The Gates Plea: Manafort’s Options May Now Run From Plea to Pardon To Prison

440px-Director_Robert_S._Mueller-_III-1Below is my column in the Hill newspaper on the Gates plea deal and what Special Counsel Robert Mueller could be hoping to achieve beyond sealing the fate of Paul Manafort.  In guaranteeing the testimony of Manafort’s close associate, Mueller may have practically limited the options to a plea or a pardon for Manafort. For the moment, Manafort seems more likely to wait for the latter than the former.  He chastised his former aide as lacking “the strength to continue the battle to prove our innocence.” Perhaps, but Mueller clearly believes that whatever strength is lacking in Gates as a person will be made up as a witness facing 48-71 months in prison.

Here is the column:

The plea agreement by Rick Gates racks up a fifth felony for special counsel Robert Mueller. Once again, despite a pleading guilty to two counts, including an ominously worded “conspiracy against the United States,” there remain no counts, let alone convictions, on collusion between the Russians and the Trump administration.

Indeed, the Russian collusion investigation may be the most misleading work since Adam Sandler’s “Funny People.” First and foremost, it is important to note that Mueller has found real crimes in these five plea agreements, just not the crimes that prompted his appointment. Paul Manafort and Gates alone account for 58 of the roughly 100 criminal counts against 19 different defendants.

Moreover, the recent 32-page indictment of an array of Russians and Russian entities detailed a conspiracy beginning in 2014 to interfere with our elections, but as yet not a conspiracy connected to the Trump campaign. So this is like going to a movie thinking it was about a different subject but still liking the surprise plot. This recent plea deal seems to be all about Manafort rather than Donald Trump. Manafort is not the villain expected, but he is pretty diabolical.

Gates has added another false statement conviction, which is a crime that is ubiquitous in Washington scandals. His “conspiracy against the United States” is actually another fraud allegation that is unconnected to Trump, the campaign, or the election. Facing dozens of counts, Gates pleaded to a generic false statement count and a single fraud count. The expectation is that Gates is more relevant in building the case against Manafort than a theory of Russian collusion.

Indeed, the most interesting subject being pursued by Mueller may concern a bank referenced in the superseding indictment only as “Lender D.” This may be a reference to the Federal Savings Bank in Chicago, which gave Manafort a surprising loan of $16 million in December 2016 and January 2017. As with other dealings, these loans are alleged to have been based on falsely reported income and assets by Manafort, with the assistance of Gates.

While the superseding indictment treats the dealings with “Lender D” as a matter of financial fraud crime, there is a far more serious connection that Mueller may be trying to establish with an appointment in the Trump administration. In August 2016, the president of the Federal Savings Bank, Stephen Calk, was named to President Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers. The appointment raises the obvious concern of a quid pro quo arrangement with Manafort.

This allegation is notable because there are reports that bank employees raised concerns over the three loans for homes in New York City and the Hamptons in December 2016 and January 2017. One employee reportedly indicated that pressure was applied to sign off on the loans.

This is still not an allegation linked to Russian collusion, but it would be the first to allege serious criminal conduct touching upon the administration itself. When Gates was first indicted, I wrote a columnsaying that Gates was the guy to watch and that Mueller was likely to get him to flip. Gates could seal convictions against Manafort who held the top spot as chairman of the Trump campaign. However, there could be another and more intriguing reason for wanting Gates to cooperate.

440px-Adam_Schiff_115th_official_photoThe collusion theories proffered by Trump critics have, thus far, been facially dubious. Take the Trump Tower meeting that House Intelligence Committee ranking member Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) has cited as “ample evidence” of collusion. The meeting itself seems to disprove a conspiracy of collusion. The Russians began this effort in 2014.

Yet, in June 2016 a British music promoter, Rob Goldstone, was used to get Donald Trump Jr. into a meeting with the promise of a Russian lawyer with evidence of illegal foreign contributions to the Clinton Foundation. If there was prior collusion, why the pretext? Moreover, I am skeptical that Russian intelligence would run a high-risk operation against our elections then expose themselves and the operation in an open meeting with Trump Jr. and anyone he wanted to bring with him.

Finally, if getting dirt from Russians on a presidential candidate is criminal, there is little distinction can be drawn with the funding of the Christopher Steele dossier. Not only did the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee secretly fund the dossier, and only recently admit its funding, but it used the former British spy to gather information against Trump from Russian and other foreign sources.

Mueller has yet to cite the Trump Tower meeting in a single filing. However, he might be intrigued that the silent party sitting in that meeting with Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner was Manafort himself. While I am doubtful that any competent Russian spy would go to  Trump Jr. to collude, Manafort would seem an almost irresistible target. Manafort received millions for working with some of modern history’s worst figures from former head of the Angolan Unita rebels Jonas Savimbi to former Zairean President Mobutu Sese Seko to former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos.

However, it is his work for Viktor Yanukovych that has led to the most relevant questions. Manafort was an adviser to Yanukovych and his Ukrainian presidential campaign with the Party of Regions. Yanukovych was viewed as a Vladimir Putin stooge, and his election led to the “Orange Revolution.” He also worked with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska in advancing Russian interests.

Yanukovych was accused of various crimes, including prior convictions, from corruption to an association with an assassination. He was specifically alleged to collude with Russia in its interference with the Ukrainian election. He would ultimately flee to Russia. He was later placed under U.S. sanctions on the Treasury Department’s specially designated nationals list by President Obama. That was Manafort’s key client.

So if the Russians really wanted to collude, who would they go to? The son or son-in-law of Trump or the lawyer who was receiving millions for years from Russian-backed figures? None of this means that there was collusion. Right now, the record makes those claims highly dubious. However, the pile of charges and the Gates plea could be an effort to shake the one tree that is known to have had Russians in it.

At this point, the only thing more surprising than finding actual collusion would be such a conspiracy that did not include Manafort. However, he is a hardened target. That is why Russians and Ukrainians gave him millions. Mueller could be trying to see if a plea and dozens of charges will finally shake Manafort and his evidence free.

Alternatively, with his close associate taking the stand against him, Manafort has to presume a likelihood of conviction. At 68, and facing almost that number of charges, Manafort may now face a limited choice between a guaranteed plea or the prospect of a pardon. That is precisely where Mueller wants him.

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

98 thoughts on “The Gates Plea: Manafort’s Options May Now Run From Plea to Pardon To Prison”

  1. Just laughing about President Walter Mitty saying this morning that he would have run into that school without a gun.

    But you know who probably would have run into that building without a gun? Robert Mueller.

  2. Apparently, Merriam-Webster has changed the definition of Manafort to “Russian Collusion”.

    I thought Schiff and the democrats said Trump colluded with Russians to cause Hillary’s loss.

    The “Mueller Inquisition” is more artificial, fraudulent, incoherent and corrupt than Obama’s wholly unconstitutional DACA (Mueller is actually the criminal as Hillary and Obama’s co-conspirator through all the years of racketeering at the State Dept. and the presidential abuse of power).

    Aldus Huxley’s “Brave New World” has arrived as demonstrated by all this irrational 1984 “Newspeak”.

    Where the —- is the “Russian Collusion”?

    It’s as incongruous and unintelligible as protestors caterwauling about “gun control” when students are targeted but not uttering a sound when innocent Republicans are shot while playing a baseball game (to all you school districts – the Republicans had the good sense to take a security detail with them). It’s OK to shoot up Congress but not OK to shoot up schools? That dudn’t make any sense.

    This is a Newspeaking “Brave New World”, indeed.

    1. One of the most dimwitted talking points of the Trumptwits is that there is no evidence of collusion yet. Prosecutors don’t hand out press releases during an ongoing investigation in order to update on their evidence.

      And Trump’s campaign manager and his deputy were just indicted for conspiracy against the US. So there’s that.

      1. Most people would equate “conspiracy against the United States” with treason, or plotting a coupe, etc.
        The “conspiracy against the United States” in Manafort’s case involve financial crimes like money laundering or tax evasion.
        Evidence of “collusion”
        involving Trump may or may not surface. It is “dimwitted” to state that it exists when there is currently no evidence to support that conclusion.
        Wishing for a particular outcome is not “evidence”. If Trump is ultimately not charged with the “crime of collusion”, or any actual crime, people like Gable will need to “bear the unbearable” and and accept that outcome.
        There is currently a large segment of the population that wants Trump to be charged with a crime so badly that they can taste it.
        There’s probably an equal segment that wants to see him cleared.
        At this point, baseless statements and wild speculation will not determine either outcome.

        1. I agree and was commenting on the silly talking point from the Trump dimwits wondering where the evidence is, as if Mueller is somehow negligent in forgetting to brief them every week.

          1. Gable,..
            – I guess the proliferation of media outlets and the 24/7 news cycle hypes people’s expectations to get tomorrow’s news today.
            There are benefits to the way that the media have evolved, but we’ve both pointed out the downside.

        2. TN – Jimmy Dore just did a good show on the James Risen / Glenn Greewald debate re treason

        3. Equal segment? That’s rich. The echo silo effect.

          This is to “hannity is my truth-whisperer” tommie

          1. Mark M.,..
            If you have a specific objection to the comment that I made, state it.
            So you know what segment of the population wants Trump cleared, v. those who want him criminally charged.
            Then you tell us, genius, where the public stands on this, rather than making your normal bitchy remarks.
            I don’t know what Hannity has to do with this, but I’m sure that somehow fits in with your “Pravda Faux News” screeching, as if you’re making some kind of a point with such a brilliant ploy.
            Do you have any knowledge or skills beyond being a bitch?

            1. As a matter of fact, yes. I point out the ridiculous positions the that the supporters of the day glo bozo will adopt because they can’t admit they were duped like all the other gullible rubes, and are now one and the same with the klan-lite wannabes, racists, and just plain scared, timid, old white folk who also fell for the big con. I do so, by using; wait for it … ridicule. If anything I say strikes home, I fully intended it to. It fits you well. So buck up, and I, and those other right-thinking, patriotic Americans, will remedy the grave danger that you, and you ilk, have placed our country in through your ignorance and “good ole days” wishing. In the meantime, I will continue to poke at you through your little cage of close-minded intolerance, superstition, and gullible paranoia. You’re welcome. This is to “I cry over internet meanies” tommie

              1. How heroic of Mark M.
                Delivering a speech which has nothing to do with previous comments.
                I suppose if the overriding ambition of Markm is to be a bitchy basement troll, then he’ll continue to work up to that potential rather than thinking about a serious exchange.
                Trolls are an infortunate nuisance and a minor annoyance, but I won’t waste a lot of time feeding them.

                1. I don’t engage in any “serious exchange” with flat-earthers either. So sorry for your loss. Additionally, my prior critique of your foolhardiness was actually a direct response to the question you raised. I understand that reading comprehension and synthesis of complex written thought are difficult, but if you intend to keep up here, you’ll need to step up your game.

                  This is to “the trump is my baby Jesus” tommie

              2. Marky Mark Mark – you are too young to point out the error of our ways. You cannot write a coherent paragraph.

                1. Awesome; more amusing tomfoolery from the peanut gallery. I would say that you’re certainly free to not read my “[in]coherent paragraph[s]”, but we both know that you have an unquenchable urge to consume my missives while they’re still hot.

                  This is to “wherever Mark M. goes, paulie goes” paulie

                  1. “…but we both know that you have an unquenchable urge to consume my missives while they’re still hot.” — Mark M.

                    @ Mark M.

                    Yep, they do — especially Paul. These guys don’t know how to scroll, and they certainly seem to have great difficultly ignoring you. I, for one, enjoy your postings.

                    1. anonymous – I, for one, do not like your postings. And the fact that you like Marky Mark Mark makes it even worse. And I think “anonymous” is a cowardly nom de plume to hide behind.

                  2. Marky Mark Mark – doesn’t make any difference if your missives are hot or cold they are still pablum. If you want an analogy, I am a cat toying with a mouse. Every so often other cats come along and bat you around. Sometimes I just ignore you. However, then you have to write something stupid that gets me batting you around again.

                2. Paul C. Schulte,
                  Maybe it’s Markie’s time of the month…seems to be particularly agitated and befuddled.

  3. The focus of Americans should be in two directions, the explicit Russian involvement in U.S. politics and, on domestic oligarchs with the same objectives as Putin.
    Russian oligarchs stole the Russian people’s assets for their own profit and, men like Bill Gates and Reed Hastings are privatizing common goods like public education for large scale profit taking. The Koch’s ALEC writes state laws to take away citizens’ freedoms and Robert and Rebekah Mercer set up Bannon to achieve the goals of the richest 0.1%.
    From the author of the Kremlin’s Candidate, “These weasels purloined the patrimony of Russia and spread a blanket of corruption so completely over the land that if you were not a billionaire …then, you could not afford meat more than 3 days a week…they have been starving modern Russians for the last twenty years.”
    In a parallel, the amount of national income going to U.S. labor is at its lowest point in recorded history.

    1. The focus of Americans should be in two directions, the explicit Russian involvement in U.S. politics and, on domestic oligarchs with the same objectives as Putin.

      Wow, that’s your problem; you think that is two directions and the only two at that. In the forest of information, that is the same tree. LOL! Not only do you not see the forest, you have no idea there are other trees.

      1. Post a different prioritization. Readers can ascertain rather the viewpoint is from the U.S. or the Kremlin.

          1. Voting for Trump led to the Koch cabinet. The Koch’s gave Paul Ryan’s campaign, $500,000, immediately after the tax scam bill was passed.

  4. The movie is a documentary, and the “surprise plot” turns out to be about Manafort’s allegedly criminal acts that were NOT part of the subject of the documentary. Mueller’s appointment was publicly defined as the possibility of active Russian interference in the 2016 election. While Rosenstein gave Mueller a blank check to cover things that might “arise” during the investigation, are we to accept that as an unlimited prosecutorial power? The producer of the documentary – the American people – were never told about “surprise” subjects that could be added by Mueller, as arbitrarily authorized by Rosenstein. It looks like Manafort chooses to go to trial, no matter who Mueller stacks against him. That means the conviction will get SCOTUS review. Inevitably, the issue will be the scope of Mueller’s appointment. My guess on the odds is 50-50. We’ll see.

    1. igpres, can you show how Monica Lewinski and Paula Jones were within the scope of Fiske’s Whitewater investigation, then Starr’s Whitewater investigation, then Ray’s Whitewater investigation??? Do you know what special pleading is, igpres??? How about grasping at straws???

  5. Is this the McCarthy Era all reimposed? Why can’t an American have a meeting with a Russian?

  6. Turley asked, “So if the Russians really wanted to collude, who would they go to? The son or son-in-law of Trump or the lawyer who was receiving millions for years from Russian-backed figures? None of this means that there was collusion. Right now, the record makes those claims highly dubious. However, the pile of charges and the Gates plea could be an effort to shake the one tree that is known to have had Russians in it.”

    How would the Russians have known that Manafort would attend the Trump Tower meeting? Surely the Russians could have contacted Manafort via a more direct means of communication than mere guesswork. He is, after all, and in Turley’s own words, no less, “the one tree that is known to have had Russians in it.”

    As for Mueller’s take on the Gates plea-deal to become a cooperating witness against Manafort, one might just as easily speculate that various financial crimes, such as money laundering, might yet connect Trump, Trump Jr. or Kushner to the Russians if Mueller can get Manafort to flip. For Manafort and Gates certainly appear to be well-versed in The Cyprus Scheme, just to name one. Rumor has it that the FBI counter-intelligence division and the FinCen crew at the Treasury Dept. are also well-versed in The Cyprus Scheme, The Latvian Scheme, The Swiss Scheme and even the original Moldovan Scheme, to boot.

    Once again, Turley seems to be clinging to the word collusion, when the issue may very well turn out to be financial crimes using dirty Russian money.

    1. You deal in da facts and make this blog a read. When you leave later in da morning da T rump propagandists write da same thing over and over. They say Mueller is bad and da porno guy T rump and all his crooked family and mobsters friends are innocent.

      1. Prospective facts, Ken. The actual facts have not yet been confirmed nor the prospective facts refuted. That’s what Mueller Swan Mueller III is there for.

        P. S. The full text of the Schiff memo is linked on the thread about the Florida father who gave his son’s smart phone to the police.

            1. Excerpted from the article linked above:

              Russia’s top prosecutor and “master of kompromat” has been working since at least last year to overturn legislation passed by President Barack Obama in 2012 that levied punishing sanctions and travel restrictions on high-level Kremlin officials suspected of human rights abuses and corruption.

              Yuri Chaika, who served as Russia’s justice minister during Putin’s first term and was appointed prosecutor general in 2006, is far from a household name in the United States.

              But his contact with the Russophile congressman Dana Rohrabacher and his relationship with a Russian lawyer named Natalia Veselnitskaya has raised questions about what role, if any, Chaika played in Russia’s efforts last year to help elect President Donald Trump.

          1. Darren is crushin on Squekkky. He said somethin about a road trip. He’s got competition from Oky and da rest of da infowars boys.

            1. I’m on the list as well – I’d love to meet the Squeekster in person. There’s things we disagree on – obvious one being blacks – but I put that down to her experiences vs my own. Squeek is a fascinating, artitistic, hyper bright person (didja read that short story she whipped out last week for Enigma or her limericks or memes? She also is well-versed in literature, film an has an astounding variety of other interests.

              1. She drinks Folgers from da Krogers. If she lives in a dumpster with her guns then she oughta mail order a better blend.

                1. Lots of people drink da Folgers, Ken. Are you some kind of elitist coffee snob doing da fantasizin bout da Squeeky girl?

            1. Squeeky is a vice-signaling smudgeflake. Ken pays attention and points the way forward.

              1. Diane – I am not going to lower myself to tell you what I really think of Ken. 😉

            2. Squekkky is sharp to a guy that fantasizes about a white national gal that carries an AK and spouts MAGA. Da dudes think she is a bad ass that is getting ready to mow down da SWJ’s.

              1. That guy is you isn’t it Ken? Dat’s right. Ken is da religious dude doin da fantasizin about da Squeeky girl.

      2. The Hamilton 68 website reviews in current time, Russia’s efforts to hijack U.S. elections. Trump’s win would have been exposed if Hamilton 68 had been in place in 2016.

        1. Linda, guess what? You would not believe it. But it’s true, anyway. Both Julian Assange and Fox News are in agreement that Hamilton 68 is “propaganda”–not counter-propaganda. Who’d’ve thunk it?

          1. The convergent narrative of the richest 0.1% (e.g. Koch’s), Putin’s Russia and Murdoch’s media is indeed interesting. It has commonality with the messaging of the triad formed by evangelicals, Mercer/Bannon, and the NRA.

            1. Buffett admitted that he is gettin 26 billion extra from T rump’s tax cut. The pubs thinked they pulled da wool over the public’s eyes with their tax giveaways for da billionaires but now folks are wakin up to the fact that 20 bucks a month won’t go anywhere with rising prices.

        2. The Hamilton 68 is a group of neo cons.headed by Kristol who talked up the Iraq invasion and would love war with Russia. Destroying Democracy, endless chaos and globalism is their mission. MSM is happy to promote them and their agenda.

          @ggreenwald sez

          Like most outlets, MSNBC & CNN have uncritically trumpeted the claims of Bill Kristol’s new, secretive neocon group as Truth, airing *no dissent or questioning*. Only Fox has been willing to do so. The next time someone asks why I go on Fox, start there

          1. Autumn, you’ve committed another instance of the genetic fallacy (briefly defined as finding fault with the source of an argument rather than the argument itself). It’s beginning to look as though the genetic fallacy is your personal favorite, Autumn. It’s also getting rather tiresome–even boorish.

            BTW, it looks to me as though Greenwald, Assange, Carlson and the rest of the crew at Fox News have engaged in plenty of dissent and questioning of Hamilton 68. Moreover, their dissent and questioning bears a remarkable resemblance to yours–namely, the genetic fallacy. Coincidence???

                1. She wants Putin and T rump re elected and da pubs to hold da congress. She is a pro billionaire NRA populist not progressive.

            1. re: “dissent and questioning” – that’s exactly what Dimtards don’t do. Go along and promote the carefully crafted narrative devoid of facts. Sad. Progressives sources information from a wide variety of outlets – we are not afraid of Fox. Greenwald gets beat up for going on there but that’s his only opportunity to be heard by a wider audience as the liberal lyin media won’t touch him anymore. The same ones that fired Ed Schultz when he kept talking about the TPP ramifications and others about the Iraq debacle. Face it: the Dims are the party of war along with some RINOs.

              If anyone is the boor on this blog it’s you. Paid by Brock and Soros. At least Ken is often entertaining.

  7. Turley said, “. . . [T]he Trump Tower . . . meeting itself seems to disprove a conspiracy of collusion. The Russians began this effort in 2014 . . . If there was prior collusion, why the pretext?”

    If the Russians began their effort in 2014, why didn’t they recruit Papadopoulos until 2016? Because Trump hadn’t announced his candidacy for president, yet, nor had Trump named Papadopoulos as a campaign adviser. If the Russians attempted to offer damaging information about Clinton to Papadopoulos (or Carter Page), then why would the Russians attempt to offer damaging information about Clinton to Trump Jr.? Because the Russian information warfare was a multi-pronged offensive. The information offered to Papadopoulos (and possibly Carter Page) was Clinton’s emails. The information offered to Trump Jr. was a Kremlin-fabricated indictment of Bill Browder whom Veselnitskaya connected to the Ziff brothers who have made campaign contributions to Clinton and the DNC for many years.

    One could go on and on refuting Turley’s ill-conceived material implication. But let’s just boil it down to its most basic inanity, instead : If there was prior Russian information warfare, then there would be no need for any subsequent Russian information warfare. I’m sure the logicians have a Latin name for this fallacy. But I don’t know Latin. What do you say we call it pre hoc; ergo superfluous post hoc. Before this, therefore no need for any more of the same.

    Of course, Turley also said, “Moreover, I am skeptical that Russian intelligence would run a high-risk operation against our elections then expose themselves and the operation in an open meeting with Trump Jr. and anyone he wanted to bring with him.”

    Well then, that argument does make a bit more sense. Do the Russians make rookie mistakes with high-risk operations? Probably not. Therefore, either the Russians had a damned good reason for exposing their high-risk operation or Veselnitskaya et al were conducting a rogue operation without authorization from . . . No. Actually, the top Kremlin prosecutor Chaika approved Veselnitskaya’s operation. Otherwise, Veselnitskaya et al would’ve already gone the way of Christopher Steele’s Russian informants.

    Turley seems to be clinging to the word collusion, when the issue remains Russian information warfare.

    1. Da Ruskies were thinkin about doin something in 2014. No way would Putie fully engage until T rump looked like da nominee. T rump was their guy not Rubio or Jeb Bush.

        1. Full text of the Schiff memo linked above. Lot’s of black magic marker. But the gist comes through, anyhow.

            1. TBob, why not read the full text of the Schiff memo instead of Andrew McCarthy’s opinions about the Schiff memo?

              P. S. McCarthy makes the same mistake that Nunes made: The standard for granting a FISA warrant is probable cause–not proof beyond a reasonable doubt according to a jury of one’s peers.

              1. Why do you assume I did not read it? I read Schiff’s memo…and Nunes’ line by line rebuttal of Schiff’s memo…and a few articles analyzing both versions…but I found McCarthy’s analysis to be particularly good so I shared it here. And yourself?

                P.S. Both Nunes and McCarthy are well aware of what the standard is for granting a FISA warrant and I doubt they need you to correct their understanding of the process.

                1. TBob,
                  That was my reaction to her comment as well. I treat those unsupported allegations the same as those implying the only source of news/information for conservatives is FoxNews. It’s as though they believe critical-thinking is something you download from one source. That’s really lazy argumentation.

                  1. Olly said, “It’s as though they believe critical-thinking is something you download from one source. That’s really lazy argumentation.”

                    Look who’s making hasty assumptions now. Had TBob or Olly read the Schiff memo, then they would have realized that McCarthy’s opinion of the Schiff memo is a disingenuous, preconceived reiteration of the Nunes memo. Since TBob asserts that he finds McCarthy’s analysis to be pretty good, it is reasonable to question, indeed, even to doubt TBob’s claim to have read the Schiff memo. Or, if one prefers, one might speculate that TBob finds disingenuous, preconceived reiterations to be pretty good analyses. But would one seriously believe that second option to be something other than critical thinking downloaded from a secondary source rather than the primary source???

                2. TBob, I read the your link to McCarthy. And I read the Schiff memo. I have not read Nunes’ rebuttal of the Schiff memo.

                  P. S. If McCarthy and Nunes understand that probable cause is the standard for issuing a FISA warrant, then their arguments against the FISA warrant for Carter Page are disingenuous. The Schiff memo clearly establishes that the FBI had probable cause for seeking a FISA warrant for Carter Page. The Schiff memo also clearly establishes that the FBI had gathered intelligence on Carter Page prior to, and independently of, the Steele dossier and that that intelligence corroborated the portion of the dossier that referred to Carter Page; which, in turn, was the only portion of the dossier used in the application for the FISA warrant on Carter Page.

                  Nobody seriously expects TBob or any other Trump defender to give up their beloved Whack-A-Mole arcade game. However, every time this FISA warrant abuse argument pops up from yet another Whack-A-Mole hole, the FISA warrant abuse arguer will be whacked right back down that hole again.

                  1. Well then I suggest you also add the Grassley-Graham memo to your reading list just for the fun of it.

                    P.S. You say the Schiff memo “clearly establishes probable cause…” But does it establish “probable cause” that Page was acting as a foreign agent AND involved in potential federal crimes? Page is a US citizen, and under FISA, because he is an American, the DOJ not only had to establish probable cause, but also show that his alleged activity on behalf of a foreign power may have involved federal crimes. Not only has Page denied all allegations, he has never been charged with any crimes, and he has a history of cooperating with the FBI and providing information that led to the prosecution of Russian spies. So does Schiff’s memo establish “clear probable cause” AND criminal activity by Page while acting as a foreign agent against the US as required under FISA? I don’t think so. If anything it shows that Page is working with the USG against Russia and not the other way around.

                    As for the rest, we don’t know all that the FBI knows and I see nothing in either memo that “clearly establishes” anything but confirmation bias and partisan politics. We need much more information. To be continued…

                    1. TBob, the Schiff memo establishes that the FBI corroborated the portion of the dossier that referred to Carter Page with intelligence gathered prior to, and independently of, the dossier and that met the burden for probable cause to issue the FIAS warrant for Carter Page. Now you’re whether the FBI proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Carter Page was acting as a foreign agent. No. They didn’t. Otherwise they would’ve charged Carter Page with a crime. You see, TBob, the investigation comes before the jury trial. Not the other way around. Your error is the same one that both Nunes and McCarthy make when they allege FISA warrant abuse against the FBI and DOJ.

                      P. S. What Steele got wrong was the names of the Russians with whom Carter Page met. What Steele got right was that Carter Page met with officials of Rosneft and Gazprom. Consequently, the portion of the dossier that referred to Carter Page was corroborated but incompletely verified. Ergo, probable cause for the FISA warrant without any criminal charges against Carter Page–yet.

                    2. L4D, I’m going to let you have the last word here on this dueling memos saga.

                      P.S. It hurts so good when you “whack” me back down my hole. I look forward to the next time.

    2. As you suggest, L4D, Veselnitskaya’s has had the prescience not to crawl into her car trunk to have a “natural”, fatal event.

      1. And there’s more, as well. Linda. Yuri Chaika conducted a show trial that convicted Bill Browder in absentia of the exact same fraud that the Russians had committed, and which Sergei Magnitsky had uncovered, via The Moldovan Scheme. Veselnitskaya helped Chaika prosecute Browder. Chaika gave Veselnitskaya the Kremlin-fabricated evidence used to convict Browder in absentia. And that Kremlin-fabricated evidence was part and parcel of the information that Veselnitskaya offered Trump Jr., Kushner and Manafort at the Trump Tower meeting. The offer was rejected because it wasn’t what Trump Jr. et al were looking for and because it was utterly useless to them, anyway. If that’s all that happened at the Trump Tower meeting, then Sloppy Steve Bannon’s claim that it was treasonous appears to be a rather loose use of the term, treasonous.

        1. Russian leadership lacks imagination. Their trolls throw back criticisms leveled at them without bothering to alter them. So, it’s not surprising that the Kremlin couldn’t think of original charges for Bill Browder.

          The sheer number of rich American tyrants willing to destroy and eliminate the U.S. is, however, a shock.

          The Koch’s ALEC which enabled the impoverishment and unprecedented incarceration of the American population has been exposed. The Walton and Bill Gates’ attack on America’s most important unifying common good, public education is lesser known. And, even lesser known is the Russian economic parallel, orchestrated by John Arnold (Enron/hedge funds) and the Pews, in their campaign against pensions. “Citizens waiting for their delinquent pension checks to buy bread.” The quote is from the book, “TheKremlin’s Candidate”.

    1. Manafort was extremely eager to land a job with the Trump campaign. Rumor has it that Manafort was trading on his position with the Trump campaign to get square with Deripaska who was demanding to know what Manafort had done with the $18 million Deripaska had entrusted Manafort to invest.

  8. Turley says Russians wouldn’t have an “open meeting” with Trump, Jr, Kushner, Manafort, et al. That would be the “open meeting” where the attendees are still not necessarily known. Was never disclosed by the parties until reported in the news. Where the President dictated a statement lying about its purpose, and the participants individually lied about as well. To Turley; a meeting doesn’t become open just because people found about it.

  9. The timeline of bank president Steven Calk’s involvement in this story is interesting.
    Calk joined Trump’s team as an economic adviser on August 5, 2016.
    The stories about the FBI’s investigation into Manafort’s suspicious activities involving Ukrainian/ Russian officials were published in mid-August 2016, and Manafort resigned from the campaign a few days later.
    Then Manafort gets questionable loans from Calk’s bank in December 2016 and January 2017.
    I don’t know if Calk himself is under investigation; but even IF he’s innocent of any wrongdoing, he had to have known that his loans to someone under FBI investigation, who was also associated with the Trump campaign, was likely to put himself in the crosshairs of investigators.
    Mueller’s team will likely have a lot of questions for Calk, if they haven’t already asked them.

      1. Excerpted from the article linked above:

        The most significant allegation is that Manafort assembled what he called a “Super VIP” group of highly influential Europeans who could push Ukraine’s agenda “without any visible relationship” with the Ukrainian government, according to an email obtained by Mueller.

        Manafort paid the politicians 2 million euros from offshore accounts in 2012 and 2013 to lobby members of Congress and other U.S. officials. It’s illegal for Americans to direct foreigners to lobby the U.S. without informing the Justice Department.

        The so-called “Hapsburg Group” was managed by a former European chancellor, who was not named in the indictment.

        The term chancellor is used in only a small number of countries, including Germany and Austria. The Associated Press reported last year that Mercury LLC, which was involved in the Manafort lobbying effort, employed former Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer as an expert.

  10. How many of these people do NOT have a cushy safety net squirreled away somewhere out of the country with different name and ID? Leaving the USA is not all that complicated just get on a foreign bus in any SW city and head to Mexico especially a busline that is from Mexico. There are no checks departing only on re-entry. Then head to the nearest airport and buy a ticket with cash. Caymans, Panama all within reach. Or just have a boat conveniently stashed. zip through the San Juan Island and change US flag at stern for Canadian flag cross a narrow channel and bingo. Most locals don’t even bother to bring it up in idol conversation

    1. idle conversation? Lots of folks on boats can’t get back to the border in time for a new visa to be in Mexico so know they go to a port of entry that’s 20 kilometers inside the country or if returning the USA just show a drivers license and that’s where you have o have something to show.

      But leaving?

      So someone with funds already in place at worst hires a private jet and goes straight to Caymans. etc.

    2. That would never work for an entry into Canada. I’ve made that crossing several times.

  11. Which not only does not connect to anyone else except his partner (and possibly the DNC /Clinton money trail) but has nothing to do with collusion which is still not a crime. Thus the tree was poisoned at inception by the original wording And anything found as a result of that poisoning is inadmissable. UNLESS te terrorist provisions of the Patriot Act are involked.

    1. The poison tree question has bothered me for a long time. I hope a legal expert addresses this question sooner rather than later.

      1. Basically says that anything acquired illegally is unusable. Going after something that is not a crime and using that to hold, interrogate, incarcerate for a non crime is illegal. They may get a conviction but will it stick on appeal? With our super liberal court system and judges looking to hush up and stifle further investigation?

      1. David Benson – there is a lot of unchecked border in Montana and North Dakota.

        1. Your reply is in the wrong spot, but yes. In North Dakota there are unchecked border crossings wide enough for combines; which is why those crossings are there.

          The problem would be disappearing into the Canadian world. Doubt that is possible. Better to hide in the Caribbean someplace.

          1. David Benson – well, the question is: do you want to escape to where issac came from or some s**thole country in the Caribbean?

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