Russian Indictments Are Long On Chicanery and Short On Collusion

fa0f116753ca535f6304144908b8b67e--russian-posters-propaganda-artBelow is my column in The Hill newspaper on the implications of the Special Counsel indictment of 13 Russians and the express statements of the Special Counsel and the Deputy Attorney General that there is no evidence of any American knowingly working with these Russians.  This indictment addresses the core of Russian hacking and misinformation campaigns by the Russian government.  The admission of no evidence of collusion is notable and significant. As I mentioned in the column, that does not mean that the investigation will not go forward, including pursuit of any collusion between the Russian and the Trump campaign. However, after a year and multiple pleas, none of the indictments have established the alleged nexus between the Trump campaign and the Russians.

There still remain a number of potential threats for the White House from new collusion evidence to financial-related crimes to new allegations stemming from the alleged payoff of former lovers.  However, while Rep. Adam Schiff is still insisting that there is ample evidence of collusion and obstruction, the core (and original) allegation against Trump has moved little in terms of real evidence (at least evidence made public).  Moreover, the evidence of the Russian campaign shows that it began in 2014 before Trump ran for president.  It seemed to target the presumed victor: Hillary Clinton. However, when Trump ran, it targeted Trump.  Both anti-Clinton and anti-Trump rallies were ultimately organized by the Russians to spread division. It was a curious effort since the country was already quite divided and the Russian-led protests paled in comparison to the massive anti-Trump rallies like the Women’s March or the continual protests over Hillary Clinton.  The most serious problem was not the trolling or the organizing but the hacking.

 

Lewis Carroll once wrote in praise of adjectives, saying that “adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs.” That is certainly true with the latest indictments by special counsel Robert Mueller of 13 Russians for interfering with the 2016 presidential election. For the White House, the entire report comes down to a single adjective. Let’s see if you can spot it: The Russian defendants “communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump campaign.”

Despite a 37-page indictment with a long narrative on a coordinated Russian campaign of interference, the most newsworthy fact comes from the carefully placed adjective “unwitting.” It confirms that the special counsel has found no knowing coordination or collusion between these hackers and Trump officials. The indictment names 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities in alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election. It describes a coordinated effort by Russians, including the shadowy Internet Research Agency, to wage “information warfare” against the United States.

The charges themselves are not particularly novel or exotic. They involve identity fraud, wire fraud and other conventional charges. However, the context is anything but conventional. This is the largest indictment of a foreign effort to interfere with our elections, and the clear import is that the hand of the Russian government was behind this effort. Moreover, it is clear that the Russians were acting to help Donald Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton.

While the indictment is historic, it is hardly a surprise. Few people were questioning the Russian interference with and hacking of the election. Both Democratic and Republican leaders were in agreement on this fact, as were all of the administration’s top intelligence figures. The one hold-out seemed to be the president himself. He routinely referred to the “fake news” of the Russian investigation.

While Trump seemed to be focusing on the specific allegations of collusion by his campaign, he will now have a chance to make that distinction more clearly and concretely. This indictment is incredibly detailed and damning as to the effort of the Russians to interfere in the election and then hide their tracks once the FBI went into the field looking for the hackers.

That brings us back to “unwitting.” Not only did the indictment clearly say that no one in the Trump campaign was wittingly or knowingly involved with the Russians, it explains how the Russians used fake names and groups to hide their real identities. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein gave a press conference and drove home that point, stating that there was no evidence of any knowing involvement by the Trump campaign, as well as no evidence that this effort impacted the election. Indeed, Rosenstein stated that there is “no allegation in this indictment that any American had any knowledge” of the Russian effort.

For over a year, some of us have been questioning the weekly “bombshells” announced on cable programs of criminal Russian collusion. Indeed, for months I asked for someone to point to a crime of collusion in the criminal code or the criminal evidence to support a criminal indictment if such a related charge is made. With each week, experts have given breathless accounts of the circle of collusion tightening on the Trump campaign.

Now, the special counsel and the deputy attorney general are saying that there is no evidence of knowing interaction of campaign staff with Russians interfering with the election. The paucity of such evidence follows a year of intensive investigation and the much heralded plea bargains with former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and campaign adviser George Papadopoulos and the expected plea with former campaign official Rick Gates. There is still no evidence of anyone “wittingly” or knowingly colluding with these Russians. Moreover, the indictment says that the Russian efforts began in 2014, long before the candidacy of Trump.

None of that has stopped the spin. CNN political director David Chalian insisted that nothing in the indictment actually says that the Trump campaign did nothing wrong. But prosecutors generally do not use indictments to affirmatively exonerate organizations. They focus on the matter under investigation. On the same panel, CNN legal analyst Carrie Cordero speculated that the Mueller team added this language “to give it political cover” to protect his investigation and allow it to continue without interference from the White House. There is also the slight possibility that this is an indictment which stated the facts required to be truthful to the court and that there is no evidence of collusion.

Of course, the absence of collusion would not end the Mueller investigation, and reports indicate the collusion probe is ongoing. Mueller has already charged various figures with collateral crimes. Moreover, even if there is no case for collusion, there could still be a case of obstruction. The irony would be hard to miss. For months, many of us have been baffled by the president’s obsession and personal actions in relation to the Russian investigation. The evidence against Trump or his campaign has remained entirely speculative and thin. Yet, he has repeatedly acted in ways that have fueled allegations of obstruction, even though the underlying case is manifestly weak.

If Mueller ultimately finds no collusion, it could not only clear Trump but could even lead him to consider the use of his pardon power for individuals like Flynn. It is doubtful that Flynn’s indictment would have been handed down but for the appointment of the special counsel. Again, the irony is crushing. Before Trump fired James Comey as FBI director, his investigators reportedly decided that Flynn did not intentionally lie to them about his meeting with the Russians. Once Trump fired Comey, Flynn was a target of opportunity for the special prosecutors.

This all brings us back to “unwitting.” When this history is written, that adjective could well stand out as the turning point in the Russian investigation. The remaining question could be whether Trump wittingly obstructed an investigation into unwitting contacts with the Russians.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanTurley.

198 thoughts on “Russian Indictments Are Long On Chicanery and Short On Collusion

  1. Clara Ponsati s’est installée il y a peu en Ecosse où elle travaille pour l’université de St Andrews en tant que professeur d’économie. Lors d’une récente interview à la BBC, elle ne se faisait guère d’illusions sur son sort si elle rentrait en Espagne. «Je suis à peu près sûre que la police viendrait me chercher à l’aéroport ou chez moi pour m’emmener à Madrid, et je suis aussi à peu près certaine que j’irais en prison», a-t-elle déclaré. Clara Ponsati a reçu le soutien de membres du Parti nationaliste écossais (SNP), qui partage les aspirations des indépendantistes catalans.

  2. One of the grave problems that I have had with this investigation is this persistent quest to find actual collusion with the Russians to steal the election, when in fact it has conclusively been proven that it was Hillary Clinton who actually did pay Russian spies for fraudulent information she tried to release just before the election, when it would have been too late to prove his innocence. When media outlets wouldn’t release it prior to the election, her camp leaked the details, and succeeded in causing so much damage that there are still a significant number of Americans who believe this disgraced file.

    As I have said before, using foreign sourced opposition research is no crime. How else would you discover your opponent’s wrongdoing on foreign soil? However, that information had better be true.

    The investigation should have been to investigate the extent of Russian espionage and interference in not only our elections, but cyber attacks in general. Everyone knows Russia spies on us. Well, everyone except Obama and Hillary Clinton with her Russian Reset button and the 1980s wants its foreign policy back. They reintroduced Russia as feted friends.

    And at what point do we hold Podesta culpable for his part in hacking when he used “password” as his password? At what point is Hillary Clinton responsible for the theft of data that she uploaded to the Cloud and paid people with no security clearance whatsoever to back it up?

    It may be the abuse of power against a US citizen before the election, and a politically motivated attack against the President afterward, when we have a year of an investigation that has uncovered no evidence of collusion, and instead seems to try to find a crime, any crime, among anyone remotely connected with the President. This is what we see in Russia and China. Is this how we run the US now? Don’t like someone in office so you spend a year investigating him and everyone around him to see if anyone, anywhere, broke any laws? That’s like someone pounding on your door, and going through your files and house, as well as following you everywhere you drive to see if they can catch you doing anything wrong.

    That’s not right.

    Trump has made missteps rightly deserving of criticism, but this is the weaponization of government agencies for political purposes.

    • Kimdotcom seems to step up his “knowledge” of the DNC email dump as his appeals to fight extradiction are exhausted.
      He’s fought extradiction to the U.S. for over five years, and it looks like the clock is running out for him.
      He’s sought deals with American authorities in exchange for information he supposedly has on the DNC email/ Seth Rich murder issues.
      The last farce involved kim and DC retired detective Rod Wheeler about 18 months ago.
      Looking at kimdotcon’s background, it’s hard to take him seriously as a credible source.

    • Kathy,

      The scandals, treason, espionage, Obstruction of Justice, etc.. has already been proven in public against those like you support that hate the US for it’s Rights & form of gov’t & Trump supporters.

      If you , JT & others would stop & listen you could hear what NSA/US govt Intel experts, and others that Infowars has on, shows you, for example, prove that the DNC Was Not Hacked, it was Leaked. Most likely by the murdered Seth Rich.

      The next few months many believe this type of proof will flood out to the public that supports Trump.

      I still wonder why JT hasn’t the courage to go into Infowars with Jones or Roger Stone, David Knight or any of the others.

      I don’t believe Prof Turley can maintain his current positions on these issues.

      Go on the show Turley, help us regain our respect for you.

  3. So now the talking heads on CNN and MSNBC are wondering who some of the unwitting participants in the Russian’s activities might be. I think they should look in the mirror.

  4. Put this on the wrong thread originally.

    JT,

    I really think you have fallen for lies about Russia. I appreciate your legal analysis of these indictments but within your very good legal argument you still accept things which have not been proven. For example, you say we “know” Russia hacked the DNC e-mails. We do not “know” this. Here is a different perspective:

    https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-02-18/kim-dotcom-let-me-assure-you-dnc-hack-wasnt-even-hack

    Finally, as to all this Russia hating, well, does it really make sense? I don’t think it does.

    View story at Medium.com

  5. Thoughts on whether or not the Russian efforts could have affected the way people voted in 2016.

    Propaganda works. Marketing works. Advertising works. They are all designed to, and intended to, change not only attitudes, but behavior. If these strategies didn’t work, governments and corporate America wouldn’t spend a fortune on using them, and on constantly trying to improve their efficiency and effectiveness.

    We like to overstate our ability to withstand these efforts, but we’re not nearly as rational and aware about them as we pretend to be.

    • Yes, but as a legal matter, I don’t think we can start equating marketing acts with overt acts like hacking election machines when talking about “election meddling.”

      In the latter case, you can argue for law enforcement intervention in people’s lives. But in the former? I’m sorry, you’re going down a slippery slope — and frankly, I think you’re selling the American people a little short.

      And marketing doesn’t work indefinitely. If your product stinks, it stinks, and word gets out.

      In the world of American politics, I think your average American has become immune to October surprises before a November election.

      • I wasn’t talking about hacking election machines. I was talking about attitudes and behaviors that affect how you vote.

        When millions of Americans believe in birtherism, Pizzagate, Seth Rich, etc., it’s abundantly clear that propaganda and manipulation works very, very well.

        They are NOT informed citizens. They are delusional.

        • “I wasn’t talking about hacking election machines. I was talking about attitudes and behaviors that affect how you vote.”

          Well I noted that in my response. If you don’t think my response is satisfactory, then fine. But don’t claim I didn’t read your comment properly.

        • kathy:

          “When millions of Americans believe in birtherism, Pizzagate, Seth Rich, etc., it’s abundantly clear that propaganda and manipulation works very, very well.

          They are NOT informed citizens. They are delusional.”

          ***************************************
          Ok, so in your world, if people don’t agree with how you voted it could only be because they are deluded by some internet troll from Russia who had overborne their will and led them away from your position of utter infallibility. Does your pointy hat fall off when you pass through doorways?

          • It was the conspiracy minded media sites like Fox evening show, Infowars, etc. that promoted the conspiracy theories that they fell for.

            • I find Fox much more willing to have opposing viewpoints aired in a non-gangup way than say CNN. As for Infowars, I, like most people, have never seen the show so it’s hard to say.

              • It is the Fox evening shows that are the conspiracy theory wellspring. They have other decent shows like Shep Smith and Chris Wallace. But the crazy conspiracy theorists are watching in the evening for four hours and that’s where the damage is being done to their minds. And plus the nutty judge in the cocktail dresses.

                • re: “But the crazy conspiracy theorists are watching in the evening for four hours and that’s where the damage is being done to their minds. ”

                  whaat? Sounds like Kathy needs an intervention! OR best case scenario she’s using us a test audience for a stand up routine.

                • How about CNN’s ratings decline of more than 30% since last year? And don’t forget Rachel Madcow’s Russia! Russia! Russia! show on MSNBC.

                    • Yes, Madcow has the best ratings she’s ever had since she sold her soul and went all in on nonstop ‘Russia Russia Russia Red Scare anti-Trump’ programming.

                      The point is: Doesn’t Madcow’s one-sided show, Chris Matthews’ show, the “Stop the Hammering! Larry O’Donnell show, and Joe and Mika, Don Lemon, and all the other liberal-leaning Trump-hating shows on MSNBC and CNN, also cause this “damage to the minds of their viewers,” just like “kathy” says is being done by watching Fox? I would say yes. Absolutely. Some MSNBC-watching nutjob even went and shot up a baseball field of Republicans. When the nonstop media message is: Democrats good, Republicans evil, Trump is Hitler, then why not go shoot a bunch of evil no-good Republicans and Trump supporters? They’re evil afterall.

                  • tBob – Ken is right — all those same folks who consider themselves to be bright and liberal – who read the NYT and WashPost, etc as gospel flock to her. She is a highly intelligent woman who has sold her soul to $$$$ and proximity to power (or maybe she’s afraid of the Clinton cabal as well)

              • Mespo,

                William Binny cleanly understands the law & legal issues as per his career.

                I think this vid is about many of the current issues from 2 weeks ago.

                aka, the FBI lying to get a FISA warrant for Obama & Hillary.

            • What are your thoughts about Obama’s former CIA director John Brennan and former DNI James Clapper being hired as TV analysts on MSNBC and CNN? So now instead of being grilled and asked questions by so-called investigative “journalists” about their roles in the Steele dossier scandal, both Brennan and Clapper are now paid TV pundits where they can attack Trump and spin any narrative they choose. Doesn’t seem quite right, does it?

          • It’s not that Kathy is wrong, folks – it’s that everyone who disagrees with her are out of touch, uninformed, and indoctrinated.

            Only “informed” and ‘not delusional’ people show up to a “Not My President” protest….

            Oh, Kathy………… if we could gift you with even a glimpse of what we see…..

    • Sure we are and can – that’s why HRC despite spending all that money, despite all the glowing media coverage, despite rigging the primaries still did not win. Rational people never even considered voting for her. They voted for Trump, Stein, Johnson, wrote in candidates of their choice or simply stayed home. The only thing the DNC achieved was a mass exit.

      • Every one I know who voted for Clinton is at a minimum 10X more rational than you are given your nonsensical comment.

        And I might point out that many Trump supporters believed in birtherism so rationality was in short supply on that end.

        • Nonsensical? I am still laughing. Why don’t you check out the numbers who have Demexited and now are Independents? And the falling numbers in the Establishment Dim coffers? HRC was a terrible candidate — only the folks who fell for the Dem propaganda voted for her. At this point I would argue that true Progressives loathe the Establishment Dims even more than Republicans.

          And I, btw the way, am an Indie leaning Left, on many issues – if you are interested check out Jimmy Dore, Tim Black, Caitlin Johnstone, Lee Camp, Glenn Greenwald, Niko House

          • No progressive here in Colorado voted for T rump. You don’t even believe in gun control or climate change. You are a T rump bot and not any type of progressive. You use that to con some gullible reader like the Russian Facebook trolls did.

            • That’s what YOU think Ken. I have Progressive friends in CO and they did not vote for Trump. However, they also did NOT vote for HRC.

              • That is true but Clinton did win our state by a comfortable about. Now we are supporting Emily Sirota for Congress. T rump and Session will bring da pubs down here. We like our legal Marijuana and don’t won’t those two fascists
                Lock-in people up. We also
                Like clean air and T rump strikes out there. Don’t think that da MAGAs are gonna hVe a good year from what I can tell.

                • You and Autumn are apparently unaware of overt support given by Russia to the Sanders and Stein campaigns. So, if progressives in Colorado didn’t vote for the pant suit which Russian shill did they go for – the geriatric ‘tard from Vermont that’s never held a real job, or lil Miss Green?

                  • Uh AWW, the “geriatric ‘tard from Vermont” as you put is known as the Amendment King on Congress so he has achieved more to affect this nation than most folks will. And that would be Dr. Jill Stein – an MD from Harvard.

                • “We like our legal Marijuana”

                  Ken, I don’t know about the rest of the people, but your posts sound as if you like it a bit too much.

                • Ken – true that and I am seeing people starting to become annoyed (the Bannon folk especially) Too bad the Dims ran HRC huh?

        • Autumn thinks da MAGA guys are rational cause they carry big guns and are in militias. She thinks da pink hat ladies are not rational cause they don’t care much for da lporn crazed sex Assaultef Putin’s stooge that resides with his miserable cheated upon wifey at Pennsylvania Ave.

          • None of my MAGA friends are in militias although they do all own guns. “Pink hat” wymen are delusional and pathetic. Sorry, but I don’t care about the Donald’s sex life at all.

          • Tbob – yes, a lot of us wish she had been locked up. Not gonna happen – Deep State too entrenched. Remember when folks used to be kept in check by the idea of the “long arm of the law”? That’s been turned topsy turvy — now folks fear the “long tentacle of the Clinton cabal” No one wants to be Arkancided.

            • Yeah, and “kathy” thinks Clinton voters are “rational” (by 10x more than you, LOL) when in fact more than half the country (over 60%?) believes Clinton is an unlikeable, untrustworthy, corrupt criminal who should be locked up.

        • Kathy is rational why you slink away from proving your case? To be rational one must first know and understand what is happening, but you seem to lack the knowledge to be rational at all.

          Why don’t you explain and prove your case instead of always slinking away?

    • Like you mean, the whole “There are no illegal people!” Dem argument? Or, “even though Blacks have a 77% illegitimate birth rate, Institutionalized Racism is why they’re poor!” Dem Narrative, or “If you want America to stay white, you are a racist!” crap, even though nobody requires Mexico to become less brown, or Africa less black, or China less yellow. That bunch of crap?

      Or, the “if we can’t kill our babies as late as 8 1/2 months into our pregnancy, then we are being deprived of our “rights” murderous theory. Or, if you still have a penis, and self identify as a woman, you can go tinkle in the Ladies Room if you want!” bullsh*t Leftist argument? Or, “if you self identify as a woman, you can play on the Women’s Volley ball team!” silliness? Or, “Poor people have no responsibility for nothing! Not to stay off drugs, or make sure their kids do their homework, or get a job, or anything at all?” Dem theories? Or, “mass incarceration of blacks is wrong, sooo we need to turn loose criminals into Black neighborhoods, because what could go wrong with that???” utter Dem nonsense!

      Or, “Why can’t somebody register the day of the election to vote, with no ID, because if you don’t let them, then you are a racisssst!” Dem spiel??? Or, the “Everybody knows black people are too stupid to get photo IDs” Democratic implication? Or, the “Sure, we got millions of unemployed and underemployed low skill workers,and we need millions more, who don’t even speak our language!” underhanded ballot-box stuffing Dem technique???

      Or, “Sure “stop and frisk” saves black lives but it’s PROFILING!”, so just let more blacks die!” hilarious bit of Democrat reasoning. Or, “We need more Gun Control!”, when no one much is really taking guns from the most deadly persons, namely criminals and ex-felons, or imposing the extra penalties when they are caught, because mass incarceration??? I mean who even knows how that logic works??? Or, supporting an obvious crooked politician like Hillary Clinton, who openly runs a slush fund thru her “charities”, or who in complete violation of law operated her own email server while employed as Secretary of State??? Or, who support Socialists like Bernie Sanders, whose “socialism” has Venezuelans killing zoo animals for food, and even killing and skinning their dog and cat pets for food???

      You mean those little bits of “irrationality”

      Squeeky Fromm
      Girl Reporter

    • I believe that the following video captures your view of how advertising, marketing and propaganda work on the psyches of the American electorate:

      Of course, if the American voter is as vulnerable to suggestion and as easily manipulated as you seem to suggest, then the effect of spending over a billion dollars on marketing or campaigning should exceed the effect of spending a few millions of dollars by three orders of magnitude. That’s not what happened, however. Hillary lost.

  6. The US-UK Deep State Empire Strikes Back: ‘It’s Russia! Russia! Russia!’

    There’s no defense like a good offense.

    For weeks the unfolding story in Washington has been how a cabal of conspirators in the heart of the American federal law enforcement and intelligence apparat colluded to ensure the election of Hillary Clinton and, when that failed, to undermine the nascent presidency of Donald Trump. Agencies tainted by this corruption include not only the FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ) but the Obama White House, the State Department, the NSA, and the CIA, plus their British sister organizations MI6 and GCHQ, possibly along with the British Foreign Office (with the involvement of former British ambassador to Russia Andrew Wood) and even Number 10 Downing Street.

    There’s no defense like a good offense.

    For weeks the unfolding story in Washington has been how a cabal of conspirators in the heart of the American federal law enforcement and intelligence apparat colluded to ensure the election of Hillary Clinton and, when that failed, to undermine the nascent presidency of Donald Trump. Agencies tainted by this corruption include not only the FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ) but the Obama White House, the State Department, the NSA, and the CIA, plus their British sister organizations MI6 and GCHQ, possibly along with the British Foreign Office (with the involvement of former British ambassador to Russia Andrew Wood) and even Number 10 Downing Street.

    Not to be overlooked is the possible implication of a pack of former Democratic administration officials, including former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, and President Barack Obama himself, who according to text communications between Strzok and Page “wants to know everything we’re doing.” Also involved is the DNC, the Clinton campaign, and Clinton operatives Sidney Blumenthal and Cody Shearer – rendering the ignorance of Hillary herself totally implausible.

    On the British side we have “former” (suuure . . . ) MI6 spook Christopher Steele, diplomat Wood, former GCHQ chief Robert Hannigan (who resigned a year ago under mysterious circumstances), and whoever they answered to in the Prime Minister’s office.

    The growing sense of panic was palpable. Oh my – this is a curtain that just cannot be allowed to be pulled back!

    What to do, what to do . . .

    Ah, here’s the ticket – come out swinging against the main enemy. That’s not even Donald Trump. It’s Russia and Vladimir Putin. Russia! Russia! Russia!

    Hence the unveiling of an indictment against 13 Russian citizens and three companies for alleged meddling in U.S. elections and various ancillary crimes.

    For the sake of discussion, let’s assume all the allegations in the indictment are true, however unlikely that is to be the case. (While that would be the American legal rule for a complaint in a civil case, this is a criminal indictment, where there is supposedly a presumption of innocence. Rosenstein even mentioned that in his press conference, pretending not to notice that that presumption doesn’t apply to Russian Untermenschen – certainly not to Olympic athletes and really not to Russians at all, who are presumed guilty on “genetic” grounds.)

    Based on the public announcement of the indictment by Rosenstein – who is effectively the Attorney General in place of the pro forma holder of that office, Jeff Sessions (R-Recused) – and on an initial examination of the indictment, and we can already draw a few conclusions:

    Finally, “collusion” is dead! If Mueller and the anti-constitutional cabal had any hint that anyone on the Trump team cooperated with those indicted, they would have included it. They didn’t. That means that after months and months of “investigation” – or really, setting “perjury traps” and trying to nail people on unrelated accusations, like Paul Manafort’s alleged circumvention of lobbying and financial reporting laws – and wasting however many millions of dollars, Mueller and his merry band got nothing. Zip. Zilch. Bupkes. Nada.The fake charge that Trump colluded with the Russians is exposed as the fraud it always was.

    And yet, “collusion” still lives! But while there is no actual allegation (much less evidence) that any American, much less anyone on the Trump team, “colluded” with the indicted Russians, the indictment makes it clear that Moscow sought to support Trump and disparage Hillary. Thus, Trump is guilty of being favored by Russia even if there was no actual cooperation. It’s a kind of zombie walking dead collusion, collusion by intent (of someone else) absent actual collusion. Its purpose in the indictment is to discredit Trump as a Russian puppet, albeit an unwitting one. The indictment says the Russian desperados supported Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein too – so they’re also Putin’s dupes.

    Any and every Russian equals Putin. Incredibly, nothing in the indictment points to any connection of those indicted to the Russian government! This is on a par with the hysteria over social media placements by “Russian interests” on account of which hysterical Senators demanded that tech giants impose content controls, or dimwit CIA agents getting bilked out of $100,000 by a Russian scam artist in Berlin in exchange for – well, pretty much nothing. (The CIA denies it, which leads one to suspect it is true.) Paragraph 95 of the indictment points to what amounted to a click-bait scam to fleece American merchants and social media sites from between $25 and $50 per post for promotional content. Paragraph 88 refers to “self-enrichment” as one motive of the alleged operation. That makes a lot more sense than the bone-headed claim in the indictment that the Russian goal was to “sow discord in the U.S. political system” by posting content on “divisive U.S. political and social issues.” What! Americans disagree about stuff? The Russians are setting us against each other! In announcing the indictment, Rosenstein said the Russians wanted to “promote discord in the United States and undermine public confidence in democracy. We must not allow them to succeed.” (He wagged his finger with resolve at that point.) It evidently doesn’t occur to Rosenstein that he and his pals have undermined public confidence in our institutions by perverting them for political ends.

    Demonizing dissent. Those indicted allegedly sought to attract Americans’ attention to their diabolical machinations through appeal to hot-button issues (immigration, Black Lives Matter, religion, etc.) and popular hashtags (#Trump2016, #TrumpTrain, #MAGA, #Hillary4Prison). Have you taken a stand on divisive issues, Dear Reader? Have you used any of these hashtags? Are you reading this commentary? You too might be an unwitting Russian stooge! Vladimir Putin is inside your head! Hopefully DOJ will set up a hotline where patriotic citizens influenced without their knowledge can now report themselves, now that they’ve been alerted. Are you a thought criminal, comrade?

    An amateurish, penny-ante scheme with no results – compared to what the U.S. does. At worst, even if all the allegations in the indictment are true – a big “if” – it would still amount to the kind of garden-variety kicking each other under the table that a lot of countries routinely engage in. As described in the indictment this gargantuan Russian scheme was (as reported by Politico) an “expensive [sic] effort that cost millions of dollars and employed as many as hundreds of people.” Millions of dollars! Hundreds of people!

    How did the American republic manage to survive the onslaught? Rosenstein was keen to point out for the umpteenth time that nothing the Russians are alleged to have done (never mind what they actually might have done, which is far less) had any impact on the election. That stands in sharp contrast to the lavishly funded, multifaceted, global political influence and meddling operations the U.S. conducts in nations around the world under the guise of “democracy promotion.”

    The National Endowment for Democracy (NED), along with its Democratic and Republican sub-organizations, can be considered the flagship of a community of ostensibly private but government-funded or subsidized organizations that provides the soft compliment to American hard military power. The various governmental, quasi-governmental, and nongovernmental components of this network – sometimes called the “Demintern” in analogy to the Comintern, an organization comparable in global ambition if differing in ideology and methods – are also coordinated internationally at the official level through the less-well-known “Community of Democracies.” It is often difficult to know where the “official” entities (CIA, NATO, the State Department, Pentagon, USAID) divide from ostensibly nongovernmental but tax dollar-supported groups (NED, Freedom House, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty) and privately funded organizations that cooperate with them towards common goals (especially the Open Society organizations funded by billionaire George Soros). Among the specialties of this network are often successful “color revolutions” targeting leaders and governments disfavored by Washington for regime change – a far cry from the pathetic Russian operation alleged in the indictment.

    “Mitt Romney was right.” Already many of Trump’s supporters are not only crowing with satisfaction that the indictment proves there was no collusion but refocusing their gaze from the domestic culprits within the FBI, DOJ, etc., to a bogus foreign threat. “This whole saga just brings back the 2012 election, and the fact that Mitt Romney was right” for “suggesting that Russia is our greatest geopolitical foe,” is the new GOP meme. To the extent that Russiagate was less about Trump than ensuring that enmity with Russia will be permanent and will continue to deepen, this latest Mueller indictment is a smashing success already.

    The Mueller indictment against the Russians is a well-timed effort to distract Americans’ attention from the real collusion rotting the core of our public life by shifting attention to a foreign enemy. Many of the people behind it are the very officials who are themselves complicit in the rot. But the sad fact is that it will probably work.

    https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2018/02/18/us-uk-deep-state-empire-strikes-back-its-russia-russia-russia.html

    • kathy:

      Asha does have the “what ifs,” “maybes” and “it could bes,” down to a veritable science. I thought it was wishful thinking. You think it’s Blackstone. Let’s see who’s right.

      • Kathy writes: “Excellent analysis by lawyer Asha Rangappa. She leaves Turley sputtering in the mud.”

        mespo I totally agree with you and more. This was a horrid article, but it did explain why 17 kids lie dead. Quoting from the article and an explanation of Asha Rangappa “As a lawyer and former FBI agent”

  7. Will we see Michael Flynn withdrawing his guilty plea?

    One of Sullivan’s first orders of business was to enter a standing order, on December 12, 2017, directing “the government to produce to defendant in a timely manner – including during plea negotiations – any evidence in its possession that is favorable to defendant and material either to defendant’s guilt or punishment.” Sullivan’s standing order further directed the government, if it “has identified any information which is favorable to the defendant but which the government believes not to be material,” to “submit such information to the Court for in camera review.”

    http://thefederalist.com/2018/02/19/michael-flynns-plea-reversal-uncover-federal-corruption/?utm_source=The+Federalist+List&utm_campaign=b3701692f4-RSS_The_Federalist_Daily_Updates_w_Transom&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_cfcb868ceb-b3701692f4-79248369

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