Looks like the Steele Dossier pissed off Putin even more than the Republicans?

Was This Russian General Murdered Over the Steele Dossier?

The notorious dossier on Trump that Republicans want to discredit may well have been credible enough in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s eyes to get at least one person killed

Gen. Oleg Erovinkin of Russia’s State Security Service (FSB)

The dossier on Donald Trump compiled by former British intelligence operative Christopher Steele—which made headlines for its salacious, unconfirmed passage about Trump and hookers performing for him in a Moscow hotel room—has been denounced by the president’s people as fake news, of course.

But the document was a mixed collection of information and allegations far more precise than the rumors about compromising sexual activities, and some of what’s in it may have unnerved not only Trump, but the Kremlin, where hunting down leaks can take a fatal turn.

During his recently released August 2017 testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Glenn Simpson was asked about sources for the sensational dossier, which Simpson’s firm, Fusion GPS, commissioned. Responding for him, Simpson’s lawyer, Joshua Levy, blurted out a surprising warning: “Somebody’s already been killed as a result of the publication of this dossier.”

In his subsequent November testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, which was made available last Thursday, Simpson denied knowing specific cases of people being killed because of the dossier, but he then noted cryptically that “people literally risked their lives to tell us some of this stuff.”

In fact, there is evidence that at least one Russian was murdered because of Steele’s revelations: Gen. Oleg Erovinkin of Russia’s State Security Service (FSB). On the morning of Dec. 26, 2016, Erovinkin, age 61, was found dead in his car in central Moscow. Life News, known to be a Kremlin mouthpiece, first claimed on its website that Erovinkin had been “killed,” but then quickly changed its story, saying simply that Erovinkin had “died.” FSB investigators were called immediately to the death scene, and news outlets soon reported that Erovinkin had succumbed to a heart attack. There was no more official Russian mention of him.

Erovinkin, who joined the KGB (the FSB’s predecessor) in 1976, had in the mid-1990s worked in the Russian Presidential Administration, where his job was to monitor compliance with security procedures. (He was known as “the keeper of the Kremlin’s secrets.”) He then served under Igor Sechin when the latter was deputy premier and subsequently followed Sechin to Rosneft in 2012, after Sechin became CEO of the state oil giant.

Of all the officials who serve under Putin, Sechin is the most powerful. Erovinkin, as chief administrator at Rosneft, was Sechin’s right-hand man and must have known everything about Sechin’s contacts with Americans. Those included the former head of ExxonMobile, now Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. (Sechin once said he felt thwarted by U.S. imposed sanctions that kept him from riding motorcycles in America with his friend Tillerson.)



Alexander Torshin from Russia’s central bank bankrolled the NRA’s campaign to elect Trump?

FBI investigating whether Russian money went to NRA to help Trump

Paid for by Russians through the NRA?

WASHINGTON – The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency, two sources familiar with the matter have told McClatchy.

FBI counterintelligence investigators have focused on the activities of Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA, the sources said.

It is illegal to use foreign money to influence federal elections.

It’s unclear how long the Torshin inquiry has been ongoing, but the news comes as Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s sweeping investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, including whether the Kremlin colluded with Trump’s campaign, has been heating up.

All of the sources spoke on condition of anonymity because Mueller’s investigation is confidential and mostly involves classified information.

A spokesman for Mueller’s office declined comment.

Disclosure of the Torshin investigation signals a new dimension in the 18-month-old FBI probe of Russia’s interference. McClatchy reported a year ago that a multi-agency U.S. law enforcement and counterintelligence investigation into Russia’s intervention, begun even before the start of the 2016 general election campaign, initially included a focus on whether the Kremlin secretly helped fund efforts to boost Trump, but little has been said about that possibility in recent months.

The extent to which the FBI has evidence of money flowing from Torshin to the NRA, or of the NRA’s participation in the transfer of funds, could not be learned.

However, the NRA reported spending a record $55 million on the 2016 elections, including $30 million to support Trump – triple what the group devoted to backing Republican Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential race. Most of that was money was spent by an arm of the NRA that is not required to disclose its donors.

Two people with close connections to the powerful gun lobby said its total election spending actually approached or exceeded $70 million. The reporting gap could be explained by the fact that independent groups are not required to reveal how much they spend on Internet ads or field operations, including get-out-the-vote efforts.

During the campaign, Trump was an outspoken advocate of the Second Amendment right to bear arms, at one point drawing a hail of criticism by suggesting that, if Clinton were elected, gun rights advocates could stop her from winning confirmation of liberal Supreme Court justices who support gun control laws.

“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do folks,” Trump said at a rally in August 2016. “Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.”

Spanish authorities tag Torshin for money laundering

Torshin, a leading figure in Putin’s party, has been implicated in money laundering by judicial authorities in Spain, as Bloomberg News first revealed in 2016. Spanish investigators alleged in an almost 500-page internal report that Torshin, who was then a senator, capitalized on his government role to assist mobsters laundering funds through Spanish properties and banks, Bloomberg reported

A summary obtained by McClatchy of the still-secret report links Torshin to Russian money laundering and describes him as a godfather in a major Russian criminal organization called Taganskaya.

Investigators for three congressional committees probing Russia’s 2016 operations also have shown interest in Torshin, a lifetime NRA member who has attended several of its annual conventions. At the group’s meeting in Kentucky in May 2016, Torshin spoke to Donald Trump Jr. during a gala event at the group’s national gathering in Kentucky in May 2016, when his father won an earlier-than-usual NRA presidential endorsement.

An FBI spokesman declined to comment on the investigation.

The NRA did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Torshin could not be reached for comment, and emails to the Russian central bank seeking comment from Torshin and the bank elicited no response.

Mueller’s investigation has been edging closer to Trump’s inner circle. This week, The New York Times reported that Mueller had negotiated an agreement under which Steve Bannon, who was recently ousted from his post as a senior White House adviser, would fully respond to questions about the Trump campaign. Bannon headed the campaign over its final weeks.

Since taking over the investigation last May, Mueller has secured guilty pleas from two former Trump aides, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, both of whom agreed to cooperate with prosecutors; and criminal charges against two other top campaign figures, former campaign Chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates.

$30 million dollars:      The amount of money the National Rifle Association spent backing Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign – triple what the group spent on Republican Mitt Romney four years earlier

A year ago, three U.S. intelligence agencies signed off on a joint assessment that was the basis for the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats and other sanctions against the Kremlin. The intelligence agencies concluded that what began as a sophisticated Russian operation to undermine Americans’ faith in democracy morphed into a drive to help Trump win.

Torshin is among a phalanx of Putin proxies to draw the close attention of U.S. investigators, who also have tracked the activities of several Russian billionaires and pro-Russian Ukrainian oligarchs that have come in contact with Trump or his surrogates.

Torshin was a senior member of the Russian Senate and in recent years helped set up a Moscow gun rights group called Right to Bear Arms. He not only spoke with Trump Jr. at the NRA convention, but he also tried unsuccessfully to broker a meeting between Putin and the presidential candidate in 2016, according to the Times. He further sought to meet privately with the candidate himself near the 2016 NRA convention.

Torshin’s ties with the NRA have flourished in recent years. In late 2015, he hosted two dinners for a high-level NRA delegation during its week-long visit to Moscow that included meetings with influential Russian government and business figures.

In their internal report, Spanish prosecutors revealed a web of covert financial and money-laundering dealings between Torshin and Alexander Romanov, a Russian who pleaded guilty to money-laundering charges in 2016 and was sentenced to nearly four years in prison.

The prosecutors’ evidence included 33 audio recordings of phone conversations from mid-2012 to mid-2013 between Torshin and Romanov, who allegedly laundered funds to buy a hotel on the ritzy island of Mallorca. Torshin had an 80 percent stake in the venture, the Spanish report said.

In the phone conversations, Romanov referred to Torshin as the “godfather” or “boss.” Torshin has denied any links to organized crime and said his dealings with Romanov were purely “social.”

The Madrid-based newspaper El Pais last year reported that Spanish police were on the verge of arresting Torshin in the summer of 2013, when he had planned to attend a birthday party for Romanov, but a Russian prosecutor tipped the banker to plans to nab him if he set foot in Spain, and Torshin canceled his trip.

Congress looking at Torshin, too

The House and Senate Intelligence Committees and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee also have taken an interest in Torshin as part of their parallel inquiries into Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections.

In questioning Donald Trump Jr. at a closed-door hearing in mid-December, investigators for the Senate Intelligence Committee asked about his encounter with Torshin at the NRA convention, according to a source familiar with the hearing.

Alan Futerfas, a lawyer for Trump Jr., said his client and Torshin talked only briefly when they were introduced during a meal.

“It was all gun-related small talk,” Futerfas told McClatchy.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent letters in November to two senior Trump foreign policy aides, J.D. Gordon and Sam Clovis, seeking copies of any communications they had with or related to Torshin; the NRA; veteran conservative operative Paul Erickson; Maria Butina, a Torshin protege who ran the Russian pro-gun group he helped launch, and others linked to Torshin.

Erickson has raised funds for the NRA and is a friend of Butina’s. Shortly before the NRA’s May 2016 convention, he emailed Trump campaign aide Rick Dearborn about the possibility of setting up a meeting between Putin and Trump during the campaign, according to the Times.

Erickson’s email to Dearborn bore the subject line “Kremlin Connection.” In it, Erickson solicited advice from Dearborn and his boss, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, a top foreign policy adviser to Trump’s campaign, about the best way to connect Putin and Trump.

Both Dearborn and Butina, who has been enrolled as a graduate student at American University since mid 2016, have been asked to appear before the Judiciary Committee, but so far Erickson has not, sources familiar with the matter said.

Bridges LLC, a company that Erickson and Butina established in February 2016 in Erickson’s home state of South Dakota, also is expected to draw scrutiny. Public records don’t reveal any financial transactions involving Bridges. In a phone interview last year, Erickson said the firm was established in case Butina needed any monetary assistance for her graduate studies — an unusual way to use an LLC.

Erickson said he met Butina and Torshin when he and David Keene, a former NRA president, attended a meeting of Right to Bear Arms a few years ago in Moscow. Erickson described the links between Right to Bear Arms and the NRA as a “moral support operation both ways.”

Torshin’s contacts with the NRA and the Trump campaign last year also came to the attention of Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and key adviser. When Torshin tried to arrange a personal meeting with Trump near the NRA convention site last May, Kushner scotched the idea, according to emails forwarded to Kushner.

On top of Torshin’s efforts to cozy up to the Trump campaign, the Moscow banker has forged ties with powerful conservatives, including Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, the Californian whom some have deemed Putin’s best friend in Washington. In a phone interview in 2016, Rohrabacher recalled meeting Torshin in Moscow a few years earlier and described him as “a mover and shaker.”

Last February when Torshin visited Washington, Rockefeller heir and conservative patron George O’Neill Jr. hosted a fancy four-hour dinner for the banker on Capitol Hill, an event that drew Rohrabacher, Erickson and other big names on the right. Rohrabacher has labeled Torshin as “conservatives’ favorite Russian,” Torshin was in Washington at the time to lead his country’s delegation to the National Prayer Breakfast, where Trump spoke. The banker also was slated to see the presidentat a meet-and-greet event prior to a White House breakfast, but Torshin’s invitation was canceled after the White House learned of his alleged mob connections, Yahoo News reported.

Torshin’s involvement with the NRA may have begun in 2013 when he attended the group’s convention in Houston. Keene, the ex-NRA leader and an avid hunter, was instrumental in building a relationship with the Russian, according to multiple conservative sources.

Keene also helped lead a high-level NRA delegation to Moscow in December 2015 for a week of lavish meals and meetings with Russian business and political leaders. The week’s festivities included a visit to a Russian gun company and a meeting with a senior Kremlin official and wealthy Russians, according to a member of the delegation, Arnold Goldschlager, a California doctor who has been active in NRA programs to raise large donations.

Others on the trip included Joe Gregory, who runs the NRA’s Ring of Freedom program for elite donors who chip in checks of $1 million and upwards, Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke and Pete Brownell, a chief executive of a gun company and longtime NRA board member.

In a phone interview, Goldschlager described the trip as a “people-to-people mission,” and said he was impressed with Torshin — who, he noted, hosted both a “welcoming” dinner for the NRA contingent and another one.

“They were killing us with vodka and the best Russian food,” Goldschlager said. “The trip exceeded my expectations by logarithmic levels.”

McClatchy News Service BY PETER STONE AND GREG GORDON January 18, 2018



Will the “blue tsunami” be negated by terrorist attacks?

Trump says privately that a terror attack could save him and GOP from 2018 election bloodbath:

Faced with the likelihood of a “blue tsunami” in the 2018 midterm elections, Donald Trump is holding out hope that terrorists will attack the country, reported the Washington Post on Wednesday.

“In private conversations,” said the Post, “Trump has told advisers that he doesn’t think the 2018 election has to be as bad as others are predicting. He has referenced the 2002 midterms when George W. Bush and Republicans fared better after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, these people said.”

Matthew Yglesias at Vox.com wrote, “This is a frightening line of thought for an incumbent president and his team to be entertaining.”

“If the president and his top staff are not so concerned with democracy but purely political power, that’s a terrifying proposition,” said Yglesias.

If Trump believes that a terror attack will be a boon to his political fortunes, asked Vox, “How hard is he really working to keep the country safe?”


This strategy is similar in some ways to his public call for Russia’s help to defeat Hilary Clinton in the 2016 campaign we hope no terrorist or FSB agents decide to help Trump out this time.

Fox News promotes a phony coup to distract you from the real lawless takeover of America

Following the indictment of Paul Manafort and the guilty plea of Michael Flynn, Matt Gertz noted that Fox News is being increasingly venomous towards special prosecutor Robert Mueller. A Fox host said that Trump should be exonerated because he won the election. Another Fox host called for a “cleansing” of the FBI and DOJ. A frequent Fox News guest said that the entire FBI may need to be shut down. And now, Fox News warned during an interview with Kellyanne Conway that the Mueller investigation may be “a coup in America.” There are plenty of problems with the FBI and DOJ, but independence from the executive is not one of them.

Fox News’ coverage of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation is growing ever-darker, as my colleague Simon Maloy noted last week, with the network’s Trump-loving commentators offering up increasingly hysterical warnings that Mueller needs to be fired before he destroys the rule of law and the republic.

Eight nights ago, for example, Sean Hannity declared Mueller a “direct threat to you, the American people and our American republic.” Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett chimed in, claiming that “Mueller has been using the FBI as a political weapon,” turning the bureau into “America’s secret police” just like “the old KGB.”

This discussion was irresponsible and dangerous. But it also set a new bar for fearmongering about the Mueller investigation. And so the president’s lackeys, who are eager to kill Mueller’s probe before its completion, have spent the last week going on Fox and trying to clear it.

They are on an invective escalator. Every new development in the Russia probe requires ever-more-inflammatory rhetoric — for Jarrett and Hannity, the false KGB comparison was just the logical next step from comparing the Mueller team to the Mob. The tenor of the criticism only becomes more hysterical. A new, baseless “conflict of interest” for a member of Mueller’s team raises the bar. But so does a former Trump aide copping a plea in exchange for working with the special counsel’s office — it gets presented not as evidence Mueller’s probe is on the level, but evidence that it is not.

Meanwhile, their audience — which at times includes the president — receives increasingly dire warnings that a professional probe run by a Republican who was appointed FBI director by a president of each party is actually a corrupt effort at a deep state coup.

But how do you top comparing the FBI to the KGB?

Jeanine Pirro calls for a “cleansing” of the FBI and DOJ

Over a seven-plus-minute monologue, she specifically called for “handcuffs” for FBI agent Peter Strzok and Deputy Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe, and piled on criticism for Mueller, James Comey, senior DOJ official Bruce Ohr, and current FBI Director Christopher Wray. “The stench coming out of the Justice Department and the FBI is like that of a Third World country, where money and bullies and clubs decide elections. It all started when ‘Cardinal’ Comey destroyed our FBI with political hacks to set events in motion to destroy the republic because they didn’t like the man we chose to be our president. Well, it’s time to take them out, in cuffs,” she concluded.

Pirro is a friend and sometime adviser to the president, who regularly tunes in to her program. She reportedly took her conspiracy theories to the White House last month, denouncing Comey and Mueller in an Oval Office meeting with the president and his top aides. Pirro may be angling to join the administration so she can carry out this purge of the law enforcement apparatus; she reportedly interviewed to be deputy attorney general during the transition

Tom Fitton asks if the FBI needs to be shut down because it is now a “KGB-type operation”

For Tom Fitton, head of the conservative advocacy group Judicial Watch, those who are simply calling for Mueller’s firing haven’t gone far enough:

Fitton’s comments last night are an obvious one-up on last week’s KGB comparison — the situation may now be so dire that it requires destroying the entire bureau in order to save it.

Lou Dobbs: Trump should be exonerated because he won the election

On December 11, Lou Dobbs said on his Fox Business show that Sessions’ recusal from the Russia investigation may be because he’s been blackmailed by the “deep state.” After Fox contributor Jason Chaffetz criticized Sessions, calling for congressional action but clarifying that he’s “not saying it has to go the Republicans’ way,” Dobbs replied, “Why the hell shouldn’t it go the Republicans’ way? We elected a Republican president.” Dobbs added that the congressional Republican leadership should be “standing shoulder to shoulder with Trump” and “bring this thing to a conclusion.” And there it is, a direct call for ending the Mueller investigation purely because it targets the Republican administration. It’s hard to top that. But they’ll find a way.




Reactions to this dangerous rhetoric

 — Defense One exec editor Kevin Baron tweeted: “Coup?! I cover wars. Militaries. Actual coups. Where citizens violently rise up and kill each other for power over each other. This is alarmingly irresponsible language, even for Fox. Inflammatory. Baseless. Dangerous.”

— Former Ted Cruz campaign national spokesman Ron Nehring: “Use of the word ‘coup’ by Fox News after Russia has deliberately worked to destabilize US democracy is extremely irresponsible and should be roundly condemned…”

— Regarding Pirro comparing FBI officials to a “crime family,” Maggie Haberman tweeted: “Reminder that Pirro recently met w Trump in the Oval and told him Mueller was pursuing a classic mafia prosecution…”

— Former acting CIA director (now MSNBC analyst) John McLaughlin: “Collusion? The clearest example is among congressional GOP, Fox, and Pres. Trump to delegitimize Bob Mueller’s inquiry. Pretty obvious really…”

As the Russian Conspiracy investigation gets too real, Trump will gut the DOJ if he must

Nearing the end game:

The 6 phases of Trump’s plan to fire Robert Mueller

Trump is now ready, willing and able to fire special prosecutor Robert Muller. It’s a matter of when, not if. The warning signs have been accumulating since Trump decided not to fire Mueller last summer, and now alarm bells are ringing.

New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait says Mueller’s investigation is in “mortal danger.” E.J. Dionne Jr. of the Washington Post says the campaign to fire Mueller is pushing us “closer to the precipice” of lawlessness.

And the Republicans who once said firing Mueller was unthinkable or sure to lead to impeachment have fallen silent. Indeed, Trump critics on the right who might have spoken in Mueller’s defense have signaled their allegiance to the president, not the law. Last week, the editors of the Wall Street Journal said Mueller has a “credibility problem” and should resign.

Trump talked about firing Mueller as early as last June, according to Newsmax publisher Christopher Ruddy, but he didn’t have any idea how to do it. Trump was blocked, not by considerations of morality or politics, but by a parliamentary maneuver quietly approved by Mitch McConnell.

McConnell’s move was not an expression of support for Mueller personally, or for an independent Russia investigation generally. It was merely a tactical maneuver designed to protect McConnell’s legislative agenda (repealing Obamacare and cutting taxes for the rich) from getting swamped by Trumpian chaos.

At that time, Trump and adviser Steve Bannon recognized the president did not have political muscle among Republicans to kill off the Russia investigation. Since then, they have devised a comprehensive plan to overwhelm the objections of establishment Republicans like McConnell and conservative allies like Ruddy.

That campaign has six phases, four of which have been implemented.

Phase 1: Trash Mueller’s reputation among Republicans.

As a registered Republican appointed to head the FBI by a Republican president, Mueller once enjoyed a reservoir of respect among Republicans. When Mueller was appointed special prosecutor in May, Newt Gingrich called him a “superb choice.”

So smearing Mueller’s good name became the first goal. By early August, Gingrich dutifully said Muller embodied the “deep state at its worst.”

Phase 2: Unify Republican media around scandals about Hillary Clinton.

After his return to Breitbart News, Bannon revived the Uranium One story first floated by Peter Schweizer in his 2015 book, Clinton Cash. Schweizer alleged that Clinton played a “central role” in approving the sale of Uranium One, a Canadian company with mining rights in the United States, to Russian’s nuclear energy agency.

Fox News joined the effort. From mid-October to early November, Fox News devoted an extraordinary 12 hours of news coverage to this recycled story in just three weeks. Tucker Carlson said it was “insane” that Clinton had “given away” 20 percent of America’s uranium supplies. He suggested Clinton did so because Russians and people linked to the deal had given money to the Clinton Foundation.

The only problem, as Fox News’ Shepard Smith pointed out, is there was no evidence that Hillary Clinton had actually intervened, to facilitate the tale. And the Russian atomic energy agency did not obtain any uranium from the deal because it does not have the license necessary to import American uranium.

The conservative media also played up the Clinton campaign’s role in funding the production of a salacious dossier about Trump, which was prepared by a former British spy who got information from Russian sources.

With these stories in wide circulation, Trump had a Russia defense that didn’t involve any facts about his Russian dealings, only the story of a unified party under siege from partisan liberals.

Never seen such Republican ANGER & UNITY as I have concerning the lack of investigation on Clinton made Fake Dossier (now $12,000,000?),….— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 29, 2017  (which is Bullshit)

By the end of October, only 38 percent [17] of Republicans approved of Mueller’s investigation.

Phase 3: Link the Clinton scandals to Mueller and export the story to more mainstream news outlets.

Once the talking points about Muller’s reputation and Clinton’s scandals were engrained in the conservative news cycle, they were then linked in the new narrative that Mueller is a Clinton partisan.

This strategy of mass distraction relieved Republicans of the difficult job of explaining away the accumulating evidence of undisclosed contacts between the Trump entourage and Russian agents during the election campaign. It gave them something else to talk about.

Trump’s defenders on the congressional intelligence committees called on Mueller to investigate Uranium One. If he didn’t, he must be protecting Clinton.

If Mueller investigated the allegations in the Steele dossier, then he was doing Clinton’s work.

If Mueller’s team included a lawyer who gave money to Obama in 2008, then his whole team was motivated by partisanship.

And if Mueller took steps to protect his investigation, his integrity could be used to undermine him. When it was revealed that Mueller had removed an FBI agent, Peter Strzok, from his investigation, after finding out that Strzok and a colleague had exchanged messages that could be interpreted as pro-Hillary Clinton, it wasn’t a good-faith effort to eliminate the appearance of bias; it was proof, as Sean Hannity put it, that Mueller and company are a “partisan, extremely biased, hyperpartisan attack team.”

Now Trump’s partisans can criticize Mueller for being unfair and they don’t even have to talk about firing him.

In USA Today, James Robbins says Mueller should suspend his investigation. In The Hill, former Bush speechwriter Ned Ryun calls for “complete transparency” about the Clinton scandals as a way of achieving truth, without the need for a special prosecutor. “Trump can let Americans make up their own minds, know the truth, and move on to better things to do with their lives,” he writes.

That’s the script for firing Mueller.

Phase 4: Establish the expectation that the Russian investigation will be wrapped up soon.

“It is my hope and expectation that shortly after Thanksgiving, all the White House interviews will be concluded,” White House counsel Ty Cobb told CNN. The Washington Post reports [23] he’s telling West Wing staffers that the investigation overall will soon conclude, exonerating President Trump.

Since no one familiar with Mueller or the complexity of the Russia investigation shares this fantasy, the Atlantic’s David Graham was puzzled. “Where does he get his optimistic take, and could he be right?” he asked.

As liberals ponder Trump’s veracity—and miss the point—the president continues to repeat this deliberately false talking point to establish the perception that the Mueller investigation is coming to an end. The president thinks his involvement in the investigation “will be wrapped up pretty soon,” reliable mouthpiece Chris Ruddy said last week.

So when the Russian investigation doesn’t end by the New Year—and it won’t—Trump can argue the special investigator is on a fishing expedition that has gone on too long.

Phase 5: Wait for a moment of strength.

Trump can’t risk a political firestorm right now. He’s the least popular American president in a century. Four of his aides have been indicted, and he has no legislative accomplishments to speak of. His best hope is the Republicans’ regressive tax plan, which has to be rewritten by a conference committee. With major differences [27] between House and Senate versions still outstanding, any controversy over Mueller could prevent Trump from gaining his first major legislative victory.

But if the tax cut is signed this month, as Republicans hope, Trump can claim a victory and he’ll have the muscle to move on Mueller.

Phase 6: Find a Justice Department official willing to fire Mueller.

By law, a president can’t fire a special prosecutor. Only the Attorney General can do that. Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation so the job would fall to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. In his confirmation hearings, Rosenstein made clear he would not obey an order to fire Mueller without “good cause.” Nothing Mueller has done so far comes close to meeting that standard.

So Trump will have to fire Rosenstein. The department’s third-ranking official, Assistant Attorney General Rachel Brand, whom Trump appointed last May, would face the decision whether to obey Trump’s order. As I pointed out last June, Brand is a foot soldier in the conservative counterrevolution.

Given a choice between protecting Mueller, a nonpartisan career civil servant, and protecting Trump, a conservative president in danger of impeachment, I don’t think Brand will hesitate. She’s been training her whole professional life to do the ideologically correct thing. She (or another Trump appointee) will fire Mueller. Congressional Republicans will not defend him. And the president will rule beyond the rule of the law.



Now we know why Trump has been so extra unhinged in the last week

Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn looks at President-elect Donald Trump as he talks with the media at Mar-a-Lago estate where Trump attends meetings, in Palm Beach, Florida, December 21, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

President Obama warned Trump not to hire Michael Flynn

Sources tell ABC News that former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn is expected to deliver direct evidence against President Donald Trump and his family in the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

ABC News’ Brian Ross reported on Friday morning that Flynn has agreed to “fully cooperate” with Mueller in the probe, and is “prepared to testify… against President Trump, against members of the Trump family and others in the White House.”

Most significantly, Ross’ source says that Flynn will tell Mueller that Trump as a presidential candidate ordered him to make “direct contact” with the Russian government to help his campaign.

Ross also reported that Flynn only decided to cooperate with Mueller within the last 24 hours, as he was facing serious “financial problems” as a result of all the legal bills related to the Russia probe.

Ex-US Attorney: Trump is ‘scared to death’ as Mueller ‘squeezes’ his inner circle like toothpaste

Former United States Attorney Michael Moore went on CNN Friday to break down the plea deal struck between former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and special counsel Robert Mueller — and he predicted bad things to come for the White House.

Moore said that the pattern the Mueller is following — that is, starting with lower level Trump campaign officials like George Papadopoulos and working up to bigger fish such as Flynn — is a by-the-book method for conducting these kinds of investigations.

“This is classic federal prosecutor style, and that’s what we would expect from Bob Mueller, and I think that’s what’s got the White House probably scared to death,” he said. “This is not unlike a tube of toothpaste — you squeeze it at the bottom, and the more you squeeze the more evidence comes out at one end. That’s what’s happening here as we continue to see Bob Mueller squeezing people in Trump’s inner circle.”

Moore then went on to connect Flynn’s admission to lying to FBI investigators to Trump’s decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey, and said that Flynn’s guilty plea lends new weight to the investigation over whether Trump obstructed justice.

“That’s not fake anymore, it’s a real investigation,” he said.

from Raw Story   www.rawstory.com

Michael Flynn pleads guilty to lying to the FBI — a milestone in special counsel Robert Mueller’s wide-ranging probe

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty Friday to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Flynn’s admission to the charge Friday in federal district court in D.C. is an ominous sign for the White House, indicating he is cooperating in the ongoing probe of possible coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin to influence the 2016 election. The charge relates to false statements Flynn made to the FBI on January 24 — four days after President Trump was inaugurated — about his conversations with Kislyak during the transition.


Thanksgiving and a Turkey; some rules for having fun and staying sane

First Rule For Having a Fun Thanksgiving: Go with canned cranberry sauce instead of the homemade variety.


Second Rule For Having a Fun Thanksgiving: Don’t talk about politics.


Third Rule For Having a Fun Thanksgiving: When your Uncle Steve inevitably breaks rule two, be prepared.

Read up on your talking points below for your debate with Uncle Steve at the dinner table — share it with your family and friends and encourage them to sign on to the effort to impeach this dangerous president!



On impeachment: Simply put, Trump is utterly unfit to serve as president. From obstructing justice by firing the head of the FBI, to threatening nuclear war with North Korea, to normalizing white supremacy, he has shown that he is exactly the person the founders had in mind when they wrote impeachment into the Constitution.




On Russia: Your uncle may insist that Trump is not guilty of anything more than trying to make America great again. Let him know there is clear evidence that Russia meddled in the election last year and there are members of Trump’s team who have been lying about their involvement with Russian operatives at every step of the way.




On the GOP tax cuts: For decades, big corporations and the wealthy have gotten an easy ride when it comes to paying their fair share of taxes. The tax cut Republicans are trying to pass will make that far worse — at the expense of working American families.

Above all, at Thanksgiving, remember this: We’re all in this together, and Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate the things that bind us together as family and as Americans.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Impeach the Turkey