Quantcast
Connect with us

Andrew McCabe, Paul Manafort and Mueller’s theory: A criminal conspiracy implicating the president?

Published

on

- Commentary

Valentine’s Day 2019 was a day to remember. Americans woke up to news about Andrew McCabe, the former acting director of the FBI, and his new book that outlines the wild days in May of 2017 when members of the Justice Department allegedly considered invoking the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump from office.  By that night we had word that Trump would go through with his threat to declare a national emergency so he can circumvent the will of Congress and order the construction of his border wall.

This article was originally published at Salon

ADVERTISEMENT

Just to add to the general chaos, in between breaking news stories,  legal and national security experts were still poring over earlier news from the Paul Manafort case that had everyone who is following the Russia scandal closely just a little breathless. A federal judge has affirmed that the president’s former campaign chairman lied to special counsel Robert Mueller’s team about damning evidence that we can infer may implicate Donald Trump.

House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff, D-Calif., explained it this way on MSNBC:

It appears the judge has largely agreed with what the special counsel argued and that not only did [Manafort] lie, but the motivation here is that if he told the truth about his relationship with someone with Russian Intelligence while he was the campaign chairman that would be so damaging  to Trump that it would negate his chance of a pardon.

I have never subscribed to the theory that the president is a wily operator who’s always strategizing ways to distract the media and the public from bad news about him. Trump has a strong feral survival instinct, so he’s always bobbing and weaving, but I doubt he makes these choices consciously. In this case, however, he seems a bit too eager to draw attention to the McCabe story considering how damning it actually is.

ADVERTISEMENT

Perhaps Trump really was upset. But it’s also the case that he knew upon waking up Thursday morning that he had just lost the biggest legislative fight of his presidency. He staged the longest government shutdown in American history and wound up getting less than he would have gotten had he taken the border funding deal Congress agreed to in December.  He also undoubtedly realized that in order to save face even a little, he would have to declare the national emergency and create a rift among his allies in Congress, possibly changing the dynamic still more.

As Salon’s Amanda Marcotte pointed out on Thursday, Trump had already been in the unusual position of having to court his usually slavering media supporters to get them to accept the inevitable. McCabe’s book probably seemed like the best option among all the bad news cascading down on him in this very bad week.

Needless to say, Trump’s defenders on Fox News and elsewhere in the right-wing media find McCabe’s revelations to be convincing evidence of an attempted “deep state” coup. But coming on the heels of this news about the Manafort case and the accumulated evidence of the last three years, it was a reminder to the rest of us of that crazy period around the Comey firing, when Trump had the Russian foreign minister and ambassador up to the Oval Office the very next day and told them this:

ADVERTISEMENT

“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr. Trump said, according to the document, which was read to The New York Times by an American official. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”

Mr. Trump added, “I’m not under investigation.”

Imagine how that must have looked to law enforcement and intelligence officials at the time. And consider that they also knew that Trump shared “code-word information” with his visitors, one of the highest classification levels used by American spy agencies. One official characterized this giveaway as “more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies.”

ADVERTISEMENT

McCabe made more news in an excerpt from a CBS interview to air this weekend by saying that he not only opened a counterintelligence investigation at the FBI, as reported earlier, but also opened an obstruction of justice investigation around the same time, based upon Trump’s behavior and his insistence that the Justice Department was to do his bidding. McCabe appears to have been right to do so.

One of the president’s most fervent defenders inadvertently made this point very clear in a tweet on Thursday:

All those firings had to do with the Russia investigation.

ADVERTISEMENT

Former U.S. attorney and deputy assistant attorney general Harry Litman said on MSNBC, “Is it a slow-motion Saturday night massacre? That’s what they were worried about at the time. In some ways, it’s worse. It is as McCabe says, a fall-off in standards of presidential accountability such as they’ve never had before.”

It should be noted that there’s always some concern about powerful federal law enforcement agencies investigating a president, whether for the purpose of blackmail, as under longtime FBI head J. Edgar Hoover, or because of political bias against his policies. But if anything, the law enforcement and intelligence communities in Washington tend to be conservative Republicans. So it would be distinctly odd if they decided to go after a Republican administration right out of the gate for political purposes, even if they thought the president was a nut or a fool. They would most likely trust that the party and the bureaucracy would assert itself.

In this case, with the evidence people at the FBI and Justice Department had of Russian interference, along with the bizarre behavior of the president and his campaign officials, law enforcement took some protective action. Some of it was reckless and got them into trouble. But it’s not hard to understand why they went there.

ADVERTISEMENT

We’ve now had a federal judge in the Manafort case affirm what appears to be a central piece of Robert Mueller’s larger theory, which may implicate the president in a criminal conspiracy. We earlier saw another federal judge look at the evidence in the Michael Flynn case and get so agitated he accidentally threw out the word “treason.” And as of Thursday evening, the United States has a new attorney general, William Barr.

We don’t know yet whether Barr’s years in private life were spent being brainwashed by right-wing media (and there is some evidence that they were) but at one time he was seen as a man who cared about the Department of Justice and saw himself as a patriot. He too will probably see all the evidence in the Mueller probe as early as Friday. Much depends upon whether this lifelong Republican lawyer has the same reaction to that evidence as all these other conservative cops, G-men, spies, federal prosecutors and federal judges have had over the past couple of years.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and legal efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. And unlike other news outlets, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from billionaires and corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click to donate by check.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



Report typos and corrections to: [email protected]. Send news tips to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Elementary school cheer squad parents raffling off an AM-15 automatic weapon as a fundraiser

Published

on

Just weeks after a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio killed nine people, only 200 miles away in Richmond, the cheer squad is selling raffle tickets to sell a semi-automatic gun.

Fox19 reported Wednesday that the Junior Lions Cheer Team have infuriated Heather Chilton, who's 7-year-old daughter is on the squad for the first time.

"This is absurd, you're having elementary kids sell your AR-15. Why?" Chilton said. "I highly doubt that something would happen with the gun, but say it did. Say one of the kids in the high school got a hold of it — got the AR-15 or AM-15 and shot up a school with it, and I'm the one that sold the raffle ticket to his dad?"

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Gov. Jay Inslee withdraws from presidential election

Published

on

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee told MSNBC host Rachel Maddow that he was officially leaving the presidential race Thursday.

He said that he got into the race with the intention of trying to raise the important issue of climate change and demand the issue be part of the conversation in the debates.

The Democratic Party has refused to have a debate that focuses exclusively on climate change, despite the numerous plans, ideas and approaches from the 20-plus candidates running for president.

He said that he isn't currently endorsing other candidates for 2020, but he hopes that his "atlas" for a climate plan will be adopted by other candidates.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Scorching WaPo editorial tells Trump to own his bad economy and stop blaming the fed

Published

on

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell

In a scathing piece from the Washington Post editorial board, the team at one of the nation's top papers told President Donald Trump to stop trying to pretend it's the Federal Reserve's fault for a slumping economy.

Trump has tried to claim that the economy isn't just fine, but outstanding and excelling expectations. Yet, in the same breath, Trump claims that that the Federal Reserve is responsible for all of the problems he says don't exist. It's enough for The Post editorial board to note the economic message is "remarkably dissonant."

Trump decided to that the Fed must lower interest rates and engage in “quantitative easing” to lower bonds. It's part of a tactic the Fed uses during tough times, which Trump says don't exist. Even during the worst financial crisis in a generation, in 2008, "quantitative easing" was controversial. Then there is the matter of a payroll tax cut, something Trump said he was looking at before saying he wasn't looking at it. But if there's no crisis, then why is it necessary.

Continue Reading
 
 

Thank you for whitelisting Raw Story!

As a special thank you, from now until August 31st, we're offering you a discounted rate of $5.99/month to subscribe and get ad-free access. We're honored to have you as a reader. Thank you. :) —Elias, Membership Coordinator
LEARN MORE
close-link
close-image