“If the GOP fails to stand up to Trump’s unconstitutional act, we will have moved dangerously from a separation of powers, to a mere separation of parties.”
— Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) tweet of CNN clip (2/17/19).
By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (2/18/19)
Dear Fellow Readers,
We begin the column with a quote from the final paragraph of the federal indictment against Trump pal Roger Stone:
“The charges against Stone and Manafort are proof of collusion. Stone’s indictment makes it clear, it’s not just Stone, it’s “and U.S. persons (including the defendant)” and Stone was in contact with “senior members of the presidential campaign”.
Here’s how we get there.
As stated in the last edition of the Russia Monitor there is now proof of collusion. We’ll add to that in this edition while we continue to consider where we end up with Trump-Russia. The end game is less about the proof of collusion, but as explained by House Intelligence Committee Chair Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), more about our state of politics. While Schiff is talking about Trump’s fake national emergency, the assessment applies to Trump-Russia collusion if not universally.
Collusion Proof #1. Quid pro quo equals Putin to help Trump campaign in exchange for relaxation of US sanctions for Russian annexation of Crimea.
In the last edition we referenced a court filing by the special counsel’s office that was part of a legal challenge to void the plea deal with convicted former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. Manafort engaged in quid pro quo through his Mueller indicted Russian intelligence business associate Konstantin Kilimnik that would trade US ‘forgiveness’ of Putin and Russian annexation of Crimea, including relaxation of US sanctions, in exchange for Russian efforts to influence the US election to benefit Trump. During the face-to-face meeting in a cigar club Manafort was accompaied by business partner Rick Gates and handed over to Kilimnik the Trump campaign data crown jewels “which ended with the three men leaving through separate doors”.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson sided with Mueller ruling that Manafort had lied to federal prosecutors about Manafort’s interactions with Kilimnik. To let that sink in a bit, the judge ruled based on a detailed filing by the special counsel documenting Manafort’s interactions with Kilimnik and the significance of that contact and the judge agreed: Mueller’s Office Seeks Prison Sentence Of 20 Years Or More For Ex-Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort.
“Russia special counsel Robert Mueller asked a federal judge on Friday to send former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort to prison for between 20 and 24 years for his conviction on multiple financial fraud charges.
“Prosecutors also urged a federal judge in Virginia to move forward with the sentencing, which could amount to a life term for the 69-year-old Manafort who less than three years ago presided over President Donald Trump’s nomination at the 2016 Republican National Convention.
“”Manafort acted for more than a decade as if he were above the law, and deprived the federal government and various financial institutions of millions of dollars,” prosecutors wrote in a court filing Friday night, adding that they agreed with a pre-sentence report filed by federal probation authorities. “The sentence here should reflect the seriousness of these crimes, and serve to both deter Manafort and others from engaging in such conduct.””
Manafort at age 69 is likely to die in federal prison. Many have questioned why Manafort took such a foolish risk and lied, maybe because “Trump has lauded Manafort for his refusal “to break.”” The speculation is that by being honest about his interactions with Russian Intelligence through Kilimnik would put Trump at risk and as a result, any potential for a pardon.
Collusion Proof #2. Roger Stone colludes with Russia = Trump Campaign-Stone-WikiLeaks–Guccifer 2.0-Russian Intelligence.
Long time Trump associate Roger Stone was arrested and indicted by Mueller a few weeks ago.
“Roger Stone has been indicted by a grand jury on charges brought by special counsel Robert Mueller, who alleges that the longtime Donald Trump associate sought stolen emails from WikiLeaks that could damage Trump’s opponents while in coordination with senior Trump campaign officials.”
While we still don’t know who from the Trump campaign coordinated with Stone, we do now have an important piece of the Stone and Trump campaign puzzle: Special Counsel Prosecutors Say They Have Communications Of Stone With WikiLeaks.
Here is a second instance of “let this sink in”. Special counsel’s evidence against Stone includes communications between Stone, Guccifer 2.0 and WikiLeaks:
“During its investigation of the Russian hack of the Democrats, “the government obtained and executed dozens of search warrants on various accounts used to facilitate the transfer of stolen documents for release, as well as to discuss the timing and promotion of their release,” the prosecutors wrote Friday to a federal judge.
“”Several of those search warrants were executed on accounts that contained Stone’s communications with Guccifer 2.0 and with Organization 1,” which is WikiLeaks.”
Much about these charges is new: “Friday’s filing is the strongest detail yet provided by the prosecutors that Stone and WikiLeaks were in touch.”
Stone pleaded not guilty, the judge “denied Stone’s attempt to get a new judge in his case, by alleging that his charges are unrelated to a case about the Russian hack of the Democrats” as well as placing “a gag order on Stone and attorneys”.
Stone has been tripped up by execution of Mueller search warrants against Russian hackers: New Filing Suggests Mueller Has Evidence Stone Communicated With WikiLeaks.
““Several of those search warrants were executed on accounts that contained Stone’s communications with Guccifer 2.0 and with Organization 1,” the filing states.
Stone is indicted for “lying to Congress about his communications regarding WikiLeaks, witness tampering and obstructing a congressional investigation”. It’s clear the greater risk here is beyond Stone’s lies and hits at the heart of Mueller’s charter, Trump-Russia collusion.
Cry no tears for Stone, though he says he’s “lost his health insurance and is eating PBJ sandwiches to survive financially”.
Stone cold reality
Stone’s indictment is the second instance of proof of Trump-Russia collusion. The disclosure of Stone’s guilt as the Trump Campaign-Stone-WikiLeaks–Guccifer 2.0-Russian Intelligence go-between and Manafort’s Trump Campaign-Kilimnik-Russian Intelligence go-between was not served up as preliminary proof but as steps by Mueller in the investigation. But we have proof of Trump-Russia collusion.
The evidence against Stone came from Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the election. We get this directly from the Stone indictment, the 11 Russian military officers previously indicted: ,
“…evidence found in this case was found in accounts that were subject to search warrants executed in Netyksho”;United States v. Netyksho…
“…this case and Netyksho involve activities that are part of the same alleged criminal event or transaction… Netyksho was a central focus of the congressional investigation that the defendant is alleged to have obstructed, and therefore the activities underlying the crime charged in that case are part of the same activities underlying the crimes charged in this case. The defendant’s false statements did not arise in a vacuum; they were made in the course of an investigation into the possible links between Russian individuals (including the Netyksho defendants), individuals associated with the dumping of materials (including Organization 1), and U.S. persons (including the defendant).”
“The Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, also communicated with U.S. persons about the release of the stolen documents. On or about August 15, 2016, the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, wrote to a person who was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump…”.”
The charges against Stone and Manafort are proof of collusion. Stone’s indictment makes it clear, it’s not just Stone, it’s “and U.S. persons (including the defendant)” and Stone was in contact with “senior members of the presidential campaign”.
As former FBI speial agent Asha Rangappa notes, so far Mueller has brought:
“199 criminal charges against 37 defendants with 7 pleading/being found guilty and 4 people sentenced to jail within 2 yrs means “nothing is happening. People understand that prosecutors start from the bottom and work their way up, right?
Mueller is on the trail of more U.S. persons including other senior members of Trump’s campaign.
This is proof of collusion. As Schiff points out, it is politics that will determine what happens as a result.