Sunday, January 13, 2019

The FBI investigation as a tautology

Andrew McCarthy: "FBI Russia investigation was always about Trump."
But all of these steps were just a matter of finally being overt about something that had been true for over a year: The FBI was conducting a probe to try to make a criminal case on Trump. Because they did not have solid evidence of a crime, they did it under counterintelligence authority rather than criminal authority – calculating that the cover of probing Russia’s interference in the 2016 election would enable them to keep investigating while they tried to tighten up the obstruction case or find some other criminal offense.
Make no mistake, though: The investigation was always about Donald Trump, from Day One.
McCarthy details the revelation of this week that the Obama Justice Department opened an investigation on an incoming President under the guise of a "counterintelligence" effort, all the while telling Trump that he was not under investigation.  But the investigation itself was the vehicle to set a trap for Trump where he would be called out for obstruction.

Somebody asked why this investigation is being revealed now and answered that the FBI's conclusion that there is no evidence of collusion with the Russians is a way to telegraph to the anti-Trumpers that the Mueller report is going to be a huge nothingburger.

Gotta let 'em down easy.

Update - Red State: "...this seems like the last gasp of the Russia collusion narrative. Undoubtedly, the Democrats on Mueller’s team and those in-the-know in Department of Justice have told their friends in the media what sane people have known, there is no there there in the primary focus of Mueller’s investigation and they shouldn’t dig themselves in any deeper."

Extra - This article is getting a lot of attention for good reason: "On What Grounds Can the FBI Investigate the President as a Counterintelligence Threat?"


Anonymous said...

Esquire’s Charles Pierce has a different view about reading telegraphed hints than Somebody:

Deep in The New York Times's latest bombshell is one singularly deadly word, a lethal bit of shrapnel aimed directly at the vitals of a criminal—and possibly treasonous—presidency. The word is tucked into a sentence that, at first glance, seems to be a perfectly anodyne statement of the current facts. Indeed, it's tucked into a sentence that would be an unremarkable bit of knee-jerk newspaper balance if this explosive charge of a word weren't placed right the in the middle of it. That word is "publicly," as in:

No evidence has emerged publicly that Mr. Trump was secretly in contact with or took direction from Russian government officials.

…….This is not a word chosen idly, not in a piece as judiciously written as this one. Clearly, the Times printed pretty much all it was given by its sources, but the implication of that "publicly" is that investigators likely know far more than what appeared in the newspaper.

Otherwise, "publicly" is empty verbiage. To have written simply that, "No evidence has emerged that Mr. Trump was secretly in contact with or took direction from Russian government official," would have sufficed for the purposes of journalistic balance. But by dropping that fatal "publicly" in there, the Times and its sources likely are giving us a preview of coming attractions. Judging by his manic episode on the electric Twitter machine on Saturday morning, the president knows this, too.

Eric said...

Right. It couldn't be an ass-covering flourish by the NY Times to elide the fact that this story went exactly nowhere. Heavens no.

Keep hope (publicly) alive!

Anonymous said...

You may wish to consider your knack for identifying the stories that go nowhere versus the stories that go somewhere. Or you may not wish to.

Anonymous said...

In other news, no evidence has emerged publicly that the moon landing was a fabricated sham.

Anonymous said...

And, no evidence has emerged publicly that contrails are really "chemtrails" made up of biological agents released by the government.

And so on....

Anonymous said...

If it weren't for false equivalence, you'd have no equivalences at all!

But with your genius analogical reasoning skills, you should apply for a job on the president's "truth is not truth" legal team. There are lots of openings, and they're not filling up fast!

Anonymous said...

Today on Twitter:

Hillary Clinton:
Like I said: A puppet.

And now we know what tomorrow on Twitter will look like, specifically around 5:00 AM.

Anonymous said...

David French provides the rebuttal to the Jack Goldsmith piece in Lawfare. Short version: Goldsmith may be correct as an abstract constitutional analysis, but based on executive orders issued by previous presidents and not countermanded by the current one, the FBI is expressly authorized to do what it did:

The FBI’s Counterintelligence Investigation of Trump Was Prudent and Proper

Executive Order 12333 — drafted in 1981, amended in 2003, 2004, and 2009, and still in effect today — defines the executive branch’s counterintelligence mission and allocates responsibility for carrying out that mission. And under that executive order, the president has defined counterintelligence and has precisely delegated specific tasks to different executive branch agencies.

{text of executive order}

There is no exemption in this order applicable to the actions or conduct of a president or of any other member of the executive branch. If Trump wanted to amend this order to exempt himself and key officials from the FBI’s counterintelligence mission, he could — so long as his order didn’t conflict with any constitutionally valid federal statutes.

But for now, this executive edict exists, and it specifically orders the FBI to carry out its part of the American counterintelligence mission.

Why emphasize this order? Because it helps us understand why the FBI would believe it had the authority and responsibility to allegedly open a counterintelligence investigation of the president.

If Russia has engaged in “espionage” or “other intelligence activities” to induce the president (knowingly or unknowingly) to act on its behalf, then those actions (and their effects) are within the scope of the FBI’s mission. It’s black-letter law under a currently operative presidential order.

Yes, he gets to do all those things {fire subordinates, talk to foreign leaders, make policy}, but according to the applicable law, when confronted with sufficient evidence of foreign intelligence activities, the FBI has the authority and obligation to investigate whether the president is doing those things on behalf of a foreign power.

Robert Fisk said...

Wow, a six-pack of frenzied comments hurled into empty space by the Hall Monitor, ending with a classic example of a copy-and-vomit of someone else's writing. Something about a total lack of evidence for Trump/Russia collusion after 2 years of investigation must deeply disturb the Monitor's mental stability.

Just keep repeating...No evidence has emerged publicly...publicly...publicly...

Anonymous said...

Ha, get a load of Stupid. The master of nuance and evidence who can't even discern the difference between Anonymous comments that are literally oppositional. Sounds like he's putting away several six-packs of his own.

As for the "copy-and-vomit" quote -- here on Earth, we call it the article about the executive order that validates the FBI's investigation -- maybe Stupid Robert was so drunk and angry that he vomited all over his screen?

Eric said...

The FBI beclowned itself with the reasoning that since Trump fired Comey, he must be a Russian spy. Plus we got this Steele dossier, which is totally full of true stuff like: there's a country called "Russia."

Save us, Mueller! Publicly!

Robert Fisk said...

Uh-oh, the Monitor's now onto the fact that I don't actually read most of his comments. Boy is my face red!

Anonymous said...

Look at Stupid, the same person who was arguing with me for weeks when I wasn't even here, doing an "I don't even notice you."

Anonymous said...

Rudy Guiliani, speaking tonight on lying CNN:

“I never said there was no collusion between the campaign or between people in the campaign. I have not. I said the president of the United States. ...He [Trump] didn't say nobody [colluded with Russia]. He said he didn't. He said he didn't. He didn't say nobody."

It must be Guiliani's way of telegraphing to the anti-Trumpers that the Mueller report is going to be a huge nothingburger. Gotta let 'em down easy!

Robert Fisk said...

I know it's hard to take the blow to your pride to learn that your comments aren't gripping reading. And just so you'll know...the copy-and-vomit ones are by default ignored.

Anonymous said...

Of course they are, honey bunny. Of course they are.

Posting to say that you're ignoring? Even if you tick every box in the Online Troll Playbook, you still aren't going to win your free Quiznos sandwich.

Eric said...

Think of all the comments he's making, but not publicly.

Anonymous said...

Why should I? They couldn't possibly be dumber than the comments he's posting.