Russia Monitor: The Worried Witch Of The West Wing

“Regrettably, we found that China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election coming up in November against my administration. They do not want me or us to win because I am the first president ever to challenge China on trade.”

— Trump to UN Security Council (9/26/18)

By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (9/27/18)

Dear Fellow Readers,

Along with all the accusations of Russian hacking and claims of U.S. ‘readiness’ ,Trump offers his own news that it’s China we have to watch because “they do not want me to win”. It’s hard to take anything at face value from a habitual liar especially when he’s making these claims in between tweeting insults at the lawyer for Stormy Daniels and the third Kavanaugh accuser Julie Swetnick, Michael Avenatti. 

This has already been a long week; let’s catch up. We ended the last edition of the Russia Monitor with a New York Times report that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had talked about wearing a wire to meet Trump in the White House during discussions with other DoJ persons about the 25th Amendment. Other news outlets challenged important parts of the Times story but we all know that Trump doesn’t need actual facts. What happened next? There were three key events on Monday.

  1. In the form of an emergency drill, Axios reported Rosenstein had been called to the White House and verbally “offered to resign”.
  2. The New Yorker explained how Russia swung the election to Trump. 
  3. Michael Avenatti promised to announce a new witness against Trump SCOTUS appointee Brett Kavanaugh.

We already acknowledged Avenatti’s release of a new allegation by Julie Swetnick above. There is a link to her sworn declaration on Avenatti’s Twitter page.  Brett Kavanaugh also released new information, pages from his 1982 calendar noting days he mowed the lawn, was grounded and Beach Week. We’ll set this aside and focus on Rosenstein who is to meet with Trump today. Yes, the same day as the Brett Kavanaugh / Dr. Christine Blasey Ford Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. Here’s what the Washington Post offered in advance: Rod Rosenstein’s Departure Ias imminent. Now He Is Likely To Survive Until After The Midterms.

After much alarm and the dust settled by Monday afternoon with no firing, no resignation:

“The Justice Department had prepared a statement announcing Rosenstein’s departure. But after a highly anticipated visit to the White House, where Rosenstein spoke with Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, there was no resignation and officials soon announced the meeting with Trump on Thursday.”

Everyone knows that Rosenstein, Mueller and Sessions have been threatened with dismissal by Trump. So the Monday fire drill felt very real. Here’s one view of the true intent, at least with regard to the timing: Trump Hoped Leaking Rosenstein Ouster Would Knock Kavanaugh Scandals Out Of The News.

Is anyone surprised?

“Sources tell Vanity Fair’s Gabe Sherman that Trump over the weekend floated the possibility of firing Rosenstein as a way to knock the scandal swirling around Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh out of the headlines.”

There’s another part of this report worthy of note:

Sherman also reports that Trump has been considering cutting bait with Kavanaugh at the advice of allies who fear that watching a Supreme Court nomination go down in flames will crush conservative voters’ turnout this fall  — thus potentially giving both the House and Senate to the Democrats, who will initiate impeachment proceedings against him.

““Trump is finally waking up… that it’s the end of his presidency if he loses the Senate,” one source said.”

All we know is that as of 9:15 p.m. Wednesday Rosenstein is still Deputy Attorney General … for now.


The worried witch of the West Wing


Meanwhile, a shaking up of the normative opinions about the impact of Russian interference to benefit Trump in the election: How Russia Helped Swing The Election For Trump.

New Yorker reporter Jane Mayer offers this sub-heading: A meticulous analysis of online activity during the 2016 campaign makes a powerful case that targeted cyberattacks by hackers and trolls were decisive.

The primary focus of Russia’s involvement to sway the election in favor of Trump has focused on Trump-Russia collusion. This may be the first case made for Russia swinging the election to Trump.

“Donald Trump has adopted many contradictory positions since taking office, but he has been unwavering on one point: that Russia played no role in putting him in the Oval Office. Trump dismisses the idea that Russian interference affected the outcome of the 2016 election, calling it a “made-up story,” “ridiculous,” and “a hoax.” He finds the subject so threatening to his legitimacy that—according to “The Perfect Weapon,” a recent book on cyber sabotage by David Sanger, of the Times—aides say he refuses even to discuss it. In public, Trump has characterized all efforts to investigate the foreign attacks on American democracy during the campaign as a “witch hunt”; in March, he insisted that “the Russians had no impact on our votes whatsoever.””

Mayer interviews author Kathleen Hall Jamieson over her new book, Cyberwar: How Russian Hackers and Trolls Helped Elect a President—What We Don’t, Can’t, and Do Know. Jamieson’s point is this, “I’m not arguing that Russians pulled the voting levers. I’m arguing that they persuaded enough people to either vote a certain way or not vote at all.”

“Jamieson is scrupulously nonpartisan in her work. Beth Myers, who helped lead Mitt Romney’s Presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012 and worked with Jamieson on a bipartisan project about Presidential debates, told me, “If  Kathleen has a point of view, I don’t know what it is. She’s extraordinarily evenhanded. She is fair and fearless.” Anita Dunn, a Democratic adviser to Barack Obama, agrees. She, too, worked with Jamieson on the Presidential-debates project, and she studied with her as an undergraduate. Jamieson, she says, “is constantly pointing out what the data actually shows, as opposed to those of us who just assert stuff.””

There is an eye-opening point to the results of Jamieson’s research. She acknowledges, “that political messages tend not to change the minds of voters who have already chosen a candidate”. But 15% of the electorate remained undecided a week prior to the election. She hadn’t intended a book but her research suggested the makings of a book. She decided the question wasn’t, whether the Russians had “changed votes directly.” There wasn’t evidence for this. Instead, she suspected, the Russians had “influenced who voted, or didn’t vote, and that could have changed the outcome.”

“Jamieson, ever the social scientist, emphasizes in her book that there is much that Americans still don’t know about the campaign, including the detailed targeting information that would clarify exactly whom the Russian disinformation was aimed at, and when it was sent. She told me, “We need to know the extent to which the Russians targeted the three key states, and which citizens’ voting patterns differed substantially from the ones you would have predicted in the past.””

And this resonates with stolen Facebook data, Trump’s son-in-law and his data campaign led by 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale and executed by Robert and Rebekah Mercer funded, and Trump senior advisor Steve Bannon, Cambridge Analytica (CA). A unique opportunity requiring: 1) FB data theft 2) targeting of voting districts and voters 3) sophisticated divisive messaging and 4) repetitive messaging.

By the way, Cambridge Analytica, in the form of former employees, is already quietly involved in Trump’s 2020 campaign led by Parscale, Trump’s 2016 data guru and CA collaborator in spite of the demise of CA following news of their theft of Facebook data.


Tap, tap, tap…

With simple, brutal honesty and damning admissions, Donnie Jr. associate and coordinator for the Donnie Jr. Trump Tower meeting with Russians is forthcoming about the lies we’ve been fed to date by Donnie Jr. and Trump: Rob Goldstone Wishes He’d Never Set Up That Trump Tower Meeting With The Russians.

There are a few key points Goldstone makes. He’s brutally clear on intent:

“The British-born music publicist who helped arrange that infamous meeting between senior Trump campaign officials and a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Democrats now believes the meeting could have been a set-up by Russian intelligence, he told NBC News in an exclusive television interview.

“…Asked if he had conveyed a “dirty offer” to the Trump team in brokering the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, Goldstone said, “Yes. That is true.””

The meeting was never about Russian adoptions, Donnie Jr. always expected Clinton “dirt” from the Russian government.

“….he (Goldstone) acknowledged that the candidate’s son, Donald Trump Jr., came into the room anticipating — and very happy to accept — “opposition research” he believed was coming from the Russian government.”

Goldstone assumed the Russian government was behind this because of “how Russians treated Trump”.

“But he did believe, he said, that Veselnitskaya had Kremlin connections, something that has proven to be true. In an April interview with NBC News, she acknowledged she had worked closely with and provided information to the Russian prosecutor general, a high-ranking Kremlin official.

“Goldstone believes it wasn’t his email that secured the meeting, but a series of calls afterward between Trump Jr. and Emin Agalarov. Goldstone was not on the line.”

The final nail Goldstone puts in the Donnie Jr. coffin, we learned last edition of flows of money before and after the Donnie Jr.-Russians meeting, but there is now this:

“Afterwards, the Agalarovs continued to seek another meeting for Veselnitskaya with the Trump team. Goldstone says the requests came shortly after Trump’s victory in November 2016, and then again around the time of the inauguration. Goldstone says he did not pursue the meetings, and does not believe any took place.”

A final Goldstone comment worth noting, “he found it “odd” that those senior campaign officials (convicted Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and Kushner) would be included if they did not expect the conversation to be substantive.


We’ll end with one final note. There is already a great deal of uncertainty around the fates of Rosenstein, Sessions and Mueller, even more so in the last few days. We know that Trump lashes out in anger any time he feels pressured. Witness Trump’s attacks on a second accuser of Kavanaugh, Deborah Ramirez, after being laughed at by the United Nations General Assembly after his “most accomplishments” claim. 

But we should never forget — nor underestimate — the cynical Russpublican determination to protect Trump.

A Supreme Court Case Could Liberate Trump to Pardon His Associates…

In a nutshell, Sen. Orin Hatch (R-UT) is moving to overturn a 150-year-old exception to the protection of double-jeopardy that “allows state and federal courts to prosecute the same person for the same criminal offense”. Hatch’s attempt to overturn this exemption would broaden the use of presidential pardon.

“Within the context of the Mueller probe, legal observers have seenthe dual-sovereignty doctrine as a check on President Donald Trump’s power: It could discourage him from trying to shut down the Mueller investigation or pardon anyone caught up in the probe, because the pardon wouldn’t be applied to state charges. Under settled law, if Trump were to pardon his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, for example—he was convicted last month in federal court on eight counts of tax and bank fraud—both New York and Virginia state prosecutors could still charge him for any crimes that violated their respective laws. (Both states have a double-jeopardy law that bars secondary state prosecutions for committing “the same act,” but there are important exceptions, as the Fordham University School of Law professor Jed Shugerman has noted.) If the dual-sovereignty doctrine were tossed, as Hatch wants, then Trump’s pardon could theoretically protect Manafort from state action.”

Hatch’s gambet is the opposite of oversight; it is yet another Russpublican example of party over country, to allow Trump to operate with impunity.

Between another Kavanaugh hearing as well as a Trump-Rosenstein meeting at the White House it promises to be another big news day.

Vote. Vote for Oversight.

(Commoner Call cartoons by Mark L. Taylor, 2017. Open source and free for non-derivative use with link to )