RussiaGate: fragments of a story large beyond imagining

Summary: Here is a summary of the RussiaGate stories, fragments of contradictory information about something that might be big beyond imagining.

Special solutions

Both sides have constructed pleasing narratives based on leaks and rumors. Narratives which they believe are proven facts. Let’s begin with some delusional statements from Paul Krugman, a prominent liberal.

“There’s really no question about Trump/Putin collusion, and Trump in fact continues to act like Putin’s puppet.”
— In the NYT on 17 November 2017.

“We’ve basically crossed the line into treason now — and a whole party is acquiescing”
Tweet on May 19 about GOPefforts to unmask the intel operative placed in the Trump campaign. Note Glenn Greenwald’s decisive rebuttal.

Here’s an example of the red meat being fed conservatives.  Joe Digenova was US Attorney for the District of Columbia from 1983 – 1988. He has seen the inside of the Washington machinery. Here are two interviews on Fox News from the past week. Big claims, little evidence. First, a quote from him on “The Ingraham Angle,” 15 May 2018.

“The state of play now is that it is abundantly clear that there was no legitimate basis even for a counterintelligence investigation, let alone in criminal investigation.

“It is quite obvious that John Brennan was at the head of a group of people who were going to create a counterintelligence investigation against Trump by creating false information which was going to be fed through Carter Page and fed through George Papadopoulos so that it would be picked up, reported back to Washington and provide the basis for a counter — a fake counterintelligence investigation.

“And it was all Brennan’s doing. And that is why the Justice Department is viciously fighting, revealing everything they can about the source in London who everybody knows the identity of.”

Second, his discussion on “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” 17 May 2018. Video here.

CARLSON: Joe, what do we know?

DIGENOVA: We know that Hillary Clinton was illegally exonerated, we knew that a year ago. We know that there was a substantial effort to frame the current president of the United States with crimes by infiltrating his campaign, and then his administration with spies that the FBI had set upon them. We have learned that the crimes were committed by the FBI, senior members of the Department of Justice, John Brennan, Mr. Clapper, Mr. Comey, and others associated with the Democratic Party, and that Donald Trump and his associates committed no crimes. …

Categorically and unequivocally, it has been proved that the FBI, in violation of all guidelines, all legislation, and I believe they committed crimes in doing so, purposely sent people into the Trump campaign to plant false information, then force that information to be forwarded back to CIA, and then funneled to the FBI, to be used as false information in FISA applications. Everybody involved in that process who knowingly participated committed a crime. …

CARLSON: So why aren’t they being held to account?

DIGENOVA: As of today, I understand that a referral for criminal prosecution has been made by Mr. Horowitz to Mr. Huber, who is investigating the FISA leaks, the unmasking, the leaks of the unmasking and everything we described tonight. Criminal referrals have already been made, and I suggest that Mr. Brennan – who loves to make comments about the process, get himself a good lawyer. Not a good writer.

Ed Note: John Huber is a US Attorney, the lead Federal law enforcement official for Utah, and has been assigned by the Attorney General to investigate Republican claims of FBI misconduct and whether more should have been done to investigate Hillary Clinton’s ties to a Russian nuclear agency (see CNN).

CARLSON: Wait, John Brennan the NBC news paid consultant?

DIGENOVA: Yes, NBC News’ consultant, the former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, the most partisan hack leader of the CIA in history, needs a very very good lawyer.

CARLSON: Criminal lawyer?

DIGENOVA: Yes, criminal lawyer. He doesn’t need a slip-and-fall lawyer, although he’s going to slip and fall. He’s going to be in front of a grand jury shortly.

Even weirder things about the RussiaGate stories

Both sides have developed contradictory – almost non-overlapping — narratives. See the meat being fed the Left. For example, this by Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei at AXIOS “The public case against Trump.” Convincing, powerful — but it omits most of the logic and information (of varying degrees of credibility) that the GOP focuses on. More exaggerated and one-sided is Natasha Bertrand’s article at The Atlantic about “the most significant revelations the country has learned since Mueller began his probe.” Artfully crafted to mislead (e.g., the largely bogus section about the “Russia trolls worked to help Trump”).

For a hysterical version of the Left’s narrative, see Rebecca Solnit’s”The Coup Has Already Happened.” She appears to be suffering from what Orwell called “CrimeStop: “The mind should develop a blind spot whenever a dangerous thought presented itself.”

Worse, partisans on both sides get much of their information from Tweets. A big fraction of those are insults. See this discussion between the President of the United States and John Brennan — long-time senior intel officials and former Director of the CIA. This is the modern version of children passing notes in the classroom. Are these people suited to hold high office (or any position of responsibility) in America?

We’re reduced to reading this wild speculation since by now many of the key players have given contradictory stories. Peter Elkind of Propublica notes one of the many examples: “How a Typical Government Leak Turned Into a Three-Way War Between Comey, McCabe and Trump” — “Two former allies, James Comey and Andrew McCabe, have offered contradictory accounts of the orchestrated FBI leak that spawned a critical investigation. That means one of them has to be lying – as President Trump is happy to tweet to the world.”

Most of what we know comes from leaks, rumors, and heavily redacted documents.

There is good analysis from both sides, resulting in a ping-pong game-like result for the layperson attempting to follow the action. For example, see this incisive analysis by McCarthy about the NYT story of the probe’s origins. Lots of dynamite allegations by both sides in this complex and ever-changing story. The American public has no firm basis on which to draw conclusions — other than tribal loyalty.

Update — Even an adviser to Bill Clinton believes that the Mueller investigation has murky origins and has spun out of control. See this op-ed by Mark Penn in The Hill: “Stopping Robert Mueller to protect us all.

Who wins?

For two years liberals have focused much of their effort on broadcasting their story about RussiaGate. That’s even more true for the past year, since Mueller was appointed special prosecutor. So far the situation is best described in “The Russia Temptation” by Rich Lowry.

“So, when Trump denies he reimbursed Michael Cohen, it could lead to legal trouble. When he admits he reimbursed Michael Cohen, it could lead to legal trouble. It’s never enough to say he had an affair with a porn star, paid her off, and was dishonest about it, which would seem embarrassing and blameworthy enough. No, there has to be the prospect of him and people around him getting caught up in the grinding machinery of prosecution.

“Republicans adopted the same view in the 1990s. If they could affix the scandal suffix “-gate” to any matter (Troopergate, Filegate), they thought they had hit gold. The public ended up caring more about the benign material conditions of the 1990s than Bill Clinton’s appalling conduct and attendant legal problems.

“Many elected Democrats, per Amy Klobuchar, seem to realize that the most politically promising attack against Trump is as a stereotypical Republican plutocrat implementing all the same textbook GOP policies, rather than as a Kremlin tool. But left-wing cable personalities, much of the mainstream press, and the Democratic base are much too vested in Russia to ease off, and the amount of attention they devote to it is overwhelming.

“The Mueller probe has been covered like it’s a major scandal, with a missing 18 1/2 minutes every other day, when it is only an investigation. It holds the possibility of uncovering a major scandal — if, that is, one exists. A symptom of the Russia obsession is to consider that a given, when there is not yet any public proof.”

Here is the bottom line: Trump’s job approval as of May 13: the highest it has been since 29 January 2017, one week after inauguration. The Democrats have spent vast amounts of political capital publicizing the investigation (which could have run quietly) – diverting attention from Trump’s plutocrat-friendly and highly unpopular policies. They have nothing whatsoever to show for it.

Trump job approval

For More Information

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If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about Russiaabout RussiaGate, and especially these…

  1. What Trump told Russia, why it matters, and why journalists ignore the smartest man in Washington.
  2. Trump and the Democrats stumble into a ‘Wilderness of Mirrors’.
  3. Debunking the Reality Winner leak about Russia hacking the election.
  4. The verdict on the stories of Russian hacking in the 2016 election.
  5. The WaPo strikes another blow for the Deep State against Russia.
  6. A review of Russiagate, its propaganda and hysteria.
  7. Secrets untold about the DNC hack, the core of RussiaGate.
  8. The exposés in the Nunes memo: big, but not as advertised.
  9. Debunking RussiaGate, attempts to stop the new Cold War.
  10. The secrets of RussiaGate, and what it all means.

25 thoughts on “RussiaGate: fragments of a story large beyond imagining

  1. Facts matter little, nobody knows for sure so it is business as usual. lie, lie, lie.
    Truth is trust no longer exists.
    It has become tribal.
    No side is listening and then commenting. It is a case of throw as much dirt as possible and hope that it sticks.

  2. > The Democrats have spent vast amounts of political capital publicizing the investigation (which could have run quietly) – diverting attention from Trump’s plutocrat-friendly and highly unpopular policies. They have nothing whatsoever to show for it.

    It would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic. But perhaps part of the problem is that to take any other course risks people scrutinising them, and their plutocrat-friendly and highly unpopular policies.

    So their search for the ‘nuke them from orbit’ killing blow continues because its all they have that doesn’t risk collateral damage…

    1. Steve,

      That’s intriguing! “Why” is the most valuable question, and the most difficult to answer.

  3. Both parties are busy attacking public trust in the institutions of government on which we depend. If they succeed, what comes next? For now it appears that the core of the government continues to operate business as usual. Could we ultimately reach a point whee the public comes to trust the bureaucracy more than the politicians?

    1. I get really sick of this “moral equivalence” of the left and the right.

      While democrats are not blameless, republicans by far are more vested in tearing down the institutions of government. Look at every cabinet appointment by Trump. They are there to destroy the departments they are supposed to run. Whether it is Scott Pruitt at EPA on the take anywhere and everywhere, Betsy DeVos at education stopping the investigations into the “for profit” education racket that she also happens to benefit from financially, then you have Rick Mulvaney…probably the least qualified person to ever serve in Government…there is no such equivalence on the left.

      Also, there is no mention of the report released by the Senate that was bipartisan and said pretty clearly the yest Russia meddled in the election and yes they did it to benefit Trump

    2. Scott,

      (1) “I get really sick of this “moral equivalence” of the left and the right.”

      Of course you do. Each side feels that way. It’s the tribal perspective that makes us so easy to govern.

      (2) “While democrats are not blameless, republicans by far are more vested in tearing down the institutions of government.”

      Correct, but too narrow a view. The Democrats — more accurately the Left — are not tearing down the institutions of government. They are using them to reshape American society. Like children spinning the dials in the control room of a nuclear power plant, guided only by their ideology. Just as they did with communism.

      (3) “there is no mention of the report released by the Senate that was bipartisan and said pretty clearly the yest Russia meddled in the election and yes they did it to benefit Trump”

      I’ll believe that when somebody releases actual evidence. There is broad bipartisan support for a new Cold War with Russia. No surprise, since the first Cold War was Christmas every day for our rulers. So far this Cold War appears to be even more build on a foundation of lies than the first one.

      But we eagerly believe the lies, just as we did with the first one. Our gullibility makes us a gift to our leaders. How long must the Big List of Lies by Our Leaders grow before you develop skepticism?

      (4) For more about these matters

    3. Scott – a follow-up

      “no mention of the report released by the Senate that was bipartisan and said pretty clearly the yest Russia meddled in the election”

      That’s not correct. The Senate Intel committee released a press release (copy here) – not a report.

      Just like the original report, this gave no supporting info.

      But your comment is more interesting that the latest unsupported claims by government officials. Given the long list of lies by government officials since Ike – about vital matters — why do you so uncritically believe what you are told?

  4. Yea but I think the inspector general’s report on the Hillary whitewash will prove dispositive and cut through the hype. Just as his report on McCabe exposed him as a serial liar. I have heard that the upcoming report will detail violations of federal law and DOJ rules in the Clinton whitewash. Having had a security clearance for decades, the training makes it clear that every time Hillary put classified material on her server, its a felony count. That’s roughy 100 felony counts at least and the rest of her life in prison.

    1. Dpy,

      That’s a powerful point. The highly politicized reports are useless — such as about Russian and the US election (which probably doesn’t mention the CIA’s long history of interference in our allies’ elections). But sometimes focused internal affairs reports can be of immense value, when written “under the radar.”

      The CIA has produced several such blockbuster reports about its operations. They are locked up and never see the light of day. As we’re seeing now, that’s more difficult these days.

  5. We view with a great degree of skepticism John Huber’s involvement in prosecuting anything other than street crimes. We have previously depicted and complained about the U.S. Attorney for Utah John Huber’s conduct. His penchant and process for prosecuting Utah’s Goodfellas is to do a non-prosecution deal that has basically given the corrupted Utah Transit Authority and others a “pass.” He has no credible, successful experience prosecuting high level corruption cases, but does excel in doing damage control for the Goodfellas. What more or less to expect of but another Orrin Hatch endorsed, Utah Federal, Miss-Justice clansman? s/ Wayne L. Wickizer, Major U.S. Army Special Forces (Ret.), former FBI Agent, Political Lurker

    1. Wayne,

      Thank you for that report from Huber’s ground zero! That might explain why he was tapped for this high-profile assignment! His track record gave the great and powerful reason to believe he would not torpedo the ship.

  6. Fact Comey may have violated Hatch Act and got a by. Fact no indictments despite years and millions investigating HRC. Fact Muller has made 19 indictments although only six may be meaningful. All else is noise at present time.

    1. Charles,

      That’s a bit of an oversimplification of the situation. Also, dismissing “all else as noise” seems a bit daft, imo. Just closing your eyes to maintain a pleasing narrative.

      (1) “Fact; no indictments despite years and millions investigating HRC.”

      Available evidence suggests that the investigation of her email server was not seriously done. Although perhaps it shouldn’t have been considered serious, in these things the process must be seen to be fair.

      I’d be interested in the source of your estimate of “millions” investigating her.

      (2) “Fact Muller has made 19 indictments although only six may be meaningful.”

      Indictments are meaningless. Except to the victim, of course.

      “District attorneys now have so much influence on grand juries that ‘by and large’ they could get them to ‘indict a ham sandwich.'”
      — Sol Wachtler, the former chief judge of New York state, in a January 1985 interview in the New York Daily News (source).

  7. “The Democrats have spent vast amounts of political capital publicizing the investigation (which could have run quietly)”

    You’re assuming a fact that is not in evidence, namely that the investigation was legitimate from the outset. If the purpose of the investigation was to undermine the Trump Administration or reverse the election, then it pretty much had to be carried out in a fairly public way. One thing that comes back to me is something Philp Agee said in Inside The Company. Covert action operations were considered to be compromised by definition since they were designed to produce an observable change. (Overthrow a government, say) This investigation was always, at some level, probably compromised from the get go.

    The recent reports of an informant reporting on the Trump campaign are interesting to consider in this light.I was reading a memoir a while back by a South African man who had fought as a mercenary under Mike Hoare in the Congo back in the days. He says more than once that he could never understand why the CIA had to pretend that they weren’t really there. It’s not like their presence, or what they were doing, was a secret from anyone. What he fails to understand of course is that the only people being fooled were the American people. The Russians, the Cubans, literally everyone else knew. So it’s reported that the informant’s name has been given to the Washington Post, but the Post won;t report it. (A name is up on Breitbart, which may or may not be correct) The point is who is the secret being kept from? Apparently no one except the public. Plus ca change…

    And it appears, if this is anywhere close to true, that our intelligence agencies have blown an intelligence source as a result of whatever it is they’re caught up in. Whatever you think of Trump or the investigation, it’s not supposed to be like this. You and I talked about rot in the military some time back. Well, this is rot in the intelligence agencies. They literally can’t keep a secret. (The NSA exploits ending up in the hands of the Shadow Brokers are an good example of this.) It’s rot, and you;re right that this is evidence of deterioration in our political system.

    1. The Man,

      (1) “You’re assuming a fact that is not in evidence, namely that the investigation …”

      False. To say that the Dems are publicizing an investigation says nothing — zip, nada — about the investigation. It might be Sherlock Holmes at work, or a total frame-up, or shadow boxing.

      (2) “What he fails to understand of course is that the only people being fooled were the American people.”

      That’s an important point, one I’ve frequently written about. From the U-2 incident, many of the most secret ops have been those known to our foes but secret to the American people. Many of the recent controversies that excite the Left have been revelations of things we should not know — from ClimateGate to the DNC emails.

      That’s amazing, but accepted as normal by the media and American people. The Left is horrified that we learn things that they don’t want us to know. And we are supposed to approve them.

    2. Ah … my yes … and play/compare that nice piece above against the commentary and time line linked below as we expose the Mimes “Goodfellas” behind the masks. “…things that they don’t want us to know” are sub rosa. They are concealed, or twisted and obfuscated via the tools of the Goodfellas trades … Psychological Warfare, Propaganda, Perception Management, Mind Manipulation, Cognitive Dissonance, Cognitive Distortion, Destabilization, Money Grabbing …warfare by us against us. It is as Walt Kelly, wry author of the Pogo comic strip would say, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Please take a bit of time and pursue the terrifying yet amplifying summaries here https://goo.gl/uoxHuo

      The truth is what matters …

      I just posted the following note to “The Last Refuge” and wanted to share it with you.

      “You do say ” Rag Tag Bunch of Conservative Misfits,” and I’m one of the biggest, Rag Daggiest misfits you’ll ever encounter. If you’ve been around the block or know someone who has, you’ll understand what I mean when I say that I’m the only FBI Agent in the history of the Bureau to have a letter of commendation from Jack Anderson of the infamous “Washington Merry-Go-Round” and also a letter of commendation from Director Hoover. That also makes me 81-years-old.

      I’ve spent a good deal of time “Unmasking the Mimes also known as “Goodfellas” in a “chilling” and yet surprising treatment of Uranium issues and individuals found here https://goo.gl/uoxHuo and attached.

      I don’t know what to tell you to do with it other than if you get close enough to Orrin Hatch please shove it up his ass for me. In the alternative, a great editor and collaborator could help me help get this and some other stuff I’m doing in proper order and send it viral on the WWW.

      Best wishes,

      Wayne

      Wayne L. Wickizer – MSAJ
      Major, U.S. Army Special Forces Ret.
      Former FBI Agent 1970-76
      Retired Educator
      Member Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ)
      Freelance Commentator and Political “Lurker”
      justice@utahwtp.com
      Skype = wwickizer1
      Linkedin = http://goo.gl/Rgz9vd

  8. “False. To say that the Dems are publicizing an investigation says nothing — zip, nada — about the investigation. It might be Sherlock Holmes at work, or a total frame-up, or shadow boxing”

    I don’t assume the investigation is bogus solely because it’s being publicized, I assume it’s bogus because the people doing the investigating keep acting like they have something to hide. The FBI isn’t slow walking the release of documents because they contain proof of the FBI’s innocence. After nearly two years of investigation (That we know of, more depending on how this human source story pans out) they have nothing worthwhile to show for it. Maybe that’s because there never was anything real to investigate. If Mueller had a case, he wouldn’t be trying to ask Trump a set of questions about whether, when he fired the FBI Director, he was thinking an illegal thought. If there was a case to be made related to Russia, they wouldn’t be sending guys to kick in his lawyer’s door over a one night stand that happened in 2006.

    But whatever. I wouldn’t want to be accused of pushing some kind of narrative, so I’ll push this instead. Sooner or later, they either have to make a case against Trump or admit they can’t. And the longer they go without making one, the more people will think that they haven’t made a case because they’re making stuff up.

    Sometimes I think that Trump hasn’t ordered the release of all of the documents and materials Congress has subpoenaed because he really doesn’t understand that he’s President and what that really means. But every once in a while, I think that maybe, just maybe, he hasn’t done it because he knows that panicked people do stupid things.

    1. When I read comments to the effect that the special prosecutor must not have anything because he keeps pursuing leads, I wonder whether the author is just trying to push a point of view or perhaps he/she has never had experience with litigation. Mr. Mueller was trained to follow threads wherever they go and the more he finds the more trails to follow. He’s gotten multiple guilty pleas. That is not the sign of an unproductive investigation. The leads may or may not get to the President, but to claim this is an illegitimate investigation is willful ignorance of the facts. There are most definitely witches in those woods.

    2. John,

      “When I read comments to the effect that the special prosecutor must not have anything because he keeps pursuing leads”

      I wish more people would reply to direct quotes. It would avoid cases like this, where you make something up and give a rebuttal to it. The Man gave four complaints about the Mueller investigation.

      (a) ” the people doing the investigating keep acting like they have something to hide.”

      There is a reasonable basis for that statement. The GOP Congress asks for information. Team Mueller gives reasons for not giving the info. Eventually Congress gets the info, and finds that the reasons given were false. As with the identity of the informant in the Trump campaign. The revelation of the name, assuming the govt officials leaking to the NYT and WaPo were accurate, was a known CIA operative. His life is not in danger.

      (b) “After nearly two years of investigation (That we know of, more depending on how this human source story pans out) they have nothing worthwhile to show for it.”

      Factually true, in the sense that the indictments are unrelated to Trump. Opinions differ about the pacing and significance of the investigation to day.

      (c) “If Mueller had a case, he wouldn’t be trying to ask Trump a set of questions”

      Lots of people find that suspicious. The FBI has a long history of using interviews as entrapment. They get somebody not on the basis of any crime committed, but because he said something false to the FBI. The FBI has a long history of lying to us, but that’s OK. The questions released do not look like attempts to gain info, but entrapment.

      (d) If there was a case to be made related to Russia, they wouldn’t be sending guys to kick in his lawyer’s door over a one night stand that happened in 2006.”

      Again, many people find this suspicious. It’s an extraordinary action, and there is little basis to believe there this legitimately linked to any Trump relationship with Russia. Which is why a judge appointed someone to review the seized evidence before Team Mueller gets it.

    3. The Man,

      (1) I can’t say this any clearer: you are making stuff up, attributing it to me, and giving rebuttals.

      Me: “The Democrats have spent vast amounts of political capital publicizing the investigation (which could have run quietly)”

      You: “You’re assuming a fact that is not in evidence, namely that the investigation was legitimate ”

      Me: “To say that the Dems are publicizing an investigation says nothing — zip, nada — about the investigation. It might be Sherlock Holmes at work, or a total frame-up, or shadow boxing.”

      You: “I don’t assume the investigation is bogus solely because it’s being publicized …”

      Your last statement is esp nuts. Nobody says that an investigation is bogus because it is publicized.

      (2) “Sooner or later, they either have to make a case against Trump or admit they can’t. ”

      The nine previous “special” investigations ran from 3 to 9 years. Mueller is moving faster than any of them except Watergate, as measured by indictments (that’s a poor measure, but the only available metric at this point). See the comparison at 538.

  9. Larry,

    I think you got me and John mixed up in your last set of replies. With a bazillion comments on this site, I suppose such things are bound to happen now and again.

    1. The Man,

      Thanks for catching that! I reply from a control board that coordinates these. It’s a bit complex.

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