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Friday, April 19, 2019

On Nov. 9, 2016, according to the Mueller report, some redacted figure wrote to a Russian regime crony, "Putin has won." Based on the assessment of the intelligence community and the findings of Robert Mueller, President Vladimir Putin of Russia did indeed succeed in his efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election on behalf of Donald Trump. But Mr. Putin's ultimate victory may have come on Thursday morning, during Attorney General Bill Barr's news conference. By seamlessly conflating the terms "collusion" and "conspiracy," and absolving President Trump of both, Mr. Barr revealed that the Russian information warfare technique of "reflexive control" has officially entered American public discourse -- and threatens, with his recent allegations of campaign "spying," to stay there for a while. read more


Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Friday called on Congress to begin impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump. Warren, of Massachusetts, said her announcement was based on the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller. Warren tweeted, "The severity of this misconduct demands that elected officials in both parties set aside political considerations and do their constitutional duty. That means the House should initiate impeachment proceedings against the President of the United States."


Last summer, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) drew skepticism and ridicule from the media and Republicans when he claimed that Russian hackers had gained access to local election systems in his state. Eight months later, special counsel Robert Mueller's report appears to back him up. In November 2016, the Mueller report states, Russia's military intelligence agency, the GRU, sent emails to more than 120 accounts used by Florida county officials involved in election administration. The emails appeared to come from a voting system software vendor and contained an attached Microsoft Word document that, when opened, unleashed malicious software that would permit the GRU to access the infected computer -- a kind of attack known as spear-phishing. read more


Thursday, April 18, 2019

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's final report, as redacted by the Department of Justice, is now released. Here are some early reactions from legal and intelligence experts.


Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday flatly rejected charges of anti-Semitism against freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar amid a mounting onslaught of verbal attacks by President Donald Trump. read more


Comments

"Mueller doesn't quantify Russia's interference does he? He says no collusion with the campaign occurred."

He says collusion isn't a term he used (bold mine):

"In evaluating whether evidence about collective action of multiple individuals constituted a crime, we applied the framework of conspiracy law, not the concept of "collusion." In so doing, the Office recognized that the word "collud[e]" was used in communications with the Acting Attorney General confirming certain aspects of the investigation's scope and that the term has frequently been invoked in public reporting about the investigation.

But collusion is not a specific offense or theory of liability found in the United States Code, nor is it a term of art in federal criminal law. For those reasons, the Office 's focus in analyzing questions of joint criminal liability was on conspiracy as defined in federal law. In connection with that analysis, we addressed the factual question whether members of the Trump Campaign "coordinat[ed]"- a term that appears in the appointment order-with Russian election interference activities. Like collusion, "coordination" does not have a settled definition in federal criminal law. We understood coordination to require an agreement-tacit or express- between the Trump Campaign and the Russian government on election interference. That requires more than the two parties taking actions that were informed by or responsive to the other's actions or interests. We applied the term coordination in that sense when stating in the report that the investigation did not establish that the Trump Campaign coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities."

Mueller determined that coordination "requires more than the two parties taking actions that were informed by or responsive to the other's actions or interests." But "two parties taking actions that were informed by or responsive to the other's actions or interests" sure sounds like collusion to me.

In light of the hundred pages the redacted Mueller report spends recounting the contacts between Russian government-linked individuals and entities, it is worth taking a moment to recall the frequency and certitude with which President Trump and members of his campaign told the American people that there had been no contact with Russians during the campaign:

Paul Manafort on ABC's This Week, in response to a question of whether there were any ties between Trump, Manafort, or the campaign and Putin and his regime: "No, there are not. That's absurd. And you know, there's no basis to it."

Donald Trump Jr. told CNN's Jake Tapper that the Clinton campaign's suggestion that Russia was helping Trump was "disgusting" and "phony," noting, "Well, it just goes to show you their exact moral compass. I mean, they will say anything to be able to win this. I mean, this is time and time again, lie after lie."

Kellyanne Conway, asked whether anyone involved in the Trump campaign had any contact with Russians trying to meddle with the election, responded, "Absolutely not. And I discussed that with the president-elect just last night. Those conversations never happened. I hear people saying it like it's a fact on television. That is just not only inaccurate and false, but it's dangerous."

Vice President-elect Mike Pence on Fox News Sunday, in response to a question of whether there was there any contact in any way between Trump or his associates and the Kremlin or cutouts: "Of course not. Why would there be any contacts between the campaign?"

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders denied contacts between Russia and the Trump campaign, stating, "This is a nonstory because to the best of our knowledge, no contacts took place, so it's hard to make a comment on something that never happened."

Asked at a press conference whether he could say definitively that nobody on his campaign had any contacts with the Russians during the campaign, Trump himself said, "No. Nobody that I know of. Nobody ... I have nothing to do with Russia. To the best of my knowledge no person that I deal with does."

All of these statements were false, and they are only a few of the many examples of campaign officials making such comments.


www.lawfareblog.com

"Go to page 12. He didn't obstruct justice. Everything he did was well within his enumerated powers. Did he abuse said powers? Not really. At the end of the day Mueller's investigation was unhampered. That's ultimately what matters here. "

False:

Mueller also said he faced several significant obstacles in investigating the underlying crime of conspiracy, such as lack of cooperation from some witnesses, false or incomplete statements, deleted communications and encrypted information.

"Accordingly, while this report embodies factual and legal determinations that the Office believes to be accurate and complete to the greatest extent possible, given these identified gaps, the Office cannot rule out the possibility that the unavailable information would shed additional light on (or cast in a new light) the events described in the report," the report concludes.


"Keep in mind the fact that the investigation was ostensibly about conspiracy collusion with Russia. Volume I completely and unequivocally exonerated Team Trump on that. So, at worst, he made a couple of half-ass attempts to tamper an investigation into a crime that didn't exist."

There doesn't have to be an underlying crime for someone to commit obstruction of justice:

Mueller noted that an underlying crime isn't necessary to prove obstruction of justice, saying people might have reasons to obstruct justice that don't involve underlying crimes.

"The injury to the integrity of the justice system is the same regardless of whether a person committed an underlying wrong," the report says.


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