Republicans Tilt at Steele Dossier/Clinton Windmills

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Trump Maladministration

The Senate Judiciary Committee made a criminal referral to the Justice Department against Christopher Steele, the author of the infamous Steele Dossier. Yes, the first referral of their investigation into alleged Russian-Trump collusion is against one of the people who exposed it. Of course.

It’s a bit hazy as to exactly which crime Steele is alleged to have committed. The Judiciary Committee allege that Steele lied to federal authorities about his contacts with reporters, and they want it investigated, although to what end (except as a red herring) isn’t clear.

The Senate Judiciary Committee behaves as if the Steele Dossier is the lynchpin against all the anti-Trump allegations, and if it were discredited all would be resolved in Trump’s favor. But it seems to me the Steele Dossier is nearly irrelevant at this point. It wasn’t even the first clue of possible collusion that caught the FBI’s interest, as was once believed. We now know the first clue was Trump foreign policy adviser/coffee boy George Papadopoulos’s drunken bragging to an Australian ambassador that the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Of course, it’s also the case, according to several sources, that Trump has been whining bitterly for months about the “fake” dossier, so the referral may have been made to mollify the man-baby.

Seems to me that if the Steele Dossier had never been written, we’d still be in about the same place regarding the several investigations. There’s plenty of publicly revealed evidence — especially of obstruction of justice — without it, and who knows what Mueller has by now that he’s keeping under his vest.

Meanwhile, the FBI (at Trump’s request, the NY Times says) has opened another investigation into the Clinton Foundation. Per the Times story there’s no new evidence of anything; the investigation will be re-plowing old fields. And the Department of Justice is once again investigating Hillary Clinton’s emails. Last week the right-wing Judicial Watch was practically crowing because the State Department released the emails found on Anthony Weiner’s laptop and, JW says, some of them were classified. (And the State Department released them? Well, they were heavily redacted.)

CNN reported December 30,

Then-FBI Director James Comey testified earlier this year that “Somehow, her emails were being forwarded to Anthony Weiner, including classified information by (Clinton’s) assistant, Huma Abedin,” he said.
But there was no indication that Abedin “had a sense that what she was doing was in violation of the law,” Comey added, and investigators couldn’t prove any sort of criminal intent.
The emails weren’t marked as classified, though the FBI later found classified information contained in some emails recovered from Weiner’s laptop.
CNN has previously reported it was likely that some of the emails stored on Weiner’s laptop contained classified information, and fired FBI Director Comey testified that there is no indication Abedin “had a sense that what she was doing was in violation of the law.”

So, again, nothing was found that wasn’t already known about and hasn’t already been investigated. The Justice Department might as well re-open the Lindbergh baby kidnapping case while they’re at it, since they seem to have nothing better to do.

As absurd as they are, these investigations could be used for sinister purposes. Jonathan Chait writes,

At minimum, the effect will be to feed the right-wing news media’s message that Trump’s opponents are the real criminals, in order to supply a distraction for his base. At maximum, the “charges” will allow Trump to have something to trade away — he could fire Mueller while “magnanimously” pardoning his enemies in the alleged spirit of letting old feuds die. In either case, the threat of investigation can be used to make any potential Trump critic think twice.

I’m not sure Trump has the political capital left to make deals like that, though. And, of course, a lot depends on the midterms …

 

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. KC  •  Jan 6, 2018 @1:25 pm

    This stuff is scary.  Folks on the Left who are still caught up in the primary fights of 2016 need to readjust their thinking. There ain’t going to be socialized healthcare anytime soon if the midterms go poorly.  It’s going to take a united front to turn this ship around. 

  2. Swami  •  Jan 6, 2018 @1:34 pm

    All of the GOP noise making and distraction should just be seen as an indicator that Trump's presidency is coming apart. Sorta like boxing where a boxer works the body of his opponent and the damage isn't readily visible. There won't be a big knockout blow to Trump's presidency, but the way things look now Trump won't be able to go the distance.

  3. bernie  •  Jan 6, 2018 @3:27 pm

    Of course the plan for the family clan is to always be on the offense, or at least be offensive in any sense of the word.  Here, the public money and public institutions are apparently being used to settle their personal vendetta's and feuds.  A penalty flag  seems warranted.

    Evan Osnos from a recent New Yorker Article entitled Making China Great Again wrote: 

    "After the summit, the Pangoal institution, a Beijing think tank, published an analysis of the Trump Administration, describing it as a den of warring "cliques," the most influential of which was the "Trump family clan."  The Trump family clan appears to "directly influence final decisions" on business and diplomacy that"has rarely been seen in the political history of the United States," the analyst wrote.  He summed it up using an obscure phrase from feudal China: jiatianxia–"to treat the state as your possession.""

    The Chinese seem to have had him figured out better than us for some time.

  4. grannyeagle  •  Jan 6, 2018 @4:12 pm

    How can I get through the months ahead?  Guess I will have to get some anti-anxiety and anti-nausea meds from my doc.  Or else go to bed and pull the covers over my head until this all goes away. 

  5. aj  •  Jan 6, 2018 @6:03 pm

    These seem to be paper tigers to make Trump happy, affirm his version of reality. Also to feed his base some meat. The Fire and Fury news might upset their heads stuck you know where.

    What concerns me is the attacks on the Comey corroborators, the agents he told about Trump's obstruction attempts, and the combing of text messages and any politically incorrect thoughts agents may have had( ie purge). This is really following the fox news and congressional pro putin, russian republicans demands for a purge.

    I still want to know whose bidding Grassley and Graham are performing. Are their donors demanding this? 

    It is time Mueller dropped some more indictments on the table while he still can.

  6. aj  •  Jan 6, 2018 @6:26 pm

    A little off subject but if Bannon thought the Trump tower meeting treasonous, why didn't he call the FBI. If Trump was making up excuses for Jr, why didn't Bannon the great patriot say something? So Since Bannon is a complicit x*x! and now he is banished, will he go to Mueller and offer to talk? 

  7. maha  •  Jan 6, 2018 @6:39 pm

    “A little off subject but if Bannon thought the Trump tower meeting treasonous, why didn’t he call the FBI.” William Saletan has a column at Slate saying that Wolff’s claim that Trump didn’t expect to or even want to win the election serves as a kind of unifying theory for most of what is screwed up about his administration. A lot of the crap that Junior, Kushner, Flynn and Manafort did probably would never have mattered to anybody if Trump had lost. https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/01/what-michael-wolff-got-right-about-donald-trump.html

  8. csm  •  Jan 6, 2018 @7:37 pm

    Its a sign of just how morally and politically bankrupt the GOP is, that with complete control and at this early stage they have no choice but to go to phony Clinton investigations to shore up their party and their idiot president.  Its a sign of just how unpopular and useless the GOP is as a party, and just how clearly ineffective and incompetent Trump is as president. 

    Here's something the brain dead GOP voters need to think about: If Trump was truly as "great" as Ryan says, if he was as "good" as Huckabee Sanders insisted, if he was "the greatest President ever" as Hatch ridiculously said, and all the other praiseworthy bull the sycophantic GOP leaders shovel out when prompted by Trump, then they all would be so busy "winning" America would be so blindingly “great” there’d neither be time nor any interest in Clinton investigations.  

     

     

  9. c u n d gulag  •  Jan 6, 2018 @11:04 pm

    In the past year, the very same Republicans who were not tRUMP fans, who seemed to be actually concerned about Russia's possibly tampering with our elections, and also with the appearance of collusion between tRUMP's campaign and Putin's government, are now not merely cowardly and compliant in tRUMP'S attempts to overthrow our democratic system of  governance, but are becoming complicit in it.

    What happened?

    The obvious answer is that they were afraid of tRUMP's  base.  But are they still?  His poll numbers suck!  And if the Senators who became his "piss-boy"s" were facing reelection this year, then it might explain their cowardice and complicity; but many of them are not. 

    So, WTF is the real reason? 

    WHY ARE THEY DOING THIS!?!?!?

    It's as if over the past year, the entire party has decided to aid and abet tRUMP in obstructing justice. 

    OBSTRUCTING JUSTICE! 

    OBSTRUCTING the Department of Justice's investigation of a former candidate's – now POTUS's – possible collusion with a foreign government.  And not just any foreign government, but a long-time hostile/enemy government.   

    If  it's as intentional as it now appears it could be, then the ENTIRE Republican Party is nothing but a confederacy of TRAITORS, aiding and abetting their Authoritarian leader to conceal previous TREASONOUS activity between their leader and a hostile foreign government, possibly resulting in victory for their leader.

    A political party whose members, en masse, have decided that committing TREASONOUS, TRAITOROUS actions to keep them and their leader in power, are preferable to doing their duty as  defined in the US Constitution they swore on  the Bible that they would defend at all costs, against enemies both foreign AND DOMESTIC!

    Pogo was right – at least as far as our TREASONOUS, TRAITOROUS Republicans are concerned:  "We have met the enemy and he is us!"

    Real patriotic Americans – and not the loud, faux ones – need go get ready to hit the streets.

    And, tragically, there will be blood. 

  10. pluky  •  Jan 7, 2018 @12:23 pm

    @bernie

    "obscure phrase from feudal China"

    Well it's not like they don't have centuries of experience with mad emperors forfeiting the Mandate of Heaven.

  11. justsomeguy  •  Jan 15, 2018 @3:36 pm

    C U N D gulag :

    "What happened".

     

    Humans are very tribal.  People trend to go along with whatever their "identity group" thinks.  One of our major flaws as a species.

    Among Republicans that initially had issues with Trump, SOME go along now because it benefits their position, power &/or income, others because they lack the ability to consistently think differently than their group.  It is probably even harder to think independently of Republicans when you live in a Republican media and Republican friend bubble.

     

     

     



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