Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Mueller Indictments: “Smoking Gun” or “Exoneration”?

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Anti-Trump forces say the indictments indicate Robert Mueller is closing in on President Trump, while pro-Trump partisans say the indictments are a vindication of President Trump. The indictments actually show that President Obama failed to protect the U.S. against Russian meddling, while rabidly anti-Trump CNN and MSNBC aided Russian-directed political rallies.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s (shown) indictment of 13 Russians does not prove that Russia “hacked” our election process, as many anti-Trump media commentators have been proclaiming. Nor does it mean that President Trump has been exonerated and that the Mueller probe will stop gunning for him, as some of the president’s supporters have proclaimed. Although the NeverTrump diehards claim to see a “smoking gun” against President Trump in the indictments, there is nothing mentioned therein that connects the president to Russia or Putin. In fact, according to the grand jury indictments, the alleged Russian “interference operations” began early in 2014, long before Donald Trump got involved in the 2016 presidential election cycle. Thus, it was on President Obama’s watch that the alleged criminal activities began, and there are many questions that must be answered concerning what he failed to do about it, and why he left our electoral process vulnerable to such a threat. In addition, two of the loudest voices in the “Trump-Russia collusion” choir — CNN and MSNBC — are implicated as unwitting dupes (or worse) for lavishly promoting a major anti-Trump rally that was organized, according to the indictments, by Putin’s minions.

Mueller’s office announced on February 16 that a federal grand jury had issued indictments for 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies accused of interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The charges are all wrapped into one indictment signed by Mueller. On February 20, following the Presidents’ Day three-day weekend, Mueller announced an additional indictment, of lawyer Alex van der Zwaan, the son-in-law of Ukranian billionaire German Khan. Van der Zwaan is charged with “willfully and knowingly mak[ing] materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statements” concerning his communications with former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates.

The anti-Trump voices in the media and the Democratic Party, who have been pounding the “Trump-Russia collusion” theme for more than a year, have tended to cite the indictments as “proof” and “vindication” of their claims. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has cited the indictment and a couple of sentences in an accompanying announcement by the Justice Department as an official exoneration. Some Trump supporters see the indictments, which do not visibly implicate President Trump, as a final nail in the Mueller investigation. In fact, from the information presented in the indictments, it is impossible to make a conclusion for either side. There is certainly nothing presented thus far to validate the claims of Hillary Clinton and her advocates that massive Russian interference affected the outcome of the election, or that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.

“There is no allegation in the indictment that any American was a knowing participant in the alleged unlawful activity,” said Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, in the Justice Department’s February 16 announcement. “There is no allegation in the indictment that the charged conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election,” he additionally noted.

In tweets over the weekend, President Trump quoted the Rosenstein statements cited above and referenced media commentaries that pointed to his exoneration. He also took to Twitter to point out Obama’s failure to properly deal with the alleged Russia election interference. “Since the Obama Administration was told way before the 2016 Election that the Russians were meddling, why no action? Focus on them, not T!,” he tweeted.

Deputy White House Press Secretary Hogan Gidley told Fox News on February 17 that the indictments and Rosenstein’s statement “[make] it clear and concise for the American people and [prove] the President correct. No collusion between Donald Trump, his campaign and Russia.”

“I think this is important too; it did not affect the outcome the election whatsoever,” Gidley said. “What the Russians were trying to do as outlined by Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein was create chaos in the American election system. And I’ll just say this: There are two groups that have created chaos more than the Russians, and that’s the Democrats and the mainstream media, who continue to push this lie on the American people for more than a year.”

However, it is important to keep in mind that Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein said, “There is no allegation in the indictment.” That does not preclude Team Mueller from issuing additional indictments in the future that would allege President Trump had engaged in illegal activities with Russia. Indeed, it is likely that they will try to keep this process going, in order to keep the “Trump-Russia collusion” distraction going. They must do this to divert attention from the far more serious matter of the Obama-Clinton-Comey-Lynch-Mueller-Deep State collusion/conspiracy in the massive criminal effort to help Hillary Clinton and prevent Trump from winning. That criminal effort included obtaining the FISA Court warrants to illegally spy on Team Trump, as laid out in the recently released House Intelligence Committee memo. Those criminal efforts have continued in the ongoing campaigns to stymie and sabotage the Trump administration, and to delegitimize and remove President Trump since his election victory. Shocking and irrefutable evidence of that far-reaching criminal activity was brought to light with the recent release of a 99-page FISA Court opinion, as we reported last month. That court document provides details of a very frightening abuse of the growing surveillance state, in which political operatives in the intelligence agencies abuse their positions to weaponize their spying apparatuses against American citizens.

A “Brazen Plot”
In an important video interview with the Daily Caller, former federal prosecutor Joe DiGenova calls out the Obama administration’s FBI-DOJ collusion/conspiracy as a “brazen plot to exonerate Hillary” and “frame” Trump.

“The FBI used to spy on Russians,” Di Genova said. “This time they spied on us. What this story is about [is] a brazen plot to exonerate Hillary Clinton from a clear violation of the law with regard to the way she handled classified information with her classified server. Absolutely a crime, absolutely a felony. It's about finding out why — as the Inspector General is doing at the Department of Justice — why Comey and the senior DOJ officials conducted a fake criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton. Followed none of the regular rules, gave her every break in the book, immunized all kinds of people, allowed the destruction of evidence, no grand jury, no subpoenas, no search warrant. That's not an investigation, that's a Potemkin village. It's a farce.”

“And everybody knew it was a farce,” DiGenova continued. “The problem was, she didn't win. And because she didn't win, the farce became a very serious opera. It wasn't a comic opera anymore, it was a tragic opera. And she was going to be the focus.”

“We're going to discover,” said DiGenova, “that the attorney general, Loretta Lynch, her deputy Sally Yates, the head of the National Security Division John Carlin, Bruce Ohr and other senior DOJ officials and, regrettably, line attorneys — people who were senior career civil servants — [allegedly] violated the law."

"People who were senior career civil servants violated the law, perhaps committed crimes, and covered up crimes by a presidential candidate,” charges the former prosecutor. “But more than that, they tried to frame an incoming president with a false Russian conspiracy that never existed, and they knew it, and they plotted to ruin him as a candidate and then destroy him as a president. That's why this is important. That's why connecting the dots is important.”

What’s in the Mueller indictments?
In a Politico article entitled, “Bob Mueller Is Not Playing Around,” authors Noah Bookbinder and Norman Eisen attempt to put an impressive face on the Mueller indictments. “Federal investigators and prosecutors, and a grand jury, have now found probable cause to believe that a complex web of Russian organizations and agents executed a years-long scheme to undermine our elections — first to sow chaos, conflict and doubt into our electoral system and then specifically to support Donald Trump and oppose Hillary Clinton,” write the duo. “These are not vague allegations; over 37 pages, the indictment lays out in careful detail a step-by-step scheme involving identity theft, fake accounts, carefully orchestrated trips and outreach, a concerted social media strategy and even real live rallies across the United States secretly planned from Russia.”

Bookbinder and Eisen continue, “Adding all of this together, one thing is clear about this week’s developments: They leave the president in substantially more peril. His longstanding efforts to cast doubt on the idea that Russia interfered in the election are in tatters. His campaign now appears to have at least unwittingly furthered the efforts of Russian saboteurs to wreak havoc in our election.”

Actually, the indictments provide far less than the anti-Trump Politico writers would have us believe. Eisen is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, one of the leading Deep State think tanks closely tied to the Council on Foreign Relations, the intelligence agencies, and the globalist media elites. Brookings “experts“ have been singing the “dump Trump” refrain in newspaper op-eds and in numerous TV network “news” appearances for more than a year. But if anyone has “furthered the efforts of Russian saboteurs to wreak havoc in our election”  — unwittingly or otherwise —  it’s the same media elites that have been attacking President Trump. As the Media Research Center (MRC) pointed out on February 19, both CNN and MSNBC gave favorable, generous, and continuous coverage to a Russian-organized “NOT my President!” rally mentioned in the Mueller indictments. Remember that large, raucous, raunchy protest in New York City on November 12, 2016, the Saturday after Trump won the election? MRC noted that “both CNN and MSNBC gave enthusiastic coverage to the Russian-organized anti-Trump rally that day, with live reports every hour. Correspondents celebrated the idea that it was ‘a love rally,’ and repeated the marchers’ anti-Trump mantras, such as: ‘We reject the president-elect.’”

Have any of the talking heads at CNN, MSNBC, and the other networks that heartily promoted the “NOT my president!” rally issued mea culpas for their roles in promoting Russian propaganda? None that we have been able to find. According to the summary of the indictments provided in Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein’s announcement of February 16, “twelve of the individual defendants worked at various times for Internet Research Agency LLC, a Russian company based in St. Petersburg, Russia.” The thirteenth individual, Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin, “funded the conspiracy through companies known as Concord Management and Consulting LLC, Concord Catering, and many subsidiaries and affiliates. The conspiracy was part of a larger operation called ‘Project Lakhta.’” (Both the indictments and the DOJ announcement can be accessed from the DOJ website here.)

Internet Research Agency, LLC allegedly operated through Russian shell companies and “employed hundreds of persons for its online operations, ranging from creators of fictitious personas to technical and administrative support, with an annual budget of millions of dollars,” according to the DOJ. “In 2014, the agency established a ‘translator project’ to focus on the U.S. population. In July 2016, more than 80 employees were assigned to the translator project.”

According to the Mueller indictments, the Russian operation “had a strategic goal to sow discord in the U.S. political system, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election.” Obviously, any operation by a foreign government to “sow discord” in the United States, and particularly if aimed to influence an election, should be considered a serious national security matter. However, so far, Mueller’s gruel is still pretty thin. We have not seen any of the evidence and have no idea whether a jury would find it convincing. A few million dollars and eighty employees posting messages on social media and organizing a few rallies is not likely to have tipped an election that saw spending approach $7 billion. It should be noted also that, contrary to some reporting,  the indictments do not contain any allegations that the Russian defendants hacked the Democratic National Convention or any election polls or voter databases.

The Mueller indictments certainly do not substantiate the countless accusations of collusion, conspiracy, and treason that have been leveled against President Trump by commentators and Democratic members of Congress. In fact, even if the indicted Russian defendants did indeed do all of the things alleged, it would be difficult to believe that they were more successful at “sowing discord” than CNN, MSNBC, Hillary Clinton, Donna Brazile, Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters, Don Lemon, Joe Scarborough, and their legions of discord-sowing cohorts in the never-never-never-Trump bandwagon.

So, what do the Mueller indictments accomplish? For Team Mueller and their get-Trump-at-all-costs co-conspirators in the Deep State, the Russian indictments were (and are) an important effort to get some long-overdue points on the board. With the House Intelligence Committee zeroing in on the Comey-Mueller-DOJ-FBI illegal spying and FISA abuses, and with even many Democrats tiring of the never-ending-and-never-producing Mueller “witch hunt,” it was time to put up or shut up. They are acutely aware that even their top rooting section — CNN — is losing patience. CNN’s own analysts noted the Trump-Russia collusion fatigue in a double slam on January 21, right after the release of the House Intelligence Committee memo.

CNN reporter Maeve Reston, appearing on the network’s Inside Politics, commented on the fact that, “out in these districts when you talk to people about Russia, and that’s all we talk about at CNN basically, they say they don’t care.” Yes, “that’s all we talk about at CNN” — and at the New York Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, etc. That same day, reporter/commentator Jeff Greenfield (a famed veteran of CBS, ABC, CNN, PBS, the New York Times, and Slate) chided his fellow CNN panelists over the network’s obsession with Trump-Russia, and its echo-chamber effect of simply reinforcing the biases of its core anti-Trump audience. “When I watch CNN sometimes,” he said, “you know, I think, I expect the indictment on Donald Trump to be imminent,” because of the network’s non-stop focus on the issue.

Now, finally, there is a Russian indictment, and even if it doesn’t mention Trump or point to him, the anti-Trump media hounds are trying to make it look like it does. Besides, note Politico’s Bookbinder and Eisen, “This indictment also makes it still harder for the president to fire Mueller.” How so?  Because, they say, “it is difficult to imagine that a decision to fire him at this point could be seen as anything other than an effort to interfere with an investigation of the greatest national significance.” It also serves, they suggest, to protect Rosenstein, since “the firing of Rosenstein would have to be viewed through the lens of a possible attempt to interfere with an investigation that is making substantial progress in exposing a shocking scheme to attack American democracy.”

In truth, the most dangerous attack on the American Republic (and we are, after all, a republic, not a democracy) is coming not from Putin’s Russia but from globalist Republicans and Democrats, most especially including Hillary Clinton, who have been colluding with Russia and pocketing huge payoffs from Putin & Company since long before Trump threw his hat into the political ring. Like the thief who tries to make his escape by yelling “Thief!” while pointing to someone else, the Obama-Clinton-Comey-Mueller-Rosenstein cabal and their political and media confreres will continue pointing at Trump and yelling “Collusion!” unless (and until) they are themselves brought to the bar of justice.

Photo: AP Images

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