The Commoner Call (5/4/17)
Dear Fellow Readers,
“I believe the time has come to bring that investigation and the other investigations of this matter to an end. One year of Watergate is enough!”
– Richard Nixon’s 1974 State of the Union Address.
And one week later the US House of Representatives authorized the Judiciary Committee to investigate impeachment charges against Nixon.
Over at MSNBC Rachel Maddow predicts, “Things Are About to Get Really Interesting.”
By the time you are reading this we may have more to chew on. As I type FBI Director James Comey is speaking at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. Here’s a bit of a round-up of upcoming events starting now (Wednesday, 5/3):
- Thursday: Comey and National Security Agency Director Admiral Michael Rogers to testify before House Intelligence Committee (closed hearing).
- Monday: Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates and Obama’s former Director of National Intellligence James Clapper will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
- The House Intelligence hearings on Russia are still not scheduled. Though still in the news, notably Co-Chair Rep. Devin Nunes stepped down, committee member Rep. Jason Chaffetz announced he will not run for reelection (and left town for foot surgery) and Attorney General Jeff Sessions has now recused himself from anything related to Michael Flynn, who resigned as National Security Adviser to President Trump.
Yates is an especially interesting witness. A few days before she was fired as Acting Attorney General for refusing to defend Trump’s initial (Muslim) travel ban 1.0 she had issued a “forceful warning” to the White House that Flynn was lying about the extent of his contact with Russian government officials. The White House characterizes Yates’ warning as a friendly “heads up” – and you can find multiple comments using similar language from Sessions, White House spokesperson Sean Spicer and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.
Is this what a cover-up sounds like?
Rachel Maddow also highlights “Republican efforts to ‘bottle this up’”. She cites republican Sen. Charles Grassley attacking the Christopher Steele dossier. Attack the messenger, right? And each attack on the Steele dossier gives it more and more credibility.
Russian national Peter Levashov was recently arrested in Spain and is charged by the Department of Justice with operating a global network of tens of thousands of infected computers that were used to “…facilitate malicious activities including harvesting login credentials, distributing bulk spam e-mails, and installing ransomware and other malicious software”.
So what we say?
Patribiotics reports Louise Mensch, of the Christopher Steele dossier fame, suggests Boris Epshteyn was the intermediary who paid Pyotr Levashov on behalf of the Trump campaign for his work as a hacker influencing the November election. Boris Epshteyn you will remember as the likely third name on the FISA warrants and who recently left the White House communications team to take a job at Sinclair Broadcasting Group. Mensch asserts that Trump Tower was a veritable “command and control” center for Levashov’s work and was in communication with the Russian Alfa Bank server.
Two Grand Juries?
On “The Resistance” Keith Olbermann reports Trump is Panicking About Russia as there is the possibility of two grand juries (he offers this as “thin gruel” but does not dismiss the claims) – you can find this at the 6:30 mark of the video.
We can hope. If you listen to the entire video you’ll hear him repeat Louise Mensch’s claims and yet again characterize “what a cover-up looks like”.
Again – forest and trees, let’s put current events in perspective over the first 100 days of the Trump administration. The New York Times presents a review of 28 events on a two-dimensional scale of Important/Unimportant and Normal/Abnormal. Of the 9 events judged as Important and Abnormal 6 are Russia related. Bears repeating – 6 out of 9 important and abnormal events are about Russia. In order of importance (meaning up and to the right on the graph):
- Unsubstantiated wiretapping claims against President Obama
- Comey confirms investigation into administration’s Russia ties
- Continued attacks on news organizations
- Devin Nunes’s bizarre missteps on Russia
- Michael Flynn reportedly offers testimony
- Jeff Sessions recuses himself
6 out of 9 events Important and Abnormal; 6 out of 28 of ALL events noted.
Trump’s reaction – might look exactly like what CBS reporter John Dickerson experienced in a recent Oval Office interview as Trump Angrily Walks Away From Interview to hide behind his desk.
Coming To America: While Russians Visiting in Droves, Everyone Else Staying Away
Another interesting coincidence from The Economist – travel to the US is generally down – though notably, visitors from Russia following the inauguration is up over 40%. That’s a lot of ‘handlers’, don’t you think?