[News] Trump, Russia, and the 2016 Election

All news related to Donald Trump's alleged ties to Russia and to the Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election. New details should be cited to reputable sources.

BadKen wrote:

From my limited legal knowledge it could be that breaking a law with intent is much more serious than unknowingly. Ignorance is no excuse, obviously, but it's maybe like the difference between murder and manslaughter, or maybe degrees of murder. Also proving intent seems like it would obliterate any reasonable doubt.

I get that. But it is not like manslaughter is nothing. Everyone seem to act like it is though.

BadKen wrote:
Shadout wrote:

One thing I dont understand here. Not just within the narrow scope of the Russia collusion investigation. But it seems there is an endless stream of cases within the administration, where they either break some laws, or are acting in grey areas, and everyone, apparently including Mueller, focuses on whether they knew they were breaking any laws or being shady. Since, if they didn't knew what they were doing, there is no problem?!

From my limited legal knowledge it could be that breaking a law with intent is much more serious than unknowingly. Ignorance is no excuse, obviously, but it's maybe like the difference between murder and manslaughter, or maybe degrees of murder. Also proving intent seems like it would obliterate any reasonable doubt.

You cannot obstruct accidentally. You have to choose to obstruct justice. You are allowed to delete emails off you phone. You can't delete emails off your phone to prevent a crime from being discovered. So intent is required to be shown.

Here's an example, regarding Erik Prince's Seychelles Islands meeting:


I thought this was a great article that deals with the current divide among the left about what the Report actually means.
NY Times: How Barr and Trump Use a Russian Disinformation Tactic

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.

Reflexive control is a “uniquely Russian” technique of psychological manipulation through disinformation. The idea is to feed your adversary a set of assumptions that will produce a predictable response: That response, in turn, furthers a goal that advances your interests. By luring your opponent into agreeing with your initial assumptions, you can control the narrative, and ultimate outcome, in your favor. Best of all, the outcome is one in which your adversary has voluntarily acceded. This is exactly what has happened with much of the American public in the course of Mueller’s investigation.

The Trump administration seized on this legal ambiguity early on, with the refrain that “collusion is not a crime.” The standard set here is that anything falling below criminally chargeable behavior is acceptable. When it comes to the presidency, this is not true. The Constitution lays out the procedure for removing an unfit president from office for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Nevertheless, we took the bait: Collusion may not be a crime, lawyers and pundits responded, but conspiracy is. This “reflexive” response adopted criminality as the bar to be met.

We are carrying Putin's water when we buy into the notion that the media failed us, when the report shows that the media had most of this spot on. We've moved beyond the previous stage of the press trying to use anonymous sources to tell this story. These are events that now have witnesses under oath and corroborating evidence, and most of all that is shown, outside of the redactions.

This was something that we discussed months ago, that the slow release of everything seems to be making it seem like no big deal, nothing new. It is a big deal. Stories that Trump was able to call fake news re now documented with evidence. And there is a lot of new stuff.

Interesting post from a lawyer on /r/Keep_Track discussing the specific meanings of some of the legal terms Mueller used in the report and how people are misinterpreting them.

Their orgiatic lust for money made it impossible for them to realize that selling out their own country to its biggest rival of the past 100 years was somehow wrong. So for that reason they should face zero consequences for the crimes they’ve committed. It’s societies fault. Just let them do whatever they want. **BARF**

Maybe the silver lining in this is that he will be focused on whinging on and on about the report and we won’t have to hear about him winning the 2016 election and crowd sizes anymore.

JC wrote:

Maybe the silver lining in this is that he will be focused on whinging on and on about the report and we won’t have to hear about him winning the 2016 election and crowd sizes anymore.

It will just cause him to spiral further into calling Democrats and other opponents traitors and criminals and liars and other things. The only way for Trump to go is down and he will dig further down than any of us can even imagine. The man is a black hole and will tear us all apart to get what he wants.

Man, this appearance of Rudy on with Chris Wallace is must see TV.

Chris Wallace deserves credit for how he takes this on.

Giuliani makes me physically ill and angry at the same time.

Look what popped up in a court filing in the Maria Butina case last night:


I guess this is how Tillerson got the job.


The collusion delusion is an illusion due to a profusion of confusion! Conclusion: you shun!

You want to know exactly what Trump is guilty of? A good rule of thumb seems to be, whatever Trump accuses his political opponents of is exactly what Trump is doing himself. Apparently this works??

I think this is the best articulated plan forward for Democrats.

WaPo: What House Democrats should do now

By E.J. Dionne Jr.
April 21

It may not have been his intention, but special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has forced a momentous choice on the Democrats who control the House of Representatives. How they navigate the next several months will matter not only to politics but, more importantly, to whether the rule of law prevails.

If we lived in a normal time with a normal president, a normal Republican Party and a normal attorney general, none of this would be so difficult. Mueller’s report is devastating. It portrays a lying, lawless president who pressured aides to obstruct the probe and was happy — “Russia, if you’re listening . . . ” — to win office with the help of a hostile foreign power. It also, by the way, shows the president to be weak and hapless. His aides ignored his orders, and he regularly pandered to a Russian dictator.

Mueller’s catalogue of infamy might have led Republicans of another day to say: Enough. But the GOP’s new standard seems to be that a president is great as long as he’s unindicted.

And never mind that the failure to charge Donald Trump stemmed not from his innocence but from a Justice Department legal opinion saying a sitting president can’t be indicted. Mueller explained he had “fairness” concerns — a truly charming qualm in light of the thuggishness described in the rest of the report — because the no-indictment rule meant there could be no trial. The president would lack an “adversarial opportunity for public name-clearing before an impartial adjudicator.”

And perhaps Mueller did not reckon with an attorney general so eager to become the president’s personal lawyer and chief propagandist. William P. Barr sat on the document for 27 days and mischaracterized it in his March 24 letter. He mischaracterized it again just an hour before it was released.

This leaves Democrats furious — and on their own. Unfortunately, it is not news that this party has a nasty habit of dividing into hostile camps. On the one side, the cautious; on the other side, the aggressive. The prudent ones say members of the hit-for-the-fences crowd don’t understand the political constraints. The pugnacious ones say their circumspect colleagues are timid sellouts.

Sometimes these fights are relatively harmless, but not this time. Holding Trump accountable for behavior that makes Richard M. Nixon look like George Washington matters, for the present and for the future.

Those demanding impeachment are right to say Mueller’s report can’t just be filed away and ignored. But being tough and determined is not enough. The House also needs to be sober and responsible.

This needle needs to be threaded not just for show, or for narrow electoral reasons. Trump and Barr have begun a battle for the minds and hearts of that small number of Americans (roughly 10 percent or a little more) who are not already locked into their positions. Barr’s calculated sloth in making the report public gave the president and his AG sidekick an opportunity to pre-shape how its findings would be received. The uncommitted now need to see the full horror of what Mueller revealed about this president. A resolute but deliberate approach is more likely to persuade them.

When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) joins her caucus on a conference call Monday, she will reiterate her “one step at a time” strategy. The bottom line is that rushing into impeachment and ruling it out are equally foolish.

This means the House Judiciary, Intelligence, and Oversight and Reform committees should and will begin inquiries immediately. Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) took the first step on Friday by subpoenaing the full, unredacted Mueller report, which the administration immediately resisted. Mueller himself has rightly been asked to appear before both Judiciary and Intelligence.

Nothing is gained by labeling these initial hearings and document requests part of an “impeachment” process. But impeachment should remain on the table. Because Trump and Barr will resist all accountability, preserving the right to take formal steps toward impeachment will strengthen the Democrats’ legal arguments that they have a right to information that Trump would prefer to deep-six.

For now, it’s useful for Democrats such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) to underscore the outrageousness of the abuses Mueller found by calling for impeachment while Democrats in charge of the inquiries such as Nadler and Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, say, as both did on Sunday, they’ll reserve judgment while they sift through the facts.

Of course, Trump is not the only issue in politics. Democratic presidential candidates are already out there focusing on health care, climate, economic justice and political reform. The House can continue other work while the investigators do their jobs.

In an ideal world, the corruption and deceitfulness Mueller catalogued would already have Trump flying off to one of his golf resorts for good. But we do not live in such a world. Defending democratic values and republican government requires fearlessness. It also takes patience.

John Oliver covered things well last night as usual.

Stele wrote:

John Oliver covered things well last night as usual.

My DVR has been refusing to record his show. Was last week a repeat?


Anyway. It’s really sad that it’s come to this, but the Republican Party has become the Party of Russia. Not all republicans, of course, but so very many of them.

And the NRA! That name does not accurately describe the organization. They are an extreme right wing propaganda machine. Have you seen their idiotic YouTube ads? And they worked with the Kremlin to funnel record breaking donations of money to trumps electoral campaign. It was so much money that Trump spent a great deal of it on Other stuff.

Here you go, Rawk.

I have thread that is focused on the case the Mueller Report makes. The idea is to drill down on that, to make it something everyone can understand. In the big picture, Mueller's report is simple and obvious. In thread world, people need something quick and easy to understand. From the other thread, I present the Mueller Report Summary graphic.


Barr's stunt was really damn effective. It is distressing how many people spent the 3+ weeks Barr sat on the report thinking it was over. For three weeks the flow of leaks and news slowed to a trickle.

A large portion of the country thinks that the Democrats are just trying to stir things up again. They bought the Barr the spin, and now we are competing with the MAGAs to reclaim the narrative.

It's far from over. Don McGahn testifies before congress on May 21at. Barr is May 2nd.

RawkGWJ wrote:

And the NRA! That name does not accurately describe the organization.

I disagree -- I think the National Russia Association has a perfectly accurate name.

The statement Pelosi released yesterday:

Dear Colleague: Duty & Democracy
APRIL 22, 2019

Dear Democratic Colleague,

As you know, last Thursday’s release of the redacted Mueller Report has caused a public outcry for truth and accountability. Since its release, our Committees of jurisdiction and their staffs have spent the holiday weekend reviewing its contents. Our country is well served by the exceptional leadership of our Chairs to seek the truth for the American people.

While we do not have the full report and the underlying exhibits, including the grand jury testimony, two of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s conclusions stand out: one, the “sweeping and systematic” Russian interference in our elections; and two, the President’s repeated efforts to thwart cooperation with the independent prosecutors in their pursuit of justice.

As to Mueller’s conclusion regarding Russian interference in our elections, House Democrats have led the way to strengthen our democracy with the early passage of H.R. 1.

The For The People Act addresses the sweeping election protection, ethics reforms, and voting rights protections that the public has demanded to ensure that each voter has an equal voice and that their votes are counted as cast. We continue to urge our Senate colleagues to take up these reforms. And in light of the President’s defenders arguing in defense of receiving and weaponizing stolen emails, we continue to press our Republican House counterparts to take up our pledge to refuse to use stolen, hacked, or falsified information in campaigns because the American people deserve honest debate.

As to the President’s conduct, we will scrupulously assert Congress’ constitutional duty to honor our oath of office to support and defend the Constitution and our democracy. That includes honoring the Article I responsibility of the legislative branch to conduct oversight over the other branches of government, unified in our search for the truth and in upholding the security of our elections.

While our views range from proceeding to investigate the findings of the Mueller report or proceeding directly to impeachment, we all firmly agree that we should proceed down a path of finding the truth. It is also important to know that the facts regarding holding the President accountable can be gained outside of impeachment hearings. As we proceed to uncover the truth and present additional needed reforms to protect our democracy, we must show the American people we are proceeding free from passion or prejudice, strictly on the presentation of fact.

Because we still have not seen the full Mueller Report, I have enclosed the bicameral letter Democratic leaders sent rejecting Attorney General Barr’s effort to provide the remainder of the report to only a few Members of Congress, and only in a classified setting. We insist on the public’s right to know, so that the American people can learn the truth and Congress can make our decision on how to proceed.

Whether currently indictable or not, it is clear that the President has, at a minimum, engaged in highly unethical and unscrupulous behavior which does not bring honor to the office he holds. It is also clear that the Congressional Republicans have an unlimited appetite for such low standards. The GOP should be ashamed of what the Mueller report has revealed, instead of giving the President their blessings.

Today, at 5:00 pm ET, we will have a conference call for our Chairs to report on the status of their review of the redacted Mueller report, their request for the full report and underlying exhibits, and discuss what comes next.

Today is also Earth Day, where we sadly see Republicans’ continued denial of the climate crisis and active efforts to roll back our hard-fought environmental protections. When we return to Washington, we will continue to move forward with our Climate Action Now Act, H.R. 9, to uphold the Paris Climate Accord and lay the foundation for more bold action.

United in purpose, we must make the Republican denial face the reality of what the Trump Administration is doing to our natural environment and our constitutional environment – and act with the boldest common denominator to repair the damage and build a better future.

With the hope that you had a Happy Easter or a joyful Passover, I thank you for your leadership For The People.

best regards,

While I wish she was more forceful with it, I'm pretty happy with where they ended up.

Seemed pretty forceful - it’s the you’ve been served papers, if the Democrats follow through with it as it is written. Tying up Trump and cronies on ‘impeachment’ hearings through his remaining time in office? That’s one grand way to limit the damage he and his merry band of grifters and idiots could possibly cause.

BlackSheep wrote:

Seemed pretty forceful - it’s the you’ve been served papers, if the Democrats follow through with it as it is written. Tying up Trump and cronies on ‘impeachment’ hearings through his remaining time in office? That’s one grand way to limit the damage he and his merry band of grifters and idiots could possibly cause.

My hesitation is indeed about the 'ifs'. Which is why I'll keep reminding my representatives about it. But "our views range from proceeding to investigate the findings of the Mueller report or proceeding directly to impeachment" is a range I can be happy with. I don't think they'd be there if a bunch of people hasn't yelled at them over the weekend--and the media hasn't even reached that point yet. Lots of them are still running after the intentionally distracting 'collusion' argument.

There's still a risk that they'll decide to wait for the election (as Steny Hoyer said). Which is how we got here: let's wait to act on Garland until after the election, the said. Let's wait for the convention, they said. Let's wait for Hillary to win. Let's wait for him to finish implementing the Muslim ban. Let's wait for him to actual ban trans people from the military. Let's wait for the Muller report. Let's wait for the election. Waiting isn't how laws get enforced.

Impeachment proceedings would, by their nature, include investigating everything in the Mueller report and do it out in the open. You get both of those things, plus you uphold your duty to the constitution. It's a three-for-one!

For all the reasons I mentioned over in the other thread, I don't think there's some Constitutional duty to Impeach here, and I don't think we got here by waiting to act. I'm not even sure what "act" means in all those examples, or what difference it would have made.

edit: no snark intended, just brevity!

I want justice to be served. But I’m also extremely concerned about a financial collapse in the wake of this scandal coming to light.

My health and well being will be in serious jeopardy if the US sufferers a financial collapse. About a year ago I transferred into a better position at work. I kept getting injured in my previous position due to the extremely athletic nature of the work. It was fine when I was younger but my body has been put through the grinder and now at 48 yo I can only assume that I will suffer another injury if I have to go back to my previous position. A financial collapse will almost certainly cause a shortage of available work in my new position, and I would have to go back to the meat grinder.

A financial collapse is exactly the type of thing Russia is hoping will happen.

The financial collapse is already inevitable. It's in progress and unrelated to publicly airing all the crimes the administration has and is committing, the bad policies that have been put in place over the last 2 years have already started the ball rolling. I know that's dark comfort, but 'averting a financial collapse' isn't a good reason to cover up the administrations scandals.

RawkGWJ wrote:

I want justice to be served. But I’m also extremely concerned about a financial collapse in the wake of this scandal coming to light.

We have a solution for this: elect Elizabeth Warren. Medicare for All means your healthcare is no longer dependent on employment and forgiving student loans will avert the next financial bubble.

While I'm talking about unrealistic things for the Democrats to actually listen to their constituents about:

Op-Ed, Washington Monthly: House Democrats Are Failing to Investigate the White House: Party leaders vowed in 2018 to conduct oversight on Trump. They haven’t, and it’s costing them politically.

I'm happy with Pelosi's statement in part because the investigations can get a lot done without the impeachment label for the moment...but only if they actually investigate. There have been a lot of defied subpoenas and illegitimate assertions of executive privilege that the Democrats have rolled over and let the White House stomp all over. They're going to need to be less gunshy if they want anything to happen.

WaPo: How Trump may be making his own impeachment more likely

But here’s the thing: If the White House continues down this path, it will make it still harder for House Democrats to resist an impeachment inquiry. Because if they launch one, their legal case for doing things such as compelling McGahn’s testimony and getting Trump’s returns will get even stronger than it already is.

Impeachment inquiry could strengthen Democrats’ hand

In requesting the last six years of Trump’s personal and business tax returns, Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, noted that Congress needs them to conduct oversight into whether the IRS is auditing and enforcing tax laws against the president, and to inform relevant legislation.

The legal case for getting Trump’s returns is already strong. If a tax-writing committee requests an individual’s tax returns — say, those of Individual-1 — then the Treasury Department “shall” furnish them. Neal additionally provided a legislative purpose.

In rebuffing this request, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin argued that this legislative purpose was a sham. Mnuchin said the returns must be “pertinent” to an inquiry that is “within the jurisdiction of the committee” and furthers a “legitimate task of the Congress.”

In saying this, Mnuchin actually revealed that an impeachment inquiry — which would constitute a legitimate congressional task — would strengthen that case, legal experts tell me.

“The response is that this request doesn’t relate to a legitimate inquiry,” Randall Eliason, who teaches white-collar crime law at George Washington University, told me. “If you had an impeachment hearing underway, and the focus was whether the president has financial conflicts or ties with foreign powers that are influencing his policies or compromising him in some way, then his tax returns become very relevant.”

This is also the case when it comes to McGahn’s testimony, legal experts say.

Joshua Matz, who co-wrote a good book on impeachment with law professor Laurence Tribe, told me that the House’s oversight role already provides a strong basis for subpoenaing McGahn. But if the White House asserts executive privilege, Matz said, an impeachment inquiry would constitute an even more powerful case for the courts to override it.

“There’s no doubt that the President has an important, legitimate interest in executive privilege,” Matz told me. “But in our constitutional structure, the impeachment power is mightier and more fundamental than virtually any interest that the President might raise against it.”

I wonder if defying subpoenas is an impeachable offense?

firesloth wrote:

I wonder if defying subpoenas is an impeachable offense?

It's looking like this is going to get ugly fast.

firesloth wrote:

I wonder if defying subpoenas is an impeachable offense?

It was one of the counts on Nixon's impeachment, so it was in the 70s, but it just rounds back to the same problem: "High crimes and misdemeanors" is defined as whatever congress deems to be a high crime or misdemeanor, it's not laid out in statute or precedent so..