Robert Mueller’s America–A Farce Wrapped in Hypocrisy by Publius Tacitus

The indictment unveiled last Friday
by Assistant Attorney General Rob Rosenstein, charging 13 Russian nationals with posting "false" information on the internet would be great grist for a satirical send up of government incompetence except the underlying premise of the charges is nothing short of a road map for authoritarian governments who will want to treat anyone who dares post contrarian material on the internet as a criminal. Let me state it succinctly–if you posted a blog suggesting that Hillary deserved to go to jail then you might be a criminal.

The indictment is nothing more than a rancid puff pastry. It pretends to have a mountain of evidence of evil doing by the Russians. But if you simply ask probing questions about the underlying proof of the misdeeds you will quickly discover that this document is a piece of political theater rather than an actual listing of criminal deeds. What do I mean?

The indictment states that "THE ORGANIZATION" (i.e., THE INTERNET RESEARCH AGENCY) had the strategic purpose of sowing political discord in the United States. Okay. How do we know that? Did the owner of the IRA make such a statement or is there a written document or recorded conversation in which he made the claim? We do not know. There is not one piece of solid evidence in the entire document that substantiates that claim. It is nothing more than an assertion of belief. That is not how one writes an indictment alleging criminal conduct.

Also worth noting that the indictment provides not hard evidence, either documentary or the claim by a confidential informant, of THE ORGANIZATION acting on behalf of or at the direction of the Russian Government. Again, it is assumed but nothing even approaching solid evidence is proffered in this document.

There are three Federal statutes that the Russian citizens are alleged to have violated:


18 USC Section 371:

The general conspiracy statute, 18 U.S.C. § 371, creates an offense "[i]f two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose. (emphasis added). See Project, Tenth Annual Survey of White Collar Crime, 32 Am. Crim. L. Rev. 137, 379-406 (1995)(generally discussing § 371). . . .

The intent required for a conspiracy to defraud the government is that the defendant possessed the intent (a) to defraud, (b) to make false statements or representations to the government or its agencies in order to obtain property of the government, or that the defendant performed acts or made statements that he/she knew to be false, fraudulent or deceitful to a government agency, which disrupted the functions of the agency or of the government. It is sufficient for the government to prove that the defendant knew the statements were false or fraudulent when made. The government is not required to prove the statements ultimately resulted in any actual loss to the government of any property or funds, only that the defendant's activities impeded or interfered with legitimate governmental functions.

18 USC Section 1349:

Any person who attempts or conspires to commit any offense under this chapter shall be subject to the same penalties as those prescribed for the offense, the commission of which was the object of the attempt or conspiracy.

18 USC Sections 1028 A (a) (1) and 2:

(a)Whoever, in a circumstance described in subsection (c) of this section—


knowingly and without lawful authority produces an identification document, authentication feature, or a false identification document;

knowingly transfers an identification document, authentication feature, or a false identification document knowing that such document or feature was stolen or produced without lawful authority

 There is actual criminal conduct listed in the indictment, but that pertains to identity theft and other irregular financial activity. Left unanswered, however, is the explanation for how the Mueller team discovered these activities. Short of a cooperating witness, it appears that material from the NSA was turned over to Mueller and his team. We will likely never find out because none of the people named in the indictment will ever be tried. 

This case is far from a slam dunk for the Mueller team. If it ever did come to trial there are significant gaps and vulnerabilities in the indictment that a competent defense attorney could savage. Nope. This is not about punishing lawbreakers. This is political theater designed to feed the meme promoting anti-Russian hysteria. 

An objective examination of the "meddling" by this Russian company would conclude that the activities of the IRA bordered on irrelevant and ineffective. I am surprised that so many Americans are ignorant of two critical facts. First, Russia has been carrying out intelligence operations, including a whole host of propaganda schemes, inside the United States and against the United States for at least 80 years. Duh!!

Second, the United States has carried out comparable operations inside and against Russia/the USSR and has been involved in the covert interference in elections around the world.

That is the hypocrisy. We are having a hissy fit over laughable internet shenanigans by a small group of Russians who were poorly funded and generated little activity, while ignoring our own history of having actually overthrown other legitimately elected governments. There it is. Farce and hypocrisy.

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91 Responses to Robert Mueller’s America–A Farce Wrapped in Hypocrisy by Publius Tacitus

  1. TimmyB says:

    I slightly disagree. The indictment is a road map for the US government to prosecute Americans for the exact same offenses. The US government has a history of criminalizing certain speech and then first prosecuting unpopular foreigners for those crimes. After the prosecutions of unpopular foreigners succeeds, the government next turns to prosecuting American.
    You can read more about that history here,

  2. RC says:

    The St Petersburg “Internet Research Agency” is a former creature of SHALTAI BOLTAI [translated Humpty Dumpty] an organization that boasts it is in the business of creating alternative reality though fake news.
    I wrote “former creature” because IRA no longer exists. Apparently our now famous 13 managers failed to pay their keyboard peons, who denounced them to the St Petersburg Police. The 13 were tried and found guilty.
    If Mueller wishes to find the 13, he should contact the St Petersburg Jail. Those with the shortest sentence of 3 years will be freed in a little more than 2 years. Mueller will need to wait longer for the rest.

  3. Joe100 says:

    John Helmer has a must read blog post on the IRA and the Mueller indictment (at – his site is currently down?). Helmer is a serious investigative journalist based in Moscow. Given what is known about the IRA and it’s director, it seems highly unlikely that the trolling work described in the Mueller indictment was directed or funded by the Russian government.
    The IRA conducts web intervention work on behalf of clients. According to Helmer, the origin of IRA was that the the director (then restaurant owner) was getting bad web reviews of his meals and set up an operation to flood the bad reviews with good one – which apparently worked. It would be interesting to see the actual Facebook adds and other web activity by the “13 russians” to see if there is an obvious economic purpose – building an audience for certain adds, etc.
    This does not look like a “professional” Russian government information operation – if such existed.

  4. It’s worse than a hissy fit. As Glenn Greenwald and Pat Buchanan point out in separate articles, there are Democrats and others out there calling this an “act of war” on a par with Pearl Harbor and 9/11!
    That is absolute lunacy.
    A Consensus Emerges: Russia Committed an “Act of War” on Par With Pearl Harbor and 9/11. Should the U.S. Response Be Similar?
    Is That Russia Troll Farm an Act of War?
    This is what happens when a nation allows itself to be swept up in mass hysteria as a result of propaganda promulgated by persons with an agenda. Not, as Greenwald points out, that we are actually likely to go to war with Russia over these indictments, but they provide further grist for a degeneration of relations which could ultimately lead to WWIII.

  5. raven says:

    Comin to get you. . .

  6. turcopolier says:

    Strictly political theater. The predicate in this case would not have found traction for a criminal investigation in any District in America. Because evidence will never have to be produced (because the case will never be prosecuted) it is a chickenshit indictment whose pernicious effect is to futher undercut the Trump Administration’s ability to conduct foreign policy. The subject matter is, if anything, proper material for the exercise of statecraft which if presented over a table would have the Russian counterparts laughing hysterically for obvious reasons. Mueller should be ashamed of himself. Unless he is a complete dope, he should know that media resonance for this charade is solely because the Trump demonic American moronocracy will associate this dud with Trump as something he is in some way responsible for. The expression during the Watergate era had to do with the crime/coverup being a cancer on the Presidency. Mueller’s office per se is turning out to be a cancer on the Presidency.

  7. turcopolier says:

    That could well be. pl

  8. Mark Logan says:

    By claiming to find “unwitting collusion” Mueller cleverly justified his investigation and while handing Trump something Trump can, and did, label victory at the same time.
    I would not underestimate Mueller.

  9. Eric Newhill says:

    Trump is already working his usual political jiu jitsu. He is putting this all on Obama – who was, after all, POTUS when it occurred. Tweeted about it today (like ’em or not, his tweets get airtime). Obama belittling Trump for suggesting a rigged election and shaking his [O’s] finger declaring that no one could influence US elections to an extent to change the outcome is good Trump mojo. If you still like Obama, you conclude that he was right and this whole thing is a big dud.

  10. blue peacock says:

    Mueller should be ashamed of himself. Unless he is a complete dope, he should know that media resonance for this charade is solely because the Trump demonic American moronocracy will associate this dud with Trump as something he is in some way responsible for….. Mueller’s office per se is turning out to be a cancer on the Presidency.

    Col. Lang,
    This has been and continues to be the sole purpose of special counsel Robert Mueller. Notice that Deputy AG Rosenstein who setup Mueller was emphatic that no Americans were involved in the Russian trolling aka “influencing the elections and sowing discord”. There have been no evidence regarding the collusion allegations which was the basis of the Mueller appointment. All we have right now are a few process indictments, the indictment of Manafort for money laundering with his Ukrainian connections and the indictment of a few Russians for trolling. The plea deal by Gen. Flynn is now coming under question.
    There is of course also the parallel track currently led by Congressional Republicans to uncover a potential conspiracy at the Obama administration, IC and law enforcement. If this starts to get any real steam it could, IMO, lead to a massive national crisis as the collusion between the media and the IC and law enforcement to actively engage and influence domestic politics in a partisan manner becomes apparent. This is way bigger than any Russian influence operation.
    Our societal divisions and social discord are deep and growing and whatever the Russians did or did not do is nothing compared to what has been brewing domestically for decades. The war between the Deplorables and the coastal elites that dominate media and the political/government establishment has been ratcheting up for sometime.

  11. SmoothieX12 says:

    cold war 2 / mccarthyism 2 has descended on the usa and many are incapable of seeing the historic parallels….
    I am always cautious with historic parallels (unless they are genuinely prudent) but there is no denial that Borg is trying to use a Cold War 1.0 playbook, but there no any silver linings to all that. This unfolding Cold War 2.0 is much more dangerous, since the Borg has no idea what it deals with nor is it aware of its own precarious position–it is expected from this environment dominated by people who have no applicable real world skills other than political demagoguery and lies.

  12. SmoothieX12 says:

    That is absolute lunacy.
    Yes, it is, but let us be very plain spoken here–this is the actual “intellectual” and moral level of current US political “elites”, for the most part. There are exceptions, of course, at least for now.

  13. JohnH says:

    Plaintiffs were able to sue Iran for 911 and win. I assume that Mueller will be able to get some kind of criminal conviction because there will be no defense…an expensive exercise in political charade that will be milked to the fullest by the borg in its campaign to vilify Russia.

  14. Yeah, Right says:

    If this really was a deliberate attempt by the Russian government to subvert the political process in the USA then the smartest course of action that Putin can now take is to order one of those 13 spooks to travel to the USA and give himself up.
    That spook can then demand his day in court, which would completely disrupt Mueller’s current working assumption that he’ll never to produce his evidence.
    After all, agencies get their agents to pretend to defect in order to feed misinformation to their rivals. How is that materially different from sending an agent to “surrender to the authorities” when that is certain to throw a huge spanner in the works?
    Or, in short:
    If Putin really is behind all this then that’s what he should do.
    If he isn’t behind this then he has no reason to cough up anyone.

  15. Leaky Ranger says:

    Today’s indictment of the son-in-law of the CEO of Alfa Bank has a slow fuse on it. You will recall that there were unexplained communications between Trump Tower and Alfa Bank servers
    The dots are being connected so fast there’s a doppler effect.

  16. BillWade says:

    Yeah Right,
    I respectfully disagree. Due to the sanctions imposed due to Russian influence on our elections the indicted 13 have done far more harm to Russia than they did to us. If beyond a shadow of a doubt that Putin’s government had nothing to do with the indicted 13, he should round them up and put them on a plane to NY right away and with great fanfare.

  17. For PT. With all respect,
    suggest you read Richard Sale, internalize, and then give us the facts and only the facts.

  18. b says:

    @Leaky Ranger- the indictment of a son-in-law of the CEO of Alpha Bank has nothing to do with the old email lists some reality marketing agency used to sell Trump labeled apartments (aka – the “connections” to the Alpha servers).
    Of note: The Mueller indictment says that the operation of the Russian company in the U.S. was a for-profit advertising business.
    It created content to attract followers and “eyeballs” which it then sold to advertising customers.
    Point 95:
    Defendants and their co-conspirators also used the accounts to receive money from real U.S. persons in exchange for posting promotions and advertisements on the ORGANIZATION-controlled social media pages. Defendants and their co-conspirators typically charged certain U.S. merchants and U.S. social media sites between 25 and 50 U.S. dollars per post for promotional content on their popular false U.S. persona accounts, including Being Patriotic, Defend the 2nd, and Blacktivist.
    The rest is all blubber.

  19. shepherd says:

    The simple answer to the question of how they obtained evidence is that they hacked the IRA, and offloaded its entire server, a la Hillary. Believe it or not, that’s a perfectly legal way to get evidence, and doesn’t even require a warrant. It’s how they bring cases against hackers and pedophile rings. The FBI is apparently very good at doing this kind of thing.

  20. Sid Finster says:

    As the election of Trump shows, people in the United States are seething mad right now, and getting angrier and angrier.
    The establishment response can be summarized as “shiny distractions, combined with renewed efforts to clamp down on dissent.”

  21. I have presented facts. You just don’t like them.

  22. Leaky Ranger says:

    b, I do not understand your response about “reality marketing agency”. This is a serious business and I find the cavalier attitude of many here to be the farce. There is more substance in van der Zwaan’s confession than in the whole of, say, “Whitewater”. The GOP ran AgSec Mike Espy out of D.C. for accepting tickets to college football games. Compare that to Kushner’s inability to get a security clearance.

  23. luke8929 says:

    A CNN national security analyst suggested on Monday that social media companies are “treasonous” for allowing Russian trolls to use their websites to disseminate disinformation. I guess that includes the owner of this website and anyone who posts here Russian or not?
    Disclaimer: Dear herr mueller/FBI agents/Agents of the security state monitoring this website. Self reporting non american poster, Canadian, not a russian, never met a russian, never spoke to a russian, only interested in the open discussion of ideas with other like minded people, not trying to alter the outcome of US elections or political topics that may be discussed on this website.
    PS initially posted this in lower case, but it appears your pretty far down that rabbit hole, will re post louder in UPPER CASE if you can’t hear it.

  24. VietnamVet says:

    TTG and the Colonel and perhaps you will confirm that Russian and American intelligence operations have be ongoing against each other since the Bolshevik Revolution, if not before. I was impacted by the anti-war movement and I have no recollection of credible reports that the silent mutiny in Vietnam was a Soviet Union operation. Russiagate is hysteria. The problem is that the ruling establishment is so hung-up in its greed that it can’t plan one month ahead. Right now Americans are killing Russians and perhaps visa-versa in Eastern Syria. The slightest mistake and a World War is on. Before the hydrogen bombs are lit off, I could be rounded up as a collaborator for typing “Lock Her Up” here on SST.

  25. Cortes says:

    As an outsider it seems to me that the indictment will be used by future law lecturers as the perfect illustration of “mockrage.”
    The sooner the POTUS hitches up his pants, casts a cool appraising eye about him and appoints someone beyond reproach as a different Special Counsel to look at this whole farrago of absurdity the safer we will all be.
    When the “untouchables” are dragged into Court.

  26. BillWade says:

    Leaky Ranger says, “This is a serious business and I find the cavalier attitude of many here to be the farce. ” Could you explain further, how’s about my comment.
    “The GOP ran AgSec Mike Espy out of D.C. for accepting tickets to college football games. What’s wrong with that?
    ” Compare that to Kushner’s inability to get a security clearance.” It’s taking time but what proof do you have of his inability to be granted clearance?

  27. TV says:

    This whole mess (taxpayer funded, of course) is the swamp fighting a newly discovered
    cancer – Trumphoma.
    I’m a cancer survivor, but this time I’m rooting for the cancer.

  28. turcopolier says:

    Have the FBI visited you yet? pl

  29. A Pols says:

    There’s a Time magazine cover from 1996 crowing about the US secret project sending specialists to Russia to help Yeltsin win that year’s election. I guess I can’t copy and paste an image here, but the curious can find it on Jim Kunstler’s blog. It’s funny in the context of today’s moral panic.

  30. This indictment looks similar to the 2015 case against the Rooksie spies involved with Carter Page. Those three were charged with conspiracy against the US and FARA violations. The two Rooskies under government cover were sent back to Moscow. The Rooskie NOC was convicted, jailed for a short time and then sent back to Moscow. This shows Mueller is treating this kind of Russian information operation in the same manner as Russian espionage. Neither one is cause for war, so both sides ought to unbunch their panties and calm down. It’s like two bands of howler monkeys slinging shit at each other.

  31. Fred says:

    In honor of Canada’s bill C16 feel free to address me with the proper pronoun: Prince. In fact please be formal as we’ve never met. Let me introduce myself. I am Fredrick, Prince of Deplorables. Just don’t confuse me with a deplorable prince. He’s across the channel.
    Cheers. PS. On a far more important note than the Canadian government mandating speech and her citizens not doing anything but kneeling in submission to the abolishment of their rights by legislative fiat, it does’t look good for getting that cup back this year. Better get Ottawa to hire a few more Russians. Toronto too, as an “insurance policy.”

  32. Duck1 says:

    Seems like the late stage empire is sundowning, getting a little confused, can’t quite follow the geopolitical problems it has created.

  33. blue peacock says:

    TTG #32

    ..both sides ought to unbunch their panties and calm down. It’s like two bands of howler monkeys slinging shit at each other.

    You may be more up to speed on these issues, but when was the last time the Russians got all hysterical about our interference activities there and behaved like we have here so incredibly childish?
    This whole Russiagate affair seems rather infantile to me. But…I feel more convinced every day that it is a giant mask to cover up the real conspiracy by Obama, Hillary, Clapper, Brennan, Comey, et al. Nothing else makes any sense. Getting our panties in a wad over some trolling??? Is that how a pre-eminent military power behaves? I just can’t buy that.
    TDS has driven our media/political/government complex mad since the spring/summer of 2016.

  34. rg says:

    The phrase “reality marketing agency” made me break out laughing when I read b’s comment. I often see words misspelled by b on his own blog, and believe this is a misspelling of “realty”, possibly caused by a language translation application program. But yes, a “reality marketing” scam, indeed.

  35. Greco says:

    Seems like the late stage empire is sundowning, getting a little confused, can’t quite follow the geopolitical problems it has created.

    Perhaps, but keep in mind that a worse level of internal discord existed in the late 60s and early 70s, yet the sun didn’t set on the US “empire” then.
    Also many of these geopolitical problems have long been boiling beneath the surface. There’s no question that Bush and then Obama’s subsequent interventions in the MENA region stirred up a hornet’s nest, but I would be careful to draw a distinction between what created these problems and what exasperated them. And as problematic as things may seem now try to imagine instead of these messy quagmires that a full-scale war had broken out between Iran and Israel. Things may very well have turned out even worse than they are now, although there’s no saying whether the worst has yet to come.
    The US plays an essential, albeit imperfect role in maintaining a level of sanity in world affairs. If the sun ever set on their capacity to fulfill that role, then there’d be a big pair of shoes to be filled and not a great many suitors (other than potentially a totalitarian China and in a much lesser capacity at that).
    On another note more pertinent to the broader discussion, I think there’s no mistaking that Mueller’s investigation is being deliberately dragged out at least until around the midterms. If they can’t get the Congressional votes, then they’ll never be able to impeach him (not unless by more obscure or less democratic means). Beyond that point, I think fatigue and resentment over the investigation will begin to set in, even among Democrats, and the investigation will peter out. Until then, there’s plenty of time for this madness to carry on unchecked and in that time something could emerge, true or false, from which the president may not recover. These indictments may not mean much of anything, but I think there’s a real danger if the president lets this investigation play out. The president holds his destiny in his own hands, at least for now, and it would be a great shame if he were to ever lose that.

  36. johnf says:

    Is any of this fevered hysteria actually impacting on the American people, tho? Are they taking any notice of this Russian hoopla?
    I can only go on what is happening here in Blighty. We had Operation Fear launched here, with hysterical warnings about what would happen if we left the EU. Result – Brexit.
    Last year we had a hysterical general election, with the Leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn advocating a return to Keynesian economic policies being repeatedly portrayed – by the tabloids, the broadsheets and the broadcasting channels – as an IRA supporting Marxist Trotskyite tree-hugging Islamic terorist supporting babyeating fanatic. Result – he went up in the polls over 20% and reduced Theresa May to running a minority government.
    He is now being portrayed (in “serious” newspapers) as having been a secret agent for the Czechs during the Cold War. The Czech archivist for the communist era secret service says he was not. The British secret services have said he was not. Even the BBC is trimming its sails and denying the stories (the equivalent in the US would be CNN denying Russiagate).
    Yesterday Corbyn was addressing the annual conference of the bosses of Britain’s manufacturing industries. At the end a Daily Mail journalist asked about his spying. There was unrest amongst the audience and Corbyn bluntly and contemptuously denied it. That was followed by a Channel 4 journalist asking a similar question and he was booed by the audience. Corbyn said the point of the question and answer session was for Britain’s bosses to ask him questions, not journalists. This was met with rapturous applause and cheers from the bosses.
    Some of the most rightwing people in the country were booing the press campaign.
    I think, as with Russiagate, that the general public have developed a very keen nose for bullshit and are simply ignoring it. They are becoming, if not an informed electorate, a canny and a sceptical electorate.

  37. b says:

    @rg – You are of course right.
    I meant “realty marketing”. Both pass the spell checker …

  38. I agree, both sides are wildly overblowing their horns on this indictment. There may be more to come, or not.
    Indictment paragraph 6 says they bought political advertisements and staged political rallies in the U.S. Any U.S. citizen can do this, in any election, for any wacko idea. We see it all the time. BUT:
    But FOREIGN persons cannot do that, from inside in the U.S., without registering with the FEC, registering under FARA (administered by Justice Dept.), and being truthful on their visa applications (administered by State Dept.) (See paragraphs 25, 26, 27). This is the heart of the indictment. Count One (starting at paragraph 8): conspiracy to defraud the U.S. by “impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful functions” of FEC, Justice, and State.
    Next election, they can do it from outside the U.S., maybe no laws broken.

  39. nard says:

    MoA also has a take which reflects Helmer’s take:
    In the early 1990s some dude in St.Petersburg made a good business selling hot dogs. He opened a colorful restaurant. Local celebrities and politicians were invited to gain notoriety while the restaurant served cheap food for too high prices. It was a good business. A few years later he moved to Moscow and gained contracts to cater to schools and to the military. The food he served was still substandard.
    But catering bad food as school lunches gave him, by chance, the idea for a new business:
    Parents were soon up in arms. Their children wouldn’t eat the food, saying it smelled rotten.
    As the bad publicity mounted, Mr. Prigozhin’s company, Concord Catering, launched a counterattack, a former colleague said. He hired young men and women to overwhelm the internet with comments and blog posts praising the food and dismissing the parents’ protests.
    “In five minutes, pages were drowning in comments,” said Andrei Ilin, whose website serves as a discussion board about public schools. “And all the trolls were supporting Concord.”
    The trick worked beyond expectations. Prigozhin had found a new business. He hired some IT staff and low paid temps to populate various message boards, social networks and the general internet with whatever his customers asked him for.
    You have a bad online reputation? Prigozhin can help. His internet company will fill the net with positive stories and remarks about you. Your old and bad reputation will be drowned by the new and good one. Want to promote a product or service? Prigozhin’s online marketeers can address the right crowds.
    To achieve those results the few temps who worked on such projects needed to multiply their online personalities. It is better to have fifty people vouch for you online than just five. No one cares if these are real people or just virtual ones. The internet makes it easy to create such sock-puppets. The virtual crowd can then be used to push personalities, products or political opinions. Such schemes are nothing new or special. Every decent “western” public relations and marketing company will offer a similar service and has done so for years.
    While it is relatively easy to have sock-puppets swamp the comment threads of such sites as this blog, it is more difficult to have a real effect on social networks. These depend on multiplier effects. To gain many real “likes”, “re-tweets” or “followers” an online persona needs a certain history and reputation. Real people need to feel attached to it. It takes some time and effort to build such a multiplier personality, be it real or virtual.
    At some point Prigozhin, or whoever by then owned the internet marketing company, decided to expand into the lucrative English speaking market. This would require to build many English language online persona and to give those some history and time to gain crowds of followers and a credible reputation. The company sent a few of its staff to the U.S. to gain some impressions, pictures and experience of the surroundings. They would later use these to impersonate as U.S. locals. It was a medium size, long-term investment of maybe a hundred-thousand bucks over two or three years.
    The explanation of what such companies do and the proportionately small part of this company’s efforts were in the US is noteworthy…the $1.2 million monthly budget is for the entire operation…not just the US department!

  40. semiconscious says:

    i’m not seeing any ‘equivalence’ here – just a single group of howler monkeys, & they sure ain’t russian 🙂 …

  41. confusedponderer says:

    This is what happens when a nation allows itself to be swept up in mass hysteria as a result of propaganda promulgated by persons with an agenda
    Well, that’s liklely true. Recently I read that hotdogs were rather accurately named “frankfurters” before WW-I but then were renamed to ‘hotdogs’ because they were … too german.
    Now, such sort of sillyness is immortal, as the more recent discovery of ‘Freedom Fries’ suggest.
    And I alway thought of fries as “French Fries“, which is a silly name given that they come from Belgium, so “Belgian Fries” would be more accurate (that written, the Belgians have fabulous sauces for fries, and excellent fries also) – which is just as unwanted.
    Rather amusing in that renaming thing is that in France you get a baguette with fries as a “Sandwich Americaine“, which implies as another possible name “American Fries”.
    Very confusing. Now, where the hell does these fries come from? From Freedom? Mars? Venus? Moon? … Eeek … Very confusing.

  42. JW says:

    Yes, correct.
    I was about to say the same, however your comment #15 got in first. The ensuing chaos would be greatly amplified if it was preceded by a stream of increasingly pointed media exchanges,ie., where this war is being fought, with the soon-to-be defendant prior to his grand entrance at JFK.

  43. Leaky Ranger says:

    BillWade: Despite Kelly saying otherwise, “White House: New security clearance policy won’t affect Jared Kushner”

  44. JW says:

    Joe, in relation to your comment #4, one of two things I would not underestimate the ability of the Russian government to run a global operation of any kind out of a dodgy back street Blini takeaway shop.
    (The second is the 65 year project capability of DPRK to build military tunnels and shafts of unimaginable length and depth between any points of their choosing in ROK.)

  45. Lefty says:

    Leaky at 24
    The traffic was tracked to spam from an advertising company in Pennsylvania (Lititz if memory serves) that the Trump folks had hired. There was nothing nefarious going on.
    Spam and Trolls blown up into Russian conspiracy hysteria. It would be funny if it was not dangerous.

  46. Seamus Padraig says:

    This whole Russiagate farce has become so absurd that even a certified Putin-basher like Masha Gessen is increasingly finding it hard to swallow:

  47. Tom says:

    Americans have forgotten what an old fashioned racketeering investigation and prosecution looks like because its not done much any more…except for what Mueller is doing. We allow it with impunity because the racketeering is not being done by low class, recently arrived southern European mobsters. Trump is obviously mobbed up to the top of his Cheeto dust hsir do. Gonna be hard to prove because he hires good lawyers..but I’m certain that’s what’s coming. Same with Jared. Lie down with dogs, wake up with fleas.

  48. JW says:

    TTG, re your comment #32, I’m sure that Friday afternoon drinks at the Kremlin would involve a number of tie-loosened Russians doing their impersonations of various Washington luminaries trying to look serious.

  49. Frank Sherwood says:

    Au contraire, Timmy no foreigner is ever going to be tried for these crimes. But these indictments will be used for indictments on US citizens. Another quite obvious ploy. And it will work even on unwitting dupes

  50. Krony says:

    It’s hypocritical, yes. However, when an adversary does a harm to you, let’s say in the time of war, do you say, oh well, we shot at them so we can’t be hypocritical. That’s stupid. Sorry, we can’t be mad at Japan for bombing Pearl Harbor because we invaded the Dominican Republic. Oh well. So that line of argument is silly.
    And so Russia is paying millions of dollars for people to influence public opinion in America and that’s somehow just fine and dandy because we do it too? I suppose hacking the DNC and Podesta is perfectly fine. Would Mr. Sic Semper Tyrannis be fine if he was hacked? I suppose if his former job were in intelligence it would be open season on him because he wouldn’t want to be a hypocrite.
    I get it. The US does bad stuff too. But that does not mean we should just let our guard down. And I get that plenty of people willingly believe Hillary should have been locked up because right wing wealthy operations that were perfectly domestic were already poisoning their minds. So Russia just piled on a little bit more. But that doesn’t make it right. The problem as I see it is that the right is mad because this is a popular story in the media. It is getting a lot of attention and getting amplified through social media and other news aggregators. Oh wait, isn’t that what Mueller’s probe is all about!? I guess you can’t really complain if this story gets big and people start chanting “Lock Trump up!” because they won’t want to be hypocritical.

  51. johnf says:

    Freedonia Fries.

  52. steve says:

    Don’t think so. The GOP made the Benghazi investigations last 4 years.

  53. c1ue says:

    Great writeup.
    Have you considered the thesis offered by some other blogs – particularly and – that IRA is just a for-profit organization?
    In particular, I recall the Macedonian conspiracy:
    The online advertising industry is a $360 billion dollar annual revenue one, and 2016 saw 0.5% to 1% of that revenue coming from the political campaigns.
    I don’t find it hard at all to believe that there aren’t plenty of people – in Russia as well as all over the world – who want to dip their fingers into that very large pie. The name of the game is aggregation and its purveyors have no goal except self enrichment.

  54. ISL says:

    PT: I totally agree about farce and theater, but like TimmyB, I think it is worse.
    Additionally, it is a roadmap to remove the free speech of any foreigners living in the US, and also to allow the US to prosecute any foreigner outside the US
    For example, could not a resident alien who was applying for citizenship and filed an appeal be subverting the US govt?
    And if guilt by innuendo is the new standard of US prosecutions, we are entering a dark place.
    I hope the ACLU finds a way to challenge this?

  55. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg says:

    Just as we’ve seen clamor ing from some quarters to go after environmental protestors as “economic terrorists” we could following this hysteria see heterodox bloggers be indicted for “sowing discord” when they publish revelations of elite malfeasance along the lines of COINTELPRO and Operation Artichoke. The allegations would be “creating mistrust in our nations law enforcement”
    And just like that other sacred cow in American politics, “The Troops”, “Law Enforcement” is an institution that none dare critique. It’s the Israel of internal politics. Even when they go off the rails and slip the leash, the ore patriotic or self declared conservative punditry will go to the barricades to fight off reform or public control.

  56. PT and all,
    Recent developments are raising new questions, as well as giving fresh urgency to familiar ones.
    An article by a Los Angeles lawyer called Allan J. Favish which has just appeared in the ‘American Thinker’ is headlined ‘Prediction: Sessions will find FBI lied about Steele credibility to spy on Trump.’
    (See .)
    It provides a concise summary of the evidence in the memoranda from Republicans on the House Intelligence and Senate Judiciary Committees that the FBI gave the FISA Court misleading information in relation to Christopher Steele, and that there are strong grounds for suspecting this was done so knowingly and deliberately.
    One can however I think take the argument further. I cannot see any cogent reason for believing claims from the FBI that that they were unaware of the contacts Steele had with the press prior to October 2016. Moreover, if they were aware of these contacts, the notion that they were ‘unauthorised’ might also be misleading – this could be a situation where key figures in the FBI knew and approved what their informant was doing, but simply wanted ‘plausible deniability.’
    Moreover, the suggestion apparently made by the FBI to the FISA Court that the organisation suspended its relationship with Steele in October 2016 because of his – supposedly – unauthorised disclosures to the press might also be misleading.
    Even if the suspension actually happened, this again could have been to do with ‘plausible deniability’, with contacts continuing behind the scenes.
    I certainly find it increasingly difficult to see how Mueller can consistently refrain from bringing proceedings against Christopher Steele under the ‘general conspiracy statute.’ The relevant questions, obviously, are whether he was involved in making statements he ‘knew to be false, fraudulent or deceitful’ to the FBI, whether the FBI were involved in making such statements to the FISA Court, and whether Steele and the FBI colluded in a conspiracy to deceive the Court.
    An obvious question is whether a significant number of key figures in the FBI, up to and including James Comey, are candidates for indictments under the statute. In view of this situation, of course, it is difficult to see how justice can be served by having a former long-serving director of that organisation, who also appears to be a friend of Comey’s, deciding who is, and is not, to be prosecuted.

  57. blue peacock says:

    Was the appointment of Mueller planned and orchestrated at the FBI by Comey?

    “I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter [for The New York Times]. I didn’t do it myself for a variety of reasons, but I asked him to because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel.”

  58. Fred says:

    It was reported almost a year ago that the “friend” was Columbia University professor and former federal prosecutor Dan Richman. I believe he should have know what he was doing was a felony.

  59. blue peacock says:

    … it is difficult to see how justice can be served by having a former long-serving director of that organisation, who also appears to be a friend of Comey’s, deciding who is, and is not, to be prosecuted.

    Mueller is a highly compromised person. From UraniumOne to his longstanding role at the FBI and personal friendships with many like Comey.
    I believe you have hit the nail on the head. The Fusion GPS dossier is the pivot and simplest path to gain understanding of what happened and what role various individuals in law enforcement and the IC played. IMO, that is why Nunes, Goodlatte and Grassley are so focused on all the issues surrounding the dossier.
    Nunes in a recent interview stated his game plan. He has seen evidence that the FBI/DOJ lied and misrepresented to FISC which was essentially what the now publicly released memo asserts. His next step is to investigate the role of the State Department & Max Blumenthal and others around the production and dissemination of the dossier. He has also asked the FISC presiding judge for all documents and testimony around the the Page FISA application. He has also this week written a letter to the top officials in the Obama administration asking them 10 questions around their knowledge of the dossier.
    My sense is that after the DOJ IG report is released, there will be calls for another special counsel with a broad mandate to investigate the findings of the Congressional Republicans. Mueller may get ensnared in that investigation.

  60. pj says:

    Blue Peacock, I think you mean Sidney Blumenthal, the Clinton fixer and father of Max, who is a complete Russiagate sceptic.

  61. Barbara Ann says:

    Very much looking forward to seeing the FBI, the organization, referred to in upper case.

  62. Anna says:

    An opinion of a layperson: Mueller is either a first-rate opportunist looking forward for a fat pension as a reward for his blatantly unpatriotic, anti-Constitutional activities or he is in cognitive decline. Perhaps both. The indictment is laughable for any sane person (see a comparison with a comic book Unfortunately, the indictment creates a legalistic danger for a blanket punishment of any critique of the government. Another Q is what kind of electoral process the US could have from now on? Here is a CNN reporter accusing an elderly lady, who has been supporting Trump, in acting on Putin’s orders These frivolities distract from the really important questions: Who in the FBI have made the decisions to meddle in the US electoral process? Why the FBI allowed to be shooed away from the DNC “compromised” computers and instead the FBI let an avowed Jewish Russophobe Dm. Alperovitch, associated with the openly Russophobic Atlantic Council, to do a judgment (in 10 sec!) on “Russian meddling?” What about Brits’ meddling in the electorate process in the US? What about Seth Rich murder and the incredible Awan affair? What about Uranium One? The Union is indeed in crisis. It is rather insulting that the serious measures are substituted with the cartoonish “Indictment of Trolls.”

  63. Anna says:

    “I suppose hacking the DNC and Podesta is perfectly fine.”
    Considering the numerous publications about the probable impossibility of the hacking as compared to the much more probable leaking, your statement is rather misleading. The opportunistic and viciously Russophobic Mr. Alperovitch of CrowdStrike fame is not a reliable person — whereas the American Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) are:

  64. J says:

    What troubles me is the apparent deep penetration of FBI’s CI by a foreign intelligence agency, and it ain’t/isn’t the Ruskies or the Chicoms.

  65. Anna says:

    “War is a racket” and a special role of the security apparatus in the racket (from a report on the Munich Security Conference, 2018)
    “… three bosses — German BND (Bruno Kahl), British MI6 (Alex Younger) and the French DGSE (Bernard Emié), who explained in a private room, in front of an audience chosen for their naïveté, how nervous they were about the Turkish operation in Syria. The three men pretended to believe that the combatants of the YPG constitute the safest barrier against Daesh. Yet they were supposed to create the Frontier Security Force with certain ex-members of Daesh. … It’s clear that the job of these three super-spies is to know to whom they owe the truth, and to whom they can lie. Sustaining their momentum, they hinted that the Syrian Arab Army uses chemical weapons – profiting from the absence in the room of the US Secretary for Defence, Jim Mattis, who had testified a few days earlier that proof of this claim is inexistant.”
    — No wonder that the Internet, social media, and alternative media present such a danger for the masters of the universe, who make the decisions about the mega-racket.

  66. Procopius says:

    I think the parallels are because the neocons are still in control, though this time more firmly ensconced in the State Department (which is why I’m ambivalent about Tillerson destroying it) than at Defense (where only the ones who had grabbed headlines left — for very, very well paying jobs elsewhere for a while). Although there may be a counter-cabal at Defense, because they seemed to be at odds with the CIA in Syria at times, this only serves to confuse the overall strategy.

  67. Anna – “What about Brits’ meddling in the electorate process in the US?”
    I was a “Brit” during the Falklands War and proud to be one. That goes for a lot else too. But the Steele episode? That’s down to Westminster and with any luck not too much of it.
    I used to own, or you might say I used to feed and house, a Labrador that wanted to be a Rottweiler. A sneaky Rottweiler – he’d eye up the opposition first and if he thought he was in with a chance he’d be off. His way of fighting was scarcely honourable either. It was always difficult, when apologising to the opposition’s owner, to explain quite how I came to be walking around with such an animal.
    The aggrieved owner would sometimes point out that I ought to have the brute on a lead. Of course they were right and that’s how I usually walked him. The trouble is in the case of Westminster generally, and in such cases as the Steele episode in particular, that there are several tens of millions of us here who can’t find the blasted lead.

  68. Leaky Ranger says:

    Mueller has filed detailed new charges against Manafort and Gates. Covers time they were on the Trump campaign payroll. Judge has denied Manafort bail. Mueller moving very, very fast.

  69. Fred says:

    How’s Huma Abedin doing? Mueler investigate her yet about destruction of evidence? How about Imran Awan? Crimes they committed “covers time” of campaign interference. Was that what Pakistan was doing with Mr. Awan – influencing US elections – or was he just your every day crook?
    “accusing them of lying to banks to obtain millions of dollars in loans.” wow, that’s what Meuller charged Manafort with? Boy isn’t it just wonderful Trump fired him all those months ago? BTW I don’t see the names “Christoper Steele” or “Russia” in that article. I wonder if Mueller will get on the money trail of the $4.5 billion that reportedly went through Ukraine for that revolution that Victoria Nuland passed out cookies for in Maidan Square. I wonder how much made its way back to people connected to people connected to political campaigns in the USA.

  70. Anna says:

    On the domestic “brew” of incompetence and politicization:
    “Based on the modest way Awan was living, it is my opinion that he was sending most of his money to a group or criminal organization that could very well be connected with the Pakistani government,” stated Wayne Black, a private investigator who formerly served as supervisor of a Miami public corruption unit under former Attorney General Janet Reno. “My instincts tell me Awan was probably operating a foreign intelligence gathering operation on U.S. soil.”
    — How come that this affair was flourishing for years without being detected by the FBI and the CIA?

  71. mikee says:

    It is time for Mueller to unite the country and prosecute Fergie.
    Worst National Anthem, Ever

  72. Fred,
    Awan was arrested while trying to flee back to Pakistan last July. In August, he and his wife were indicted for conspiracy, making false statements, bank fraud and unlawful monetary transactions. Charges eerily similar to those new ones against Gates and Manafort. They’re all crooks as far as I can tell. Awan had nothing to do with what Mueller is charged to investigate. I’m curious to see how these new charges tie into his investigation. I don’t see where he’s going with it other than half the new charges against Manafort covering the time he was Trump’s campaign manager.

  73. Leaky Ranger says:

    Fred. Get real. Trump’s campaign manager was living an extravagant lifestyle financed by Russian oligarchs via dirty money. If his Russian connection hadn’t been exposed during the campaign, resulting in his getting fired, he could be Director of the CIA right now. This is a serious business. The White House is awash in vodka.

  74. Anna says:

    Here is an older – and much more important – case re national security than the petty dealings with Ukrainians by Manafort:
    “The essential question is whether the Obama Justice Department provided notice of the criminal activity of certain officials before the CFIUS approval of the Uranium One deal and other government decisions that enabled the Russians to trade nuclear materials in the U.S,” Grassley scolded.”
    —Meanwhile, the senior-level officials at the politicized DOJ and FBI have been insulting and destroying William Douglas Campbell, “a man who dutifully served the CIA and FBI for decades until he chose an opportune moment to reveal a monumental corruption.” “As part of the smear, Campbell’s name was divulged in a public filing by the DOJ, “making him unemployable in the industry and leaving him to survive on Social Security” after decades of loyal service to both the CIA and the FBI. … Campbell’s lawyer Victoria Toensing, a former Reagan Justice Department official and former Chief Counsel to the Senate Intelligence Committee, fired off a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday demanding an investigation into Campbell’s character assassination – CC’ing DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, along with several Congressional Investigators and others involved in the matter. The letter reads:
    “We write on behalf of our client, William Douglas Campbell, to request an investigation of disclosures by anonymous “federal officials” to the media and of Congressional briefings by “senior officials” of the Justice Department. The former provided false information about Mr. Campbell to the media. The latter provided false information about Mr. Campbell to Senate and House committees.”
    — Again, how does the petty case of Manafort dealings with Ukrainian oligarchs compare to the massive corruption permeating Uranium One deal that is of utmost importance for the US national security? Who has orchestrated the smearing of William Douglas Campbell?
    Then there is the dereliction of duty by the FBI/CIA brass re Awan affair — the greatest DOCUMENTED breach in the US cybersecurity. Add to that the FBI’s amazing shyness in relation to the DNC allegedly hacked computers: How come that the Russophobic Dm. Alperovitch took over the FBI duties and made a politically convenient conclusion (“Russians hacked the computers”), which since then was debunked by the patriotic U.S. Intelligence Veterans – and yet the FBI still is not ready to touch the “compromised” computers?

  75. mikee says:

    Mueller wants to know what Manafort knows.

  76. Jack says:

    TTG #78
    It is good that Manafort, Gates and Awan will be prosecuted for money laundering, bank and tax fraud. If only they would expand the remit to cover a 100 mile radius of the Mall. That would keep an army of prosecutors busy for several years. Now if the radius is expanded a bit further to also include Manhattan then a division strength prosecutorial team would be required.
    The point I’m making is that when it comes to financial and tax crimes the decision to prosecute is fundamentally political as these crimes are widespread among the political, governmental, & financial ekites. The only reason Manafort is being nailed is due to his association with Trump.

  77. Jack says:

    “…he could be Director of the CIA right now.”

  78. Fred says:

    I’m well aware of Awan not being connected to the Russians. Manafort and Gates were using their position to mine various House databases including those with classified information? No. They pulled a tax dodge? So what. That’s not Russian interference with the 2016 election.
    Russia is not Ukraine. He did get fired. There’s still the spending of $4.5 billion dollars of our money that should be audited.
    I’m aware of the Fox news talking points about uranium one. It’s getting less traction than the news about tide pods.

  79. confusedponderer says:

    I find that accusation of money laundering plausible when folks are dealing with oligarchs, be they in Russia (or elsewhere).
    So Manafort made deals with Ukie oligarchs? And he didn’t have any concerns where they got their money from?
    Either folks like Manafort don’t have the mental capacity to think about it or they don’t care about trifles like that.
    Point is that it is not irrelevant how folks like such oligarchs got to their money. There is a good chance that they came to wealth by crime and “taking-and-keeping” (without paying taxes) things in the process of privatisation of old soviet state property and corporations.
    In that case one has to underline the fact that even just taking a credit from such a dude is already “laundering money”.
    One can of course ignore that. There’s an old German phrase about how that phenomenon works – it’s called to to give the ‘brown jacket’ a “Persilschein” – or a ‘white washing’ – an assertion that the jacket is and always was white.
    When you juggle with crap, you will stink sooner rather than later. And when you’re bad at juggling there’s an increased chance to place a load on your head. Manafort apparently is a poorer juggler.

  80. confusedponderer says:

    Publius Tacitus,
    re: “Second, the United States has carried out comparable operations inside and against Russia/the USSR and has been involved in the covert interference in elections around the world.”
    I would add to that that the US in fact did interfere quite overt in elections around the world – topping that invisibility and subtlety with a … table dance – “F*** the EU” Nuland and iirc McCain handing out cookies to Ukies on the Maidan in Kiev.
    In comparison to that Ukraine stunt “Russiagate” in comparison comes across as extremely subtle and cautious. It was much cheaper also.

  81. turcopolier says:

    Leaky Ranger
    How does this connect to DJT? Guilt by association? pl

  82. Leaky Ranger says:

    Fair question. But Manafort was not forced on Trump, he was hand-picked by Trump. I would bet that a deep look at Trump’s tax returns would reveal extremely strong links, but I freely admit that’s conjecture.
    Mueller now has enumerated more than 100 criminal counts against 19 named individuals, and Gates would be the fourth guilty plea from Trump’s inner circle. That ain’t hay!

  83. Joe100 says:

    The Clinton’s, Blair and Biden all have well documented connections to Ukranian oligarchs like Pinchuk. Such connections could have no other plausible rationale than $$$ (somehow/someway).

  84. Dave says:

    We know only a tiny fraction of the evidence that Mueller has. I think your hypothesis has more to do with your love of Trump rather than reality.
    Mueller is a conservative republican. He is one of them. Wouldn’t you be interested to know how the Russians hacked our election rather than engaging in partisan demagoguery?

  85. Dave says:

    Our conservative republican National Security Advisor said that evidence of Russian meddling is “incontrovertible.”
    What do you know that our National Security Advisor doesn’t?

  86. Dave says:

    Mueller is a consummate, non-partisan professional.
    He is a conservative republican.
    Our conservative republican National Security Advisor says that proof of Russian collusion is “incontrovertible.
    McMaster has access to information that none of us do.
    If he says it’s a fact, he is to be believed.
    It’s important to note that this is not a “witch hunt.”
    The FBI is heavily republican, putting the lie to conservative conspiracy theories.

  87. blue peacock says:

    Mueller is a consummate, non-partisan professional.
    He is a conservative republican.”
    What you smoking? Seems you have some good stuff.

  88. blue peacock says:

    “I would bet that a deep look at Trump’s tax returns would reveal extremely strong links..”

    How much do you want to bet?
    The IRS have been taking a “deep look” at Trump’s tax returns for some time. Have you ever been under an IRS tax audit?

  89. Dave says:

    no smoke necessary, just stating facts.
    Conservative republican National Security Adviser, General McMaster claims that Russian meddling in our election is a fact. What credible, non-conspiracy theory information do you have that says otherwise?

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