The Dog That Didn’t Bark: Collusion Remains An Implausible But Irresistible Conspiracy Theory

Silv-06Below is my column in the Hill newspaper on my view of the current evidence of collusion in the Russian investigation.  I wrote the column to explain my skepticism over these oft-stated theories.  President Donald Trump included my view in a quote in the Trump tweet which triggered something of a torrent of irate emails.  He did not misrepresent my views.  As explained below, I still do not see the compelling evidence for such a claim.  As discussed yesterday, that is obviously not the view of CNN Legal Analyst and former White House ethics attorney Norm Eisen who declared that the case for collusion is now “devastating” and that Trump is “colluding in plain sight.”  The column is an effort to actually bring some legal content to this debate.   There have been countless hours of broadcast “analysis” but very little of the actual cited evidence and how it could fit with any criminal provision or even credible definitions of collusion.

Here is the column:

In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s story “Silver Blaze,” about Sherlock Holmes’s investigation of the disappearance of a race horse, the local inspector asked if there was “any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?” Holmes responds, “To the curious incident of the dog in the nighttime.” When the inspector objects, “The dog did nothing in the night-time,” Holmes replies, “That was the curious incident.”

The point drives home the importance of objective, true observation by a detective like Holmes: The absence of a dog’s bark is as significant as any bark would be, albeit, leading to an inverse conclusion from the common assumptions of investigators.

This week, I was live on MSNBC’s program when I was cited in a presidential tweet about collusion. President Trump quoted my previously stated view on Fox News that I remain “skeptical” about the collusion theories advanced by critics and that I find these theories “implausible based on the evidence” currently available.

MSNBC host Ari Melber immediately disagreed and said I was assuming that the absence of evidence means that a case could not be made. Putting aside that I expressly referred only to the known evidence and left open the possibility of new evidence, the exchange reflects a common disconnect in the analysis of collusion theories. Critics of the president seem more than willing to speculate on highly attenuated evidence of some criminal conspiracy but refuse to acknowledge the continued absence of any direct or even plausible evidentiary basis for collusion.

The fact is that the Russians did not have to collude to achieve their purpose of disruption and influence. Russian intelligence is not known to run “colluders” in carrying out secret operations and rarely expose their operations in gratuitous meetings. Collusion theories tying Donald Trump to a Russian conspiracy remain the case of the dog not barking.

After more than a year of intensive investigation by both the special counsel and multiple congressional committees, there is no direct evidence of Trump colluding with Russians. After roughly 100 criminal counts against 19 defendants and five plea deals with cooperating witnesses, there is no direct evidence. After dozens of pages of “speaking indictments” by Robert Mueller describing Russian operatives trying to influence the election and false statements from former Trump aides, there is no direct evidence.

Does that mean that no collusion-based case can be made against Trump or his campaign? Of course not. Mueller is still looking for evidence and perhaps former Trump presidential campaign manager Paul Manafort, who has a long, sleazy history with Russians, could flip and reveal an extensive conspiracy with the Trump campaign. Anything is possible, as critics love to say.

Mueller might have a photo of a shirtless “Putie” bragging of his influence in the Oval Office. Then again, he might not. However, the willingness to wildly speculate on collusion crimes but unwillingness to acknowledge the current lack of compelling evidence is telling. What evidence is known does not constitute even a growl, let alone a bark. Much of the “evidence” cited involves two meetings in an English pub and Trump Tower.

It is clear that Russians were trying to cultivate a Trump campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, and that in May 2016 he participated in a night of heavy drinking with Alexander Downer, the Australian high commissioner to the United Kingdom, during which he said the Russians had Clinton campaign emails. Moreover, members of Congress like Rep. Adam Schiff(D-Calif.) have cited the infamous Trump Tower meeting with Russians as evidence of collusion.

Those contacts, however, fall far short of any evidence of collusion and can actually be used to counter such allegations. The Papadopoulos contacts are often traced initially to a London-based Maltese professor, Joseph Mifsud, with close ties to Russia. Mifsud introduced Papadopoulos to various Russians who expressed an eagerness to have better relations with the United States in a Trump administration. Papadopoulos would later tell the participants in a large campaign meeting that he had these contacts and that the Russians were eager to reach out to the campaign for better relations.

The available evidence, including the narrative of the special counsel, shows an effort to use Papadopoulos as a conduit to Trump, and while Papadopoulos comes across as something of a village idiot, he did not hide those contacts. The Trump Tower is even weaker as evidence of collusion. According to people like Schiff, this was smoking-gun evidence of a secret Russian conspiracy.

However, the meeting occurred in June 2016 when the hacking was already known publicly. As with the Papadopoulos contacts starting in March 2016, the meeting is rather late for an effort at collusion. Disclosure of the Russians hacking the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign had already been made by the FBI in the prior year and was known at least in September 2015 by the FBI. In June 2016, the Washington Post was reporting on hacking of the emails.

Moreover, the Russians used a British music promoter familiar with Donald Trump Jr. to secure a meeting with the promise of evidence of unlawful contributions made to the Clinton Foundation. There was no effort to limit the participants or hide the meeting. This secret operation supposedly was advanced with a meeting at Trump Tower with an army of reporters outside and no prior knowledge of who would be present. The brief meeting primarily discussed the lifting of a federal ban on Russian adoptions. If anything, the meeting would indicate that, in June 2016, the Russians were still trying to make contact with the Trump campaign.

Does it really track that Russian intelligence was running a disinformation and hacking campaign but sought to collude with Donald Trump Jr.? If so, the meeting was curiously late and public for that purpose. Moreover, critics continue to refuse to recognize the different treatment given these contacts with Russians and the contacts of former British spy Michael Steele, who authored the controversial Trump dossier.

That effort was subsidized by the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign, but the funding was hidden and denied until much later. Steele reportedly received information from Russians with alleged ties to the government to be used against Trump. Yet, it is evidence of collusion to attend a meeting with Russians who said that they had evidence of illegal activities by Clinton, but it is not collusion to pay for a dossier with information from Russians and other foreign sources implicating Trump.

The indictment of the Russians in the election operation states that it began in 2014 and ultimately led to activities targeting both Clinton and Trump. When Clinton was the presumed winner of the election, the Russians ran false Facebook accounts and sought to support protests against her. When Trump won, the Russians organized protests against him. Objectively, the most direct explanation is that the Russians wanted to be disruptive and were seeking any target of opportunity to do so.

That is why I am skeptical. It takes willful blindness not to acknowledge either the lack of direct evidence of collusion or the implausibility of many of the theories abounding on cable news programs. None of this means that people cannot speculate on the existence of entirely undisclosed evidence, but some skepticism with the speculation would be helpful.

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

144 thoughts on “The Dog That Didn’t Bark: Collusion Remains An Implausible But Irresistible Conspiracy Theory”

  1. The author writes:

    “It is clear that Russians were trying to cultivate a Trump campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, and that in May 2016 he participated in a night of heavy drinking with Alexander Downer, the Australian high commissioner to the United Kingdom, during which he said the Russians had Clinton campaign emails.”

    I do not know what happened during “a night of heavy drinking” with the Aussie but Papadopoulus plead guilty of lying about the fact that someone told him that someone told them about having “dirt” about Clinton, and “thousands of emails.” The Mueller “Statement of Offense” against Papadopoulus does not say “campaign emails” anywhere that I can see. If I had been in Papadopoulus’ place at that time, I would have assumed the “dirt” was the missing 30,000 Clinton top-secret emails from the illegal bleached Clinton server (which is the thing that the swamp has been covering up and that is really the reason behind all this nonsense).

      1. TURLEY IS A TRUMP APOLOGIST. EVERYONE CAN SEE IT!

        Well if everyone can see it, then why is it necessary to state it…in ALL CAPS?

  2. How bout Mueller and his team investigate the Seth Rich murder and Crowdstrike???

    “Contradictions In Seth Rich Murder Continue To Challenge Hacking Narrative”

    As rumors swirl that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is preparing a case against Russians who are alleged to have hacked Democrats during the 2016 election – a conclusion based solely on the analysis of cybersecurity firm Crowdstrike, a Friday op-ed in the Washington Times by retired U.S. Navy admiral James A. Lyons, Jr. asks a simple, yet monumentally significant question: Why haven’t Congressional Investigators or Special Counsel Robert Mueller addressed the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich – who multiple people have claimed was Wikileaks’ source of emails leaked during the 2016 U.S. presidential election?

    Mueller has been incredibly thorough in his ongoing investigations – however he won’t even respond to Kim Dotcom, the New Zealand entrepreneur who clearly knew about the hacked emails long before they were released, claims that Seth Rich obtained them with a memory stick, and has offered to provide proof to the Special Counsel investigation.

    On May 18, 2017, Dotcom proposed that if Congress includes the Seth Rich investigation in their Russia probe, he would provide written testimony with evidence that Seth Rich was WikiLeaks’ source.

    In addition to several odd facts surrounding Rich’s still unsolved murder – which officials have deemed a “botched robbery,” forensic technical evidence has emerged which contradicts the Crowdstrike report. The Irvine, CA company partially funded by Google, was the only entity allowed to analyze the DNC servers in relation to claims of election hacking:

    Pay attention, because Mueller is likely to use the Crowdstrike report to support the rumored upcoming charges against Russian hackers.

    Also notable is that Crowdstrike founder and anti-Putin Russian expat Dimitri Alperovitch sits on the Atlantic Council – which is funded by the US State Department, NATO, Latvia, Lithuania, and Ukranian Oligarch Victor Pinchuk. Who else is on the Atlantic Council? Evelyn Farkas – who slipped up during an MSNBC interview with Mika Brzezinski and disclosed that the Obama administration had been spying on the Trump campaign:

    The Trump folks, if they found out how we knew what we knew about the Trump staff dealing with Russians, that they would try to compromise those sources and methods, meaning we would not longer have access to that intelligence. -Evelyn Farkas

    Given that a) the Russian hacking narrative hinges on Crowdstrikes’s questionable reporting, and b) a mountain of evidence pointing to Seth Rich as the source of the leaked emails – it stands to reason that Congressional investigators and Special Counsel Robert Mueller should at minimum explore these leads.

    Full article: https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-03-02/contradictions-seth-rich-murder-continue-challenge-hacking-narrative

  3. Turley said, “The Trump Tower is even weaker as evidence of collusion . . . the meeting occurred in June 2016 when the hacking was already known publicly.”

    The Trump Tower meeting occurred on June 9th, 2016. According to Wikipedia, the first public report that stolen DNC emails existed came from Julian Assange, who said that he had them, on June 12th, 2016. CrowdStrike announced their previous expulsion of the hackers from the DNC server on June 15th, 2016. Wikileaks posted most of its stolen DNC emails on July 22nd, 2016. The exact dates of stolen emails posted on DCLeaks will have to be checked. But the earliest of those stolen emails posted on DCLeaks were written by Phillip Breedlove on the subject of NATO policy in The Ukraine. It has been alleged that DCLeaks was a front for Fancy Bear.

    1. According to US News, “On Tuesday, June 14, the Democrats went public with the allegation that their computers had been compromised by Russian state-backed hackers, including Fancy Bear.”

      Also, as a correction to the above post, it was Secureworks rather than CrowdStrike that expelled the hackers from the DNC server on June 11th and 12th, 2016 and announced that expulsion on June 15th, 2016.

        1. From the article linked above:

          The phishing messages also caught the attention of Secureworks, a subsidiary of Dell Technologies, which had been following Fancy Bear, whom Secureworks codenamed Iron Twilight.

          Fancy Bear had made a critical mistake.

          It fumbled a setting in the Bitly link-shortening service that it was using to sneak its emails past Google’s spam filter. The blunder exposed whom they were targeting.

          It was late March when Secureworks discovered the hackers were going after Democrats.

  4. There never was “…an articulable factual basis…” for special investigation of “Russian collusion” by Trump.

    Rosenstein, Mueller et al. must be charged with conspiracy and treason.
    ________________________________________________________________________________

    “…AN ARTICULABLE FACTUAL BASIS FOR THE INVESTIGATION THAT REASONABLY INDICATES…”
    ________________________________________________________________________________

    The Attorney General’s Guidelines for Domestic FBI Operations

    II INVESTIGATIONS AND INTELLIGENCE GATHERING

    B. PREDICATED INVESTIGATIONS

    b. Full Investigations

    i. Predication Required for Full Investigations

    A full investigation may be initiated if there is an articulable factual basis for the investigation that reasonably indicates that a circumstance described in paragraph 3 .a.-.b. exists or if a circumstance described in paragraph 3 .c. exists. 3.

    1. Appointing Robert Mueller to investigate phantom “Russian collusion” by President Trump is as counterintuitive and corrupt as allowing Allen Dulles to investigate the assassination of his mortal enemy, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Dulles led that “executive action” just as Mueller facilitated the crimes of high office of Hillary, Obama et al.

  5. The concern is that no one is above the law – right now, it’s like the Obama-Clinton gang are above the law.

    On the other hand, no one should be below the law or below any protection of the law,”

    “President Trump is being treated as if he doesn’t deserve the protections of the law. You can do whatever you want against him if you are the FBI and the Justice Department, it doesn’t matter. – Tom Fitton

    ——————————————————————————————————————-

    ‘There’s enough to arrest Hillary now’
    ‘People want justice’: Gov’t watchdog says DOJ officials want to prosecute Clinton

    WASHINGTON – There is enough evidence now to arrest former Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and send her to jail, says the president of a well-known government-watchdog organization.

    But Americans shouldn’t hold their breath, because federal authorities are too consumed with politics, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in an exclusive interview with WND.

    “As far as I am concerned, there is enough to arrest Hillary Clinton now,” Fitton said bluntly. “And I just want the Justice Department to finally start enforcing the rule of law.”

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation, and he also promised to recuse himself from the Clinton email investigation during his Senate confirmation hearings.

    “The next person up is [Deputy Attorney General] Rod Rosenstein,” Fitton said. “What is he doing?”

    Many officials at the Justice Department want to prosecute Clinton, he said, but they haven’t acted because of politics.

    “It’s something they want to do now. Maybe they are waiting for the IG report to come out. The Department of Justice’s Inspector General is … looking into how the Clinton email investigation was handled,” Fitton said. “Maybe they will expose the misconduct there and use that to reopen the investigation in a serious way.

    “Maybe we can give them a month or two for the IG investigation to come out, but people want justice.”

    Still, neither Clinton nor former FBI Director James Comey – who exonerated Clinton during the investigation of her private email server before even interviewing her – are likely to face indictment, despite their brazen disregard for the law, Fitton suspects.

    Indictment is “unlikely given the way that Washington is being run these days, certainly out of the Justice Department and FBI – they are more interested in protecting Hillary and Comey rather than enforcing the rule of law,” he said.

    In the meantime – while it appears Clinton, for now, will not be prosecuted – President Trump is being targeted by U.S. intelligence agencies “as if he doesn’t deserve protections of the law,” Fitton said.

    “The concern is that no one is above the law – right now, it’s like the Obama-Clinton gang are above the law. On the other hand, no one should be below the law or below any protection of the law,” he said. “President Trump is being treated as if he doesn’t deserve the protections of the law. You can do whatever you want against him if you are the FBI and the Justice Department, it doesn’t matter.

    “That’s got to stop,” he said.

    As for the whole Russia investigation, Fitton explained “it’s only a problem for Donald Trump because of the abuses of power by the FBI and the Justice Department, [which are] targeting him illicitly.”

    “It’s not a problem, because he didn’t do anything wrong. It is a problem because he is a victim of misconduct by government agencies.”

    As WND has reported, the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee paid nearly $12 million for the salacious anti-Trump “dossier,” commissioning former British spy Christopher Steele to author the political opposition research.

    To keep the Clinton campaign’s funding of the dossier secret, the campaign gave the cash to the law firm Perkins Coie and classified the payment as compensation for “legal services” in FEC disclosures.

    Two crimes may have committed in this instance. Making a payment or donation, or trading anything of value with a foreign national in connection with any election in America is a crime, according to 52 USC 30121. It’s also a violation to file a false or misleading campaign report (52 USC 30101).

    In October 2017, the Campaign Legal Center filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission accusing the Clinton campaign and the DNC of violating campaign finance laws and failing to disclose payments made for the anti-Trump dossier.

    A Republican memo released this month claimed the FBI based its FISA court request for a warrant to spy on Trump adviser Carter Page on the unverified dossier.

    Then-FBI Director Robert Mueller, left, acknowledges applause during then-President Barack Obama’s remarks on June 21, 2013. Obama had announced James Comey, right, as his nominee to succeed Mueller as FBI director (Official White House photo)

    Fitton told WND he believes special counsel Robert Mueller should end his investigation into Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia, because the probe was spawned by political opposition research funded by the opposing political party and its candidate.

    “The Russian collusion investigation – at least with its targeting of President Trump – its reason for being is being eliminated because the dossier we now know isn’t worth the paper it was written on. It’s a Clinton, DNC document,” he said. “There is no evidence of Russian collusion with Trump – but [there’s] plenty of evidence that has been pointed out with Hillary Clinton and the DNC in all of that.”

    The Clinton- and DNC-funded dossier claims Trump worked with Russia. The document states that an “ethnic Russian close associate of … Trump” said there was a “conspiracy” between the Trump campaign and Russia. The source claimed Russia hacked the DNC server and provided the files to WikiLeaks to maintain “plausible deniability.”

    The FBI never actually accessed the DNC server during its investigation of the alleged hack.

    Federal investigators asked the DNC to surrender its allegedly breached servers to the bureau in July 2016, but the DNC didn’t comply. As WND reported, the DNC instead hired the cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike to make a “replica” of all the information on its server for the bureau.

    Former DNC chairwoman Donna Brazile has indicated that the DNC destroyed the server, the key piece of forensic evidence in Russia’s suspected interference in the election.

    A January 2017 intelligence community assessment, titled “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections,” contends that Russia meddled in the 2016 election. The report, which was ordered by former President Obama, concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally “ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election” and sought to “denigrate” Clinton while showing “a clear preference for President-elect Trump,” the New York Times reported.

    The intelligence report – reflecting assessments by the CIA, FBI and NSA – never indicated how the agencies collected their data or settled on their conclusions.

    The agencies said they believe “with high confidence” that Russia’s military operations generated a “persona” known as Guccifer 2.0 and a site, DCLeaks.com, to dump emails from the DNC and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. Then, according to the report, Russian operatives relayed the emails to WikiLeaks.

    WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange has insisted Russia wasn’t the source of the emails leaked by his organization.

    If the DNC had allowed the FBI to directly examine its server, intelligence agencies could determine whether the DNC was actually hacked and, if so, establish the source of the breach.

    While the dossier alleges Trump and the Kremlin conspired and that Russia is behind the DNC server hacking, hacker Kim Dotcom claimed murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich helped provide the emails to WikiLeaks and was developing technologies to expose corruption and influence of corporate money in politics.

    As the Russia probe continues, determining whether the Democrats’ server was hacked or if it was an inside job should be a priority for the Justice Department, Fitton told WND.

    “There needs to be pressure brought to bear about just how that DNC server was hacked, if it was hacked at all, whether it was an inside job or not,” Fitton said. “And, frankly, we can’t trust the current establishment to get to the bottom of it.

    “Mueller isn’t going to get to the bottom of it. This is why the Justice Department appointees need to step up and take a more aggressive approach to get to the bottom of all of these issues.”

    Imran Awan

    Fitton has also insisted that Mueller should investigate the Awan brothers IT scandal as part of the Russian investigation to see if there is an intersection between the purported DNC hack and the alleged crime ring on Capitol Hill involving Pakistani-born Democratic congressional IT aides.

    As WND reported, IT staffer Imran Awan, his brothers Abid and Jamal, and their wives Natalia Sova and Hina Alvi, were highly paid IT administrators working for dozens of House Democrats until Capitol Police began probing them in early 2017.

    The IT staffers allegedly ran a ghost employee scheme with a take of nearly $6 million over the years. After wiring approximately $300,000 to his native Pakistan in July, Imran Awan was arrested by the FBI at Dulles International Airport. He was then indicted on four counts of bank fraud in connection with his wire transfer. He was carrying $12,000 in cash on him at the time of his arrest.

    Awan remained on the payroll of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz – who served as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee when its IT network was allegedly hacked in 2016 – until he was arrested in July. The Florida congresswoman insists Awan didn’t have access to any classified information.

    “[Judicial Watch] has asked questions about the Awan brothers,” Fitton said. “We’ve asked questions about Seth Rich killing. We haven’t gotten answers because they are ongoing investigations, so the agencies don’t want to tell us what’s going on.”

    http://www.wnd.com/2018/02/theres-enough-to-arrest-hillary-now/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

  6. Robert Mueller’s probe has been absolutely leak-proof so far; a rarity in Washington. So no one can presume that Mueller has no evidence of collusion.

    How do you know the probe has been leak proof? Is it not also reasonable to presume there have been no leaks because there is nothing to leak? At least nothing that would shed a negative light on President Trump? In the absence of any evidence of collusion, it is absolutely reasonable to presume anything. More objectively, after this amount of time has passed, it is reasonable to conclude there is no evidence of collusion with regard to President Trump and his campaign. Other campaigns however wouldn’t fare so well, if one were being objective.

    1. More objectively, after this amount of time has passed, it is reasonable to conclude there is no evidence of collusion with regard to President Trump and his campaign.

      This statement is not objective. It’s is conjecture.

      1. This statement is not objective. It’s is conjecture.

        Conjecture? Sure, given the investigation is ongoing and I’m not privy to everything Mueller has gathered. But with what has been provided, the only objective conclusion that can be drawn is there is no evidence of collusion. Now, if I concluded there is evidence of collusion because Mueller has not yet closed his investigation or some other wishful-thinking, then that would not only be conjecture, that would be subjective, irrational, unreasonable and illogical. So there’s that.

  7. Robert Mueller’s probe has been absolutely leak-proof so far; a rarity in Washington. So no one can presume that Mueller has no evidence of collusion. And Professor Turley even acknowledges Paul Manafort’s dubious background. Here is a direct quote from Turley’s analysis: “Mueller is still looking for evidence and perhaps former Trump presidential campaign manager Paul Manafort, who has a long, sleazy history with Russians, could flip and reveal an extensive conspiracy with the Trump campaign”.

    “Long, sleazy history with Russians”..?? How can Professor Turley write this while dismissing collusion?? Turley can’t! The fact that Trump chose Paul Manafort, as Campaign Chairman, is very curious. Furthermore, Donald Trump Junior publicly boasted that the Trump Organization was awash with money from Russian investors.

    Then there was that interview Trump gave to Bill O’Reilly in which the latter practically begged Trump to say something negative about Putin. Incredibly Trump responded by with a broad recital of awful things America has done to other countries. That interview alone should have been a red flag to every Fox News viewer.

    1. AS lot of claims, suppositions, premises but no proofs, facts, evidence no who, what, where, when why and how. Which leads one to readily believe it’ s just another pile of dialectival Lykoffist PCRap. You want to be taken seriously? You have to prove yourself to be a serious individua. Not our job to change your diapers. So put up or as the saying goes stick a cork in which ever end – or both.

      1. Robert Mueller is a highly experienced investigator who took down mafia dons. And Paul Manafort has been hit with multiple indictments. Michael Flynn as well. Gates and Popadopoulos have already pled guilty. So we might see evidence of collusion yet. What’s more, an obstruction of justice charge is actually quite likely. Only knee-jerk Trump defenders would claim that this probe has uncovered nothing of significance.

        1. Petey:

          “Robert Mueller is a highly experienced investigator who took down mafia dons.”

          *******************

          And Benedict Arnold took down the British at Fort Ticonderoga. As my broker says, “Past performance is no guarantee of future results.”

          1. Mueller is treasonous..?? Strange hypothesis. Mueller chose service in Vietnam while Trump avoided the draft. One must realize right-wing media has performed acrobatics to spin Donald Trump. It hasn’t been easy! But they’ve created this universe where ‘patriotic Americans’ feel a natural bond with Vladimir Putin. Like we should be friends because Putin is tough on Muslim radicals. Yet Putin’s main allies in the Middle East are Syria and Iran; two nations whose policies most Americans don’t like. So why should we like Putin? Or, more importantly, why should we like Donald John Trump??

            1. Trump is killing Russians in Syria, confronting them at sea, and imposing sanctions on them here at home. If he’s Putin’s pal, he’s got a funny way of showing it.

              1. Trump is killing Americans with his health care law, that’s a funny way of showing he stands for America. Why did the Russians choose Trump over Rubio, Cruz or Bush? Why did Trump stack his election team and administration with foreign agents? Why did Manafort work for free? Why did Trump author a cover story for his son’s meeting with Russian agents in Trump Tower? Why did Trump ask the Russians to enter American politics by hacking/releasing Clinton emails? Why did Trump fire Comey? Oh we know that answer…to stop the Russia investigation. I could write a book on the volume of Russian ties and attendant Trump shadiness.

                Turley is a poor lawyer playing the contrarian for cash. He’s a lurid soft traitor making his right wing bones by publishing such claptrap. Peter Hill pointed out another of Turley’s ongoing collision with facts and allegations. I’ve pointed these examples out many times before. Turley, like Trump, is all over the place with his analysis but in the end, he stands with Trump instead of applying the facts at hand to the law as he sees it. He’s purposefully blind.

                Turley is not trustworthy. That almost rhymes.

                1. Ok who died from the health care bill? You’d have to ask the Russians but they also liked Bernie if the media can be believed so is Sanders a Russian spy too? there’s no proof any were “agents” except some allegations against Manafor. Many wealthy people do government service for free like Trump does. Like most administrations, Trump wanted to control the narrative. If you wanna indict for that you’ll have to start with George Washington. There’s no proof Trump asked the Russians to hack emails otherwise he would be standing for impeachment already. Trump fired Comey because Comey proved to be a bad FBI Director as past and current revelations have proven. Leaking FBI docs to your college pal is illegal or haven’t you heard. You surely could write a book. Which will it be comedy or fiction? Real life drama seems to elude you.

            2. Peter Hill:

              “Mueller is treasonous..?? Strange hypothesis …”

              *************************************************

              Strange conclusion and jump of logic. Most folks would recognize a clear counter-example of their proffered hero worship but no matter, I’ll lay it out like flash cards for you:

              Just because someone is trustworthy and accomplished in a past matter is no guarantee of the same attributes in a different more recent matter. Benedict Arnold was an accomplished American Revolutionary War General who, in later circumstances, became less so. That doesn’t mean Mueller is a traitor as a mushy mind might conclude. Rather, it means that people and their performance change over time with Arnold being just a vivid example of a negative change. Mueller’s actions in hiring partisans ans leaking place him in the negative category so far.

              Where should I send your bill for tuition?

              1. The problem with your logic is that Donald Trump was NEVER trustworthy. One of the reasons his business took on Russian investors is because big, establishment banks cut off Trump’s line of credit. Real estate developers are not that different than movie producers; generous amounts of hype go into every project. And one should note Trump’s father was a very rich man. So it’s difficult to measure how successful Trump has really been. Business journalists have argued that, adjusting for inflation, Trump has done poorly with Dad’s money. Tellingly Trump never showed us his tax returns. That alone should have been a red flag to Americans. So comparing Robert Mueller to Benedict Arnold is an absurd distraction having no place in serious discussion.

                1. Awesome, Peter Hill.

                  P. S. There’s been a lot denial denial going around. For instance, first deny that Mueller’s investigation is legitimate, then draw an analogy between Robert Mueller and Benedict Arnold. Second, deny that the analogy was an analogy–but merely an example for illustrative purposes–thereby denying that one had denied the legitimacy of Mueller’s investigation. Except for two things, Mespo does, in fact, deny that Mueller’s investigation has any legitimacy and Mespo’s illustrative example of Benedict Arnold was intended to insinuate that Mueller is a traitor.

                2. Let’s review your comment for logic: Sentence one is opinion. Sentence two is unsupported but
                  Probably false given that the business is a growing concern that could not function without financing. Sentence three is opinion and gross generalization. Sentence four is a true statement of fact but relative in nature. Sentence five might be true but doesn’t support your original premise that Trump is untrustworthy. Sentence six is true statement of some opinion but unsupportive as well. Sentence seven is true and barely supportive of your premise. Sentence eight is breathless opinion. Sentence nine is true but that was never the implication of the comment and is thus a red herring fallacy. Overall this would get a “D” in my logic class. Don’t feel bad, most radical liberals would fail.

        2. Appointing Robert Mueller to investigate phantom “Russian collusion” by President Trump is as counterintuitive and corrupt as allowing Allen Dulles to investigate the assassination of his mortal enemy, John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

          1. Robert Mueller is a well-established Republican who had been a Federal Prosecutor in New York City. He was also a 10 year Director of the FBI and widely respected by both political parties. To argue that Mueller has conflicts with the Russia probe gives credence to ‘deep state paranoia’.

            Deep state resistance is what occurs when the president lacks sufficient knowledge in the workings of government. Trump is the first president to have NO POLITICAL EXPERIENCE. That accounts for deep state! Trump keeps saying and doing things experienced politicians would never contemplate. Which makes him a bull in the china shop. A clumsy, oafish figure crashing into costly merchandise.

            1. There should be no deep state resistance. There are those of us who insist the government is the projection of the will of the people. Founding fathers knew this. You lot live a safe space reinforced by your own opinions.

              1. slohrss29, Peter Hill was inflecting the meaning of the term deep state. An incompetent Chief Executive is likely to meet resistance from federal employees who are competent. That’s all that Peter Hill meant by his inflection of the term. Meanwhile, your counter-argument implies that it is the will of the people that competent federal employees should heed every last incompetent order that Trump gives them.

                1. Your error is that you are making an unsubstantiated claim. There is no bar for competent government employees. We see that over and over. Government employees, like all pathogens, merely seek to stay alive and propagate. All the documentation we have read so far during this ridiculous, child-like, kneejerk revulsion and resulting wasteful expense is for CYA. 16 intelligence agencies? Really??? That takes a lot of CYA, and that is what we are seeing on full display right now. Trump threatens the jobs of all these people by wanting to downsize this mammoth juggernaut, that like any other poor pathogen, will continue to grow until it destroys its host. A benign pathogen at least can coexist, and sometimes benefit its host. Not in this case. See my remarks below concerning how “the competent” government has lead directly to manipulating power dynamics for its own gain while endangering the entire world. And… you can bask in the knowledge of supporting people who, over eight years, were directly responsible for dropping over 29,000 pounds of “bombs of love” on some of the poorest people on the planet. Enjoy your continuing self-righteousness.

                  1. The United States is a 21st Century superpower with 320 million people. Yet Libertarians, and many Republicans, have this fantasy of returning our Federal government to the Calvin Coolidge era. The idea seems to be that a pint-size government will “get out of the way and let business do what it does best”, as Ronald Reagan was fond of saying.

                    What business does best is merge into ever bigger businesses. And the last thing we want are businesses bigger than the government. Because once that happens, business will surely be dictating to government. Which is exactly where Trump is leading us by turning government over to industry lobbyists.

                    Scott Pruitt, Betsy DeVos and Ryan Zinke are examples of Trump appointees functioning on behalf of business interests. No serious government professional wants to be linked with them. Every self-respecting professional is leaving the EPA, Interior and Education Departments. In that regard Trump is destroying our institutions! The loss of all those self-respecting professionals will still be felt long after Trump is gone. One could call that effect FLOODING THE SWAMP.

                    1. Trump may suck in the end. I do not know. I gave Obama two years, then more after surviving the Bush insanity. I am constantly amazed at how folks generally anoint government employees with some kind of special status. Maybe you should work on political campaign.

                      Of course the government needs to be larger. But what is government required to provide? That will always be argued. My argument now is that the government is so large, that it only survives to take care of itself. Didn’t we see that with the the Florida massacre? 29 call to the police. If that kid would have threatened the local FBI Office or police office, do you really think he would still be walking around? Honestly??

                      So I take it you believe there is a need for 16 intelligence agencies. If you do, they have certainly exceeded in fulfilling their task in perpetuating their existence. Once you are in there, you can make all the work for yourself you want. The Ukraine situation is a perfect example.

                      You may find this interesting. After watching the horror of Katrina unfold, my personal scapegoat was “brownie.” Everything wrong with government. He did an interview with Dave Rubin, and at first I scoffed, but then thought it was not very open minded of me to be so infantile, so I watched it. I was amazed–but at the end, I still had no respect for the Bush administration. Brown does not realize his error in trying to vindicate the parties involved.

                    2. And the last thing we want are businesses bigger than the government. Because once that happens, business will surely be dictating to government.

                      The last thing we should want are monopolies that restrict the free exercise of the consumer to choose the products and services they buy. To that end, we should want a central government that is limited to its constitutional purpose with all other power held by the state and the people. We should want an electorate civically literate enough to remove from office any politician that supports policy that favors business interests to the detriment of the rights of the citizens.

                    3. “What business does best is merge into ever bigger businesses. And the last thing we want are businesses bigger than the government. Because once that happens, business will surely be dictating to government. Which is exactly where Trump is leading us by turning government over to industry lobbyists. ”

                      I forgot to comment on this foolishness. Apparently, you were born after 2009. “Businesses bigger than government.” What do you think the revolving door between the banks, the SEC, and the Treasury is? Where do you think “too big to fail” came from? Isn’t that the opposite of what you’re arguing? Capitalism should have had its way and disintegrated the banking institutions that screwed up. But your “government” didn’t allow that to happen now, did it? It’s a shame what is right under your eyes, yet you cannot see it.

            2. Looking out over the shape of the land this AM, failure at a every level of government is clearly visible. Now that Xi Jinping has made himself emperor for life, the delusional folly of Clinton and the Republicans giving MFN status to China was an (the) strategic blunder of the past 2 centuries. Bankers, neoconservatives, and neoliberals have destroyed the possibility of a friendly alliance against the sleeping giant of China. Better yet, the combined hubris, animosity, and aggression against Russia has put us in a strategic disadvantage. I’m sure you aren’t familiar with simple, common sense ideals, like don’t trap a wild animal in a corner… (yet, that is exactly what we did). Now we have a new economic sphere independent of the US, and we have pushed a tight alliance between Russian and China. We squandered our promise handed down to us by great men.

              Carry on with your very good deep state. You missed your time, you would have been a great tool for Stalin.

              1. slohrss29 – right now the Chinese Army is planting trees, so we have a little lead time before we get into a war with them. And I am sure you remember the old adage, Never get into a land war in Asia. 😉

                1. Absolutely! Just need to tell the Democrats and Neocons that! But hey, they already know everything, so….

                  Time is ticking for Taiwan though, I’m afraid.

            3. Peter Hill:

              “Deep state resistance is what occurs when the president lacks sufficient knowledge in the workings of government.”

              **********************

              It’s not theirs to opine on competence of leadership, that’s our right every four years or haven’t you heard?

              1. So far we have had peaceful transitions of power from one executive administration to the next. Career civil servants provide continuity for the functions of the federal government. Ordinarily the idea that elections are bloodless revolutions might reveal an adherence to Andrew Jackson’s mantra: To the winner go the spoils. But in the particular case of Trump’s supporters and defenders that same bloodless revolution idea reveals an expectation that the POTUS, Trump, should treat our career civil servants in the same manner that he had treated the contestants on The Apprentice: “You’re fired.” (And that does seem to be the way Trump runs The White House.)

                But do you all seriously think that Trump can fire the federal government of The United States of America just because he won an election?????

                1. L4D:
                  The federal government has three branches, so no he can’t “fire” the federal Government. He can fire bureaucrats and should when they perform as poorly as they have lately under cover of nincompoops who apologize for their ineptitude. Did you take civics in school?

                  1. Did you read slohrss29’s description of the government as a pathogen slowly destroying its host???

                    1. L4D:
                      I did and I liked the metaphor but like all apt metaphors it’s only partially illuminating. Nobody calls the government an amoeba standing knee deep in flood water before what’s left of their shattered dwelling. Governments mirror the society they govern usually. So we typically get the government we deserve. Thus if we tolerate waste and encroachment on our rights, we get a government exactly like that. That’s my indictment against liberals: the crave licentiousness over liberty and denigrate all who disagree.

            4. “Trump is the first president to have NO POLITICAL EXPERIENCE.”

              ************************

              Really? How much political experience did Washington have? Or Eisenhower Or Grant? Or Zachary Taylor? That’s off the top of my head.

              Your history is about as good as your logic. Well, L4D likes it anyhow!

              1. Good point mespo. If the framer’s wanted a Technocracy, they would have included Political Experience as a prerequisite for elected office. We’d be better served if civics literacy were a requirement to vote and NO POLITICAL EXPERIENCE was desired. This way the elected would need to actually defer to the constitution and the voters would know the difference.

            5. Deep state resistance is what occurs when the president lacks sufficient knowledge in the workings of government.

              Here, let me translate that for you! “As an accomplished builder, and businessman who actually gets thing done, Trump has no patience with a bunch of dick lickers* and incompetent twits. Moreover, he does not kiss their a$$e$ and talk out of both sides of his mouth like they do!”

              You know, Peter, you really sound more and more like some little Beta Male, who just has a load of resentment for Alpha Males like Trump. Do you work in some industry where you get paid by the hour, or where there are no deadlines to get things done, and under budget???

              Squeeky Fromm
              Girl Reporter

              1. Oh, and the “*” was for a note that I forgot to add, which is, “This is a term my father and uncles use all the time for people who indulge in self-gratifying acts instead of doing their jobs.”

                Squeeky Fromm
                Girl Reporter

              2. Squeeks;

                “Here, let me translate that for you! “As an accomplished builder, and businessman who actually gets thing done, Trump has no patience with a bunch of dick lickers* and incompetent twits. Moreover, he does not kiss their a$$e$ and talk out of both sides of his mouth like they do!”

                **********************
                Oh, he’s a wrecking ball to a dilapidated governing structure plus he’s our wrecking ball. We’ll dispense with him sooner rather than later but let’s enjoy the richly deserved comeuppance to the ruling classes while it lasts. He’s our French Revolution but like all revolutions we’ll return to the mean after a few guillotine chops. More is the pity. BTW, smart guys your relatives!

            6. J. Edgar Hoover was FBI Director for 48 years, totally corrupt and participant in an “executive action” coup, the JFK assassination. Mueller is the same military/industrial complex “deep state” shadow government denizen of the “swamp”. Mueller is not a republican, Mueller is a RINO operative. Mueller has assembled a hit team of unethical/criminal liberal democrat attack dogs. Absolute power corrupts absolutely and Coups “R” Us, including Obergruppenfuhrer Mueller, is absolutely corrupt.

  8. Excellent article. I wish your analysis of foreign affairs (observations on Iran and Venezuela come to mind) were equally as comprehensive and nuanced.

    1. RSA,..
      An understandable mistake; neither are fans of Trump.
      Shortly after Trump declared his candidacy, Michael Steele said Trump was “full of BS” on one of the Sunday morning talk shows.😄😀
      I don’t think Michael Steele’s views on Trump have changed much since then.

  9. Seeing that JT will spin, distract, deflect and repeat over and over for Trump and his problems, ya gotta wonder what is he doing? If he’s looking for a job, well so be it Otherwise why would he stick his neck out for a man that destroys everyone’s reputation that even try’s to work or speak for Trump? If he is working as a lawyer for Trump or a think tank, I hope he gets paid up front.

    1. Your post would be better suited on Jeopardy. You post answers and then follow that up with questions. If you are legitimately puzzled by Turley’s posts, you might consider that you lack the objectivity necessary to draw alternate conclusions. If you’re going to ask legitimate questions, begin with what does JT know about the law that you don’t? What are the relevant facts that would lead JT to his legal opinion that you might consider in yours?

    2. Plenty of jobs to be had. If you take a job in Sodom and Gomorrah makes sure ya got bail money. McMaster is leavin soon. Turley has said he has some kinda security clearance so he has a head start on most of the losers.

    3. Again nothing serious said but a lot of tweet tweet tweet. Out of which end we’re not sure. but the first mistake you made was try andn use collusion as some sort of …. something. Why is it laid aside by any thinking reasoning objective individual – the readers can pay attention there’s no hope for fish breath. Because Collusion is not a crime Right now I am colluding with you but it does not provide any thing you can use and goes nowhere. It’s just a conversational comment. Now if you were to say ‘ad hominem’ I would reply ‘prove you are a human.’ Still just a conversation. Now astound us all with something ‘factual.’

  10. This whole mess is reflective of undeveloped mindsets operating in positions of power.

    1. I assume from that 140 character or less tweet you are referring to the registered voters? Those who didn’t turn out to vote or worse did but not in sufficient quantities where needed?

      1. No I’m referring to the smugs in fbi, doj, in universities teaching law while totally undeveloped as human beings and some blogging here . Hope this clarifies !

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