Russia Monitor: Dept. Of Justice Yin Yang

“Trump getting impeached would ‘Make America Great Again’.

— Actor Robert DeNiro


“…as set forth in the report, after that investigation, if we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”

— Former special counsel Robert Mueller (5/29/19)

By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (5/30/19)

Dear Fellow Readers,

Trump Refuses to Act In Response To Concerted Russian Attack On Our Political System

As former special counsel Robert Mueller is closing down his office he demonstrated the value of people hearing his findings in his own voice. It is not much of a stretch to compare Mueller speaking versus reading his 448-page report to watching Game of Thrones versus reading George Martin’s five books.

Mueller opened and closed his remarks on Wednesday [5/29] by reminding us of the seriousness of Russian interference in our 2016 election. I’m sure it was a conscious choice — as are all Mueller remarks — yet we have a president who refuses to accept the irrefutable and we have a Senate Majority leader who will not bring bi-partisan legislation to a vote to better protect our elections. That is an abject failure in leadership, a rebuke of their oath of office and betrayal of the nation by both Trump and McConnell.

In Mueller’s own words: There is no exoneration:

“The order appointing me special counsel authorized us to investigate actions that could obstruct the investigation. We conducted that investigation, and we kept the office of the acting attorney general apprised of the progress of our work. And as set forth in the report, after that investigation, if we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so. We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime.” [Highlight added.]

Mueller made clear he began his process knowing — given Department of Justice policy — that regardless of what was found by investigation he was not going to indict the president. This is one of a number of noteworthy rebukes of previous of Attorney General William Barr. who has acted as Trump’s personal attorney each time he chose to step in and offer his own erroneous conclusions against indicting Trump as if the absence of charges was about lack of guilt instead of “by regulation” as clarified by Mueller. Mueller also disagreed with Barr by asserting that DoJ opinion “permits the investigation of a president”. But it is the lack of absence of a crime that is the most incriminating statement of both Trump and Barr.

Mueller then clarified the responsibility of Congress:

“…the opinion says that the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing. And beyond department policy, we were guided by principles of fairness. It would be unfair to potentially — it would be unfair to potentially accuse somebody of a crime when there can be no court resolution of the actual charge.”

To Sum Up

Mueller underscored the attack by Russia on our election. He made clear, that given DoJ policy, he proceeded to investigate knowing he could not indict Trump, no matter investigative findings. He did not find absence of a crime and would have said so had he, and it is now up to Congress.

Congress, you do know how to read a road map, right?


Barr’s misrepresentations

Mueller’s statement highlights Barr’s clearly intentional misrepresentations to benefit Trump. Trump has decided that beyond self-exoneration he’s demanding Barr attack his political enemies and investigate the investigators for possible treason. As mentioned in the last edition, Trump doesn’t blink at the notion that treason is a crime punishable by death.

Former FBI Director James Comey decided he’d shoot first. Writing for the Washington Post, he calls out Trump-Russia lies early in his commentaryJames Comey: No ‘treason.’ No Coup. Just Lies — And Dumb Lies At That.

“…because millions of good people believe what a president of the United States says….

Russia engaged in a massive effort to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Near as I can tell, there is only one U.S. leader who still denies that fact. The FBI saw the attack starting in mid-June 2016, with the first dumping of stolen emails. In late July, when we were hard at work trying to understand the scope of the effort, we learned that one of Trump’s foreign policy advisers knew about the Russian effort seven weeks before we did.

“…go ahead, investigate the investigators, if you must. When those investigations are over, you will find the work was done appropriately and focused only on discerning the truth of very serious allegations. There was no corruption. There was no treason. There was no attempted coup. Those are lies, and dumb lies at that. There were just good people trying to figure out what was true, under unprecedented circumstances.”

“Those are lies, and dumb lies at that” is the kind of remark that gets the headlines. But I include the middle paragraph above as a reminder – when the FBI approached Trump to warn him about possible interference by Russians Trump listened without comment while already knowing of Russian approaches to his campaign. Mueller reports that he did not find sufficient evidence of Trump conspiracy but here’s a reminder that his own statements do confirm evidence.

Former Director National Intelligence James Clapper also weighed in with his strongest statement of Russian involvement to date: “Surprising even themselves, [Russia] swung the election to a Trump win. To conclude otherwise stretches logic, common sense and credulity to the breaking point. Less than eighty thousand votes in three key states swung the election. I have no doubt that more votes than that were influenced by this massive effort by the Russians.”


The one courageous congressional republican

But it is the ongoing condemnations of Trump from Rep Justin Amash (R-MI) that are noteworthy.

Amash has already offered long tweets about his rationale for impeaching Trump and the distortions offered by those defending Trump. Amash now fired off a third edition, this time attacking how Barr “has deliberately misrepresented key aspect of Mueller’s report and decisions in the investigation, which has helped further the president’s false narrative about the investigation”.

The first distortion highlighted by Amash is the same confronted by Mueller – Mueller clarified that he did not indict Trump per DoJ policy, not as Barr asserted — nd noted by Amash — that it was related to “legal/factual issues specific to Trump’s actions”.

Amash issued this lengthy tweet denouncing how Barr has “used his position to sell the president’s false narrative” hours ahead of a town hall in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Amash represents a very red district in western Michigan. Want to know what happened when he concluded the presentation to his constituents?

Amash received a standing ovation. It turns out that people do respect integrity and honesty over party.


Trump’s shady bank

Some clarifications about ongoing developments at Deutsche Bank. In the last edition I wildly threw caution to the wind and shot off a comment about the likely demise of Deutsche Bank CEO Christian Sewing over a failure to “land the plane” after the failed Deutsche/Commerzbank merger. The bank held it’s annual meeting in the last few days. Sewing survived while promising “to improve the bank’s internal controls” while share price continued to drop.

But there were causalities. Top investment banker Garth Ritchie “could quit” after a lackluster vote of confidence by shareholders, but more core to this issue of Deutsche laundering of Russian money. The Financial Times reported behind a paywall: “Regulatory chief Sylvie Matherat suffered a similar number of votes against her and is expected to depart”.

I did a bit of digging. One key senior position at the heart of these issues is the bank’s head of financial crime and anti-money laundering. Senior positions in this area have suffered a good deal of turnover in the last four years – a serious red flag to anyone outside looking in at a bank troubled by years of fines and investigations.

Prior to the incumbent, Managing Director and Americas Head of Financial Crime Richard Weber before joining the bank was Chief of Criminal Investigation at the U.S. Department of Treasury, he lasted less than two years (LinkedIn). A former head of the bank’s financial crime and anti-money laundering had previous work experience “at JPMorgan, Standard Chartered and HSBC” resigned after only six months around the time the bank “agreed a $7.2 billion settlement with the US Department of Justice over the way it sold securitized US mortgages”. (I am not equating the issues only the timing). Hazelwood’s predecessor lasted one year. Hazelwood reported to “Deutsche’s chief regulator officer Sylvie Matherat”. There are more examples.

I can also clarify that Deutsche Bank is implicated as the correspondent bank that handled the highest volume of the $230 billion of Russian money laundered through Danske Bank as it awaits notice of the size of its fine per my last edition.

Deutsche Bank is the only bank that would lend Trump money. If you missed it, check out the Propublica link from the last edition of The Commoner Call. If your career is anti-money laundering Deutsche bank is the Trump of international banking – everyone that goes there fails. (Rick Wilson, “everything Trump touches dies”)


Points to ponder

  • Spot the irrationality of a president with a personality disorder.
  • Imagine holding the despotic leaders of countries threatening the US with more respect than a mere political opponent – love letters to/from the former, non-blinking response to death-by-treason to the other.
  • The very troubled and troubling Deutsche Bank was the only bank that would continue to lend Trump money.
  • The ball is in the court of Congress.
  • Really, not a hard test.