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Here’s how ABC’s slip exposes how Deep State sabotaged President elect Trump’s policy of rapprochement with Russia

Flynn’s attempt to carry out Trump’s instructions after the election to achieve rapprochement with Russia were what caused his downfall

Alexander Mercouris

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Around the time of the announcement of Michael Flynn’s indictment and guilty plea for lying to the FBI, the US television network ABC carried a sensational story that it had been told by an insider that Flynn had disclosed to Special Counsel Mueller’s inquiry that he had received instructions from Presidential candidate Donald Trump to establish contact with Russia.

The story caused a furore and a brief crash on the US Stock Market.  However within hours ABC had ‘clarified‘ it.

ABC now says that the insider is no longer saying that Michael Flynn told Special Counsel Mueller’s inquiry that he had received instructions from Presidential candidate Donald Trump to establish contact with Russia during the election.

What Flynn has actually told Special Counsel Mueller’s inquiry is that he received instructions from Presidential elect Donald Trump to establish contact with Russia after the election during the transition period.

In other words – assuming that the story is true, which it almost certainly is – Trump’s instructions to Flynn were given after the election and not before or during it.

This is absolutely crucial since the whole Russiagate case rests on the claim that there was illegal collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the election.  By definition instructions to open contacts with Russia after the election can have no bearing on it.

The fact that ABC ran with this story for several hours is very revealing, and shows the way the true believers in the Russiagate conspiracy theory – unable to find any evidence of illegal collusion during the election – are now conflating the election period with the entirely different transition period.

ABC is far from being alone in this.  Here for example is how the Guardian – one of the most fervid supporters of the Russiagate conspiracy theory, whose former Russia correspondent Luke Harding has just published a lurid book about it – reports the story

Those conversations [between Kislyak and Flynn – AM] not only give the lie to repeated statements by the president that his team had no contact with the Russians, but they also raise the possibility of serious criminal exposure among members of Trump’s inner circle for breaking laws banning communications with foreign entities that undercut US policy…..

But if Trump and his family’s past denials of campaign contacts with Russians fell short of the truth – or if similar denials by Sessions fell short of the truth – Flynn could be in a position to highlight that. He might also be able to describe when the Trump campaign first became aware that Russians had what they called “dirt” on Hillary Clinton – and what the campaign did or did not do with that knowledge.

(bold italics added)

To my knowledge what Donald Trump has denied is that there was collusion between his campaign and Russia during the election.  He has not denied that his transition team had contacts with Russia after the election, and realistically it would make no sense for him to do so given that news of Flynn’s telephone conversations with Kislyak became public knowledge in January.

The Guardian is however conflating the election period and the transition period in order to say that Trump has lied about contacts with the Russians when he has not.  Moreover the rest of the article shows that the Guardian is fully aware of the difference between the Trump campaign and the Trump transition team, which casts a further strange light on its assertion that Trump lied when he quite plainly did not.

As it happens contact between the Trump campaign and Russian officials during the election would not have been inappropriate or wrong, and it did take place though on a very small scale.

What would have been wrong would have been the Trump campaign engaging in a conspiracy with the Russians to swing the election to Donald Trump by engaging in wrong or illegal activity to discredit Hillary Clinton eg. by getting the Russians to steal and publish the DNC’s and John Podesta’s emails.

That is the allegation which has been made in the Russiagate case, of which no evidence in support has so far been found.

The ABC story is interesting because it actually confirms that Flynn is not providing Mueller’s team with that evidence.  Instead what Flynn is saying is that he received instructions from Trump to open communications with the Russians only after the election had taken place.

In other words Flynn’s information to Mueller’s team not only does not support the Russiagate collusion allegations; it actually refutes them.

This of course is consistent with Flynn’s statement released yesterday (discussed by me here) in which Flynn specifically denies the accusations of “treason” and “outrageous behaviour” which have been made against him.

Needless to say – since Flynn’s information to Mueller’s inquiry has failed to substantiate the collusion allegations – there are already attempts to claim instead that Trump’s instructions to Flynn and Flynn’s and Kushner’s dealings with the Russians were somehow inappropriate and illegal because they allegedly violate the Logan Act.

This is desperate.

There is as I understand it some uncertainty about whether the Logan Act – which has resulted in no convictions and only two prosecutions in the two hundred years of its existence – is even any longer applicable law.

However putting that aside, the overwhelming problem with prosecutions under the Logan Act is that the moment the American people elected Donald Trump their President he became the President elect, entitled to full secret service protection, and therefore ceased to be a private citizen.

His team at that point also ceased to be a group of private persons forming the team of a Presidential candidate but became instead the Trump administration  – ie. the government of the United States – in waiting.

To suppose that members of the President elect’s transition team are therefore somehow prohibited from having contacts or engaging in discussions with the envoys of foreign powers during the transition period is therefore ridiculous, and is wholly contrary to the historical practice of previous transition teams during previous transition periods ever since the US became a world power at the end of the Second World War.

What of the argument that Trump, Kushner and Flynn were somehow undermining existing US policy through their contacts with Kislyak?

This argument seems to me frankly also ridiculous, and even rather sinister.

Donald Trump from almost the first moment that he declared himself a candidate made known that if elected he would seek a rapprochement with Russia.  When the American people elected him constitutionally their President they did so on the basis of that policy.

I would add that there is no doubt that most American voters by the time of the election were fully aware that it was Donald Trump’s policy to seek a rapprochement with Russia because Hillary Clinton, the Democrats, the US media, and the US intelligence community never missed an opportunity to remind them of it.

To say therefore that the President elect was acting illegally or wrongly because following his election he gave his most senior foreign policy advisers instructions to put into effect the policy he was elected to carry out is not merely absurd; it is frankly undemocratic.

Here it is worth setting out ABC’s ‘clarification’ of its story in full

A clarification tonight on something one of Flynn’s confidants told us and we reported earlier today. He said the President had asked Flynn to contact Russia during the campaign. He’s now clarifying that, saying according to Flynn, candidate Trump asked him during the campaign to find ways to repair relations with Russia and other hot spots, and then after the election, the President-elect asked him, told him to contact Russia on issues, including working together to fight ISIS

(bold italics added)

The proposal that the US and Russia fight ISIS together is one which has been made repeatedly and which Donald Trump is known to have been attracted to.

The Obama administration itself made a very similar proposal to the Russians in July last year, floating the possibility of the US and Russia fighting Al-Qaeda and ISIS in Syria together, though it came to nothing because the Obama administration demanded that the Russians agree to regime change in Syria in return (see my discussions of this proposal here and here).

Why was it therefore wrong for President elect Trump to instruct Michael Flynn, his soon-to-be National Security Adviser, to explore with the Russians the possibility of re-floating this proposal?

As it happens the ABC story reveals something else.

One of the puzzles about Russiagate is that the US intelligence agencies’ surveillance of members of the Trump campaign, which to be clear began during the election, appears to have actually escalated after it.

The reason for this is now clear: instead of helping the President elect to prepare himself and his team to carry out his policies – which is what the transition period between administrations is supposed to be about – the outgoing Obama administration and the US’s national security bureaucracy actively sabotaged them, stepping up surveillance of the members of the new incoming administration and orchestrating a media campaign against them in order to sabotage the President elect’s policies.

That almost certainly explains the secrecy with which Trump, Flynn and Kushner went about their actions.

Whereas what the situation actually called for was a trip by Flynn to Moscow to hold talks with the Russian leaders, he and Kushner instead felt obliged to communicate with the Russians in a hole-in-the-corner way, with Kushner even feeling obliged to ask that communications between Flynn and the Russian military about Syria should take place through a Russian channel.

It was doubtless this oppressive feeling of being watched, and the culture of secrecy which came with it, which caused Flynn to lie about what he had been doing to the FBI.

The depressing reality revealed by the Flynn affair is of a well-meaning but bungled attempt to re-establish a civil relationship with Russia, which was actively sabotaged by the outgoing Obama administration and by elements of the US national security bureaucracy in alliance with the media and the Democratic Party.

In the process the policy upon which the US President was constitutionally elected by the American people has been set aside.

It turns out that not only does the US most definitely have a Deep State, but that it is willing to use its power to sabotage the policy of the President who the people have elected.

Truly democracy in America is in peril and the great American Republic is going through dark times.

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Bercow blocks Brexit vote, May turns to EU for lifeline (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 112.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss Theresa May’s latest Brexit dilemma, as House of Commons Speaker John Bercow, shocked the world by citing a 1604 precedent that now effectively blocks May’s third go around at trying to pass her treacherous Brexit deal through the parliament.

All power now rests with the Brussels, as to how, if and when the UK will be allowed to leave the European Union.

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Via Bloomberg


Theresa May claims Brexit is about taking back control. Ten days before the U.K. is due to leave the European Union, it looks like anything but.

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow’s intervention, citing precedent dating back to 1604, to rule out a repeat vote on May’s already defeated departure deal leaves the prime minister exposed ahead of Thursday’s EU summit in Brussels.

Bercow, whose cries of “Orrdurrr! Orrdurrr!’’ to calm rowdy lawmakers have gained him a devoted international following, is now the pivotal figure in the Brexit battle. May’s team privately accuse him of trying to frustrate the U.K.’s exit from the EU, while the speaker’s admirers say he’s standing up for the rights of parliament against the executive.

If just one of the 27 other states declines May’s summit appeal to extend the divorce timetable, then the no-deal cliff edge looms for Britain’s departure on March 29. If they consent, it’s unclear how May can meet Bercow’s test that only a substantially different Brexit agreement merits another vote in parliament, since the EU insists it won’t reopen negotiations.

Caught between Bercow and Brussels, May’s room for maneuver is shrinking. Amid rumblings that their patience with the U.K. is near exhaustion, EU leaders are girding for the worst.

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President Putin signs law blocking fake news, but the West makes more

Western media slams President Putin and his fake news law, accusing him of censorship, but an actual look at the law reveals some wisdom.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The TASS Russian News Agency reported on March 18th that Russian President Vladimir Putin signed off on a new law intended to block distorted or untrue information being reported as news. Promptly after he did so, Western news organizations began their attempt to “spin” this event as some sort of proof of “state censorship” in the oppressive sense of the old Soviet Union. In other words, a law designed to prevent fake news was used to create more fake news.

One of the lead publications is a news site that is itself ostensibly a “fake news” site. The Moscow Times tries to portray itself as a Russian publication that is conducted from within Russian borders. However, this site and paper is really a Western publication, run by a Dutch foundation located in the Netherlands. As such, the paper and the website associated have a distinctly pro-West slant in their reporting. Even Wikipedia noted this with this comment from their entry about the publication:

In the aftermath of the Ukrainian crisis, The Moscow Times was criticized by a number of journalists including Izvestia columnist Israel Shamir, who in December 2014 called it a “militant anti-Putin paper, a digest of the Western press with extreme bias in covering events in Russia”.[3] In October 2014 The Moscow Times made the decision to suspend online comments after an increase in offensive comments. The paper said it disabled comments for two reasons—it was an inconvenience for its readers as well as being a legal liability, because under Russian law websites are liable for all content, including user-generated content like comments.[14]

This bias is still notably present in what is left of the publication, which is now an online-only news source. This is some of what The Moscow Times had to say about the new fake news legislation:

The bills amending existing information laws overwhelmingly passed both chambers of Russian parliament in less than two months. Observers and some lawmakers have criticized the legislation for its vague language and potential to stifle free speech.

The legislation will establish punishments for spreading information that “exhibits blatant disrespect for the society, government, official government symbols, constitution or governmental bodies of Russia.”

Insulting state symbols and the authorities, including Putin, will carry a fine of up to 300,000 rubles and 15 days in jail for repeat offenses.

As is the case with other Russian laws, the fines are calculated based on whether the offender is a citizen, an official or a legal entity.

More than 100 journalists and public figures, including human rights activist Zoya Svetova and popular writer Lyudmila Ulitskaya, signed a petition opposing the laws, which they labeled “direct censorship.”

This piece does give a bit of explanation from Dmitry Peskov, showing that European countries also have strict laws governing fake news distribution. However, the Times made the point of pointing out the idea of “insulting governmental bodies of Russia… including Putin” to bolster their claim that this law amounts to real censorship of the press. It developed its point of view based on a very short article from Reuters which says even less about the legislation and how it works.

However, TASS goes into rather exhaustive detail about this law, and it also gives rather precise wording on the reason for the law’s passage, as well as how it is to be enforced. We include most of this text here, with emphases added:

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law on blocking untrue and distorting information (fake news). The document was posted on the government’s legal information web portal.

The document supplements the list of information, the access to which may be restricted on the demand by Russia’s Prosecutor General or his deputies. In particular, it imposes a ban on “untrue publicly significant information disseminated in the media and in the Internet under the guise of true reports, which creates a threat to the life and (or) the health of citizens, property, a threat of the mass violation of public order and (or) public security, or the threat of impeding or halting the functioning of vital infrastructural facilities, transport or social infrastructure, credit institutions, energy, industrial or communications facilities.”

Pursuant to the document, in case of finding such materials in Internet resources registered in accordance with the Russian law on the mass media as an online media resource, Russia’s Prosecutor General or his deputies will request the media watchdog Roskomnadzor to restrict access to the corresponding websites.

Based on this request, Roskomnadzor will immediately notify the editorial board of the online media resource, which is in violation of the legislation, about the need to remove untrue information and the media resource will be required to delete such materials immediately. If the editorial board fails to take the necessary measures, Roskomnadzor will send communications operators “a demand to take measures to restrict access to the online resource.”

In case of deleting such untrue information, the website owner will notify Roskomnadzor thereof, following which the media watchdog will “hold a check into the authenticity of this notice” and immediately inform the communications operator about the resumption of the access to the information resource.
The conditions for the law are very specific, as are the penalties for breaking it. TASS continued:

Liability for breaching the law

Simultaneously, the Federation Council approved the associated law with amendments to Russia’s Code of Administrative Offences, which stipulates liability in the form of penalties of up to 1.5 million rubles (around $23,000) for the spread of untrue and distorting information.

The Code’s new article, “The Abuse of the Freedom of Mass Information,” stipulates liability for disseminating “deliberately untrue publicly significant information” in the media or in the Internet. The penalty will range from 30,000 rubles ($450) to 100,000 rubles ($1,520) for citizens, from 60,000 rubles ($915) to 200,000 rubles ($3,040) for officials and from 200,000 rubles to 500,000 rubles ($7,620) for corporate entities with the possible confiscation of the subject of the administrative offence.

Another element of offence imposes tighter liability for the cases when the publication of false publicly significant information has resulted in the deaths of people, has caused damage to the health or property, prompted the mass violation of public order and security or has caused disruption to the functioning of transport or social infrastructure facilities, communications, energy and industrial facilities and banks. In such instances, the fines will range from 300,000 rubles to 400,000 rubles ($6,090) for citizens, from 600,000 rubles to 900,000 rubles ($13,720) for officials, and from 1 million rubles to 1.5 million rubles for corporate entities.

While this legislation can be spun (and is) in the West as anti-free speech, one may also consider the damage that has taken place in the American government through a relentless attack of fake news from most US news outlets against President Trump. One of the most notable effects of this barrage has been to further degrade and destroy the US’ relationship with the Russian Federation, because even the Helsinki Summit was attacked so badly that the two leaders have not been able to get a second summit together.

While it is certainly a valued right of the American press to be unfettered by Congress, and while it is also certainly vital to criticize improper practices by government officials, the American news agencies have gone far past that, to deliberately dishonest attacks, based in innuendo and everything possible that was formerly only the province of gossip tabloid publications. The effort has been to defame the President, not to give proper or due criticism to his policies, nor credit. It can be properly stated that the American press has abused its freedom of late.

This level of abuse drew a very unusual comment from the US president, who wondered on Twitter about the possibility of creating a state-run media center in the US to counter fake news:

Politically correct for US audiences? No. But an astute point?

Definitely.

Freedom in anything also presumes that those with that freedom respect it, and further, that they respect and apply the principle that slandering people and institutions for one’s own personal, business or political gain is wrong. Implied in the US Constitution’s protection of the press is the notion that the press itself, as the rest of the country, is accountable to a much Higher Authority than the State. But when that Authority is rejected, as so much present evidence suggests, then freedom becomes the freedom to misbehave and to agitate. It appears largely within this context that the Russian law exists, based on the text given.

Further, by hitting dishonest media outlets in their pocketbook, rather than prison sentences, the law appears to be very smart in its message: “Do not lie. If you do, you will suffer where it counts most.”

Considering that news media’s purpose is to make money, this may actually be a very smart piece of legislation.

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ABC’s Ted Koppel admits mainstream media bias against Trump [Video]

The mainstream news media has traded informing the public for indoctrinating them, but the change got called out by an “old-school” journo.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Fox News reported on March 19th that one of America’s most well-known TV news anchors, Ted Koppel, noted that the once-great media outlets like The New York Times and The Washington Post, have indeed traded journalistic excellence for hit pieces for political purposes. While political opinions in the mainstream press are certainly within the purview of any publication, this sort of writing can hardly be classified as “news” but as “Opinion” or more widely known, “Op-Ed.”

We have two videos on this. The first is the original clip showing the full statement that Mr. Koppel gave. It is illuminating, to say the least:

Tucker Carlson and Brit Hume, a former colleague of Mr. Koppel, added their comments on this admission in this second short video piece, shown here.

There are probably a number of people who have watched this two-year onslaught of slander and wondered why there cannot be a law preventing this sort of misleading reporting. Well, Russia passed a law to stop it, hitting dishonest media outlets in their pocketbook. It is a smart law because it does not advocate imprisonment for bad actors in the media, but it does fine them.

Going to prison for reporting “the truth” looks very noble. Having to pay out of pocket for it is not so exciting.

Newsmax and Louder with Crowder both reported on this as well.

This situation of dishonest media has led to an astonishing 77% distrust rating among Americans of their news media, this statistic being reported by Politico in 2018. This represents a nearly diametric reversal in trust from the 72% trust rating the country’s news viewers gave their news outlets in 1972. These statistics come from Gallup polls taken through the years.

 

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