Russia Monitor: Turn Over The Stone & Watch The Crawlies


“Ray Harding, then chairman of New York’s Liberal Party, once told me in the late 1990s, “The only two people who believe Roger Stone’s bullshit are Roger Stone and that fucking moron Trump.””

— GOP strategist and never-Trumper Rick Wilson.

By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (1/28/19)

Dear Fellow Readers,

The other competing quote for the cycle is, “FBI, WARRANT! OPEN THE DOOR!” The quote came Esquire magazine:

“…the FBI busted into his (Roger Stone) Fort Lauderdale, Florida, home in a predawn raid, arresting him on seven counts including “obstruction of an official proceeding, making false statements, and witness tampering.” The charges stem from his communications during the campaign with WikiLeaks, the organization that bills itself as advocating transparency in government, but which spent much of 2016 publishing emails that hackers linked to the Russian government had stolen from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chair John Podesta. That is, it served as a vital cog in the Kremlin’s machine tasked with tipping the scales in an American presidential election.”

Writing for Esquire Jack Holmes does a very good job relating the facts and the significance with the arrest of long-time Trump political adviser, notorious Nixon-era political dirty trickster and former business partner to convicted former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, Roger Stone. Many watching the special counsel investigation of Trump-Russia corruption wondered why it took so long to charge Stone, which fueled concerns that acting attorney general Whitaker was interfering. A more likely scenario had Mueller waiting for the submission of Trump’s written submission of answers to questions from special counsel which would offer a direct comparison to Trump’s answers and Stone’s testimony to Congress.

Stone is thought to be the connection between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks, the charges answer some questions and raise others:

“Stone’s connection to WikiLeaks has been public for some time. His indictment by Special Counsel Robert Mueller reinforces that connection, and alleges Stone went to considerable lengths to obscure the nature of it—or at least, as he always has, to wiggle out of real culpability. But perhaps more crucially, the indictment issued by the special counsel draws new connections between the Trump campaign, WikiLeaks, and the stolen emails. The New York Times dug into it:

“According to the indictment, Trump campaign officials contacted Mr. Stone during the summer of 2016 about future releases from WikiLeaks, suggesting that Mr. Trump’s campaign knew about the stolen emails before they were released.

“How would the Trump campaign know WikiLeaks had the emails before WikiLeaks published them? They’d have to hear from WikiLeaks, or from the people who gave WikiLeaks the dirt.”

We’ll highlight a few important open questions and move on. Holmes cites a Vanity Fair reminder that Stone was also in touch with Guccifer 2.0 “the front for Russian intelligence posing as a hacker” for the emails hosted by WikiLeaks.

Holmes reminds The Atlantic broke a story in November 2017 of communications between Donnie Jr. and WikiLeaks “until at least July 2017”.

Jumping past the 160 times Trump proudly proclaimed he “loves WikiLeaks” in the final month of his campaign we find this significant statement:

“…Is there any reason to grant anyone here, including the president, the benefit of the doubt anymore? The Times, in its Timesian way, suggests not—and that we haven’t seen the last of this corner of the Russia storyline.

“According to the indictment, between June and July of 2016, Mr. Stone told “senior Trump campaign officials” about the stolen emails in WikiLeaks’ possession that could be damaging to Mrs. Clinton. On July 22, WikiLeaks released its first batch of Democratic emails. After that, according to the indictment, the Trump campaign sought more.

““A senior Trump Campaign official was directed to contact Stone about any additional releases and what other damaging information Organization 1 had regarding the Clinton campaign,” the indictment said, referring to WikiLeaks. The indictment did not make clear who directed the senior campaign official to reach out to Mr. Stone, though it left open the possibility that it was Mr. Trump.

“That is, the indictment raises the possibility that Donald Trump, American president, directed his campaign aide to get in touch with Stone and, possibly, coordinate their strategy on future WikiLeaks releases.”

A senior Trump campaign official “was directed”. Who is more senior than a senior Trump campaign official? The senior Trump campaign official is former Trump campaign manager Steve Bannon.


Super sloppy Russpublicans

NBC News reported: Officials Rejected Jared Kushner For Top Secret Security Clearance, But Were Overruled.

The sub-head is: Jared Kushner was rejected for a top secret clearance by 2 career security specialists, but their supervisor overruled them and approved him, say sources.

Where are the law-and-order Russpublicans over this? Can you imagine anything like this at any time in our life-time? Will Russpublicans now campaign in 2020 taking a position of indifference to access, use and the legality of Top Secret information?

“The official, Carl Kline, is a former Pentagon employee who was installed as director of the personnel security office in the Executive Office of the President in May 2017. Kushner’s was one of at least 30 cases in which Kline overruled career security experts and approved a top secret clearance for incoming Trump officials despite unfavorable information, the two sources said. They said the number of rejections that were overruled was unprecedented — it had happened only once in the three years preceding Kline’s arrival.”

This is an incredible — very deliberate — lack of oversight: “The reasons for denying a clearance can include debts, a criminal past or questions about foreign entanglements. Anything in a person’s background that could make them vulnerable to blackmail can be a factor.

Imagine – Kushner as one of “at least 30 cases” of individuals granted clearance in spite of known criminal or compromising foreign entanglements”.

Even with a constant stream of Trump and associates criminality, a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll showed this:

“Nearly three-quarters of Republicans oppose Democrats investigating possible collusion, while nearly two-thirds oppose investigating Trump’s relationship with Putin and suspected financial ties with foreign governments. Roughly one-third of Republicans, however, support investigations on these latter issues.”

Alex, we’ll take ‘Trump criminality Republicans DON’T want to know about for $1000’.

Imagine the question, but we know the answer: ‘Alex, who is Vladimir Putin?’


Mr. Ingratitude

We’ll offer a few more articles to add dimension to both Trump’s risk and Trump and associate obstruction.

We’ll start with a story first reported by MSNBC host Rachel Maddow. In a nutshell, with the Democrats now controlling the House, the new Chair for House Intelligence is Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). While he and the Dems on the committee intend to coordinate with special counsel Mueller, procedurally their hands are tied until Republicans name their committee members – and they have not: Republicans Slow To Staff Key Committee, Slowing Mueller Help.

A Maddow tweet clarifies:

“The House Intelligence Committee can’t send testimony transcripts to Robert Mueller until they have a full set of members. So far, Republicans are not naming any members to the Intelligence Committee. They managed it for 23 other committees, but…”

There is only so much Russpublicans can do to slow the special counsel investigation. The New York Times had an interesting opinion column that provides insight to ‘why’ this is true: Mueller’s Real Target In The Roger Stone Indictment.

The column is interesting, but the sub-head says enough: It was probably not Stone himself, but rather his electronic devices.

Similar to the arrests of convicted long-time Trump lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen and Manafort, the trove of electronic devices and records was invaluable. That is very likely to prove true again with Stone.

We touched on Donnie Jr. with the report of Stone’s arrest, so is Trump concerned? The Raw Story reported: ‘Trump is very worried’: Fears Spread That Roger Stone Will Turn On The President — And Don Jr. Could Be Next.

“President Donald Trump is “very worried” that his longtime ally Roger Stone will turn on him after Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted him on seven counts in the Russia investigation on Friday, according to Vanity Fair reporter Gabriel Sherman.

“…Sherman reports that, despite Stone’s implications to the contrary, there’s good reason to believe he may flip on Trump. One Republican close to Trump told Sherman that, “Stone knows Donald isn’t loyal. He calls him ‘Mr. Ingratitude.’””

It wasn’t that long ago Trump was assuring us Michael Cohen would never “flip”, but he did. Seems smart for Trump and Donnie Jr. to be very, very worried. Roger loves a show so he’ll be very entertaining (read the Rick Wilson story linked through the opening quote), at least until he shows up in court to offer his plea and learns what is really at stake.


Lying liars lying and lying for the Big Liar


And last, an excellent way to wrap: Trump Advisers Lied Over & Over Again, Mueller Says. The Question Is, Why?

With new allegations brought by special counsel we are reminded:

“They lied to the public for months before Donald Trump was elected — and then repeatedly after he took office.

“They lied to Congress as lawmakers sought to investigate Russia’s attack on American democracy in 2016.

“And they lied to the FBI, even when they knew lying was a crime. In indictments and plea agreements unveiled over the last 20 months, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has shown over and over again that some of President Trump’s closest friends and advisers have lied about Russia and related issues.”

While Trump and associates love to cry “Witch Hunt” the evidence against him continues to mount. Not just the lies but the complicity and stupidity bred from impudence:

“Some Trump friends said they are confounded by Stone’s alleged actions.

““If he had told the truth as alleged, there wouldn’t have been an underlying crime,” said Christopher Ruddy, chief executive of Newsmax. “There would have been no crime. They would have had to try and find other stuff.””

Mueller charges Trumpsters with lying – it is the easiest charge to prove. It leaves open claims of “of criminal coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, some analysts noted.” It does – but remember the trail to date – convicted former Trump national security adviser lied, Manafort lied, Cohen lied, convicted Trump foreign policy adviser Papadopoulos lied….

And this is where we’re heading…

“Sam Nunberg, a former Trump aide, said he believed that people around Trump lied to investigators because they were trying to make sure their version of events lined up with lies the president was telling to the American people.

““They all conspired,” he said, “against themselves.””

Trump and Donnie Jr. should be very, very worried. As well should anyone else that lied to Congress. Sooner or later Schiff will get the testimony transcripts to Mueller but in the meantime, Mueller seems to have plenty to work with.


P.S. If you want a deeper dive into the Roger Stone indictment, former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti gives a good wrap-up, here.

(Commoner Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2018. Open source and free for non-derivative use with link to )