donderdag 22 februari 2018

Mike Whitney: When is an indictment not an indictment?

Did Trump Cut a Deal on the "Collusion" Charge?
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Here’s your legal koan for the day: When is an indictment not an indictment?
Answer– When there is no intention of initiating a criminal case against the accused. In the case of the 13 Russian trolls who have just been indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, there is neither the intention nor the ability to prosecute a case against them. (They are all foreign nationals who will not face extradition.)
But, if that’s the case, than why would Mueller waste time and money compiling a 37-page document alleging all-manner of nefarious conduct when he knew for certain that the alleged perpetrators would never be prosecuted? Why?
Isn’t is because the indictments are not really a vehicle for criminal prosecution, but a vehicle for political grandstanding? Isn’t that the real purpose of the indictments, to add another layer of dirt to the mountain of unreliable, uncorroborated, unproven allegations of Russian meddling. Mueller is not acting in his capacity as Special Counsel, he is acting in his role of deep state hatchet-man whose job is to gather scalps by any means necessary.
Keep in mind, the subjects of the indictment will never be apprehended, never hire an attorney, never be in a position to defend themselves or refute the charges, and never have their case presented before and judge or a jury. They will be denied due process of law and the presumption of innocence. Mueller’s ominous-sounding claims, which were the centerpiece of his obscene media extravaganza, made sure of that. In most people’s minds, the trolls are guilty of foreign espionage and that’s all there is to it. Case closed.
But the indictments themselves suggest that Mueller’s narrative is wrong. The objective was not to influence the election, but make money by getting viewers to “click on” advertisements. Check it out:
“Defendants and their co-conspirators also used the accounts to receive money from real U.S. persons in exchange for posting promotions and advertisements on the ORGANIZATION-controlled social media pages. Defendants and their co-conspirators typically charged certain U.S. merchants and U.S. social media sites between 25 and 50 U.S. dollars per post for promotional content on their popular false U.S. persona accounts, including Being Patriotic, Defend the 2nd, and Blacktivist.”
That sounds like a money-making scheme to me not an attempt to subvert US democracy. So why is Mueller in such a lather? Isn’t this all just an attempt to divert attention from the fact that the Nunes’ investigation has produced proof that senior-level officials at the FBI and DOJ were “improperly obtaining” FISA warrants to spy on members of the Trump Campaign? Isn’t that what’s really going on?
If we can agree that the indictments were not intended to bring the “accused” to justice, then don’t we also have to agree that there must have been an ulterior motive for issuing them? And what might that ulterior motive be? What are the real objectives of the investigation, to cast a shadow on an election that did not produce the results that powerful members of the entrenched bureaucracy wanted, to make it look like Donald Trump did not beat Hillary Clinton fair and square, and to further demonize a geopolitical rival that has blocked Washington’s imperial ambitions in Syria and Ukraine? Which of these is the real driving force behind Russiagate or is it ‘all of the above?’
Nothing will come of the indictments because the indictments were not designed reveal the truth or bring the accused to justice. They were written to shape public perceptions and to persuade the American people that Trump cheated in the elections and that Russia poses a serious threat to US national security. The indictments have no legal merit, they are a form of domestic propaganda and disinformation. The real target is the American people.
It’s worth noting, that if Mueller really wanted to get to the bottom of the Russia-gate allegations, he would interview the people who have first-hand knowledge what actually happened. He would question Julian Assange (WikiLeaks) and Craig Murray, both of whom have stated publicly that they know who stole the Podesta emails. Mueller hasn’t done that, nor has he contacted the VIPs (Ray McGovern, William Binney, Skip Folden, etc) who did extensive forensic investigation of the “hacking” allegations and proved that the emails were not hacked but leaked. Mueller has not pursued that line of inquiry either. Nor has he interviewed California Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, who met with Assange personally and who has suggested that Assange may reveal the name (of the DNC “leaker”) under the right conditions. Instead of questioning witnesses, Mueller has spent a great deal of time probing the online activities Russian trolls who were engaged in a money-making scheme that was in no way connected to the Russian government, in no way connected to the Trump campaign, and in no way supportive of the claims of hacking or collusion. None of this reflects well on Mueller who, by any stretch, appears to be either woefully incompetent or irredeemably biased.
The indictment states that the organization that employed the trolls “had the strategic purpose of sowing political discord in the United States.” This seems to be a recurrent theme that has popped up frequently in the media as well. The implication is that the Russians are the source of the widening divisions in the US that are actually the result of growing public angst over the lopsided distribution of wealth that naturally emerges in late-stage capitalism. Moscow has become the convenient scapegoat for the accelerated parasitism that has seen 95% of the nation’s wealth go to a sliver of people at the top of the foodchain, the 1 percent. (But that’s another story altogether.) Here’s a brief clip from the portentous-sounding indictment:
“The general conspiracy statute… creates an offense “[i]f two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose….
The intent required for a conspiracy to defraud the government is that the defendant possessed the intent (a) to defraud, (b) to make false statements or representations to the government or its agencies in order to obtain property of the government, or that the defendant performed acts or made statements that he/she knew to be false, fraudulent or deceitful to a government agency, which disrupted the functions of the agency or of the government. It is sufficient for the government to prove that the defendant knew the statements were false or fraudulent when made.”
The above statement helps to prove my point that the indictments are not a vehicle for criminal prosecution, but part of a politically-motivated information campaign to damage Trump and vilify Russia. No one seriously believes that Mueller would ever try to prosecute this case based on the spurious and looney claims of a criminal conspiracy. The whole idea is laughable.
There are a couple interesting twists and turns regarding the indictments that could be significant, but, then again, maybe not. We found it interesting that Rob Goldman, who is the Vice President of Facebook Ads, tweeted this revealing disclaimer on Monday which Trump posted on Twitter:
“I have seen all of the Russian ads and I can say very definitively that swaying the election was *NOT* the main goal.”
Then there are the puzzling comments by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who said on Friday:
“There’s no allegation in this indictment that any American had any knowledge. And the nature of the scheme was the defendants took extraordinary steps to make it appear that they were ordinary American political activists, even going so far as to base their activities on a virtual private network here in the United States so, if anybody traced it back to that first jump, they appeared to be Americans….”
Do you notice anything unusual about Rosenstein’s remarks?
There’s no mention of Trump at all, which is a striking omission since all of previous public announcements have been used to strengthen the case against Trump. Now that’s changed. Why?
Naturally, Trump picked up on Rosenstein’s omission and blasted this triumphant message on Twitter:
“Deputy A.G. Rod Rosenstein stated at the News Conference: “There is no allegation in the indictment that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity. There is no allegation in the indictment that the charged conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election.” Donald Trump
So, what’s going on here? Mueller and Rosenstein are smart guys. They must have known that Trump would use the dates and the absence of anything remotely suggesting collusion as vindication. Was that the purpose, to let Trump off the hook while the broader propaganda campaign on Russia continues?
This is the great mystery surrounding the indictments, far from helping to establish Trump’s culpability, they appear to imply his innocence. Why would Mueller and his allies want to do that? Are the Intel agencies and the FBI looking for a way to end this political cage-match before a second Special Counsel is appointed and he starts digging up embarrassing information about the involvement of other agencies (and perhaps, the White House) in the Russiagate fiasco?
Just think about it for a minute: There is nothing in the indictments that suggests that Trump or anyone in his campaign was involved with the Russian trolls. There is nothing in the indictments that suggests Trump was acting as a Russian agent. And there’s nothing in the indictments that suggests the Russian government helped Trump win the election. Also, the timeline of events seems to favor Trump as does Rosenstein’s claim that the online activity did not have “any effect on the outcome of the election.”
Bottom line: The indictments were very good news for Donald Trump, but very bad news for Robert Mueller who appears to have run into a brick wall. But has he? Has Mueller abandoned the attacks on Trump or is there something else going on just below the surface?
I can only guess at the answer, but it looks to me like Trump may have made a deal to support the attacks on Russia provided he is acquitted on charges of collusion. That’s what he’s wanted from the beginning, so, maybe he won this round? Here’s one of his recent tweets that helps to support my theory:
“I never said Russia did not meddle in the election, I said “it may be Russia, or China or another country or group, or it may be a 400 pound genius sitting in bed and playing with his computer.” The Russian “hoax” was that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia – it never did!” Donald Trump
Hmmm? So Trump now Trump is okay with blaming Russia as long as he’s not included too? Is that what he’s saying? Here’s more in the same vein:
“If it was the GOAL of Russia to create discord, disruption and chaos within the U.S. then, with all of the Committee Hearings, Investigations and Party hatred, they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. They are laughing their asses off in Moscow. Get smart America!” Donald Trump
Okay, so now Trump is turning the tables and saying, ‘Yeah, maybe Russia has been ‘sowing discord’, but the Democrats are the ones you should be blaming not me.’
So Trump is not opposed to demonizing Russia, he’s just opposed to demonizing Donald John Trump. That’s where he draws the line.
What’s wrong with that? If Trump’s enemies want to provide him with a Get-Outta-Jail-Free card, then why shouldn’t he snatch it up and put this whole goofy probe behind him? That’s what most people would do.
The problem is that Trump’s biggest supporters want him to continue struggle against “The Swamp”. They want him to fight for their interests and expose the crooked goings-on behind the Russiagate scandal. They want him to lift up the rock that conceals the activities of the National Security State so everyone can see the maggots squirming below. That’s what they want, a modern-day Samson who shakes the temple’s pillars and brings the whole crooked system crashing down around him.
These same people are hopeful that the Nunes memo and the Grassley-Graham “criminal referral” are just the tip of the iceberg that will inevitably lead to the bigger fish involved in this deep-state conspiracy, namely former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Former FBI Director James Comey, and very likely, Barack Hussein Obama himself. What role did these men play in spying on the Trump campaign? Were they actively trying to sabotage the elections by giving Hillary an edge? Should a second Special Counsel be appointed to investigate whether crimes were committed in their targeting of the Trump team?
All of these questions need to be answered in order to clear the air, hold the guilty parties accountable and restore confidence in the government. Trump’s backers hope that he is principled and pugnacious enough to go nose-to-nose with these Intel agency serpents and give them the bloody whooping they so richly deserve. Unfortunately, I don’t see any evidence that that’s what he has in mind. We’ll see.
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