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Review of Donald Trump ‘Fire and Fury’ book

Wolff’s book says nothing of value but does show that Russiagate collusion claims are wholly without substance

Alexander Mercouris

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The furore over the last week about Michael Wolff’s book about the first months of the Trump administration might mislead some people into thinking that something important actually happened.

This could not be more wrong.  Wolff’s book – which has now appeared on the internet in electronic format- is not even a punctuation mark in the history of the Trump Presidency.  It is a blank space which will be forgotten in a few weeks.

The book tells us precisely nothing of any value about the Trump Presidency save for one thing, which has not been reported anywhere that I know of because it is so completely contrary to what so many people have been saying about Donald Trump and his rise to the Presidency for so long.

This is that the book shows that the allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians which are the subject of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry must be untrue and that no one in the White House takes them seriously.

To regular readers of The Duran this is no revelation at all.  We have been saying this very thing right from the start.

However a sensationalist book widely hailed by the neoliberal media establishment as the definitive account of the first months of the Trump White House, and written by Michael Wolff – a neoliberal journalist who proudly proclaims that his aim is to bring down Donald Trump – in effect confirms it.

It does so moreover on the basis of privileged access Wolff says he was granted to the White House,.

The book cites no evidence to back the collusion allegations and confirms that within the White House they are viewed as preposterous and untrue

One of those who thinks this is Steve Bannon, who was at the centre of the Trump campaign, and who would if there had been collusion with Russia presumably know about it.

That all but confirms that the allegations are untrue.

The book does have a chapter entitled “Russia”.  However it turns out to be principally about the Flynn affair.

To the extent that this chapter discusses the collusion allegations at all it says quite clearly that they are seen within the White House as a construct concocted by Donald Trump’s enemies and are considered by everyone working in the White to be preposterous and untrue.

Other than this important fact about Russiagate what else does Wolff’s book tell us?

Here it is important to say that for all Wolff’s boasts of privileged access his book derives from three sources (1) information provided by an angry and embittered Steve Bannon; (2) gossip on the part of White House staffers; and (3) a certain measure of invention by Wolff himself.

Bannon’s information is what provides Wolff’s book with its substance.  That should not however be taken to mean that what Bannon is quoted as saying in the book is necessarily true.  On the contrary many of the things Bannon says are demonstrably untrue.

Wolff’s book shows the extent to which Bannon has come to think of himself as a political strategist of genius who managed practically single handed to win the election for Donald Trump.

Thus if one is to believe Bannon the Trump campaign was floundering in August 2016 when Robert Mercer donated $5 million to the campaign and persuaded Trump to appoint Bannon to a senior post in the campaign.  Bannon then supposedly managed to bring order and direction to the campaign despite Trump’s incompetent meddling and that of his family.

This is a travesty.  By August 2016 Donald Trump had won the Republican nomination, seeing off every Republican challenger in a bitter contest which had lasted for months.  All this happened before Bannon joined Trump’s campaign.

Though Donald Trump’s poll rating thereafter fluctuated, all the conditions which eventually led to his victory by August 2016 were already there.

The high likelihood is that Trump would have won the election even if Bannon had never joined his campaign, and it is Trump not Bannon who must take credit for this.

Wolff claims Trump was elected contrary to his own wishes and became depressed as it became clear that he had won.

This is nonsense.  Throughout the campaign Trump worked tirelessly to win first the Republican nomination and then the Presidency.  It beggars belief he would have done so if he had not wanted to win.

Wolff says that following the election the Trump transition descended into chaos because the wise advice of Bannon and others for a strong chief of staff to be appointed was not followed.

There is even a hint that the “strong chief of staff” Bannon wanted was none other than Bannon himself.  The book claims (implausibly) that Bannon was actually briefly considered for the role.

In the event Trump divided authority between Bannon, the new chief of staff Reince Preibus (a colourless functionary proposed by the Republican Party’s Congressional leadership), his son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Kushner’s wife Trump’s daughter Ivanka.

This view of the chaos in the early months of the Trump White House clearly derives from Bannon and not surprisingly at this point Bannon’s all too obvious hostility to Kushner and Ivanka (“Jarvanka”) becomes all too clear.

Though they had worked closely together during the campaign and had for a time been close friends, following the election Bannon and Kushner rapidly became rivals for Trump’s ear, with Bannon clearly resenting Kushner’s greater access to Trump.

The result is that Kushner is represented by Wolff – obviously drawing on Bannon – as a bungling out of depth amateur, whilst Ivanka is represented as treacherous and scheming, with ambitions to succeed her father as President.

The result of this division of authority was supposedly chaos, which was supposedly made worse by Donald Trump’s supposedly eccentric leadership style.

Much of the sensational material in the book is simply gossip intended to highlight Donald Trump’s supposedly eccentric leadership style in order to give flesh to Bannon’s criticisms about the division of authority in the White House.

What truth is there to any of this?

A measure of confusion is unavoidable where the new President is so inexperienced and is obliged to build bridges to the leadership of his party in Congress with whom he is unpopular.

To the extent that it was worse in the early months of the Trump administration than it should have been, the fault for this does not lie with Donald Trump but with his opponents.

The key point which Wolff ignores is that Donald Trump faced the single most sustained attack any newly elected President has faced in modern US history.

Parts of the bureaucracy were openly working against him, sabotaging his policies, leaking against him to the media, and placing people in his campaign and transition teams under surveillance on spurious charges of colluding with Russia.  There was even talk of his impeachment before he was even elected.

In the weeks leading up to his inauguration an attempt was made to persuade members of the Electoral College not to elect him, and on 8th January 2017 – twelve days before the inauguration – he was presented with an ‘intelligence assessment’ which all but said that he owed his election to the Russians and which included a salacious dossier which alleged that he had indulged himself in an orgy in a hotel room in Moscow.

Within days this dossier was published by the media, the Justice Department was sabotaging his ‘travel ban’ Executive Orders, the head of the FBI refused to deny false rumours that he was under investigation, strategically placed leaks brought down his National Security Adviser, and the fact that his campaign was under investigation was publicly confirmed to Congress.

Even details of his first meetings with Russian President Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov were maliciously leaked and spun in the media to cause him the greatest possible damage.

To expect the early days of any administration faced by this sort of attack to progress with clockwork efficiency is to expect the impossible.  To blame Donald Trump because things did not go altogether efficiently because of all this is to turn reality on its head.

Yet that is precisely what Wolff does.  If one were to use his book as a guide for the events of the first months of the Trump administration one might easily conclude that the Russiagate affair was a sideshow, not the all-consuming scandal holding Washington in its grip which it has been for the last 18 months.

Since it has attracted so much attention I will here say something about the one episode in the book which has been most widely reported.

This is Bannon’s comment about the meeting between Donald Trump Junior, Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort and the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, which Bannon calls “treasonous”.

The Guardian – one of the most fervid supporters of the Russiagate conspiracy theory – reports Bannon’s words in this way

“The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the 25th floor – with no lawyers. They didn’t have any lawyers.

“Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately.”

Bannon went on, Wolff writes, to say that if any such meeting had to take place, it should have been set up “in a Holiday Inn in Manchester, New Hampshire, with your lawyers who meet with these people”. Any information, he said, could then be “dump[ed] … down to Breitbart or something like that, or maybe some other more legitimate publication”.

Bannon added: “You never see it, you never know it, because you don’t need to … But that’s the brain trust that they had.”

Bannon also speculated that Trump Jr had involved his father in the meeting. “The chance that Don Jr did not walk these jumos up to his father’s office on the twenty-sixth floor is zero.”

These words show that Bannon does not really believe that Donald Trump Junior, Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort were engaging in treason when they met Veselnitskaya.  Rather what Bannon is saying is that by meeting Veselnitskaya in Trump Tower without lawyers present and without first tipping off the FBI they were exposing themselves to that claim.

In other words Bannon is saying that Donald Trump Junior, Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner are stupid and incompetent (“that’s the brain trust they had”) and cannot be trusted to do anything right by themselves unless Bannon himself is involved (“any information could then be dumped down to Breitbart”).

Instead of being evidence that the meeting with Veselnitskaya was “treasonous”, Bannon’s words are therefore just another example of Bannon’s self-aggrandising and his all-too obvious hostility towards members of Donald Trump’s family.

Bannon’s real view of the Russiagate affair is provided in another passage in the book, which  – of course – has attracted no attention

As for Bannon, who had himself promoted many conspiracies, he dismissed the Russia story in textbook fashion: “It’s just a conspiracy theory”.  And, he added, the Trump team wasn’t capable of conspiring about anything.

Wolff reports one other highly cynical comment of Bannon’s about Trump’s attitude to Russia which has also attracted a measure of attention but which is more interesting in what it says about Bannon’s attitude to Trump than in what it says about Trump’s attitude to Russia

“What has he gotten himself into with the Russians?” pressed Ailes.

“Mostly,” said Bannon, “he went to Russia and he thought he was going to meet Putin. But Putin couldn’t give a shit about him. So he’s kept trying.”

This comment does not corroborate the Trump Dossier as some desperate people are trying to claim.

On the contrary it says that Trump has no connection to Russia and that his wish to mend relations with Russia stems from his wish to get Putin and the Russians to take him seriously and to agree to meet with him.

That not only argues against the Russians having done anything to help Trump get elected; it actually contradicts what the Trump Dossier says about the deep and longstanding links between Donald Trump and Russia.

In truth what this comment shows is the depth of Bannon’s contempt for Donald Trump, who at the time Bannon is supposed to have made this comment (early January 2017) was the US’s President elect and Bannon’s boss.

All in all Wolff’s book is a nasty book made up out of gossip and malice spiced up with a certain amount of fact,

It draws heavily on the reminiscences of an angry and bitter man – Steve Bannon – who has an exaggerated idea of himself.

To try to use this book to carry out a psychological diagnosis of Donald Trump – which is what some people are doing – is offensive and absurd.

The book’s principal importance is that at a time when the Russiagate conspiracy theory is imploding it shows how insubstantial and fabricated it always was.

Other than that it is of no value, and I doubt it will change opinions of Donald Trump one jot.

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US continues to try to corner Russia with silence on Nukes

Moscow continues to be patient in what appears to be an ever more lopsided, intentional stonewalling situation provoked by the Americans.

Seraphim Hanisch

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TASS reported on March 17th that despite Russian readiness to discuss the present problem of strategic weapons deployments and disarmament with its counterparts in the United States, the Americans have not offered Russia any proposals to conduct such talks.

The Kremlin has not yet received any particular proposals on the talks over issues of strategic stability and disarmament from Washington, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told TASS on Sunday when commenting on the statement made by US National Security Adviser John Bolton who did not rule out that such talks could be held with Russia and China.

“No intelligible proposals has been received [from the US] so far,” Peskov said.

Earlier Bolton said in an interview with radio host John Catsimatidis aired on Sunday that he considers it reasonable to include China in the negotiation on those issues with Russia as well.

“China is building up its nuclear capacity now. It’s one of the reasons why we’re looking at strengthening our national missile defense system here in the United States. And it’s one reason why, if we’re going to have another arms control negotiation, for example, with the Russians, it may make sense to include China in that discussion as well,” he said.

Mr. Bolton’s sense about this particular aspect of any arms discussions is correct, as China was not formerly a player in geopolitical affairs the way it is now. The now all-but-scrapped Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or INF, was a treaty concluded by the US and the USSR leaders Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, back in 1987. However, for in succeeding decades, most notably since the fall of the Soviet Union, the US has been gradually building up weaponry in what appears to be an attempt to create a ring around the Russian Federation, a situation which is understandably increasingly untenable to the Russian government.

Both sides have accused one another of violating this treaty, and the mutual violations and recriminations on top of a host of other (largely fabricated) allegations against the Russian government’s activities led US President Donald Trump to announce his nation’s withdrawal from the treaty, formally suspending it on 1 February. Russian President Vladimir Putin followed suit by suspending it the very next day.

The INF eliminated all of both nations’ land based ballistic and cruise missiles that had a range between 500 and 1000 kilometers (310-620 miles) and also those that had ranges between 1000 and 5500 km (620-3420 miles) and their launchers.

This meant that basically all the missiles on both sides were withdrawn from Europe’s eastern regions – in fact, much, if not most, of Europe was missile-free as the result of this treaty. That is no longer the case today, and both nations’ accusations have provoked re-development of much more advanced systems than ever before, especially true considering the Russian progress into hypersonic and nuclear powered weapons that offer unlimited range.

This situation generates great concern in Europe, such that the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on both Moscow and Washington to salvage the INF and extend the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, or the New START as it is known.

“I call on the parties to the INF Treaty to use the time remaining to engage in sincere dialogue on the various issues that have been raised. It is very important that this treaty is preserved,” Guterres said at a session of the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva on Monday.

He stressed that the demise of that accord would make the world more insecure and unstable, which “will be keenly felt in Europe.” “We simply cannot afford to return to the unrestrained nuclear competition of the darkest days of the Cold War,” he said.

Guterres also urged the US and Russia to extend the START Treaty, which expires in 2021, and explore the possibility of further reducing their nuclear arsenals. “I also call on the United States and the Russian Federation to extend the so-called New START Treaty before it expires in 2021,” he said.

The UN chief recalled that the treaty “is the only international legal instrument limiting the size of the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals” and that its inspection provisions “represent important confidence-building measures that benefit the entire world.”

Guterres recalled that the bilateral arms control process between Russia and the US “has been one of the hallmarks of international security for fifty years.”

“Thanks to their efforts, global stockpiles of nuclear weapons are now less than one-sixth of what they were in 1985,” the UN secretary-general pointed out.

The Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (the New START Treaty) entered into force on February 5, 2011. The document stipulates that seven years after its entry into effect each party should have no more than a total of 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) and strategic bombers, as well as no more than 1,550 warheads on deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs and strategic bombers, and a total of 800 deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers and strategic bombers. The new START Treaty obliges the parties to exchange information on the number of warheads and carriers twice a year.

The new START Treaty will remain in force during 10 years until 2021, unless superseded by a subsequent agreement. It may be extended for a period of no more than five years (that is, until 2026) upon the parties’ mutual consent. Moscow has repeatedly called on Washington not to delay the issue of extending the Treaty.

 

 

 

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Trump witch hunt dots connected: CNN to Steele to John McCain (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 110.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss documents released which show that Christopher Steele admitted to using posts by ‘random individuals’ on the CNN community website ‘iReport’ in order to back up his fabricated Trump dossier.

President Trump took note of Steele’s use of CNN citizen journalist posts, in a twitter tirade that blasted the British ex-spy for running with unverified community generated content from a now now-defunct ‘iReports’ website as part of his research.

Trump the proceeded to rip into late neocon Arizona Senator John McCain, tweeting that it was “just proven in court papers” that “last in his class” McCain sent the Steele’s dossier to media outlets in the hopes that they would print it prior to the 2016 US election.

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Via The Daily Caller

A federal court unsealed 43 pages Thursday of a deposition that former British spy Christopher Steele gave as part of a lawsuit over his infamous anti-Trump dossier.

To the disappointment of many observers, the full deposition was not unsealed in Thursday’s motion. Instead, portions of Steele’s interview, which he gave in London on July 13, 2018, were unsealed in separate court filings submitted in the lawsuit.

Steele’s full deposition totaled 145 pages. The portions published Thursday focus mainly on questions about the dossier’s claims about Aleksej Gubarev, a tech executive who Steele alleges took part in the hacking of Democrats’ computer systems.

Gubarev has vehemently denied the claim and sued Steele and BuzzFeed News, which published the dossier on Jan. 10, 2017.

U.S. District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro, who handled the lawsuit, ordered a slew of previously sealed documents to be made public Thursday. Ungaro dismissed the lawsuit on Dec. 19 but did not weigh in on whether the dossier’s claims about Gubarev were accurate.

It is unclear whether Steele’s entire deposition will be released. A source familiar with Steele’s interview tempered expectations of any bombshells in the document, saying that Steele avoided going into detail about his efforts to create the dossier and his sources.

A deposition given by former State Department official David Kramer was perhaps the most enlightening document contained in the dump.

Kramer, a longtime associate of late Arizona Sen. John McCain, was BuzzFeed’s source for the dossier. Kramer shared the dossier with at least 11 other reporters, including CNN’s Carl Bernstein. (RELATED: John McCain Associate Gave Dossier To A Dozen Reporters)

Kramer obtained the dossier in late November 2016 after visiting Steele in London. Steele acknowledged that Kramer and McCain were picked as conduits to pass the dossier to then-FBI Director James Comey. McCain met with Comey on Dec. 9, 2016 and provided all of the dossier’s memos that had been written up to that point.

“I think they felt a senior Republican was better to be the recipient of this rather than a Democrat because if it were a Democrat, I think that the view was that it would have been dismissed as a political attack,” Kramer said in the deposition when asked why Steele and his business partners at Fusion GPS wanted McCain to meet with Comey.

Via Washington Examiner

Former British spy Christopher Steele admitted that he relied on an unverified report on a CNN website for part of the “Trump dossier,” which was used as a basis for the FBI’s investigation into Trump.

According to deposition transcripts released this week, Steele said last year he used a 2009 report he found on CNN’s iReport website and said he wasn’t aware that submissions to that site are posted by members of the public and are not checked for accuracy.

web archive from July 29, 2009 shows that CNN described the site in this manner: “iReport.com is a user-generated site. That means the stories submitted by users are not edited, fact-checked, or screened before they post.”

In the dossier, Steele, a Cambridge-educated former MI6 officer, wrote about extensive allegations against Donald Trump, associates of his campaign, various Russians and other foreign nationals, and a variety of companies — including one called Webzilla. Those allegations would become part of an FBI investigation and would be used to apply for warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

During his deposition, Steele was pressed on the methods he used to verify allegations made about Webzilla, which was thought to be used by Russia to hack into Democratic emails.

When asked if he discovered “anything of relevance concerning Webzilla” during the verification process, Steele replied: “We did. It was an article I have got here which was posted on July 28, 2009, on something called CNN iReport.”

“I do not have any particular knowledge of that,” Steele said when asked what was his understanding of how the iReport website worked.

When asked if he understood that content on the site was not generated by CNN reporters, he said, “I do not.” He was then asked: “Do you understand that they have no connection to any CNN reporters?” Steele replied, “I do not.”

He was pressed on this further: “Do you understand that CNN iReports are or were nothing more than any random individuals’ assertions on the Internet?” Steele replied: “No, I obviously presume that if it is on a CNN site that it may has some kind of CNN status. Albeit that it may be an independent person posting on the site.”

When asked about his methodology for searching for this information, Steele described it as “what we could call an open source search,” which he defined as “where you go into the Internet and you access material that is available on the Internet that is of relevance or reference to the issue at hand or the person under consideration.”

Steele said his dossier contained “raw intelligence” that he admitted could contain untrue or even “deliberately false information.”

Steele was hired by the opposition research firm Fusion GPS to investigate then-candidate Donald Trump in 2016. Fusion GPS was receiving funding at the time from the Clinton campaign and the DNC through the Perkins Coie law firm.

The series of memos that Steele would eventually compile became known as the “Trump Dossier.” The dossier was used in FISA applications to surveil Trump campaign associate Carter Page.

When asked whether he warned Fusion GPS that the information in the dossier might be “Russian disinformation,” Steele admitted that “a general understanding existed between us and Fusion … that all material contained this risk.”

Steele also described his interactions with Sen. John McCain’s aide, David Kramer, whose own deposition showed that he provided BuzzFeed with a copy of the dossier and had spoken with more than a dozen journalists about it.

“I provided copies of the December memo to Fusion GPS for onward passage to David Kramer at the request of Sen. John McCain,” Steele said. “Sen. McCain nominated him as the intermediary. I did not choose him as the intermediary.”

When asked if he told Kramer that he couldn’t “vouch for everything that was produced in the memos,” Steele replied, “Yes, with an emphasis on ‘everything.'”

When asked why he believed it was so important to provide the dossier to Sen. McCain, Steele said: “Because I judged it had national security implications for the United States and the West as a whole.”

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Trudeau’s Top Bureaucrat Unexpectedly Quits Amid Growing Corruption Scandal

In a scathing letter to Trudeau, Wernick said that “recent events” led him to conclude he couldn’t hold his post during the election campaign this fall.

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Via Zerohedge


Since it was exposed by a report in Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper earlier this month, the scandal that’s become known as the SNC-Lavalin affair has already led to the firing of several of Trudeau’s close advisors and raised serious questions about whether the prime minister was complicit in pressuring the attorney general to offer a deferred prosecution agreement with a large, Quebec-based engineering firm.

And according to the first round of polls released since the affair exploded into public view…

…it could cost Trudeau his position as prime minister and return control to the conservatives, according to the CBC.

Campaign Research showed the Conservatives ahead with 37% to 32% for the Liberals, while both Ipsos and Léger put the margin at 36% to 34% in the Conservatives’ favour.Since December, when both polling firms were last in the field, the Liberals have lost one point in Campaign Research’s polling and four percentage points in the Ipsos poll, while the party is down five points since November in the Léger poll.

Meanwhile, as the noose tightens around Trudeau, on Monday another of the key Canadian government officials at the center of the SNC-Lavalin scandal has quit his post.

Michael Wernick, clerk of the privy council, the highest-ranking position in Canada’s civil service and a key aide to Justin Trudeau, announced his retirement Monday. Trudeau named Ian Shugart, currently deputy minister of foreign affairs, to replace him.

In a scathing letter to Trudeau, Wernick said that “recent events” led him to conclude he couldn’t hold his post during the election campaign this fall.

“It is now apparent that there is no path for me to have a relationship of mutual trust and respect with the leaders of the opposition parties,” he said, citing the need for impartiality on the issue of potential foreign interference. According to Bloomberg, the exact date of his departure is unclear.

As we reported in February, Canada’s former justice minister and attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, quit following allegations that several key Trudeau government figures pressured her to intervene to end a criminal prosecution against Montreal-based construction giant SNC. Wernick was among those she named in saying the prime minister’s office wanted her to pursue a negotiated settlement.

Wernick has since twice spoken to a committee of lawmakers investigating the case, and during that testimony both defended his actions on the SNC file and warned about the risk of foreign election interference, as “blame Putin” has become traditional Plan B plan for most politicians seeing their careers go up in flames.

“I’m deeply concerned about my country right now, its politics and where it’s headed. I worry about foreign interference in the upcoming election,” he said in his first appearance before the House of Commons justice committee, before repeating the warning a second time this month. “If that was seen as alarmist, so be it. I was pulling the alarm. We need a public debate about foreign interference.”

Because somehow foreign interference has something to do with Wenick’s alleged corruption.

Incidentally, as we wonder what the real reason is behind Wernick’s swift departure, we are confident we will know soon enough.

Anyway, back to the now former clerk, who is meant to be non-partisan in service of the government of the day, also criticized comments by a Conservative senator and praised one of Trudeau’s cabinet ministers.

Wernick’s testimony was criticized as overly cozy with the ruling Liberals. Murray Rankin, a New Democratic Party lawmaker, asked the clerk how lawmakers could “do anything but conclude that you have in fact crossed the line into partisan activity?” Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said he seemed “willing to interfere in partisan fashion for whoever is in power.”

Whatever Wernick’s true motives, he is the latest but not last in what will be a long line of cabinet departures as the SNC scandal exposes even more corruption in Trudeau’s cabinet (some have ironically pointed out that Canada’s “beloved” prime minister could be gone for actual corruption long before Trump). Trudeau had already lost a top political aide, Gerald Butts, to the scandal. A second minister, Jane Philpott, followed Wilson-Raybould in quitting cabinet.

Separately, on Monday, Trudeau appointed a former deputy prime minister in a Liberal government, Anne McLellan, as a special adviser to investigate some of the legal questions raised by the controversy. They include how governments should interact with the attorney general and whether that role should continue to be held by the justice minister.

As Bloomberg notes, the increasingly shaky Liberal government hasn’t ruled out helping SNC by ordering a deferred prosecution agreement in the corruption and bribery case, which centers around the company’s work in Moammar Qaddafi’s Libya. Doing so would allow the company to pay a fine and avoid any ban on receiving government contracts. That decision is up to the current attorney general, David Lametti; of course, such an action would only raise tensions amid speculation that the government is pushing for a specific political, and favorable for Trudeau, outcome.

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