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The Mueller Investigation Is Sending People to Jail – But Not For Collusion

The belief that George Papadopoulos, Michael Cohen, and Paul Manafort would turn over evidence of collusion with Russia got ahead of reality.

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Via the Strategic Culture Foundation:


The anonymous government official who revealed a “resistance” inside the White House has heightened the sense of doom hanging over Donald Trump’s presidency. A stream of disparaging claims from other White House insiders, the multiple criminal cases enveloping Trump’s inner circle, and the ongoing special-counsel investigation into possible collusion with the Russian government have all also added to anticipation of Trump’s imminent downfall. But the widespread perception that “the walls are closing in”; on a “ “teetering” Trump presidency is getting ahead of reality. While figures eyed as central to the suspected Trump-Russia conspiracy—campaign volunteer George Papadopoulos, longtime fixer Michael Cohen, and campaign manager Paul Manafort—have been convicted of criminal activity, their cases have not bolstered the case for collusion as many liberals had hoped.

Last week, Papadopoulos was sentenced to 14 days in prison for lying to the FBI about the timing of his contacts with a Maltese professor, Joseph Mifsud. According to Papadopoulos, Mifsud claimed to have connections to Russia and information that the Kremlin had obtained Hillary Clinton’s stolen e-mails. In May 2016, Papadopoulos relayed vague details about his conversation with Mifsud to Australian diplomat Alexander Downer. According to press accounts, a tip from Downer about his encounter with Papadopoulos sparked the FBI’s “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation into alleged Trump-Russia ties.

Because Papadopoulos may have purportedly heard about stolen e-mails before their public release, he has been widely scouted as “Exhibit A” for a Trump-Kremlin conspiracy, part of a “secret channel through which the Russian government was able to communicate with the Trump campaign as it stole Democratic emails and weaponized them to help Trump win the presidency,” according to James Risen of The Intercept. In the end, Papadopoulos did not fill that role. According to special counsel Robert Mueller’s sentencing memo, Papadopoulos “did not provide ‘substantial assistance’” during his interviews in August and September of 2017. But in remarks made after his sentencing, Papadopoulos says that “I did my best…and offered what I knew.” It is not a surprise that he did not have much to offer. Not only did the Trump campaign rebuff Papadopoulos’s proposals to set up meetings with Russian officials, Papadopoulos now says that “I never met with a single Russian official in my life.”

Mueller’s sentencing memo also confirms that after FBI agents interviewed Papadopoulos in January 2017, they interviewed Mifsud just weeks later in Washington, DC. Despite his being the figure whose comments ostensibly led to the opening of the Trump-Russia investigation—making him a suspected Kremlin cutout—Mifsud was not detained then, nor has he been charged since.

Mueller appears to blame Papadopoulos for this. Papadopoulos, Mueller claims, “substantially hindered investigators’ ability to effectively question” Mifsud when they spoke to him just a few weeks later. Papadopoulos’s lies, they allege, “undermined investigators’ ability to challenge the Professor or potentially detain or arrest him while he was still in the United States.… The defendant’s lies also hindered the government’s ability to discover who else may have known or been told about the Russians possessing ‘dirt’ on Clinton.”

The claim is puzzling. In his sentencing memo, Mueller acknowledges that Papadopoulos “identified” Mifsud to FBI agents voluntarily, though “only after only after being prompted by a series of specific questions.” That is why Papadopoulos has not pleaded guilty to lying about Mifsud, but only about the timing of his contacts with them: He falsely told agents that he was not yet a member of the Trump campaign when he and Mifsud spoke. In that same interview, Papadopoulos told agents that Mifsud informed him that the Russians “have dirt on [Clinton]” in the form of “thousands of emails.” Given that Papadopoulos not only informed FBI agents of Mifsud’s identity but also of the “dirt” he floated, how could Papadopoulos have “hindered” their ability to find out what Mifsud knows?

As Papadopoulos appears to exit the collusion bracket, longtime Trump fixer Michael Cohen has recently emerged front and center. On July 26, CNN reported that Cohen is prepared to tell Mueller that Trump had advance knowledge of the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower with Russian nationals. The incident has been the subject of intense focus because Donald Trump Jr. was promised compromising information about Hillary Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

Veteran Clinton operative turned Cohen spokesperson Lanny Davis fanned the flames. Hours after Cohen’s indictment on August 21, Davis told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that Cohen “is more than happy to tell the special counsel all that he knows,” including about “the obvious possibility of a conspiracy to collude.… in the 2016 election” and even “whether or not Mr. Trump knew ahead of time” about Russian e-mail hacking “and even cheered it on.”

Davis’ qualified language (“obvious possibility,” “whether or not”) was easily overlooked, but the specter of perjury could not be. The co-chairs of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr and Mark Warner, noted that Cohen had testified to them last fall that that he has no knowledge of any Trump-Russia collusion and that he didn’t even find out about the Trump Tower meeting until it was publicly reported in June 2017—one year after it took place. Burr and Warner also revealed that in response to CNN’s story, Cohen’s attorneys informed them that he is not changing his testimony.

Davis quickly dropped the innuendo. Asked by CNN’s Anderson Cooper on August 22 if Cohen has information that Trump knew about the Trump Tower meeting in advance, Davis replied, “ No, he does not.” Davis also abandoned his suggestion, made just 24 hours earlier to Maddow, that Cohen can tie Trump to advance knowledge of Russian e-mail hacking. Davis told Cooper that he was “more tentative on that” and that he only meant that he believes Cohen “may or not be useful” to Mueller, even though “it’s not a certainty the way [Cohen] recalls it.” Davis was, he clarified in the same CNN interview, just relying on his own “intuition.”

Yet this clarification proved to be more consequential than perhaps Davis intended. The Washington Post and the New York Post revealed that they had used Davis as an anonymous source for their own stories “confirming” the initial July 26 CNN report. “I should have been more clear—including with you—that I could not independently confirm what happened,” Davis told The Washington Post, adding his regrets. Davis also continued to back off of his hacking claims, explaining that he was merely “giving an instinct that [Cohen] might have something to say of interest,” though, yet again, “I am just not sure.”

But Davis was not done; he then revealed that he had also been used as anonymous source for CNN’s initial story. This did not just raise a sourcing issue for CNN but a potential scandal: In its initial report, CNN had falsely claimed that Davis had declined to comment. This meant that CNN had not just relied on a source who no longer stood by his story, but mislead readers into believing that he was not a source. To date, CNN has yet to offer an explanation for the gaffe—which, along with the failure to explain it—is not a first.

In his dizzying retraction tour, Davis also raised doubts about another story that had been circulating for months. In April, McClatchy reported that Mueller’s team has information about Cohen that could corroborate a key claim in the Steele dossier, the DNC-funded report alleging a high-level conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. The dossier claims that Cohen visited Prague in August or September 2016 to meet with Russian officials as part of his key role “in a cover up and damage limitation operation” over the hacking of Democratic Party emails. Citing two sources, McClatchy claimed that Mueller “has evidence” that Cohen secretly visited Prague during the period in question. Davis now says that that claim is false. Cohen, Davis told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd, was “never, ever in Prague.”

The only story Cohen has affirmed is the one he shared in court: that Trump, in order to influence the election outcome, directed him to make a hush-money payment to cover up for an extramarital affair. That allegation may or may not prove to be sufficient grounds for impeachment, but they decidedly do not fall under Robert Mueller’s purview.

Cohen’s indictment coincided with Paul Manafort’s conviction on tax-evasion and bank-fraud charges related to his political consulting work in Ukraine. It is often speculated that Manafort’s Ukraine stint is relevant to a Trump-Russia conspiracy plot because, the theory goes, he served Kremlin interests during his time there. The opposite is the case, as Manafort’s former partner-turned-prosecution-witness, Rick Gates, reaffirmed during trial. Gates testified that Manafort pushed his client, then–Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, to align with the European Union and away from Russia. According to Gates, Manafort was paid lucratively to craft a policy known as “Engage Ukraine,” which “became the strategy for helping Ukraine enter the European Union.” Given that the tug-of-war between Russia and the EU (with US backing) over Ukraine sparked a full-blown international crisis and a new Cold War, Manafort’s strategy would be an odd one for a supposed Kremlin stooge.

Putting aside Manafort’s record in Ukraine, there have been attempts to tie him to a potential Russia conspiracy via his financial debts to Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska. During the campaign, Manafort wrote to an associate about leveraging his position in the Trump camp in order to “get whole” with Deripaska, even suggesting that he offer “private briefings.” Could this have been, pundits suggest, where a collusion plot was hatched?

Deripaska denies ever having been offered private briefings by Manafort. Another impediment to tying Deripaska to a Trump-Russia collusion plot is that Deripaska has connections to the figure arguably most responsible for the allegations of collusion. Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence agent whose DNC-funded “dossier” alleged a longstanding Trump-Kremlin conspiracy, has served as an intermediary for contacts between Deripaska and US officials. Deripaska even has a link to Mueller and the federal agency he once headed. In 2009, when Mueller was in charge of the FBI, Deripaska ponied up millions of dollars for a secret effort to rescue a captured CIA operative, Robert Levinson, in Iran. In return, the FBI—with the encouragement of Steele—helped secure a visa for Deripaska, who had been banned from the United States for alleged ties to Russian organized crime. In short, Deripaska’s various contacts make plain that Manafort’s financial ties to him, illicit or not, do not necessarily lead to a Kremlin conspiracy.

Most critically, Mueller has yet to allege one. Prosecutors openly acknowledged before Manafort’s first trial that the case had nothing to do with “evidence or argument concerning collusion with the Russian government,” while the judge in Manafort’s upcoming second trial notes that the collusion investigation is “wholly irrelevant to the charges in this case.”

The same could be said for all of the other charges in the Mueller investigation to date. Mueller has uncovered criminal activity, but not as of yet a conspiracy with a foreign power. Should that trend continue, it need not be a defeat for the resistance. The Russiagate fixation has diverted attention from many of Trump’s damaging policies and turned vast segments of the public into spectators of an endless drama. A political opposition mobilized around a range of issues that materially impact Americans—and no longer counting on Mueller’s investigation—may be the strongest threat that Trump could face.

– Aaron MATÉ, thenation.com.

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Flying Gabrieljohn vieiraTjoeStunned_at_Sunset Recent comment authors
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Stunned_at_Sunset
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Stunned_at_Sunset

With all of the material and empirical evidence emerging that demonstrates, in proof of fact, the felonious activity of high-ranking FBI and DOJ officials, Mueller is only focused on making life difficult for Trump supporters. His “so-called” investigation is a sham and he is wasting the air that he breathes, endangering the rest of us as he consumes that vital resource.

Tjoe
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Tjoe

Remember, this is the deep state that pulled off 9.11 and Trump is not part of their gang. Rightfully so, they fear for their lives. Question is, can they co-opt Trump like they did Obama? I don’t think he can keep his mouth shut but he is a wannabe Jew, so deception for personal gain is always in play with Trump(s).

john vieira
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Hope Mueller finds time to indict himself…and the many whom he conveniently chooses to ignore…his handlers hope that keeping the pressure on Trump until the “Congressionals” that if they gain a majority then that they may be able to press on with the “impeachment” and save themselves and their cohorts in the mainstream media who are complicit in all that they HAVE done…

Flying Gabriel
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Flying Gabriel

“Trumps damaging policies” – can you be more specific please – we get enough false sweeping generalisations from MSNBC and CNN. Please don’t end up all conflicted here and pushing propaganda like the Intercept, we’re running out of reliable sources. Thanks in advance.

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Tape recorded evidence of Clinton-Ukraine meddling in US election surfaces (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 114.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou take a look at new evidence to surface from Ukraine that exposes a plot by the US Embassy in Kiev and the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) to leak Paul Manafort’s corrupt dealings in the country, all for the benefit of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

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Via Zerohedge


Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko has launched an investigation into the head of the Ukrainian National Anti-Corruption Bureau for allegedly attempting to help Hillary Clinton defeat Donald Trump during the 2016 US election by releasing damaging information about a “black ledger” of illegal business dealings by former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

The Hill’s John Solomon, Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko

“Today we will launch a criminal investigation about this and we will give legal assessment of this information,” Lutsenko said last week, according to The Hill

Lutsenko is probing a claim from a member of the Ukrainian parliament that the director of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), Artem Sytnyk, attempted to the benefit of the 2016 U.S. presidential election on behalf of Hillary Clinton.

A State Department spokesman told Hill.TV that officials aware of news reports regarding Sytnyk. –The Hill

“According to the member of parliament of Ukraine, he got the court decision that the NABU official conducted an illegal intrusion into the American election campaign,” said Lutsenko, speaking with The Hill’s John Solomon about the anti-corruption bureau chief, Artem Sytnyk.

“It means that we think Mr. Sytnyk, the NABU director, officially talked about criminal investigation with Mr. [Paul] Manafort, and at the same time, Mr. Sytnyk stressed that in such a way, he wanted to assist the campaign of Ms. Clinton,” Lutsenko continued.

Solomon asked Lutsenko about reports that a member of Ukraine’s parliament obtained a tape of the current head of the NABU saying that he was attempting to help Clinton win the 2016 presidential election, as well as connections that helped release the black-ledger files that exposed Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort‘s wrongdoing in Ukraine.

“This member of parliament even attached the audio tape where several men, one of which had a voice similar to the voice of Mr. Sytnyk, discussed the matter.” –The Hill

What The Hill doesn’t mention is that Sytnyk released Manafort’s Black Book with Ukrainian lawmaker Serhiy Leshchenko – discussed in great length by former Breitbart investigator Lee Stranahan, who has been closely monitoring this case.

Serhiy Leshchenko

T]he main spokesman for these accusations was Serhiy Leshchenko, a Ukrainian politician and journalist who works closely with both top Hillary Clinton donors George Soros and Victor Pinchuk, as well as to the US Embassy in Kyiv.

James Comey should be asked about this source that Leshchenko would not identify. Was the source someone connected to US government, either the State Department or the Department of Justice?

The New York Times should also explain why they didn’t mention that Leshchenko had direct connections to two of Hillary Clinton biggest financial backers. Victor Pinchuk, the largest donor to the Clinton Foundation at a staggering $8.6 million also happened to have paid for Leshchenko’s expenses to go to international conferences. George Soros, whose also founded the International Renaissance Foundationthat worked closely with Hillary Clinton’s State Department in Ukraine, also contributed at least $8 million to Hillary affiliated super PACs in the 2016 campaign cycle. –Lee Stranahan via Medium

Meanwhile, according to former Fusion GPS contractor Nellie Ohr, Leshchenko was a source for opposition research firm Fusion GPS, which commissioned the infamous Trump-Russia dossier.

Nellie Ohr, a former contractor for the Washington, D.C.-based Fusion GPS, testified on Oct. 19 that Serhiy Leshchenko, a former investigative journalist turned Ukrainian lawmaker, was a source for Fusion GPS during the 2016 campaign.

“I recall … they were mentioning someone named Serhiy Leshchenko, a Ukrainian,” Ohr said when asked who Fusion GPS’s sources were, according to portions of Ohr’s testimony confirmed by The Daily Caller News Foundation. –Daily Caller

Also absent from The Hill report is the fact that Leshchenko was convicted in December by a Kiev court of interfering in the 2016 US election.

A Kyiv court said that a Ukrainian lawmaker and a top anticorruption official’s decision in 2016 to publish documents linked to President Donald Trump’s then-campaign chairman amounted to interference in the U.S. presidential election.

The December 11 finding came in response to a complaint filed by another Ukrainian lawmaker, who alleged that Serhiy Leshchenko and Artem Sytnyk illegally released the documents in August 2016, showing payments by a Ukrainian political party to Trump’s then-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

The documents, excerpts from a secret ledger of payments by the Party of Regions, led to Manafort being fired by Trump’s election campaign.

The Kyiv court said that the documents published by Leshchenko and Sytnyk were part of an ongoing pretrial investigation in Ukraine into the operations of the pro-Russian Party of Regions. The party’s head had been President Viktor Yanukovych until he fled the country amid mass protests two years earlier.

-RadioFreeEurope/Radio Liberty (funded by the US govt.).

So while Lutsenko – Solomon’s guest and Ukrainian Prosecutor is currently going after Artem Sytnyk, it should be noted that Leshchenko was already found to have meddled in the 2016 US election.

Watch:

Meanwhile, you can also check out Stranahan’s take on Leshchenko being left out of the loop.

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‘I will take over as Brexit Party leader’: Nigel Farage back on the frontline

Nigel Farage says that if the UK takes part in European elections, he will lead his new Brexit Party.

RT

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Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage has announced that he will lead his new Brexit Party into the European elections if UK MPs decide to delay Brexit beyond May 22.

Farage, who has ostensibly appointed himself leader, told various media, including the BBC and Sky News on Friday morning: “I will take over as leader of the Brexit Party and lead it into the European Elections.”

It comes after the Brexit Party’s leader, Catherine Blaiklock, quit over a series of alleged Islamophobic statements and retweets of far-right figures on social media.

It is not yet thought that Farage has officially been elected as leader, as the party does not, as yet, have a formal infrastructure to conduct such a vote.

The right-wing MEP vowed to put out a whole host of Brexit Party candidates if the UK participates in the upcoming EU elections in May, adding: “If we fight those elections, we will fight them on trust.”

On Thursday night, the EU agreed to PM May’s request for a delaying to Brexit beyond the March 29 deadline. Brussels announced two new exit dates depending on what happens next week in the UK parliament.

The UK will have to leave the bloc on April 12 unless British MPs agree to May’s Brexit deal. If the withdrawal agreement is passed by next week, EU leaders have agreed to grant an extension until May 22.

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Baltics cannot rely on Germany any more

The matter is NATO today is not as strong as it is supposed to be. And it is not only because of leadership blunders.

The Duran

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Submitted by Adomas Abromaitis…

On March 29 Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia will celebrate 15 years of becoming NATO member states. The way to the alliance membership was not simple for newly born independent countries. They have reached great success in fulfilling many of NATO demands: they have considerably increased their defence expenditures, renewed armaments and increased the number of military personnel.

In turn, they get used to rely on more powerful member states, their advice, help and even decision making. All these 15 years they felt more or less safe because of proclaimed European NATO allies’ capabilities.

Unfortunately, now it is high time to doubt. The matter is NATO today is not as strong as it supposed to be. And it is not only because of leadership’s blunders. Every member state does a bit. As for the Baltic states, they are particularly vulnerable, because they fully depend on other NATO member states in their defence. Thus, Germany, Canada and Britain are leading nations of the NATO battle group stationed in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia respectively.

But the state of national armed forces in Germany, for example, raises doubts and makes it impossible not only defend the Baltics against Russia, but Germany itself.

It turned out, that Germany itself remains dissatisfied with its combat readiness and minister of defence’s ability to perform her duties. Things are so bad, that the military’s annual readiness report would be kept classified for the first time for “security reasons.”

“Apparently the readiness of the Bundeswehr is so bad that the public should not be allowed to know about it,” said Tobias Lindner, a Greens member who serves on the budget and defense committees.

Inspector General Eberhard Zorn said (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-germany-arms/germany-not-satisfied-with-readiness-of-submarines-some-aircraft-idUSKBN1QS1G7) the average readiness of the country’s nearly 10,000 weapons systems stood at about 70 percent in 2018, which meant Germany was able to fulfill its military obligations despite increasing responsibilities.

No overall comparison figure was available for 2017, but last year’s report revealed readiness rates of under 50 percent for specific weapons such as the aging CH-53 heavy-lift helicopters and the Tornado fighter jets.

Zorn said this year’s report was more comprehensive and included details on five main weapons systems used by the cyber command, and eight arms critical for NATO’s high readiness task force, which Germany heads this year.

“The overall view allows such concrete conclusions about the current readiness of the Bundeswehr that knowledge by unauthorized individuals would harm the security interests of the Federal Republic of Germany,” he wrote.

Critics are sure of incompetence of the Federal Minister of Defence, Ursula von der Leyen. Though she has occupied the upper echelons of German politics for 14 years now — and shows no sign of success. This mother of seven, gynecologist by profession, by some miracle for a long time has been remaining in power, though has no trust even among German military elites. Despite numerous scandals she tries to manage the Armed Forces as a housewife does and, of course, the results are devastating for German military capabilities. The same statement could be easily apply for the Baltic States, which highly dependent on Germany in military sphere.

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