Did Mueller Withhold Evidence From Michael Flynn?

440px-Michael_T_FlynnThe court order for Special Counsel Robert Mueller to share exculpatory evidence with former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has raised intriguing questions about whether evidence might have been withheld from Flynn before his plea deal.  As I stated on air, I do not believe that the issuance of this order by Judge Sullivan should be assumed as evidence of any second thoughts by Flynn. As I state in my column below in The Hill newspaper, I do not see a real option for Flynn in trying to undo his plea deal. However, the disclosure of the evidence could raise questions for Flynn.

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Russian Indictments Are Long On Chicanery and Short On Collusion

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

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

 

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Ginsburg (Again) Holds Forth On Politics, Hillary Clinton, and Sexism

225px-ruth_bader_ginsburg_scotus_photo_portraitI have previously criticized Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for her continued political comments in speeches to liberal and academic groups.  While not unique on the Court, Ginsburg is something of recidivist in abandoning the long-standing avoidance of political discussions by justices.  Despite repeated controversies in speaking publicly on political issues, Ginsburg is clearly undeterred.  Ginsburg was back this week holding forth on political issues that justices have historically avoided in maintain the integrity of the Court.  As in her 2017 speech, Ginsburg again repeated her view that sexist voters prevented Hillary Clinton from being elected president.

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West Virginia Woman Dragged From Legislative Hearing On Drilling Bill After Listing Oil and Gas Donations To The Members

lissaWe recently saw a national outcry over a teacher dragged from a school board meeting for raising concerns over school policies.  Now, the West Virginia House of Delegates is under scrutiny for the treatment of a woman, Lissa Lucas, who appeared at a hearing over a drilling bill and attempted to list the contributions accepted by both Democrats and Republicans from the gas and oil industries.  She also raised an event the night before where the members wined and dined with industry lobbyists.  She was forciably removed from the hearing after Chairman, John Shott (R-Mercer) ruled her comments as non-germane and personal. Many voters would likely disagree and say that the extent of corporate-related money is not relevant to the legislation.

 

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In The Case Of The FISA Memos, Transparency Is National Security

downloadBelow is my column on the ongoing controversy over the majority and minority memos from the House Intelligence Committee. President Donald Trump has sent the Democratic memo — which is much longer and detailed — back to the Committee for revisions. He accused of the Democrats of intentionally loading up the memos with classified information to argue that the White House was withholding embarrassing information.  This column below argues for disclosure of not just as much of these memos as possible but underlying material.

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House Intelligence Committee Releases Full Memo Alleging Serious Breaches By FBI In Russian Investigation

HouseofRepSealI will be discussing the memo today in a column in the Hill as well as in the segment with Tucker Carlson.   I fail to see the “grave” classified information that would put the national security at risk.  Indeed, my column addresses the disconnect between the objections made by the FBI and Democratic members and the actual memo. The use of classification laws to prevent disclosure of embarrassing information is itself an abuse of federal law and standards.

The Republicans may have undermined their case by building up this memo as a smoking gun document. Portrayals seems to make this memo the virtual combination of the Pentagon Papers and the Zimmerman telegram. After all of the build up, anything short of a depiction of Hillary Clinton forcing a judge to sign a secret warrant at gunpoint would disappoint most readers. However, there is plenty in this memo that should deeply concern people.

Civil libertarians have complained for years about the tactical use of classification authority by the federal agencies.  This seems a rare and important example of that problem. As to the specific factual representations, they raise clearly troubling questions that need to be addressed on the failure to disclosure information to the FISA court and the alleged heavy reliance on this dossier.

Below is the full memo:

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Schiff Accuses Nunes Of Altering Memo Before Submission To Trump For Possible Release

440px-Adam_Schiff_115th_official_photo The plot thickened last night over the anticipated release of a four-page memo from the House Intelligence Committee.  California Rep. Adam Schiff (D) publicly accused House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) of giving President Trump a “secretly altered” version of the memo to review for possible release.  The Schiff allegation raises an interesting issue under the House that could theoretically warrant judicial review (though the outcome is far from certain).  The Committee staff is arguing that the changes were minor edits, including grammatical changes.

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