American authorities. Also, months after his conversation with Papadopoulos, Downer recounted that conversation to Elizabeth Dibble at the US Embassy in London, who then cabled Washington. Therefore there are two accounts: one contemporaneous, the other months after the fact manufactured by a politically motivated actor.

    "[t]he Trump Campaign had received indications from the Russian government that it could assist the Campaign through the anonymous release of information that would be damaging to Hillary Clinton."

    That couldn't have come from Downer's contemporaneous diplomatic cable, nor is it likely that it came from Downer himself. Recounting his evening with Papadopoulos, Downer has said:

    “He didn’t say Trump knew or that Trump was in any way involved in this. He said it was about Russians and Hillary Clinton; it wasn’t about Trump”

    To be fair, there is space between Trump and the Trump Campaign, but there is a yawning gulf between publicly insisting that Papadopoulos's information did not concern Trump, while privately telling Dibble that it was the Trump Campaign.

    I suspect what happened is that Dibble took liberties in writing up her cable - not unlike one of the scenarios described by Mr. Wauck in one of his 302 posts – conflating Papadopoulos with the Trump Campaign, the Russians with the Russian government, and creating out of whole cloth “the anonymous release of information.” Mueller, for reasons as obvious as they are malign, used Dibble's cable instead of Downer's in his report. Perhaps Mueller cited May 6th, 2016, because Dibble mistakenly memorialized that date in her cable? Perhaps the NYT was provided with Downer's cable, and that accounts for their dispatch citing – correctly – the 10th?

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    1. Very thorough! McCarthy rarely goes out on a limb--if anything he tends to be cautious. Nor is he prone to criticize the government side. As your analysis shows, he's thought this thing through.

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    2. I hope Trump declassifies both cables. Maybe Charlie Savage at The Times will write up one of those fancy comparison "news analysis" pieces like he did with AG Barr's letter and the Mueller Report.

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  12. Papadopoulos has expressed another reason why he thought important people were courting him--wanted to meet him and talk to him: he thought it was because, while before he was a nobody, he was now a member of the campaign for POTUS of a major party's candidate--a candidate who was a huge international celebrity in his own right. That's not such a ridiculous notion, and the fact that he was window dressing for the campaign doesn't change the equation.

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  13. Mark -- I'm posting on this thread because the subject matter of my post fits here. But it is really worthy of a new thread.

    As you know I have posted here several times to express my belief that there is nothing about George Papadopoulos, Carter Page or Sam Clovis that would make me want to hire them on my campaign if I were Donald Trump. They were nobodies. I have expressed these views here and been pretty much outvoted by you and others who are inclined to believe that Page and Papadopoulos, in particular, were at worst innocent dupes who the Deep State used to sell the Hoax.

    Now, along comes a fellow named Ashton Gray, who would appear to agree with me. I don't know who Ashton Gray is and I certainly cannot vouch for him. But he has written an article called Poor, Pitiful, Persecuted Papadopoulos-the-Pure and the Four Femmes Fatale (https://chaletbooks.com/chaletreports/?p=2988) which pretty persuasively makes all the arguments (that I have made independently) that Papadopoulos, Page and Clovis were all working for the Deep State. Again, I have no idea whether these claims survive close scrutiny, but I will say that it is a lot easier to play the dupe if you're already in on the game.

    --Cassander

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    1. Here's my problem with Ashton Gray's article--beyond it's absolutely insufferale prose. The core of his thesis is this:


      ***

      He is a double agent who carefully played his planned role with the Trump campaign to help the CIA and the Five Eyes frame Donald Trump with phony “Russian collusion”—certain at every moment he would never receive any consequences but a slap on the wrist, but probably nothing at all if the scheme succeeded as planned. Now that the attempted coup he was involved in is blowing up, he is carefully spinning his CIA-scripted fictions of victimization and martyrdom to help his most important Deep-State criminal cronies, foreign and domestic, cover their asses, while hanging others out to dry in a classic CIA “limited hangout.”

      ... he was in on the Deep-State plot all along, actively helping to manufacture the phony “Russian collusion” and trying incessantly to make it stick to the Trump campaign.

      ***


      He sets that out at the beginning. He then offers zero actual evidence to support the contention that Papadopoulos (or Page) was an actively involved plotter against Trump, and never explains in what way Papadopoulos is now


      ***

      spinning his CIA-scripted fictions of victimization and martyrdom to help his most important Deep-State criminal cronies, foreign and domestic, cover their asses, while hanging others out to dry in a classic CIA “limited hangout.”

      ***


      None. He goes on and on, but never actually explains how this CYA thing works. It's all simple assertion. What has Papadopoulos ever said that would somehow let the FBI or CIA off the hook?

      And the same goes for Page. There is no evidence whatsoever offered that anything Page has said over the past years has in any way helped the CIA or any other Deep State entity cover its/their ass/asses.

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  14. Mark

    I can't argue with you. I have no background in this stuff and only know what I read.

    I think the only proof Gray offers is that Clovis and Page have military and intelligence (and not political) backgrounds and Papadopoulos might have some intelligence connections in his background, too (Hudson Institute, London Center and Link Campus). Maybe the fact that they find themselves in the middle of the Hoax is all a coincidence. But if any of the three of them had actually had brought anything substantively useful to Trump to the table I would be less suspicious.

    But I can't argue the point much further because I simply don't know enough, so I'll stand down.

    --Cassander

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    1. By Gray's reasoning, the fact that I have an intelligence background could be used to argue that this whole blog is an elaborate--or simple minded, depending on POV--ploy to twist the facts. He offers no theoretical benefits for his argument--what does he explain with his view that they're part of the plot, compared to what's explained by them being dupes? I don't see a thing.

      "Maybe the fact that they find themselves in the middle of the Hoax is all a coincidence."

      I don't actually regard it as a coincidence--I think they were deliberately targeted as dupes. Read Mark Steyn's IMO brilliant article. I think it does show the targeting of a dupe.

      "But if any of the three of them had actually had brought anything substantively useful to Trump to the table I would be less suspicious."

      My view is that Trump regarded them as useful precisely as window dressing. That's all Trump wanted from naming foreign policy advisers, and that's what he got. It silenced some critics for a while. Meanwhile, for real FP advice Trump was talking to Henry Kissinger and he wasn't looking for advice from the likes of P&P--just to fill positions. Trump already had his own views on FP, but he was always going to find trouble finding people who could think outside the box. Flynn was one of those only to a very limited extent.

      It's not that different now. Now that he's President and is being drawn in many different directions, he's having to fill WH positions with people he hopes he can direct but almost certainly knows he can't trust completely because their views differ from his.

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