Two days later Carlson went a bit deeper, probing the reaction of Democrats to the so-called “Mueller report,” including Mueller’s sorry performance on July 24 and the neuralgic issue of impeachment. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvVnXVZYJMQ(7 minutes)
*** I have had my full of Schiff for over two and a half years, after having a two-minute personal encounter with him. Those interested in “Schiff and Ray” on camera can click on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SdOy-l13FEg
Those wishing more background can fill in the SEARCH button on raymcgovern.com, or simply click on the following two links:
This issues surrounding the July 10, 2016 murder of DNC employee Seth Rich remain forbidden fruit for corporate media, with the pitiable exception of poor Michael Isikoff (of “Russian Roulette” fame), who keeps heaping discredit upon himself by stitching together out of whole cloth stories his paymasters at Yahoo News seem to like.
In contrast, in a reprise of The White Rose Nazi resisters Sophie and Hans Scholl, whose by-word was “We Will Not Be Silent,” Consortium News Editor in Chief Joe Lauria and co-host of CN Live!, investigative reporter Elizabeth Vos, have undertaken to confront the neuralgic issue of Seth Rich head on. In a word, they are outright guilty of practicing real journalism — and remain unrepentant..
Homing in on what Seth and Aaron Rich seem to have been involved in, Lauria and Vos unabashedly harken back to now-arcane investigative techniques like, for example, interviewing people who may be in a position to know something relevant. Moreover, mirable dictu, a Court proceeding now under way is likely to move the truth closer to front and center, just as other Court trials have debunked the evidence-less charge that the Internet Research Agency is controlled by the Russian government, and — hold onto your hat — the until-now unquestioned assumption that there is credible proof that the Russians “hacked” into the DNC in the first place. (If that comes as news to you, let us suggest that you click on raymcgovern.com or consortiumnews.com more regularly.)
CN Live! was live-streamed yesterday afternoon EDT. If you missed the segments in which Ed Butowsky is interviewed by Lauria and Ray gives his own take on the Rich case and on fallen hero Robert Mueller, you can watch/hear the replay at:
Minutes:1:01:16 to 1:03:15: Lauria alludes to Isikoff’s imaginative reporting, and then introduces Ed Butowsky
1:03:15 to 1:41:52: Lauria Interviews Butowski
1:51:30 to 2:17:15: Ray’s commentary and Lauria’s preview of next week’s CN Live!
Ray gave a relaxed interview to host Andrew Mount of KSKQ, a Pacifica affiliate in Ashland, Oregon, the day after Robert Mueller’s testimony to the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees. The interview covered the waterfront, including an update from Ray on three related Court cases that may eventually provide the script for a “Requiem for Russia-gate.”
The Court cases have already begun to show that the evidence behind Mueller’s main conclusion that “the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion” amounts pretty much to “because I say so.” Sadly, that has been good enough for the corporate media, but “ipse dixit” does not usually suffice for the Courts. The judges have proven a great deal less credulous than the media, and are saying, in effect, “PROVE IT.”
“Discovery” is discovering some pretty important things which whoever wrote the “Mueller report” seem to have missed as they set Mueller up — first as paragon of virtue, now as scapegoat. Not a nice way to take advantage of an old guy.
And, once those now at the top of the Justice Department — not only Attorney General William Barr but also Inspector General Michael Horowitz — look at the evidence, such as it is, it is a safe bet they will prove as skeptical and demanding as the judges. Worse still for Mueller and other anointed figures, the Establishment is no longer a monolith.
An additional worry for the “Mueller Team” is the possibility that some underling with insight into the Mueller charade — or perhaps even with a role in it — may retain some semblance of a conscience. This could mean they might be tempted by their better angels to spill the beans to a media outlet, assuming they can find one that would not immediately report them to “law enforcement.”
Dan Lazare, Adjamu Baraka, and Ray joined Dr. Wilmer Leon’s “The Critical Hour” Wednesday afternoon to comment on Robert Mueller’s testimony to the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees right after Mueller was finished (in more ways than one). Ray, who shares with Mueller the dubious distinction of having reached the “age of statutory senility,” expressed some sympathy for hangdog, forgetful, senior-moment-afflicted Mueller amid the elder-abuse to which he was subjected.
It became quickly — and sadly — clear that Mueller genuinely could not remember — or, at times, did not even seem to be aware of — some of the most salient points in his own embarrassing report, after supposedly working on it for two years plus. And his faltering came, after he had asked for and gotten an extra week to cram for his big test(imony). The bulk of “The Critical Hour” was devoted to more substantive issues, with interesting insights from Dan Lazare and Adjamu Baraka, as well as Wilmer Leon and Ray, on the just-completed testimony.
To objective observers, it was entirely predictable that the not-very-bright Judiciary Committee chair Jerrold Nadler and his Intelligence Committee counterpart Adam Schiff would be shooting themselves in the foot by insisting that Mueller testify. He was not a good witness — for either side — and that is a huge understatement. As for the benighted Mueller personally, he should have called in sick, as Ray had been suggesting for weeks.
With the Democrats, it was still more of the gift that won’t stop giving — giving, that is, to Trump and his prospects for a second term. The emotionally and physically crestfallen, often stumbling witness was a far cry from the lusted-after Deus ex Mueller the Democrats had been hoping would magically appear and rescue the ruse. As the hours of testimony droned on, that became abundantly clear.
During the short breaks in Mueller’s testimony to the Judiciary committee, NBC commentators could not disguise their chagrin. Deeply disappointed Russia-gate drone Chuck Todd called Mueller’s performance a “disaster,” complaining that Mueller had “no color, no contrast.” Andrea Mitchell bemoaned Mueller’s lack of assertiveness and called him “frail.” It was duly noted that he appeared tired, that he will be 75 in just two weeks, and that the investigation clearly had taken its toll on him.
Were it not in complete disarray, the law profession would own up to the embarrassment — the misfeasance — displayed by this hero with clay feet. It is nothing short of scandalous that no one, Democrat or Republican, asked Mueller to provide tangible evidence that Russia hacked into DNC computers or that there was any evidence, other than Mueller’s say-so, that the Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg was a Russian government operation. The Congressmen and women on Judiciary are all lawyers. They know that a prosecutor can easily convince a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich, as the saying goes in legal circles.
And yet, no one asked for any proof, beyond Mueller’s ipse dixit, that “the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion,” as stated in his report. Are they all so afraid of being seen to be “in Putin’s pocket” that they shrink from asking the questions any lawyer should ask?
Thus, CNN is able to get away with this kind of drivel:
Impeachment was mentioned, and during the interview Ray made the point, once again, that there were plenty of high crimes and misdemeanors to warrant proceeding full speed ahead to impeach President Trump, and that the Dems need to jettison the made-up stuff on Russia-gate that even Mueller was a weak reed in trying to support try as he may. God knows there is already enough to impeach the man on.
During a briefing on Wednesday in Moscow, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova noted the incongruity of the British Foreign Office holding a “Global Conference for Media Freedom in London on July 10-11, with WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange “caged up” and RT and Sputnik barred from attending.
Dripping with irony, Zakharova recalled the conference’s “lofty and beautiful words” about protecting freedom of speech and journalists,” adding:
“My impression is that London has already made the first step in this direction. Julian Assange is very safe and it is in London that he is so safe. Now, he is finally protected from any threats from open society. British lawyers and human rights officers packed him away so well that, I am afraid, we will not see or hear from him for a very long time.”
Forgoing further irony, Zakharova went on: “It is so incredibly cynical to convene an entire conference and discuss freedom of speech in the country where he was held hostage and subjected to moral and psychological experiments for so many years, where he was detained, arrested and basically caged up …”
“This entire conference amid Assange’s arrest in London resembles a cat symposium on mouse protection.”
Friday’s surprising news that Robert Mueller had successfully sought an extra week to prepare for his House testimony on Russia-gate (now set for July 24) must have been scary news for those of his fans who can put two and two together. Over the past few weeks, it has become clearer that each of the two frayed findingsof Russian interference in the 2016 U.S, presidential election has now come apart at the seams.
that “the Democrats said they chose to delay at the request of Mr. Mueller” after a day of negotiations, “as both Democrats and Republicans were deep in preparations for his testimony” earlier scheduled for July 17. The Washington Post, on the other hand, chose not to report who asked for the delay. Rather, it explained the abrupt change in timing with a misleading article entitled, “Mueller, House panels strike deal to delay hearing until July 24, giving lawmakers more time to question him” (as if that were the primary reason).
As the truth seeps out, there will be plenty of crow to go around. To avoid eating it, the Democrats on the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, the stenographers who pass for journalists at the NY Times and Washington Post, and the “Mueller team” will need all the time they can muster to come up with imaginative responses to two recent bombshell revelations from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.
Perhaps the most damning of the two came last Monday, when it was disclosed that, on July 1, Judge Dabney Friedrich ordered Mueller to stop pretending he had proof that the Russian government was behind the Internet Research Agency”s supposed attempt to interfere via social media in the 2016 election. While the corporate media so far has largely ignored Judge Friedrich’s order, it may well have been enough to cause very cold feet for those attached to the strained Facebook fable. (The IRA social-media “interference” has always been ludicrous on its face, as we discuss below citing investigative reporting by Gareth Porter.)
Ten days is not a lot of time to conjure up ways to confront and explain Judge Friedrich’s injection of some unwelcome reality. Since the Democrats, the media, and Mueller himself all have strong incentive to “make the worst case appear the better” (one of the twin charges against Socrates), they need time to regroup and circle the wagons. The more so, since Mueller’s other twin charge — Russian hacking of the DNC — also has been shown, in a separate Court case, to be bereft of credible evidence.
No, the incomplete, redacted, draft, second-hand “forensics” that former FBI Director James Comey decided to settle for from the Democratic National Committee-hired CrowdStrike firm does not qualify as credible evidence (and we will also add a word about below). Both new developments are likely to pose a strong challenge to Mueller. On the forensics he decided to settled for what his former colleague James Comey decided to settled for from CrowdStrike, which was hired by the DNC despite it’s deeply flawed reputation and well known bias against Russia. In fact, the new facts — emerging from the same U.S. District Court for the District of Columbiapose such a fundamental challenge to Mueller’s findings that no one should be surprised if Mueller’s testimony is postponed again.
Mueller led off his Russia-gate report, a redacted version of which was published on April 18, with the dubious claim that his investigation had “established that Russia interfered in the 2016 election principally through two operations. First, a Russian entity carried out a social media campaign that favored presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaged presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Second, a Russian intelligence service conducted computer-intrusion operations against entities, employees, and volunteers working in the Clinton campaign, and then released stolen documents.”
Judge to Mueller: Put Up or Shut up
Regarding the social-media accusation, Judge Friederich has now told Mueller, in effect, to put up or shut up. What happened was this: On February 16, 2018 a typically credulous grand jury — the kind that cynics say can be persuaded to indict the proverbial ham sandwich — was convinced by Mueller to return 16 indictments of the Internet Research Agency (IRA) and associates in St. Petersburg, giving his all-deliberate-speed investigation some momentum and a much-needed, if short-lived, “big win” in “proving” interference by Russia in the 2016 election
It apparently never occurred to Mueller and the super-smart lawyers around him that the Russians would outsmart them by hiring their own lawyers to show up in U.S. court and seek discovery. Oops.
The Feb. 2018 indictment referred repeatedly of the IRA simply as a “Russian organization.” But in Mueller’s report 14 months later, the “Russian organization” had somehow morphed into “Russia.” The IRA’s lawyers argued, in effect, that Mueller’s ipse-dixit “Russia did it” does not suffice as proof of Russian government involvement. Federal Judge Dabney Friedrich agreed and ordered Mueller to cease promoting his evidence-less charge against the IRA; she added that “any future violations of her order will trigger a range of potential sanctions.” (See: https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/6185644/Sealed-Order.pdf )
More specifically, at the conclusion of a hearing held under seal on May 28, U.S District Court Judge Friedrich ordered the government “to refrain from making or authorizing any public statement that links the alleged conspiracy in the indictment to the Russian government or its agencies.” The judge ordered further that “any public statement about the allegations in the indictment . . . must make clear that, one, the government is summarizing the allegations in the indictment which remain unproven, and, two, the government does not express an opinion on the defendant’s guilt or innocence or the strength of the evidence in this case.”
Reporting Thursday on Judge Dabney Friedrich’s ruling, former CIA and State Department official Larry C. Johnson described it as a “potential game changer,” observing that Robert Mueller “has not offered one piece of solid evidence that the defendants were involved in any way with the government of Russia.” After including a lot of useful background material, Johnson ends by noting:
Some readers will insist that Mueller and his team have actual intelligence but cannot put that in an indictment. Well boys and girls, here is a simple truth–if you cannot produce evidence that can be presented in court then you do not have a case. There is that part of the Constitution that allows those accused of a crime to confront their accusers.
Last fall, investigative journalist Gareth Porter dissected and debunked the NY Times’s far-fetched claim that 80,000 Facebook posts by the Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg helped swing the election to Donald Trump. (See: https://consortiumnews.com/2018/11/02/33-trillion-more-reasons-why-the-new-york-times-gets-it-wrong-on-russia-gate/ .) What the Times story neglected to say is that the relatively paltry 80,000 posts were engulfed in literally trillions of posts on Facebook over the two-year period in question — before and after the 2016 election.
In testimony to Congress in October 2017, Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch had cautioned earlier that from 2015 to 2017, “Americans using Facebook were exposed to, or ‘served,’ a total of over 33 trillion stories in their News Feeds.” Shamefully misleading “analysis” by NYT reporters Scott Shane and Mark Mazzetti in a 10,000-word article on September 20, 2018 (See: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/09/20/us/politics/russia-interference-election-trump-clinton.html .) made the case that the IRA’s 80,000 posts helped deliver the presidency to Trump.
Shane and Mazzetti neglected to mention the 33 trillion number for much needed context, even though the NY Times’ own coverage of Stretch’s 2017 testimony stated outright, (See: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/30/technology/facebook-google-russia.html .) “Facebook cautioned that the Russia-linked posts represented a minuscule amount of content compared with the billions of posts that flow through users’ News Feeds everyday.”
The chances that Americans saw any of these IRA ads—let alone were influenced by them—are infinitismal. Gareth Porter and others did the math and found that over the two-year period, the 80,000 Russian-origin Facebook posts represented just 0.0000000024 of total Facebook content in that time; he commented that this particular NYT contribution to the Russia-gate story “should vie in the annals of journalism as one of the most spectacularly misleading uses of statistics of all time.”
And now we know, courtesy Judge Friederich, that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has never produced proof, beyond his say-so, that the Russian government was responsible for the activities of the IRA — feckless as they were. And that they swung the election is dual stretch, thanks to Facebook’s Colin Stretch.
The Other Prong: Hacking the DNC
The second of two major accusations of Russian interference, as noted above, charged that “a Russian intelligence service conducted computer-intrusion operations against entities, employees, and volunteers working in the Clinton campaign, and then released stolen documents.” Sadly for Russia-gate aficionados, the evidence behind that charge does not hold water.
CrowdStrike, the controversial cybersecurity firm that the Democratic National Committee chose over the FBI in 2016 to examine its compromised computer servers, never produced an un-redacted or final forensic report for the government because the FBI never required it to, the Justice Department has admitted. (See: https://consortiumnews.com/2019/06/17/fbi-never-saw-crowdstrike-unredacted-or-final-report-on-alleged-russian-hacking-because-none-was-produced/ .)
The revelation (See: https://www.investmentwatchblog.com/doj-admits-fbi-never-saw-crowdstrike-report-on-dnc-russian-hacking-claim/ came in a court filing (See: https://www.scribd.com/document/413428947/Stone-De-123-DOJ-Response-to-MTC-Crowdstrike-Reports ) by the government in the pre-trial phase of the trial of Roger Stone, a long-time Republican operative who had an unofficial role in the campaign of candidate Donald Trump. Stone has been charged with misleading Congress, obstructing justice and intimidating a witness.
The filing was in response to a motion by Stone’s lawyers asking for “unredacted reports” from CrowdStrike, thereby challenging the government to prove that Russia hacked the DNC server. “The government … does not possess the information the defendant seeks,” the DOJ filing says.
Small wonder that Robert Mueller had hoped to escape further questioning. If he doesn’t call in sick on July 24, his testimony is likely to be a classic. Don’t miss it.
Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was a CIA analyst for 27 years and a presidential briefer. In retirement he co-founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. His colleagues and he have been following closely the ins and outs of Russia-gate.
July 10, 2019 https://www.spreaker.com/user/radiosputnik/acosta-sticks-to-script-as-media-points- NOTE: Do not be confused by the way this “Critical Hour” is described (namely; “Acosta Sticks to Script as Media Points Out Holes in Sex Scandal Story.”) That title refers only to the first segment. The two segments on which Ray and Mark Sleboda are interviewed start at minute 18:50 and go to 38:50 (for the 1st segment); after a very short break the second segment begins at minute 39:16 and goes to the end at minute 57:10.
Isikoff has been way out in front for a long tme in pushing the theme of Russian interference in the 2016 election. This can be seen, for example, in the way his reporting played a key role in facilitating the infamous “FISA application” to approve surveillance of Carter Page. A September 23, 2016 Yahoo News article written by Isikoff was actually cited by federal authorities in a FISA warrant application — even though some of them were fully aware that his article was no more than circular confirmation — “false confirmation” is what we called it in the trade.
Despite all that, Ray had harbored some hope that Isikoff might let a little more light shine through, after the “modified limited hangout” he managed to perform last December (See: https://consortiumnews.com/2018/12/19/michael-isikoff-cuts-his-loses-at-russian-roulette/ ) while cutting his losses on “Russian Roulette” — the name, actually, of a book he and David Corn wrote, promoting, inter alia, the “Steele dossier.” Alas, Isikoff evidently decided to choose the safer, more lucrative course; namely, to double down on the Russians instead writing what might have been a highly instructive apologia. It may be, of course, that Yahoo’s owner, Verizon, prefers to keep the saga of Russia-gate going.
Ray and Mark discussed other front-burner issues with Dr. Leon, but this particular “Critical Hour” saw a lot of criticism of what might be called “the Isikoff Syndrome,” since his behavior seems emblematic of the recent experience of many folks who are no dopes, and who used to be keen, honest reporters.
The discussion provided a chance for Ray to point out that, although the media has been bought — and today’s media is more corrupt than any Ray has ever observed — this is hardly a new phenomenon. Ray appended this bit of sad-but-true history to the piece he wrote on Isikoff’s short-lived flash of honesty cum a bit of contrition back last December:
One evening, probably in 1880, John Swinton, then the pre-eminent New York journalist was honored at a banquet given him by the leaders of his craft. Someone who knew neither the press nor Swinton offered a toast to the independent press. Swinton outraged his colleagues by replying: “There is no such thing as an independent press. You know it and I know it. … What folly is this toasting an independent press?
“We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks; they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes.”