Thursday, August 8, 2019

Conspiracy--The Lesson Of The Flynn Intel Group Case

Epoch Times had a smart article this morning by Petr Svab. For anyone who wants a brief and intelligible explanation of what the Flynn Intel Group case is actually about, Svab provides that. However, his article, Flynn Intel Group Case Highlights Mueller’s Lack of ‘Collusion’ Evidence, also explains the important role that charging a conspiracy can play and relates that to the Team Mueller inquisition into President Trump.

Svab's crucial point in this regard is that conspiracy can be charged even without a substantive crime actually being committed--as long as some step, some overt act in furtherance of the alleged conspiracy, is taken. One step will do. That means that only a circumstantial case need be made as to the underlying conspiracy and, crucially, the one step in furtherance of the conspiracy does not itself have to be a criminal act. Here's Svab's concise explanation of how significant Team Mueller's failure to allege a conspiracy on Trump's part was:

When the final report of then-special counsel Robert Mueller stated that it couldn’t establish that anyone from the Trump campaign had conspired with Russia, many Americans may have failed to realize how revealing a statement that was. 
The recent conviction of a former partner in the now-defunct consultancy firm of Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former national security adviser to President Donald Trump, shows how easy it would have been for Mueller to bring charges even if he could piece together only a circumstantial case. 
Yet he didn’t.

The point is that if conspiracy is relatively easy to charge, given the right circumstances, Team Mueller's failure in that regard is a strong indication of just how clean Trump was.

Despite its ominous sound, the federal charge of conspiracy has a low bar to clear. If two people agree to commit any federal crime and if they undertake any, however trivial, “overt act” to further the plan, they can be charged and sent to prison for up to five years, even if they never actually committed the contemplated crime. 
“It is a low bar,” said David Duncan, criminal defense lawyer from the Boston law firm Zalkind Duncan & Bernstein. The “overt act” in particular can be something “minor or innocuous-looking,” he said.
By that standard, it appears that if anyone on the Trump team had agreed to do anything in the United States that could be seen as stealthily acting on behalf of the Russian government and took any, however small, step to carry it out—even if nothing came out of it—the Mueller team would have brought charges, even if it couldn’t directly prove Moscow was behind it.
Yet no such charges were brought by Mueller.

Let that sink in. And then think about another aspect of this. Duncan, the attorney, is thinking in terms of a criminal investigation in which the goal is to convict someone of a crime. However, in the case of President Trump, while that might have been the pie in the sky goal, the real goal was to simply force him out of office. For that, any allegation of a conspiracy, as long as it had the most superficial plausibility, would probably have been sufficient to flip a few GOP senators. This is what makes Team Mueller's failure to make such allegations so remarkable. You know that this failure didn't result from a lack of effort or imagination.

With that in mind, let me just recall the case theory that I've been pushing since last December. My theory of the case that was being ginned up to frame Trump. Central to that theory is the collusion narrative, and a key part of that was the Trump Tower meeting with the Russian lawyer, Veselnitskaya, in June, 2016. The point of that meeting was to entangle the Trump campaign in at least the appearance of a quid pro quo deal: the suggestion of sanctions relief for Russia in exchange for Russian dirt on Hillary for the Trump campaign. It didn't have to be an actual deal--even an expression of openness, of we'll-talk-again, anything of that sort would have been circumstantial evidence of a conspiracy to violate the Bribery Act, 18 USC 201. Or a federal fraud act, perhaps even the "honest services" fraud of 18 USC 1346.

Consider now how fortunate Trump was that his three aides at the meeting--Don Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort--unequivocally refused to take the bait. Any equivocation could have been construed as circumstantial evidence of a conspiracy. That's why virtually every witness who was interrogated by Team Mueller reported that they were questioned closely about anything they might know about that meeting. And that's also why Team Mueller tried mightily to show that Trump himself had some knowledge--any knowledge--of that meeting. Or that he concealed or may have concealed such knowledge.

This was a very close call for Trump. I really hope that Barr/Durham get to the bottom of the Trump Tower meeting. Was DoJ involved? Andrew Weissmann was tight with the Hillary campaign, with Simpson. Was the FBI involved? Who was behind the special visa for Veselnitskaya and why? Lots of questions. This was too central to the plot to frame Trump to be coincidence. We need to know this.


  1. If there really is a criminal investigation, people like Simpson have to be subpoenaed and brought to that grand jury, if that grand jury exists- subpoenaed for hard questioning, with search warrants attached. If that isn't done, then it is all a sham.

    1. Absolutely. Simpson is at the center of this. But here's the thing--as far as charging goes, what's a criminal act for a government official may not be a criminal act for a private actor like Simpson or the DNC lawyers. You need to be looking at each with a different eye. For sure you want to look at Simpson's likely perjury to Congress.

  2. It is now becoming obvious how massive was/is the corruption within the DOJ/FBI/CIA, and that criminal activity goes back many years to nearly the beginning of the Obama Administration. Couple that with the foreign entanglements that include criminality induced in many allied governments (UK, Australia, Italy, Ukraine, Israel), and you get an almost overwhelmingly large and complex investigation.

    Is there any parallel in US history? How would you even begin to attack and prosecute this level of wrongdoing?

    And, as anyone who has worked for the federal government knows, the problem is 100 time worse when the targets may include a federal employee. The DC Double Standard is a real thing and very powerful.

    1. Re all the above, Giuliani's comments are very pertinent. He states that DoJ/FBI UNDER TRUMP tried to cover up wrongdoing--that can only mean Rosenstein and Wray. He concludes by talking about the lengthy amount of time Durham has spent in Europe, which clearly references "collusion" with foreign powers against our electoral system.

      "Is there any parallel in US history?"

      IMO, NO! And again, NO! NEVER!

      Which is why Barr/Durham need to take whatever time is needed--with updates to the public--to plumb the depths of this swamp.

  3. The Trump Tower meeting with Veselnitskaya was always dubious, and reporting about it even worse. She was obviously coached beforehand, meeting with Glenn Simpson (as the meeting had been orchestrated by Rob Goldstone as an offer dirt on Hillary as the bait for a meeting), then discuss a quid pro quo regarding Magnitsky Act sanctions generally, and for her client, Denis Katsyv--who was also a FusionGPS client.

    Reporting on the meeting--like most else these days--centers not on what actually took place, but on the complete presumption of a conclusion (that collusion was in the works) despite the lack of evidence. Evidence isn't of concern because it is/was being "made up" as necessary.

    I wonder if Simpson, rather than subpoenaed as a GJ witness, isn't a likely target as a participating conspirator. He's surely in the middle of most of the hoax/coup plot.

    1. I commented above:

      "But here's the thing--as far as charging goes, what's a criminal act for a government official may not be a criminal act for a private actor like Simpson or the DNC lawyers. You need to be looking at each with a different eye. For sure you want to look at Simpson's likely perjury to Congress [Senate?]."

      Can a private citizen participate in a conspiracy to defraud the government of the honest services of its agencies? Maybe. I'm not sure. I think so.

    2. I have written my theory many times that Simpson had Veselnitskaya or her companions at the meeting record it. I know Wauck believes the meeting was an FBI operation, and I can't prove it that it wasn't, and I would not be surprised to find that it was. But I am certain there are recordings of this meeting, and it is why Mueller never bothered to investigate how it was arranged and who instigated it for what motive, and also why no attempts were made to use it in the conspiracy/collusion investigation.

      I don't doubt for a second that Trump Jr. and Kushner recorded it, too- indeed they seem to have followed a very strict plan for how to handle it right from the beginning- in short, I don't think it was luck that kept them from offering a quid pro quo, but instead was the result of knowing the risks and acting accordingly.

    3. "knowing the risks and acting accordingly."

      I readily acknowledge that that is a possibility. OTOH, Roger Stone and Michael Caputo (?) reacted the same way when approached by the FBI informant Greenberg (?) who offered them "dirt on Hillary". They were working for Trump at the time but told the FBI informant that they'd accept info, but wouldn't pay for it. Does that show a Trump campaign policy? Maybe. Does it show a FBI tactic. You betcha. Was that the only time the FBI tried that? Probably not.