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Another Special Counsel? The right way forward to investigate the real scandal of the US Presidential election

A new Special Counsel is needed to get a proper grip on an investigation which is going nowhere

Alexander Mercouris

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Sixteen months after the Russiagate investigation was started it has produced

(1) a sloppily drafted though aggressively worded indictment against Paul Manafort and Rick Gates relating to their business dealings in Ukraine which does not touch on the Russiagate collusion allegations;

(2) a cynical and in my opinion oppressive indictment against George Papadopoulos – which has resulted in his guilty plea – because he mixed up the dates of his first meeting with a Maltese professor, but which also does not touch on the Russiagate collusion allegations;

(3) rumours of a third indictment against Michael Flynn because of his alleged failure to register properly his lobbying work for the Turkish government, but which apparently will also not touch on the Russiagate collusion allegations; and

(4) relentless hounding of Carter Page, whose “crime” is that he has longstanding and openly acknowledged business contacts in Russia and that he gave a public speech during the election at Moscow’s New Economic School.

By comparison we now know:

(1) that the DNC was financially dependent on Hillary Clinton who by way of a fundraising agreement with the DNC signed in August 2015 gained control – before the US Presidential election took place – of the DNC’s finances and strategy and and a say in its senior appointments.

We know this is so because no less a person than Donna Brazile – the DNC’s former chair – has now told us as much.  In her words

The agreement — signed by Amy Dacey, the former CEO of the DNC, and [Clinton campaign manager] Robby Mook with a copy to [Clinton campaign counsel] Marc Elias— specified that in exchange for raising money and investing in the DNC, Hillary would control the party’s finances, strategy, and all the money raised….

 …[Clinton’s] campaign had the right of refusal of who would be the party communications director, and it would make final decisions on all the other staff. The DNC also was required to consult with the campaign about all other staffing, budgeting, data, analytics, and mailings.

(2) that the Hillary Clinton controlled and funded DNC paid for the Crowdstrike report into the alleged Russian hacking of the DNC’s and John Podesta’s computers, whilst refusing the FBI access to those computers; and

(3) that the Hillary Clinton controlled and funded DNC paid for the Trump Dossier, which it is now confirmed provides the frame narrative followed by the Russiagate investigation.  Moreover it seems that the Hillary Clinton campaign directly provided some of the funding for the “research” that led to the Trump Dossier;

(4) that though the broad outlines of the Russiagate allegations have been around since the start of the Russiagate investigation sixteen months ago, we know about (1) and (3) only now because up to now Hillary Clinton, the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign have concealed them.

The last four points are not speculations.  They are incontrovertible facts.

To understand their importance it is necessary to go the recent article by Joe Lauria – in my opinion the single most important article anyone has written about Russiagate, and one which the Huffington Post disgracefully has sought to suppress – and a further article by Mike Whitney, which goes over the same ground though in rather more detail, and which is based on (as it admits) on Joe Lauria’s article.

Many things that are actually said about investigations are simply not true.  By way of example, it is very rare for motive to be a good or reliable guide to establishing the perpetrator of a crime.

However “follow the money” is one of those things which is commonly said about investigations which in the great majority of cases is actually true.  In this case the money does not point either to Moscow or to Donald Trump; it points to Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.

The last four points also beg a host of other questions, but there is one overriding one.

This is whether the entirety of the Russiagate allegations – both the hacking allegations and the collusion allegations – are based on the DNC/Hillary Clinton funded Crowdstrike report and the DNC’Hillary Clinton funded Trump Dossier, or whether any other evidence exists, however flimsy, which purports to corroborate them.

Joe Lauria and Mike Whitney have looked into this question in detail and have basically concluded that there is none and that the Russiagate allegations are indeed based entirely on the Crowdstrike report and the Trump Dossier.

I have long since believed the same thing, though I have not delved into the matter as deeply as Joe Lauria and Mike Whitney have done.

There have been various hints at various times from the usual ‘anonymous sources’ that other ‘evidence’ that supposedly corroborates the Russian collusion allegations also exists.

There have for examples been rumours – never confirmed – of human agents supposedly employed by the secret services of one of the Baltic states and/or of Britain and/or of Ukraine and/or of some other NATO or US allies (the story  repeatedly changes) who supposedly have provided independent evidence confirming the Russiagate allegations.

However whenever actual ‘evidence’ purporting to prove the Russiagate allegations comes to light it invariably turns out after close study to originate either with the Crowdstrike report or (far more often) with the Trump Dossier.

My opinion is that the stories of human agents have been intentionally spread in order to conceal the extent to which the Russiagate collusion allegations depend in their entirety on the Trump Dossier.

That does not of course mean that none of these human agents exist.  However given the nature of undercover intelligence work and of the sort of people who are drawn to it, if they are asked to corroborate lurid allegations of the sort which appear in the Trump Dossier they are more likely than not to do so if for no other reason than to keep their employers happy.  The debacle of the Iraqi WMD allegations in 2002 and 2003 is a perfect case study of this.

Four facts which makes me think the Trump Dossier is indeed the original source of the Russiagate collusion allegations are

(1) that its early entries appear to be the earliest written documents to have made those allegations;

(2) that it is becoming gradually clear that the Trump Dossier was the only evidence cited to support those allegations in the classified version of the 6th January 2017 ODNI report provided to President Obama and to President elect Trump;

(3) that the contents of the Trump Dossier were used to persuade the FISA court to grant at least one FISA surveillance warrant against Carter Page (see Mike Whitney’s excellent discussion of this); and

(4) that the FBI and the US intelligence community have gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal the extent to which they depend on the Trump Dossier to provide them with the frame narrative for the Russiagate investigation, even though that is something which is now confirmed.

For a good illustration of (4) see the massive Washington Post article of 23rd June 2017, which obviously derives from intelligence sources, and which – as I have pointed out previously – clearly shows that the initial “evidence” of Russian meddling in the election provided by the CIA to the Obama White House in August 2016 was the early entries of the Trump Dossier.  The article is however careful to avoid naming the Trump Dossier though a simple process of deduction shows that this is the “evidence” the article is referring to.

It is impossible to avoid the impression that the reason the FBI and the US intelligence community are concealing the fact that they depend on the Trump Dossier to provide them with their frame narrative is because they do not want to admit to the fact that the whole Russiagate investigation rests upon it and is ultimately no more than a gigantic fishing expedition to try to prove it true.

Needless to say, since the allegations in the Trump Dossier are not true, this fishing expedition is catching nothing and the Russiagate investigation is going nowhere.

In my opinion all this provides compelling reasons to broaden the scope of the Russiagate investigation to look at what is the true scandal of the 2016 election: that US citizens involved in the Trump campaign – including, it is becoming increasingly clear, Donald Trump himself – were under surveillance by the FBI and the US intelligence community during the US election because of two reports – the Crowdstrike report and the Trump Dossier – paid for by the Hillary Clinton controlled and funded DNC.

Given the evidence of extreme bias on the part of the FBI and the US intelligence community in favour of Hillary Clinton that this shows, it would also be appropriate in my opinion to look into the FBI’s and the Justice Department’s extraordinary handling of the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s misuse of her private email server.

On 31st October 2016 – before the election – I touched on how extraordinarily protective of Hillary Clinton that handling appeared to be

Which brings me to the subject of Hillary Clinton’s emails.

I am not an expert on the US law in question.  However it looks to me like a standard law for the handling of classified or confidential material, of which there are many.  As is common with such laws, it is a law of what the British call “strict liability” ie. motive is irrelevant, and a crime is automatically committed if the the terms of the law are breached. 

What that means is that it is technically irrelevant whether Hillary Clinton breached the terms of the law intentionally or carelessly (as she says).  If she breached the terms of the law then she is or should be guilty of the crime set out in it.

I think it is fair to say that most people familiar with this law agree that Hillary Clinton was very fortunate not to have been prosecuted when the FBI first investigated her over the emails.  Most of these people also agree that anyone else in the same position would almost certainly have been prosecuted if they had done the same thing.

As it happens Hillary Clinton not only failed to provide any remotely satisfactory explanation of why she used a private server in breach of the terms of the law, but she has also admitted deleting tens of thousands of emails (apparently on the grounds they were “private”) and of having destroyed hard drives to make retrieval of these emails impossible.  

Again I think it is fair to say that most people who know about these things would expect in those circumstances a prosecution for obstruction of justice; and that most of these people think that Hillary Clinton is either very privileged or very lucky that no such prosecution was brought against her. 

Hillary Clinton is by all accounts a very capable lawyer.  As a lawyer she would have been required to keep clients’ information confidential as a normal part of her work.  Hillary Clinton was also one of the lawyers involved in the hearings of the Watergate scandal, in which mishandling of confidential information was a central issue.  She cannot therefore claim to be ignorant about these sort of issues.  

Hillary Clinton has also served in the White House as a member of her husband’s administration, and was a US Senator before Obama appointed her US Secretary of State, when the scandal of the emails took place.  Again the handling of secret and confidential information would have been a normal part of her work.

We are therefore talking about someone who has been handling confidential and classified information all her working life, and who is or should be fully aware of the relevant rules and protocols involved in handling it, and of the legal consequences of not abiding by them. 

Speaking as someone who has also had experience of handling confidential information, I can say that after a time observing the proper protocols becomes second nature.  It is well-nigh incredible to me – and I suspect to many other people – that this was not so in Hillary Clinton’s case.

It is also well-nigh incredible to me that a lawyer as experienced as Hillary Clinton would not in the event of an FBI investigation immediately take steps to ensure that all the evidence – meaning of course all the emails – was tracked down, carefully preserved, and handed over immediately to the FBI.  That tens of thousands of emails were instead deleted, that hard drives were destroyed, and that emails should now be turning up months later in a laptop in the possession of the estranged husband of a senior aide who is being investigated on sex crime charges, would be quite literally beyond belief were it not actually happening.

All of these points have now been made – in far greater detail and at far greater length – in a brilliant dissection of the FBI’s and of the Justice Department’s extraordinary handling of the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s misuse of her private email server by Andrew McCarthy for The National Review.

Reports are now circulating that the Justice Department is considering appointing another Special Counsel to look into these issues and conceivably also into the Uranium One issue.

I sincerely hope that this is so, though I hope that the focus of this investigation will be the actions of the DNC, the Hillary Clinton campaign, the Justice Department, the US intelligence community and the FBI during the election, not the Uranium One scandal, which though a tangled affair is one which is not directly related to the election, and which should therefore be investigated separately.

I would also hope that in time the two investigations – Robert Mueller’s Russiagate investigation and whatever separate investigation by the second Special Counsel is now established – before long will be merged into one.

I understand that the politics of the situation at the moment make it very difficult to sack Mueller and to close his investigation down.  However the reality is that his investigation is going nowhere but is doing huge damage along the way, whilst – as I have previously pointed out – Mueller’s own deep and longstanding connections to the FBI make it impossible to see how he can conduct the expanded investigation which now needs to take place impartial way, making it essential that he go.

I hope that in time the logic of all this will become clear, and the absurdity of two Special Counsel carrying out investigations at cross-purposes with each other will become obvious.

There is a real scandal to investigate about the 2016 election.  That scandal is not the Russiagate conspiracy theory, which it is now becoming clear rests entirely on two tawdry DNC/Clinton paid for reports: the Crowdstrike report and the Trump Dossier.

That scandal is how the vast surveillance machinery of the US state was brought to bear on behalf one Presidential candidate and against another, and how the US intelligence community – not Russia – meddled in a US election on behalf of one candidate and against another.

Previously, when I discussed this, I expressed skepticism that such an investigation of what is the real scandal of the 2016 election would ever happen

To say all this does not unfortunately mean that this scandal is going to play out the way it should, or that people will see it for what it really is.

Many powerful people in the US political system, including in the US’s Deep State, in the media and in Congress, are deeply implicated in this scandal, and they will fight tooth and nail any attempt to hold them to account, continuing to use the bogus Russia cover story to justify and protect themselves, as they have been doing successfully up to now.

Beyond that there are a great many people who have bought into the Russia story – bogus though it is – falling for the entirely wrong and repeatedly discredited psuedo-principle that there cannot be smoke without fire (there not only can be; there usually is).

Lastly, the paranoia about Russia in the US and in western Europe is now so great that it is easy to dupe many people by conjuring it.

Nonetheless, though it is far from sure that many people will be able to see the true scandal through all the smoke, the proof of the real scandal of the Presidential election of 2016 is now finally out there.  It remains to be seen whether the highly corrupt and deeply compromised US political system retains sufficient vitality and integrity to investigate it.

All these obstacles lying in the way of a proper investigation of the real scandal of the 2016 election are still there as when I wrote those words in March.  I am sorry to say that my skepticism that we will ever see a proper investigation of the real scandal of the 2016 election remains profound.  However reports of the appointment of Special Counsel may show that I am wrong.  I hope so.

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BREXIT chaos, as May’s cabinet crumbles (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 18.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a quick look at the various scenarios now facing a crumbling May government, as the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement is forcing cabinet members to resign in rapid succession. The weekend ahead is fraught with uncertainty for the UK and its position within, or outside, the European Union.

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If Theresa May’s ill-fated Brexit Withdrawal Agreement is eventually rejected this could trigger a vote of no confidence, snap elections or even a new referendum…

Here are six possible scenarios facing Theresa May and the UK (via The Guardian)

1 Parliament blocks Theresa May’s draft withdrawal agreement and political declarations

May faces an enormous task to win parliamentary approval, given that Labour, the SNP, the DUP and 51 Tories have said they will not vote for it.

If the remaining 27 EU member states sign off the draft agreement on 25 November, the government will have to win over MPs at a crucial vote in early December.

If May loses the vote, she has 21 days to put forward a new plan. If she wins, she is safe for now.

2 May withdraws the current draft agreement

The prime minister could decide that she will not get the draft agreement through parliament and could seek to renegotiate with the EU.

This would anger Tory backbenchers and Brussels and would be seen as a humiliation for her government. It might spark a leadership contest too.

3 Extend article 50

May could ask the European council to extend article 50, giving her more time to come up with a deal that could be passed by parliament – at present, the UK will leave on 29 March 2019.

Such a request would not necessarily be granted. Some EU governments are under pressure from populist parties to get the UK out of the EU as soon as possible.

4 Conservative MPs trigger a vote of no confidence in the prime minister

If Conservative MPs believe May is no longer fit for office, they could trigger a no-confidence vote.

Members of the European Research Group claim that Graham Brady, the chair of the powerful 1922 Committee, will receive the necessary 48 letters this week.

A vote could be held as soon as early next week. All Tory MPs would be asked to vote for or against their leader. If May wins, she cannot be challenged for at least 12 months. If she loses, there would be a leadership contest to decide who will become prime minister.

5 General election – three possible routes

If May fails to get support for the current deal, she could call a snap general election.

She would table a parliamentary vote for a general election that would have to be passed by two thirds of MPs. She would then set an election date, which could be by the end of January.

This is an unlikely option. May’s political credibility was severely damaged when she called a snap election in 2017, leading to the loss of the Conservative party’s majority.

Alternatively, a general election could be called if a simple majority of MPs vote that they have no confidence in the government. Seven Tory MPs, or all of the DUP MPs, would have to turn against the government for it to lose the vote, triggering a two-week cooling-off period. May would remain in office while MPs negotiate a new government.

Another route to a general election would be for the government to repeal or amend the Fixed-term Parliaments Act which creates a five-year period between general elections. A new act would have to be passed through both the Commons and the Lords – an unlikely scenario.

6 Second referendum

May could decide it is impossible to find a possible draft deal that will be approved by parliament and go for a people’s vote.

The meaningful vote could be amended to allow MPs to vote on whether the country holds a second referendum. It is unclear whether enough MPs would back a second referendum and May has ruled it out.

 

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Brexit Withdrawal Agreement may lead to Theresa May’s downfall (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 151.

Alex Christoforou

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The Brexit Withdrawal Agreement has been published and as many predicted, including Nigel Farage, the document is leading to the collapse of Theresa May’s government.

During an interview with iTV’s Piers Morgan, remain’s Alistair Campell and leave’s Nigel Farage, were calling May’s Brexit deal a complete disaster.

Via iTV

Alastair Campbell: “This doesn’t do remotely what was offered…what is the point”

“Parliament is at an impasse”

“We have to go back to the people” …”remain has to be on the ballot paper”

Nigel Farage:

“This is the worst deal in history. We are giving away in excess of 40B pounds in return for precisely nothing. Trapped still inside the European Union’s rulebook.

“Nothing has been achieved.”

“In any negotiation in life…the other side need to know that you are serious about walking away.”

“What monsieur Barnier knew from day one, is that at no point did Theresa May intend to walk away.”

“Fundamental matter of trust to the electors of our country and those who govern us.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss Theresa May’s Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, and why the deal is a full on victory for the European Union and a document of subjugation for the United Kingdom.

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Coming in at 585 pages, the draft agreement will be closely scrutinized over the coming days but here are some of the highlights as outlined by Zerohedge

  • UK and EU to use the best endeavours to supersede Ireland protocol by 2020
  • UK can request extension of the transition period any time before July 1st, 2020
  • EU, UK See Level-Playing Field Measures in Future Relationship
  • Transition period may be extended once up to date yet to be specified in the text
  • EU and UK shall establish single customs territory and Northern Ireland is in same customs territory as Great Britain

The future relationship document is less than seven pages long. It says the U.K. and EU are seeking a free-trade area with cooperation on customs and rules: “Comprehensive arrangements creating a free trade area combining deep regulatory and customs cooperation, underpinned by provisions ensuring a level playing field for open and fair competition.”

The wording might raise concerns among Brexiters who don’t want regulatory cooperation and the measures on fair competition could amount to shackling the U.K. to EU rules.

As Bloomberg’s Emma Ross-Thomas writes, “There’s a clear sense in the documents that we’re heading for a customs union in all but name. Firstly via the Irish backstop, and then via the future relationship.”

Separately, a government summary of the draft agreement suggests role for parliament in deciding whether to extend the transition or to move in to the backstop.

But perhaps most importantly, regarding the controversial issue of the Irish border, the future relationship document says both sides aim to replace the so-called backstop – the thorniest issue in the negotiations – with a “subsequent agreement that establishes alternative arrangements for ensuring the absence of a hard border on the island of Ireland on a permanent footing.”

On this topic, recall that the U.K.’s fear was of being locked into the backstop arrangement indefinitely in the absence of a broader trade deal. The draft agreement includes a review process to try to give reassurance that the backstop would never be needed. Basically, the U.K. could choose to seek an extension to the transition period – where rules stay the same as they are currently – or opt to trigger the backstop conditions. In fact, as Bloomberg notes, the word “backstop,” which has been a sticking point over the Irish border for weeks, is mentioned only once in the text.

As Bloomberg further adds, the withdrawal agreement makes clear that the U.K. will remain in a single customs area with the EU until there’s a solution reached on the Irish border. It’s what Brexiteers hate, because it makes it more difficult for the U.K. to sign its own free-trade deals, which they regard as a key prize of Brexit.

Predictably, EU Commission President Juncker said decisive progress has been made in negotiations.

Meanwhile, as analysts comb over the documents, Jacob Rees-Mogg, chairman of the European Research Group, has already written to Conservative lawmakers urging them to vote against the deal. He says:

  • May is handing over money for “little or nothing in return”
  • The agreement treats Northern Ireland differently from the rest of the U.K.
  • It will “lock” the U.K. into a customs union with the EU
  • It breaks the Tory election manifesto of 2017

The full document…

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4 resignations and counting: May’s government ‘falling apart before our eyes’ over Brexit deal

The beginning of the end for Theresa May’s government.

The Duran

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Via RT


Four high profile resignations have followed on the heels of Theresa May’s announcement that her cabinet has settled on a Brexit deal, with Labour claiming that the Conservative government is at risk of completely dissolving.

Shailesh Vara, the Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office was the first top official to resign after the prime minister announced that her cabinet had reached a draft EU withdrawal agreement.

An hour after his announcement, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab – the man charged with negotiating and finalizing the deal – said he was stepping down, stating that the Brexit deal in its current form suffers from deep flaws. Esther McVey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, submitted her letter of resignation shortly afterwards. More resignations have followed.

Labour’s shadow Cabinet Office minister, Jon Trickett, predicted that this is the beginning of the end for May’s government.

The government is falling apart before our eyes as for a second time the Brexit secretary has refused to back the prime minister’s Brexit plan. This so-called deal has unraveled before our eyes

Shailesh Vara: UK to be stuck in ‘a half-way house with no time limit’

Kicking off Thursday’s string of resignations, Vara didn’t mince words when describing his reservations about the cabinet-stamped Brexit deal.

Theresa May’s EU withdrawal agreement leaves the UK in a “halfway house with no time limit on when we will finally become a sovereign nation,” his letter of resignation states. Vara went on to warn that the draft agreement leaves a number of critical issues undecided, predicting that it “will take years to conclude” a trade deal with the bloc.

“We will be locked in a customs arrangement indefinitely, bound by rules determined by the EU over which we have no say,” he added.

Dominic Raab: Deal can’t be ‘reconciled’ with promises made to public

Announcing his resignation on Thursday morning, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab tweeted: “I cannot in good conscience support the terms proposed for our deal with the EU.”

Raab claimed that the deal in its current form gives the EU veto power over the UK’s ability to annul the deal.

No democratic nation has ever signed up to be bound by such an extensive regime.

Former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith said that Raab’s resignation as Brexit secretary is “devastating” for May.

“It sounds like he has been ignored,” he told the BBC.

Raab’s departure will undoubtedly encourage other Brexit supporters to question the deal, political commentators have observed.

Esther McVey: Deal ‘does not honor’ Brexit referendum

Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey didn’t hold back when issuing her own letter of resignation. According to McVey, the deal “does not honour” the result of the Brexit referendum, in which a majority of Brits voted to leave the European Union.

Suella Braverman: ‘Unable to sincerely support’ deal

Suella Braverman, a junior minister in Britain’s Brexit ministry, issued her resignation on Thursday, saying that she couldn’t stomach the deal.

“I now find myself unable to sincerely support the deal agreed yesterday by cabinet,” she said in a letter posted on Twitter.

Suella Braverman, MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Exiting the EU © Global Look Press / Joel Goodman
Braverman said that the deal is not what the British people voted for, and threatened to tear the country apart.

“It prevents an unequivocal exit from a customs union with the EU,” she said.

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