Russia Monitor: Trump’s Man In The Just-Us Department Keeping The Boss Happy


“I don’t trust Barr, I trust Mueller.”

— House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (4/10/19)

By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (4/11/19)

Dear Fellow Readers,

“He is not the attorney general of Donald Trump. He is the attorney general of the United States;” was the remainder of Pelosi’s statement. Our last edition opened with ‘depends on the day’ with regard to Trump’s fights against releasing the Mueller report or releasing his taxes. The answer today is ‘both’; the news is overwhelmingly about more pronouncements from Trump’s Attorney General Barr.

Barr has already offered a non-summary summary, exonerating Trump while burying the lede, “Trump not exonerated”. Now he’s back at it again feeding the narrative for Trump and his protectors.

“Barr testified Wednesday before a Senate panel that he believes “spying did occur” on Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, aligning himself more closely with the president’s views on the origins of the Russia investigation. Critics of the Russia probe note that it was launched during the Obama administration, though Mueller was appointed special counsel by Trump’s Justice Department.

“Pelosi said Barr’s comments undermine the Constitution and his role in the Justice Department.”

Barr expects a redacted version of the Mueller report next week. In response, Pelosi said it’s only “a matter of time” before the full report goes public promising “we will see it”. But back to Barr’s bombshell: William Barr’s Highly Questionable Use Of Trump’s ‘spying’ Talking Point.

Barr opined before the Senate Appropriations Committee:

““I am going to be reviewing both the genesis and the conduct of intelligence activities directed at the Trump campaign during 2016,” Barr said. “I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal.”

“When pressed by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) on whether he indeed viewed it as “spying” on Trump’s campaign, Barr said, “I think spying did occur.”

““The question is whether it was adequately predicated,” he said. “I’m not suggesting it was not adequately predicated, but I need to explore that.””

There you have it, more gifts for Trump from Barr. Both an acknowledgement he will investigate the investigators while registering a concern that “spying did occur”.

Barr’s comments are Trump talking points.

Barr did walk back his ‘spying’ comments in a few minutes. But much like his second memo saying his summary exoneration was neither a summary or exoneration, the noise from the Trumpian celebrations drowned out the news. Here again, after some passage of time at Wednesday’s hearing there was this tempering of his remark:

“When pressed by Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) whether he has any evidence of wrongdoing by the FBI or Mueller in the Russia investigation, Barr said: “I have no specific evidence that I would cite right now. I do have questions about it.” Barr said he plans on reviewing “both the genesis and conduct” of the Russia investigation.”

To date Russpublicans have adopted a ‘spying’ story around Department of Justice and FBI enactment of surveillance of former Trump national security analyst Carter Page and the FISA warrant approving the surveillance. Like many if not all Trump-Russpublican talking points, foul play has already been disproved:

“The documents appeared to show that the FBI properly disclosed its sources of information and that it relied on more than just the controversial Steele dossier, contradicting claims of abuse by Republicans.”

But Barr has guaranteed his ‘spying’ accusation will be the story, the clarification will be buried. And here’s the second headline set up by Barr, Barr Forms Team to Review FBI’s Actions in Trump Probe.

Many wonder if the Mueller report will be leaked. Here’s some useful legal and practical perspective that could become more relevant once Barr releases a redacted version of the Mueller report:

““It’s always been a rule that if partisan prosecutors start pulling political punches, that career agents and attorneys might use the media to preserve the integrity of investigations,” Samborn said. “But that can be neither an excuse nor justification for leaking grand jury or classified information.”

“Samborn added he hopes that Mueller’s associates would find “legitimate ways” of conveying vital information to Congress...

““Only if that fails, might we then find ourselves reliving the Pentagon Papers and debating for decades whether leaking secret information served the national interest or not,” he added.

“Legal experts said that despite Trump’s complaints about ‘illegal’ leaks, no one is likely to ever face any consequence for disclosures like those in recent media accounts.”

Before switching gears, let’s hear from Putin:

Vladimir Putin has mocked the US special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Donald Trump, saying “a mountain gave birth to a mouse” and the inquiry’s findings validated the Kremlin’s continuous denials of collusion with Trump’s presidential campaign.”

Putin weighs in with the same opinion as far left media, but who knows, maybe Putin’s one of the few that have seen the report? Don’t expect much more from Putin, his little green men are busy influencing an election in Madagascar.



The second part of ‘both’ fights underway is here: Treasury Denies Democrats’ Request To Hand Over Trump’s Tax Returns By The End Of Wednesday, Says It Will Confer With Justice.

The legal standing is that the IRS ‘shall’ support requests but there was never a doubt Treasury Secretary Mnuchin was going to deny the request. Trump is counting on a drawn out legal process that will end up before the Supreme Court with any result delayed until after a 2020 election.

But there is some chance we’ll see Trump tax returns – the ones he filed with New York State. A state tax return could likely contain much of the same financial information as a federal return.


More sketchiness

A bit of an aside, but even more is now known about the Chinese national arrested at Trump’s Mar A Lago with malware on a flash drive, multiple phones, passports and a laptop – found in her hotel room were a device to detect hidden cameras, another cell phone, nine USB drives, five SIM cards, several credit cards and $8000 in US and Chinese currency with $7500 of it in $100 bills: This Whole China-Mar-a-Lago Story Is Sketchy As Hell.

 More to follow.


Trump’s man, not the peoples

Barr is enabling an imperial presidency. Trump is ignoring the rule of law and he may win.

Barr announced receipt of the Mueller report on March 24. Since then he is proving to be Trump’s personal AG – he has ‘exonerated’ with his opinion of ‘no obstruction’, he has delayed and he has announced a legally creative set of criteria for redactions.

Barr refused to say whether he had briefed the White House on the fuller Mueller report, even though Justice Department officials had previously said it had not been shown to the White House.

Like Mnuchin ignores the law with Trump’s taxes, Barr ignores the rules laid out for the conduct of the special counsel.

Trump also weighed in with the same New York Times article reporting, “I have not seen the Mueller report,” Mr. Trump told reporters. “I have not read the Mueller report. I won. No collusion, no obstruction. I won. Everybody knows I won.”

We now learn that election systems in all 50 states were targeted in 2016, not just the 21 previously reported. We are well on our way to never knowing what happened and all on the right and some on the left seem just fine with that.

Why so many lies if nothing happened? Why does Trump entertain pardons if nothing happened? We are at risk and we’ll give Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) the final word.

In two years, post-Watergate rules have been obliterated. After Trump, a president under investigation can:

Fire the FBI Director leading the probe, Fire the Attorney General not protecting him, and appoint one who will.

It’s the most profound attack on rule of law in decades.