Category Archives: The Scandals

Got Me

I added The Onion to my RSS feed a bit over a week ago. Since then there have been a couple headlines where I had to check just to make sure they were fakes, but I haven’t actually been caught believing one yet.

Instead, I was caught out by a real headline that I was sure would be a fake: Fugitive wanted for attempted murder found at White House, where he worked for National Security Council.  That’s actually a real Boingboing headline — although the underlying story is slightly less sensational than you might think: instead of being in the Cabinet, the fugitive was only a contract worker, and the Secret Service is trying to make it sound like they caught him on his first day of work, although the linked story doesn’t quite say that.

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A Dose of Optimism

Mueller’s Big Reveal Is Coming, and it Could Be Huge by some guy named Dan.

Posted in Dan Froomkin, The Scandals | Leave a comment

Trump Likely To Be Deposed

No, not like that, at least not yet.

Rather, odds are that Trump will have to answer questions in a deposition:

A New York State judge ruled on Tuesday that a defamation lawsuit brought by a woman who has said President Trump made unwanted sexual advances could go forward, raising the possibility of a public airing of other allegations of sexual misconduct against the president.

The decision by Justice Jennifer Schecter of State Supreme Court in Manhattan paved the way for lawyers to seek depositions from several women who accused Mr. Trump of sexual harassment before he was elected and to subpoena Trump campaign records related to his female accusers.

Justice Schecter rejected Mr. Trump’s argument that a state court has no jurisdiction over a sitting president. She cited a United States Supreme Court ruling that allowed Paula Jones to bring a sexual harassment suit against President Bill Clinton.

Actually, the issue of whether the Paula Jones precedent should apply with full force in state court is not frivolous at all. I can imagine reasons why a court might hold that there is too much risk of interference with the President’s, ahem, affairs to allow just any court to make demands on his time. Then again, I can think of even more arguments why the state courts should be allowed to proceed — if only that surely a sitting President could get an injunction from a federal court if the state court were to misbehave in some way.

Posted in Law: Civil Procedure, Law: Reading the Constitution, The Scandals | Leave a comment

What Are they Hiding? (Turkish Edition)

Marcy Wheeler is very smart. And while she’s not giving to mincing words, she is also not a wild-eye conspiracist. So I sat up when I saw Meanwhile, Over In Turkey . . ., her blog post on Secretary of State Tillerson’s super-secret meeting with Turkish President Erdogan–the only other person in the room being the Turkish Prime Minister, who personally translated.

This is a huge breach of not just protocol, but standard and very sensible operating procedures at the US State Department (not that Tillerson cares).

Let’s go back to that no-staff-allowed element of the meeting once more. In general, it is in the interests of both parties to a conversation like that to have interpreters and notetakers present, so that in the public discussions that follow (like the one above), everyone agrees on the basic facts of what was said and you don’t getting into a “but you said . . .” and “no I didn’t” back-and-forth. For the meeting to exclude such staffers means that there is something else that overrides this interest.

In this case, the Turks had to have demanded that Tillerson not bring anyone with him to this meeting. There’s no way he would have told his staff “I got this – you take a break while I talk with Erdogan” on his own. The question is why, and all the possible answers I can come up after reading the Turkish Foreign Minister’s reply to that last question involve Vladimir Putin wanting Erdogan to pass on some kind of message to Trump — a message that he did not wish to be delivered within earshot of interpreters and notetakers.

It reminds me very much of that May 2017 Oval Office meeting that Trump had with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and outgoing Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak. That was the meeting where we later learned that Trump revealed Israeli intelligence to the Russians about their source inside ISIS and told them that he just fired “that nut job” James Comey which took the pressure off of him because of Russia.

Oh, and the US press were kept out of that meeting as well, with the only reports of it coming after the Russians told us about it. As Politico’s Susan Glasser noted about that Oval Office meeting, it came at the specific request of Putin

But like we say in blogland, read the whole thing.

Posted in Politics: International, The Scandals | Leave a comment

Powerful

I don’t watch TV news, so I only saw this ad when Digby blogged it.

Powerful stuff. Here’s Wikipedia’s article on Tom Steyer if you want to know more about him.

Posted in The Resistance, The Scandals | Leave a comment

Steele Dossier Evaluated (Updated)

Just Security, A Second Look at the Steele Dossier—Knowing What We Know Now, offers by far the best evaluation of the notorious Steele Dossier on Trump/Russian connections, possible blackmail, and more) that I have read to date.

The guest  post by a former member of the CIA’s Senior Intelligence Service, John Sipher, paints the Steele Dossier as mostly but not utterly reliable:

Although the reports were produced episodically, almost erratically, over a five-month period, they present a coherent narrative of collusion between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign. As a result, they offer an overarching framework for what might have happened based on individuals on the Russian side who claimed to have insight into Moscow’s goals and operational tactics. Until we have another more credible narrative, we should do all we can to examine closely and confirm or dispute the reports.

Key caveat:

I spent almost thirty years producing what CIA calls “raw reporting” from human agents.  At heart, this is what Orbis did.  They were not producing finished analysis, but were passing on to a client distilled reporting that they had obtained in response to specific questions.  The difference is crucial, for it is the one that American journalists routinely fail to understand.  When disseminating a raw intelligence report, an intelligence agency is not vouching for the accuracy of the information provided by the report’s sources and/or subsources.  Rather it is claiming that it has made strenuous efforts to validate that it is reporting accurately what the sources/subsources claim has happened.  The onus for sorting out the veracity and for putting the reporting in context against other reporting – which may confirm or deny the new report – rests with the intelligence community’s professional analytic cadre.  In the case of the dossier, Orbis was not saying that everything that it reported was accurate, but that it had made a good-faith effort to pass along faithfully what its identified insiders said was accurate.  This is routine in the intelligence business.

That said, however,

As outsiders without the investigative tools available to the FBI, we can only look at the information and determine if it makes sense given subsequent events and the revelation of additional information. Mr. Steele did not have the benefit of knowing Mr. Trump would win the election or how events might play out. In this regard, does any of the information we have learned since June 2016 assign greater or less credibility to the information? Were the people mentioned in the report real? Were their affiliations correct? Did any of the activities reported happen as predicted?

To a large extent, yes.

Read the whole thing.

Update: Uh-oh. Marcy Wheeler, who follows this stuff obsessively closely, does not agree: In The Post-Press Michael Cohen Details in the Steele Dossier she writes, “I’m doing a long response on this unfortunately terrible John Sipher post trying to calm questions about the Steele dossier.” Her comments center on the treatment of allegations relating to Trump associate Michael Cohen; she’s much more skeptical of them than is Sipher. Update3: And follows up with John Sipher’s Garbage Post Arguing the Steele Dossier Isn’t Garbage.

Update2: For yet another take on Michael Cohen’s role as an intermediary to the Russians, see Talking Points Memo, What Happened to the Michael Cohen Ukraine Dossier?.

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