Ray McGovern, December 19, 2018
By Philip Ewing, NPR, Dec. 15, 2018
NPR Editor’s Note: This story has been edited to make it clear that it is analysis and that the allegations of the Trump campaign conspiring with the Russians remain unproven.
The shifting sands
Political and legal danger for President Trump may be sharpening by the day, but the case that his campaign might have conspired with the Russian attack on the 2016 election is still unproven despite two years of investigations, court filings and even numerous convictions and guilty pleas.
Trump has been implicated in ordering a scheme to silence two women ahead of Election Day in 2016 about the alleged sexual relationships they had with him years before.That is a serious matter, or it might have been in other times, but this scheme is decidedly not a global conspiracy with a foreign power to steal the election.
More broadly, the president and his supporters say, the payments to the women in 2016 are penny ante stuff: Breaking campaign finance law, if that did take place, isn’t like committing murder, said one lawyer for the president.
The “biased” Justice Department is just grasping at straws to use something against Trump because it hasn’t been able to locate a “smoking gun,” as Trump wrote this week, that would tie his campaign in with Russia’s active measures in 2016.There’s an important kernel of truth in that argument — not only is there no smoking gun, but the Russia case also appears to have been weakening, not strengthening, while America’s eyes have been on the payments.
The charges they didn’t make
Item: Cohen ostensibly played a key role in the version of events told by the infamous, partly unverified Russia dossier. He denied that strongly to Congress. He also has admitted lying to Congress and submitted an important new version of other events.But that new story didn’t include a trip to Prague, as described in the dossier. Nor did Cohen discuss that in his interview on Friday on ABC News. Could the trip, or a trip, still be substantiated? Yes, maybe — but if it happened, would a man go to prison for three years without anyone having mentioned it?
Item: Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, is on track to be sentenced early next year after his conviction in the Eastern District of Virginia and his guilty plea in Washington, D.C.
Prosecutors say that Manafort shouldn’t get any consideration for the information he has given the feds because he has been lying to them; Manafort’s lawyers say he gave the government valuable information.
Nonetheless, the crimes for which the feds want Manafort to be locked up aren’t a Russian conspiracy to throw the election.
Moreover, Manafort took part in at least one event that has attracted endless discussion: the June 2016 meeting at which he and other top campaign leaders hosted the delegation of Russians following an offer of dirt on Hillary Clinton.
But Manafort’s role in that meeting hasn’t figured into either of his federal cases nor been the subject of court documents. Maybe the feds are holding all that back for some kind of big reveal — or maybe there’s no conspiracy here.
If Manafort isn’t in any legal jeopardy over his role in the Trump Tower meeting, does that suggest no one else is, either? There were a lot of outside theories that the meeting might have broken federal laws barring U.S. political campaigns from getting opposition research from foreigners. Does the absence of anything about that in Manafort’s case mean the feds actually don’t think there’s anything to prosecute?
Item: Former national security adviser Michael Flynn has been a very good witness, the feds say. They say it would be fine with them if, when he is sentenced on Tuesday, a judge gave Flynn no jail time.
Does that sound like the attitude they would take with someone who had been serving as a Russian factotum and who had been serving as a foreign agent from inside the White House as national security adviser, steps away from the Oval Office?
And on it goes: Will the feds ever charge Trump’s sometime foreign policy adviser, Carter Page, whom they called a Russian agent in the partly declassified application they made to surveil him?National security
What You Need to Know About the Much-Discussed Carter Page FISA Document
The surveillance began under FBI Director James Comey and was reauthorized into the Trump era, including by his own appointees at the Justice Department.
That suggests it was yielding foreign intelligence, but Page has maintained all along that he did nothing wrong. Judging by the absence of any charges and his continued liberty, authorities appear to agree.
Shadows and fog
Investigators certainly know more than they’re saying — they often repeat as much in court appearances and documents in their various cases. But an ostensible conspiracy between Trump’s campaign and the Russians who attacked the election is nowhere near close to being proven.
Not only that, a few recent events may delay the verification of any official theory about such a conspiracy. One important one is that Trump has signaled that he’s open to clemency for people in the Russia imbroglio.
If Manafort and others take that as a beacon of hope to stand fast against the feds and fight their cases because they’ll ultimately get a pardon, that could not only add months to this saga but also conceal important facts.
Mueller, as usual, is in the driver’s seat. If he presses ahead with criminal cases against people who don’t accept plea deals, the Russia imbroglio could run well into 2019 or beyond.
If he opts not to prosecute people on whom he has evidence of wrongdoing and he simply writes what he’s discovered in a notional final report, this saga might end sooner but amount to an abdication of justice. That doesn’t seem like the Mueller that America has come to know.All the Criminal Charges to Emerge So Far From Robert Mueller’s Investivation
Another thing that Americans have come to know about Mueller is that he can keep a secret. So if he has evidence about a geopolitical conspiracy between Trump’s campaign and Russia’s active measures, the public probably won’t learn about it until the moment the special counsel’s office wants that to happen.
From what is visible today, however, the case is still Swiss cheese. Unless that changes in a big way, the hottest political story in a generation may lose its place in center stage.
The Russia Investigations: Maybe the End is in Sight, Maybe It Isn’t
The continued slide of the core Russia “collusion” story, if that is what indeed happens, is politically relevant to the other investigations and potential problems confronting the president.
Because the hush money payments and the potential international contributions to the inauguration campaign aren’t about Russia, it provides a talking point to the White House:
The “deep state” couldn’t make Russia stick, Trump argues, and so its conspirators have gone on an expedition for other mud to sling. That, he hopes, will mean that none of it sticks.
( A comment in verse on Consortium News under:
Trump’s Timidity is Letting Comey Off the Hook
‘Twas a month before recess and all through the house,
Deception consumed every mutinous louse.
Jerry Corsi got snared in a perjury trap,
Poppy Bush laid to rest for an underground nap.
Now to Congress’s wondering eyes will appear:
Jim Comey, evasive, and wearing a sneer.
Subpoenas were postponed as long as they could,
It would work if the tale that they told sounded good.
They would stick to the story that Putin had hacked,
Assange had colluded and the Russians attacked.
They’d ignore all the experts and bury Seth Rich,
All will believe Roger Stone was the snitch!
Hillary’s book tour is Holiday fun,
She’s shopping with cash from Uranium One!
Not a word about Craig Murray’s thumb drive persists,
“We must blame the Russians!” Chuck Schumer insists.
The narrative Crowdstrike concocted will work,
Jim Comey can posture, dissemble and smirk.
With hearings concealed behind doors to be closed,
He’ll stick to the Guccifer hack when deposed.
The “Big Lie” will triumph with spurious clout,
The public will yield to insertion of doubt.
Trey Gowdy can bluster, Bob Goodlatte can pout,
But Comey is smug and the clock’s been run out.
The Q-dupes are thrilled and expect prosecutions,
Those unsealed indictments might bring executions!
They think those tribunals will get underway,
With the swamp monsters tried at Guantanamo Bay!
They want them all hung from the lamp posts with care,
In the hope that the Clintons will also hang there!
There’s lots of unrest way down south at the border,
The troops have been sent to contain the disorder.
Poroshenko’s in trouble, his ratings are thin,
He just pulled a stunt like the Gulf of Tonkin.
Bibi’s in trouble for public corruption,
Kashoggi’s dismemberment caused a disruption.
Gina insists MbS did the deed,
Layoffs at GM and Ford will proceed.
On Lockheed, on Boeing on Raytheon too,
On Bell Helicopter, we’re counting on you!
The stock market looks like it’s ready to tank,
But Hillary’s still drinking sauvignon blanc!
Merry Christmas to all, make America Great,
With a nuclear war, we can end Russia-Gate!
By F. G. Sanford
December 5, 2018
Compete professional video of the Sam Adams award ceremony honoring Karen Kwiatkowski is now posted here: https://youtu.be/Cv5gWZG1dBg
The full text of Karen’s acceptance speech and of the award citation was already made available at the first link above.
Washington, DC, December 8, 2018
Includes Karen’s acceptance speech and the award citation before a full house at the Festival Center.
Rob Reiner’s suppressed film, “Shock and Awe,” in which an actress plays Karen’s key role as whistleblower before the attack on Iraq, was shown before the award ceremony.
Video of the ceremony itself includes talks by Larry Wilkerson (awardee #7), as well as Karen, and awardee #15 John Kiriakou’s presentation to Karen of the Corner-Brightener Candlestick Holder for shining light into dark places — the “Oscar” chosen by Sam Adams Associates as the most fitting. The Q & A following Karen’s talk is also included.
That video will be posted in a few days on samadamsaward.ch, the website on which one can find detailed background information about previous awardees (as well as the answer to ‘Why Sam Adams?’). From 2002 to 2018, the awardees are:
1 — Coleen Rowley
2 — Katharine Gun, UK
3 — Sibel Edmonds
4 — Craig Murray, UK
5 — Sam Provance
6 — Frank Grevil, Denmark
7 — Larry Wilkerson
8 — Julian Assange, Australia
9 — Thomas Drake
10 -Jesselyn Radack
11 -Thomas Fingar
12 -Edward Snowden, stateless
13 -Chelsea Manning
14 -William Binney
15 -John Kiriakou
16 -Seymour Hersh
17 -Karen Kwiatkowski
Jack Gilroy asks about Ray’s various arrests for witnessing. Ray singles out one time he was convicted, since it illustrates not only the cowardly, narrowly political nature of once-admired Congress-creatures like John Conyers and Nancy Pelosi, but also their vulnerability to Deep State blackmail — not to mention their lack of respect for the Constitution.
The good and the bad of George H. W. Bush. He knew about “the crazies,” and yet wimped out on telling his son, and the world, what a disaster attacking Iraq would be. (See: https://consortiumnews.com/2018/04/05/coming-attraction-lunatic-loose-in-west-wing/ )
Earlier, he said not a word, when Bill Clinton broke Bush’s own promise to Mikhail Gorbachev not to expand NATO “one inch” to the East, which, in turn, has led to all sorts of very serious — and predictable — trouble. (See, for example, this poignant lament by Sen. Bill Bradley:
The Russians saw this as a betrayal of trust, and this turned out to be far more historically consequential that the elder Bush’s more enlightened initial behavior in 1990-1991 when the Soviet empire fell apart. It helps to explain the Kremlin’s lack of trust in such promises.
Paul Wolfowitz in 1991 after the “glorious victory” of Desert Storm: main lesson is “The Russians won’t stop us.” And so it was again in 2003 with the attack and occupation of Iraq. Not so, though, in 2014 with the Western-sponsored Putsch in Kiev, apparently with the misbegotten hope of absorbing Ukraine into NATO. By then, the Russians could, and did, “stop us.” Any residual Kremlin trust in the U.S. evaporated quickly, especially as the Russians watched U.S. vassal states in Euroope — one after the other — bow to the U.S. diktat on sanctions.
And cui bono from all this? The MICIMATT. Eisenhower’s Military-Industrial complex has blossomed five-plus decades later into the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think-Tank (MICIMATT) complex. President Trump is openly rooting for “Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and many other great U.S. defense contractors.” The bono goes to the arms manufacturers and merchants; they are the cui.
The award given by Sam Adams Associates for Integrity on December 8 to its 17th annual honoree, Karen Kwiatkowski, at the Festival Center where Ray has worked for the last 20 years. The center is an offshoot ministry of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour, under whose auspices Tell the Word, the non-profit that Ray now leads, does its work. How Church of the Savior pastor Gordon Cosby explained why he wanted Ray to identify himself with the church when he speaks or writes.
The ethos of small-is-better-than-ever-bigger, and the revolutionary possibilities emerging from small groups that meet faithfully every week. Finally, Ray points to the distinct advantage enjoyed by seniors willing to “put their bodies into it,” in order to show younger people the risks we are willing to take in times like these — ties that summon us to be “Winter Soldiers.”
Nov. 21, 2018 (58 minues)
Jack covers the waterfront: how Ray, after serving as an infantry/intelligence officer during the early 60s, became a CIA analyst focusing on Russia’s relations with China and Vietnam; then chief of the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch; Kennedy ad Khrushchev; JFK assassination and cover-up; Alan Dulles’s imaginative use of “conspiracy-theory” ploy to stanch well founded suspicions.
Gulf of Tonkin; Ray’s analyst colleague Sam Adams gets it right, is sacrificed on altar of institutional/political expediency; “Mac” Bundy’s cowardice; trying to inform Nixon and Kissinger; their imaginative use of U.S.-U.S.S.R.-China triangular diplomacy and how that powerful card has been frittered away; fabricated “intelligence” before the attack on Iraq; James Clapper’s admission, in his memoir, that he was “so eager to help [Cheny/Bush] that we found what wasn’t really there”! [WMD]; Ray braces Clapper on that, as Ray earlier had confronted Clapper’s patron, Donald Rumsfeld, in public [The impromptu, four-minute mini-debate that followed a Rumsfeld speech in Atlanta is still receiving hits: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1FTmuhynaw ]. And, as if to crown the whole experience, Anderson Cooper asking Ray, twice, “Weren’t you afraid?”
The Downing Street Memo, minutes of Tony Blair with his 12 disciples on July 23, 2002 when Blair was told by the head of Britain’s CIA that Bush had decided to do regime change in Iraq; that the war would be justified by WMD and faux evidence of Saddam Hussein colluding with al Qaeda; and that, as the minutes of that meeting bolfly put it, “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy;” this was eight months before the attack on Iraq.
Finally, a brief discussion of the international law principle of “universal jurisdiction:” how it snared former Chilean dictator Augosto Pinochet; how it was invoked in Paris in October 2007 while Rumsfeld was there to give a talk, causing him to abruptly sneak away to the airport and take the first flight back to safety in the U.S.; why Bush Jr. canceled plans to give a speech in Geneva in February 2011; why former CIA Director George Tenet is still hiding in his basement; why James Clapper might wish to cancel any plans to travel abroad; and why current CIA Director Gina Haspel, torturer extraordinaire, had to have a fighter escort flying to and from Turkey last month. [The fighter escort may be apocryphal; the rest is real.]
December 5, 2018 (5:40 min.)