Tag Archives: Trump-Russia conspiracy theory

KABOOM! I Thought I Had Seen The Most Ridiculous Theories Of How President Trump Obstructed Justice, But I Was Wrong!

To be clear, the KABOOM! in this case, which is the announcement that something has made my head explode, is not because of the ridiculous theory itself, but because I was wrong to believe that theories coming out of the Trump Deranged Who Were Once Smarter Than This couldn’t get worse.  I thought the theory that it was obstruction of justice for President Trump to fire an employee and subordinate, James Comey, whom not only he clearly had the authority to fire, but that just about everyone in the country in both parties had declared inept, biased, or criminal at one time or another over the past 12 months, and who had clearly committed firing offenses under Trump.

How could anyone of any authority or expertise whatsoever come up with a more idiotic theory than that? I was certain the answer was, “They can’t.” I bet my head on it.

Ah, but the hate of “the resistance” and the professionalism-corroding power of the Anti-Trump Brain Eating Virus is stronger than even I thought. Get this, and hold on to your heads:

In a USA Today story President Trump’s counsel John Dowd—he’s the one who doesn’t use obscenities or look like an axe-murderer—acknowledged that he had engaged in communications with the Special Counsel on behalf of his client, conveying how much the President “appreciates what Bob Mueller is doing.” Dowd said that the President asked him to convey his “appreciation and greetings.”

Ah-HA! Notre Dame professor Jimmy Gurulé, a former U.S. assistant attorney general under President George H.W. Bush, told LawNewz.com that the message from Dowd could be construed as intimidation or an effort to influence the investigation. “‘I’m watching you.’ How else could it be interpreted?” Gurulé said. ‘ Thank you for conducting an investigation into my campaign. Thank you for conducting an investigation into my son and my son-in-law.’”

How else? Gee, I don’t know. I’d interpret it as, “I appreciate what a difficult task you have, and understand that we all have to do our jobs”…

…since THAT’S WHAT WAS SAID. Continue reading

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Ethics Quote Of The Month: Professor Jonathan Turley

“This is Larry Tribe’s brain on Trump…”

“There is an open frustration among many who want confirmation that we are finally close to a Trump indictment. It is neither satisfying nor entertaining to consistently say that this is far short of any cognizable criminal case. However, the cable news is filled with experts assuring viewers that we are closer than we are. It is like finding a scientist willing to assure viewers that the moon is half its actual distance. It may be an exciting prospect, but it makes any attempt a dangerous pursuit.”

-George Washington University Law School Professor Jonathan Turley, decisively debunking claims that President Trump was guilty of “witness tampering” when he helped hos son craft a misleading description of his meeting with Russians offering “opposition research.”

When the nauseating history of “the resistance” is written, laying out how Democrats, progressives and the news media abused, harassed, undermined, obstructed and withheld basic respect of his office from this President unlike any before him in hopes of  overturning an election, Professor Turley will stand tall, just as he did during the run-up to the Clinton impeachment, when he was one of the few liberal scholars with the courage to spit on the Democrats’ “everybody does it” and “it’s just sex” defenses. Along with fellow liberal legal scholar Alan Dershowitz, Turley has steadfastly insisted on legal precision and fairness from the various members of his profession, some distinguished indeed, who have rushed to give aid and comport to  anti-Trump zealots by jamming the square pegs of Trump’s conduct into the round holes of criminal statutes.

One of the repeat offenders has been former Harvard law professor Lawrence Tribe.  Tribe quickly announced that what Trump had done by working on his son’s statement was witness tampering.  Tribe previously has opined that Trump and his family was guilty of evidence of obstruction of justice, criminal election violations, Logan Act violations, extortion and possible treason by the president or his family, as well as by May joining Maxine Waters in the indefensible fantasy that Trump could and should be impeached. Tribe also recently tweeted that White House aide Stephen Miller was a “non human,” though that tweet has been taken down by its impulsive author.

Come on, Larry! You can’t do “the resistance” any good by broadcasting your biases like that!

Yes, there is strong evidence that the Trump Hate Virus has eaten away at the once brilliant professor’s prodigious brain, but Turley respectfully treats his latest impeachment fantasy with the respect it might deserve if Tribe were still at its peak:

[A] misleading statement is not a crime in itself — or half of Washington would be serving time. It is spin. It turned out to be remarkably ill-advised and self-defeating spin, but it was a classic effort to emphasize the least damaging part of the story. It was also dumb. The president knew there was a special counsel in the field investigating his role into a possible effort to obstruct the Russian investigation. There were various options in responding to the New York Times story about emails to Trump’s son.

This was the worst of all available options. The president prevented his staff from insulating himself from the story and creating some crush space between him and his controversy. By inserting himself into the controversy, he harmed both his and his son’s legal position. Trump, once again, made the White House the center of gravity for the scandal rather than Trump Tower or the campaign….

However, it still does not make it a crime. Take Tribe’s witness tampering claim. The statutory provision in 18 U.S.C. 1512 addresses an effort to “corruptly persuade another person” to “influence” testimony of that person in the withholding of information. This language has never been extended to a public statement of this kind.

First, there was no existing demand for testimony from Trump Jr. on this meeting. Second, there is no evidence that Trump told his son to lie about the email or the original understanding of the meeting. This was not coaching for testimony but a public defense. Third, even if this were construed to be about testimony, the law contains an express affirmative defense (that needs only be proven by a preponderance of the evidence) that “the conduct consisted solely of lawful conduct” and that the defendant intended to encourage truthful testimony. The Trumps have emphasized what the meeting primarily addressed while downplaying what it was intended to address. They did not address the original purpose in the statement.

Turley goes on to note the pernicious double standards being employed by Tribe and others corrupted by their “resistance” fervor.”

“The Clintons were famous for such spins. Indeed, with knowledge of an ongoing investigation in the field, Clinton repeatedly changed her account of the use of a personal server to transmit sensitive and classified information. It went from an assertion that no classified material was sent (which is untrue) to a statement that she never “received nor sent any material that was marked classified” (which is also untrue).”

Of course, Tribe never raised a peep about Hillary’s conduct on Twitter or anywhere else. Continue reading

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Debbie Wasserman Schultz And Her Shady Pakistani Tech

Obviously, this is not true. In fact, Anderson didn’t mention the story at all….

While the Trump-stalking pro-“resistance” news media has been lightning-quick to pounce on any whiff of suspicion emanating from everything from a botched opposition research attempt by the President’s idiot son, to a “secret” meeting between the President and Putin that was in plain view. to a shockingly friendly letter to the President from a 9-year-old, it has been strangely incurious about this story, which to the non Trump-deranged is belching more smoke than any two “scandals” being investigated by the special counsel. No headlines, no segments on the broadcast news, except for Fox, of course. I haven’t written about it because it’s difficult to find sources other than Fox and Breitbart to rely on. I’m still unsure what exactly it all means

Up to the moment he was arrested for bank fraud as he attempted to leave the country for Pakistan,  Imran Awan was being paid by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former chair of the Democratic National Committee, former Hillary Clinton campaign staffer (added immediately and shamelessly after having to resign after being revealed as leading the rigging of the nomination against Bernie Sanders and for Hillary), and hilariously dishonest spinner for Barack Obama for eight years, as her trusted IT guy. Well, as her IT guy, anyway.

Aswan’s wife, Hina Alvi, also in the family business of being paid by Democrats, had already fled the country with her three young daughters. The Awans  had snagged a fraudulent $165,000 loan  from the Congressional Federal Credit Union, and sent it home to Pakistan. Aswan’s position with the DNC and Wasserman-Schultz had given him and other nefarious collaborators—his relatives!— in various Hill IT department years of access to the e-mails and electronic files of members of the House’s Intelligence and Foreign Affairs Committees. They were accessing members’ computers without their knowledge, transferring files to remote servers, and stealing computer equipment, including hard drives.

The Democrats fired all of the Awans early this year, except, oddly, for Awan himself, who stayed on Debbie’s staff, collecting a heft salary.  She kept him in a place that allowed  access to the work product and communications of members of  United States Congress right up until he was arrested.

What does this mean? We don’t know yet, and the news media is acting as if it doesn’t want to know. Asks Andrew McCarthy, Continue reading

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Bravo! Professor Turley And Sir Thomas More On The Disgraceful, Dangerous, And Deranged Professionals Of “The Resistance”

Law professor/blogger Jonathan Turley’s latest essay, “Roper’s Resolve: Critics Seek Dangerous Extensions Of Treason and Other Crimes To Prosecute The Trumps” had me at “Roper,” Turley’s direct reference to the most often posted movie clip on Ethics Alarms,* the scene above from “A Man For All Seasons.”  Turley applies the scene correctly, too, to the depressingly large mob of previously respectable and responsible lawyers, elected officials, scholars, academics, journalists and pundits who have betrayed their professions’ values and ethics to falsely tell a gullible public that the President and members of his family, campaign and administration have committed treason, espionage, conspiracy, election fraud and obstruction of justice when such accusations are not supported by law or precedent, evidence, facts or common sense. These accusations are, rather, the product of unreasoning fury and bias sparked by Donald Trump’s election as President.

Some of the individuals Turley names, like Senator Tim Kaine, Hillary’s running mate, may be just spewing political bile out of a lack of integrity. Kaine is a former prosecutor and should know better. Some, like Cornell Law School Vice Dean Jens David Ohlin, may be examples of bias making smart people stupid. MSNBC legal analyst Paul Butler, who claimed Trump was “conspiring with the U.S.’ sworn enemy to take over and subvert our democracy,” and who declared it is now “clear” that “what Donald Trump Jr. is alleged to have done is a federal crime” are, sadly, typical of how the unethical and dishonest the news media now behaves much of the time. As for my fellow legal ethicist Richard Painter, also fingered by Turley, I’m convinced from his increasingly extreme and hysterical anti-Trump analyses  that he has been driven to the edge of madness by Trump’s election. He’s not the only one.

Turley also points to former Watergate assistant special prosecutor Nick Akerman, who is just plain wrong. One cannot claim, as Ackerman does, that there is “a clear case that Donald Trump Jr. has met all the elements” of a violation of the election laws when, as Turley points out, no court has ever reached such a conclusion. That is prima facie evidence that there is no clear case.

Echoing More, Turley writes, Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/15/2017

Gooooood Morning Ethics Alarms Readers in Vietnam (3, 501 views so far)!!

1. I am three new rationalizations and at least two Comments of the Day behind. Sorry.

2. One of the more creative efforts to make Donald Trump Jr.’s aborted opposition research meeting seem significant, sinister and one more step to the impeachment “the resistance” and the news media so, so desperately want is this article in the Washington Post, by a Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, the director of the Intelligence and Defense Project at Harvard’s Belfer Center, who was a director of intelligence and counterintelligence at the Department of Energy and previously a CIA intelligence officer in domestic and international posts. His analysis is a masterpiece of projection, supposition, unwarranted assumptions and exaggeration. Rolf’s argument is that the meeting is important because it constituted a “green light” to Russia that the Trump campaign approved of Russian meddling in the election, would not blow the whistle on it, would be open to more serious involvement, and would respond to such action with future quid pro quo favors. All of this, simply based on the willingness to meet on the hopes of acquiring dirt on Hillary Clinton.

It is useful a a microcosm of the entire Russia-Trump conspiracy theory, and indeed conspiracy theories generally. Applied to an agreement between a married man and a single woman to have drinks together, the fact that the man never tells his spouse about the meeting means that the man thought the meeting was illicit, was open to having adulterous sex with the woman, would react favorably to the woman’s subsequent efforts to undermine his marriage, and was a green light to the woman to escalate her seduction. But as in the case of Trump’s meeting, a married man having drinks with an unmarried woman is not illicit, no matter what Mike Pence thinks, and is not proof of any further actions or unethical intent no matter what conclusions the woman leaps to. There is also the disconnect that under Mowatt-Larssen’s analysis and his version of the Russian thinking, Donald Trump Jr was central to the Trump campaign rather than incidental. He also seems to think the right hand in this chaotic organization knew what the right hand was doing, which we know not to be true. Continue reading

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This Is Why It’s Time For Political Cartoons To Go

 

Here (and above) is a sample of the bumper crop of political cartoons inspired by the Donald Trump, Jr. aborted meeting to acquire damaging information on Hillary that never materialized.

They are all, to various degrees, unfair, misleading, or simply untrue. Why is this acceptable? If presenting a false representation of the truth is required to make a joke, and the intended audience accepts what is false as fact, how is that justifiable?

The cartoon above, one of the most unethical, is typical of the work of Tom Toles, the Washington Post’s relentlessly biased cartoonist.

The others are presented below, in approximate order of unfairness and dishonesty.

They collectively state that there has been treason, a crime, corruption, collusion and conspiracy, and that there is actual, as opposed to speculated, “news” that the Trump campaign worked with Russia to interfere with the election. This is old fashioned yellow journalism-style political cartooning, throwing red meat to members of the public who want to believe that the President of the United States is a traitor so they can undo the election. That isn’t funny. That’s disgusting.

As I wrote in 2012, focusing on another dishonest and partisan Toles cartoon:

” Political cartooning peaked as a form of commentary about half a century ago, and has been declining ever since. Now it is dominated by hateful, unfunny and witless culture warriors who have as much in common with Jules Feiffer and Bill Mauldin as Mario Mendoza had in common with Hank Aaron. Are there exceptions? There are always exceptions. Pat Oliphant, Exhibit A, is brilliant, nuanced and clever; he’s also 77 years old, the last of the greats. If there are Oliphants out there, legitimate commentators who can make fair and honest observations with humor and a pen, great: what a wonderful alternative to the typical pundit rants. Put them on the editorial pages. The standard, however, should be content, not form. Political cartoons were once an efficient means of aiming a thousand words at non-readers and members of the public without the skills or education to grasp complex issues. They have become a vehicle for the unqualified and trivial-minded to acquire a platform they don’t deserve, to the detriment of the public and journalism.”

Now the evidence: Continue reading

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Observations On The Trump Jr. “Collusion” Attempt [UPDATED]

1.  Preet Bharara, the ex-U.S. attorney fired by the Trump Administration, tweets…

Quick reminder: something doesn’t have to be illegal for it to be foolish, wrong and un-American.

True. When Donald Trump, Jr. was informed that a Russian lawyer wanted to meet with him to pass along damaging information about Hillary Clinton, he should have gone to the FBI immediately, because this could have been indicative of a national threat. Instead he said “Whoopie!” or words to that effect. Moron.

But we knew that.

*Notice of Correction: In the original post, I erroneously stated that Bharara had joined Mueller’s team investigating Russian interference with the election. That was incorrect. I apologize. I was confused by this headline from the Washington Examiner: Special counselor adds former Preet Bharara prosecutor to Russia probe: Reports. It’s a bad headline, but I should have read the whole article. Careless.

2. Similarly, if Danny Jr told Kushner and Manafort what he was told the meeting would be about, THEY should have told him that the meeting was a bad idea, and to report it. They are slime-bags, and none too bright either.

We knew that, too.

3. It may be pure moral luck that this didn’t turn into a serious breach of election laws. But the fact is that no information changed hands, as far as we know. There was no “collusion,” which isn’t a legal term anyway.

4. The New York Times, from its good side, actually detailed the legal realities of the case, which ironically show how absurdly over-heated and misleading its own coverage is. The Times consulted with legal experts who said,

  • The events made public in the past few days are not enough to charge conspiracy.  Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor said the revelations are important because if further evidence of coordination emerges, the contents of the emails and the fact of the meeting would help establish an intent to work with Russia on influencing the election…at least on Donald Trump Jr.’s part.

But as has been the situation throughout, the episode is still waiting for real evidence of genuine collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign, and this wasn’t it. The anti-Trump mob, in the news media and out of it, is so, so eager, so desperate, to prove sanctionable wrongdoing that it is pouncing on everything that contains a shred of hope.

  • There has to be an underlying federal offense that is being conspired to be committed. So far, there is no evidence of that, and the aborted meeting with the Russian lawyer didn’t come close.

If the e-mails released yesterday specified that what was being offered had been obtained by an illegal computer hack, that would  be enough. They didn’t. Continue reading

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