The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Manafort and Papadopoulos

Conservative comedian (I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but it isn't in this case), Greg Gutfeld, comments on Robert Mueller's indictment of Paul Manafort et al (paraphasing):
The Democrats and their media allies, along with GOP #NeverTrumpers were gleeful in anticipating Mueller's indictments, expecting the special counsel to give them a gift pony. Instead, they got a gold fish.
But undaunted, the Dems, along with their trained media hamsters, are trying to turn a goldfish into a whale. It's actually kind of pathetic to watch. #NeverTrumpers are a bit more circumspect.

The conservative National Review provides a useful discussion of the facts Mueller and his team of lawyers (most of whom were Clinton donors) alleges:
Do not be fooled by the “Conspiracy against the United States” heading on Count One (page 23 of the indictment). This case has nothing to do with what Democrats and the media call “the attack on our democracy” (i.e., the Kremlin’s meddling in the 2016 election, supposedly in “collusion” with the Trump campaign). Essentially, Manafort and his associate, Richard W. Gates, are charged with (a) conspiring to conceal from the U.S. government about $75 million they made as unregistered foreign agents for Ukraine, years before the 2016 election (mainly, from 2006 through 2014), and (b) a money-laundering conspiracy.

There are twelve counts in all, but those are the two major allegations.

The so-called conspiracy against the United States mainly involves Manafort’s and Gates’s alleged failure to file Treasury Department forms required by the Bank Secrecy Act. Specifically, Americans who hold a stake in foreign bank accounts must file what’s known as an “FBAR” (foreign bank account report) in any year in which, at any point, the balance in the account exceeds $10,000. Federal law also requires disclosure of foreign accounts on annual income-tax returns. Manafort and Gates are said to have controlled foreign accounts through which their Ukrainian political-consulting income sluiced, and to have failed to file accurate FBARs and tax returns. In addition, they allegedly failed to register as foreign agents from 2008 through 2014 and made false statements when they belatedly registered.
Manfort is representative of everything that's wrong with "the swamp." He's typical of hundreds of slimy operators (both Dem and GOP) who make tens of millions of dollars lobbying for special interests, influencing corrupt government bureaucrats and elected politicians, and otherwise doing unethical and marginally illegal stuff. He did work for the Trump campaign for about four months (focusing mainly on convention logistics). His employment by the Trump campaign does represent bad judgement on the part of Donald Trump, but the violations alleged happened years before that campaign gig, and Trump, to his credit, fired the man once allegations of slimy behavior began to surface.

Undaunted by a lack of evidence of "collusion" associated with Manafort, the Dems and their trained hamsters, like drowning men grasping at straws, have focused on a low level Trump campaign functionary, George Papadopoulos. Left-leaning Yahoo News reports:
The former Trump foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, admitted to making “numerous” false statements to the FBI about his repeated efforts to arrange an “off the record” meeting between Trump campaign officials and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s office. [They fail to mention he never succeeded in achieving anything actionable] He is now cooperating with Mueller’s investigation, according to the unsealed court records.
Here's a guy who never met with Trump or any other high-level campaign official, but like a good soldier was looking for dirt on Hillary. When confronted by the FBI after getting off a plane, he made the mistake of lying.

Further context is provided by Paul Sperry:
George Papadopoulos ... volunteered to work on the Trump campaign’s foreign policy advisory council, which met just one time.

In the 14-page document, Robert Mueller’s prosecutors maintain that Papadopoulos, a 20-something think-tank nerd who jumped ship from the Ben Carson campaign, met with individuals posing as Russian officials who promised dirt on Hillary Clinton.

There was nothing illegal about what Papadopoulos did. The only crime alleged in the indictment is that he lied to federal agents when they asked him about the contacts last January.

It is fairly plain from the indictment that the young campaign volunteer was trying to impress higher-ups in the campaign, perhaps with a White House assignment in mind, but was played for a sucker by con artists who approached him masquerading as Russian honchos tied to Vladimir Putin. (The contact portrayed as “Putin’s niece,” for example, turned out to be nothing of the kind.)

The initial Russia offer by Papadopoulos went nowhere, as other members of the foreign policy team rejected the suggestion, according to a Washington Post story published in August (yes, this is old news, new media huffing and puffing notwithstanding). But Papadopoulos persisted, emailing then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski in April 2016 that “Putin wants to host the Trump team when the time is right.”

The Washington Post further reported that Papadopoulos also forwarded campaign officials an email from a senior official in the Russian International Affairs Council about coordinating a Trump visit to Moscow. But once again, senior campaign officials rejected the suggestion. Proposed trips to Moscow “did not take place,” the indictment confirms.

Mind you, Papadopoulos never paid $12.5 million to a right-wing version of Fusion GPS to develop a phony dossier that impugned Hillary Clinton and never worked with the RNC to get the funds paid to Russians. In fact, he never accomplished anything. But gosh, as far as the Dems and their trained hamsters are concerned, he's a whole lot more interesting than the Clinton/DNC payment that did accomplish: (1) payment to Russian entities via cut-outs, (2) the creating of a phony dossier, (3) the use of that dossier to spur government surveillance of the trump campaign. But those proven actions aren't nearly as interesting as Mueller's allegation that Papadopoulos lied under oath. Gosh, Hillary never did that, did she? Nah, good lawyer that she is, Hillary just said she "couldn't recall" key facts and dates 45 times (!!) during an FBI interrogation. And BTW, where are Mueller's indictments associated with the Fusion GPS case? Waiting ... patiently.

Breathless with anticipation and having watched far too many episodes of CSI, the trained media hamsters are suggesting Papadopoulos "wore a wire" and that his surreptitiously recorded conversations would lead to Trump's impeachment. I'm certain that those conversations will leak as Mueller and his impressive band of witch-hunters move forward:

Pap (to Trump): Thanks for inviting me into the oval office. Even though I'm a nobody, it's nice to meet you. By the way, Donny, did you collude with the Russians?

Trump: Yeah .. Vlad and I have been planning this since 1993. We knew that the Internet and Facebook would become really big and designed ads that would bring Crooked Hillary down. I bought Wikileaks with pocket change and drafted Julian Assange to publish the DNC emails that made Hillary look like a manipulative jerk. It was me ... all me! In fact, I personally hacked the DNC servers, given my massive and beautiful understanding of the Internet that Al Gore invented.

Pap: So you're guilty, right?

Trump: Believe me, I'm guilty. I'm very, very guilty. Bwahahahah!!
And once this clandestine make-believe recording is leaked, it becomes an open and shut case—impeachment is only seconds away!! Collusion ... collusion ... COLLUSION!!!

If all of this weren't deadly serious, the hysteria exhibited by those with Trump Derangement Syndrome would be outright laughable.


Here's the reality of the actual, evidence-based "collusion" as described by Roger Kimball:
A few days ago, the world was stunned by the news that 1) the original funder of the Fusion GPS anti-Trump research was the conservative website Washington Free Beacon, edited by Matthew Continetti, the son-in-law of energetic NeverTrumper Bill Kristol, and 2) when the Beacon ended its contract with Fusion GPS, its services were picked up by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC. It was at that point, in May-June 2016, that Fusion GPS employed the former British Spy Christopher Steele to look for dirt on Trump in Russia. That was the origin of the infamous “Trump Dossier,” with its (in the words of former FBI director James Comey) “salacious and unverified” claims about Donald Trump’s behavior in Russia.

This whole story has been exhaustively and exhaustingly picked over [but not by the trained hamsters in the mainstream media]. Who knew that Tony Podesta, older brother of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, was in bed (and in today’s climate, we must stipulate, not literally) with Paul Manafort? Yep, it’s true. And this just in—the elder Podesta has just announced that he is stepping down from his lobbying firm, the Podesta Group, after, nota bene, it was announced that Mueller was turning his jaundiced eye on him.

Who knew that the FBI, too, engaged the services of Spook Steele to continue gathering dirt on Trump? Did that work provide the rationale for the Obama Administration’s going to the FISA Court to get authorization to bug Trump’s associates? What about Robert Mueller? He was head of the FBI when that storied agency was prevailed upon not to announce it was investigating the Russian company that acquired Uranium One, and thereby some 20 percent of U.S. Uranium assets, back when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state and Barack Obama was still pursuing his “reset” with Russia. What’s going on there? And the $140 million (give or take) that found its way into the coffers of the Clinton Foundation around the time of that transfer? Or the $500,000 speaking fee for a short speech by Bill Clinton, paid by a Russian bank working for the Russian company acquiring Uranium One? What about that?

It’s a carnival of corruption, a carnival of collusion, but the one name missing from the roster of malefactors is that of President Donald Trump.
So ... our intrepid special counsel, Robert Mueller, indicted Paul Manafort et al. No tears. Manafort deserved it. Papadopoulos? Not so much. In fact, it's indicative of lack of meaningful evidence that Mueller's only option was to arrest and then intimidate such a low-level player.

Since indictments have begun, Mueller damn well better indict some of the key players in the Fusion GPS scandal where evidence is copious and a true “Conspiracy against the United States” election process did occur. He damn well better take a hard look at the Obama Justice Department to determine whether the actions of Fusion GPS led to spying on an opposition candidate and indict the principals if it did. He damn well better indict people associated with The Clinton Foundation for corruption and bribery, pay-to-play and influence peddling associated with Uranium One—another true scandal that amounted to a "Conspiracy against the United States” in the form of corrupt government practices. After all, if you can go back 5 to 10 years for Manafort, you can go back 5 to 10 years for the Clintons. If you can arrest and intimidate a low-level player like Papadopoulos, you can arrest and intimidate low level players at Uranium One and The Clinton Foundation.

The BIG question that will clearly define Mueller's veracity, integrity, and even-handedness is—will he?