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Free Minds & Free Markets

There’s Still No Big ‘There’ in the Russia Probe

The FBI’s disappointing surveillance of Carter Page illustrates the difficulty of implicating the president in illegal collusion.

Peter Strzok, an FBI agent who called Donald Trump an "idiot" and rooted against him in 2016, was nevertheless reluctant to join the investigation of possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russians who sought to influence the presidential election. Strzok, who was removed from the probe after his anti-Trump comments came to light, expressed his qualms in a May 19 text message to FBI lawyer Lisa Page, his girlfriend at the time: "I hesitate in part because of my gut sense and concern there's no big 'there' there."

It is looking more and more like Strzok's gut was right. The FBI's surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, which Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee criticize in a memo that was declassified last week, shows investigators putting a lot of time and effort into a line of inquiry that apparently led nowhere.

Given the low legal bar for wiretapping suspected foreign agents, it seems likely that the FBI could have obtained permission to wiretap Page even without the evidence that the memo portrays as questionable and tainted by partisan bias. But that does not mean the bureau's investigation of Page, an oil industry consultant known for his pro-Russian views, was fruitful.

The FBI questioned Page in 2013 about his encounter with a Russian intelligence agent (who he apparently did not realize was a spy) and reportedly monitored his conversations in 2014. In October 2016, after press coverage of Page's chumminess with the Russian government led him to part ways with the Trump campaign, the FBI obtained a new warrant, which lasted 90 days and was renewed three times, meaning he was under FBI surveillance for a full year.

Despite all this interest in Page, a peripheral figure in the Trump campaign who served as a foreign policy adviser for half a year, he was never charged with a crime. Two other Trump associates, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign consultant George Papadopoulos, have admitted lying to the FBI about direct or indirect contacts with Russian officials. But the contacts themselves were not illegal.

Neither was Donald Trump Jr.'s June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer who claimed to have dirt on Hillary Clinton. Although former Trump strategist Stephen Bannon called that meeting "treasonous," it clearly did not meet the legal definition of treason, which involves giving aid and comfort to an enemy at war with the United States.

Some of President Trump's opponents argue that by agreeing to the meeting, Donald Jr. knowingly solicited a campaign contribution from a foreigner, which would be illegal. That seems like quite a stretch.

It is even harder to see how the president's role in crafting a misleading public statement about the meeting with Veselnitskaya—a subject in which Special Counsel Robert Mueller reportedly has shown a keen interest—violated any laws. If lying to the public were a crime, Trump would be eligible for a life sentence.

Lying to federal investigators is a different matter, as Lynch and Papadopoulos discovered. That explains why several of Trump's lawyers are advising him against agreeing to an open-ended interview with Mueller, which would give the president ample opportunity to commit a felony, even if only to deny knowledge of contacts that look shady but were not actually criminal.

It is less clear whether a president can commit obstruction of justice by doing things he has undisputed legal authority to do, such as firing the FBI director. In practice, since it is doubtful whether a sitting president can be indicted, a president's obstruction of justice, which figured prominently in the impeachment of Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, is whatever Congress says it is.

The current Congress, controlled by the president's party, has shown little interest in exploring the matter. That's unlikely to change unless Mueller finds a "there"—something more than the meta-crimes he has already revealed or might trick Trump into committing.

© Copyright 2018 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Given the low legal bar for wiretapping

    Could have just left it there. But seriously. This is the big story here, and the absurdity of the media at large is that we whistle past the graveyard.

  • JoeBlow123||

    Agreed.

    I do hope Flynn is chucked in prison though, he is a corrupt piece of trash. The former head of the DIA knowingly withheld foreign contacts and financial renumerations from foreign entities... corrupt. He knew exactly what he was hiding, he just assumed he was too important to be held to the rules everyone else is held to.

    Same with Petraeus, dude thought the rules were for everyone else. Petraeus should have been dumped into prison no questions asked, not sure how he escaped prosecution. For context, a sailor was sentenced to a year in prison for taking photos of he nuclear compartments of a sub and destroying evidence. Petraeus was caught red handed handing top secret info to a reporter... and received no prison time and only a misdemeanor.

    One set of rules for the mighty, another for the peons.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    My impression of Flynn was that he was running in expensive circles, everyone around him was wealthy, and he wanted some of that for himself. And was in too much of a hurry to wait for the opportunities to engage in relatively risk free insider trading, the usual route to wealth in government service.

    So he cut too many corners, but he'd have gotten away with it if a special council hadn't been sicced on the administration he'd been part of.

  • JWatts||

    "Petraeus was caught red handed handing top secret info to a reporter... and received no prison time and only a misdemeanor.

    One set of rules for the mighty, another for the peons."

    Agreed.

  • Flinch||

    The sad thing about Petraus is he didn't do much more than most Senators do on any given day: classified info gets tossed around like a popcorn bag, and maybe no signature documenting transmittal. But military men don't have things to hide behind: they aren't made men and are unable to block committee actions or dole favors to make things go away. When elected officials need something swept under the rug they have a permanent device in place to guarantee inaction: the Ethics Committee.

  • AZ Gunowner||

    And Hillary didn't even get a slap on the wrist.

    There are the mighty, and then there are the real mighty.

  • WoodChipperBob||

    Not becoming president like she was supposed to is a bit more than just a slap on the wrist.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    Yeah maybe. She was able to monetize that loss in book sales.

  • soflarider||

    As if they really need any more money....

  • WoodChipperBob||

    She could have not run and still gotten book sales.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    I think it actually requires amplification: My understanding of how it works is that they pretty much wiretap everything, and only call it "surveillance" if they look at the results of the wiretap. But it's all going into a searchable database regardless of whether there's a warrant.

    And only the gullible think the database is only being searched when a warrant has been obtained. They only get a warrant when they think they might need to use the search results in a legal proceeding where questions might be raised.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    I believe it was called the haystack when an intelligence official was being questioned by Congress.

    It was something like you can't find the needle in the haystack unless you have the whole haystack.

  • BYODB||

    So it's Schrodinger's Wiretap?

    Otherwise this is known as parallel construction I believe, where they don't even bother with a warrant but they use the illegal evidence they have to 'construct' an alternative evidence chain that doesn't involve their illegal surveillance at all.

    To keep it from being challenged, they simply drop charges if anything is discovered. No standing, no suit, is how I believe this works. I could be way off base though.

  • JoeBlow123||

    This happened like a billion times in The Wire. I know it is a TV show, but I do not think it is a stretch to believe this happens across the country all the time.

  • Fucksake||

    Trump is desperately trying to avoid answering any questions and when he does speak he lies. If Trump is guilty of something it's probably money laundering and trading sanctions relief for Russian govt support during the campagin. And then there's the obstruction of justice which damn near is clear as day. It's a process crime, yes, but this is a counter intelligence investigation as much as it's a Trump campaign investigation and due to the national security implications I would submit that obstruction is graver offense then maybe it otherwise would be in other contexts. We'll see what Mueller has, what Papadopoulos is saying, what Flynn says and now Gates is flipping. Until you hear what these close confidants have to say it's premature to say one way or the other what's what.

  • Fucksake||

    We're all partisan for something but that's beside the point.

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    What he means: when I partisan I'm correct.

  • Sevo||

    Fucksake|2.7.18 @ 8:19AM|#
    "We're all partisan for something but that's beside the point."

    You're right. The point is that you're a lying imbecile.
    Fuck off.

  • JWatts||

    "And then there's the obstruction of justice which damn near is clear as day. It's a process crime, yes, ..."

    No, there was no crime committed. Feel free to cite the actual law that Trump broke and a case precedent that has upheld your interpretation of the law.

    It's not a crime just because you don't like it.

  • Eek Barba Durkle||

    It's not a crime just because you don't like it.

    What? Everyone knows all good law derives from feelz.

  • BYODB||

    Yes, it is rather difficult to obstruct justice when there is no actual crime.

    Lets also be totally honest here, Bill Clinton literally tripped into one of these perjury traps and was impeached then...nothing at all happened other than losing a law license he was never going to use again anyway.

    Do we really think Republicans are going to impeach Trump over a perjury trap when a former President did literally the exact same thing and walked away from it scott free? I doubt it.

  • damikesc||

    If Trump is guilty of something it's probably money laundering and trading sanctions relief for Russian govt support during the campagin.

    You'd think SOME evidence of that would've emerged by now, wouldn't you?

    And then there's the obstruction of justice which damn near is clear as day.

    Trump, legally, could kill the investigation off. He's let it run for over a year with no end in sight and a total change from "collusion" to "whatever I can find".

    Until you hear what these close confidants have to say it's premature to say one way or the other what's what.

    Based on the charges filed and that all are claimed, publicly, to be liars by the media --- not much. You don't denigrate the credibility of "key witnesses" publicly if you're the investigator and Mueller has leaked a ton as did Comey.

  • WoodChipperBob||

    "You'd think SOME evidence of that would've emerged by now, wouldn't you?"

    The left and the media are holding tight to the idea that SOME evidence has been uncovered and that the investigation is continuing so that they can use that evidence to find more.

    "Trump, legally, could kill the investigation off. He's let it run for over a year with no end in sight and a total change from "collusion" to "whatever I can find"."

    Trump is damned if he does, damned if he doesn't here. If he kills the investigation off, anyone who isn't either an objective observer (all 7 of us) or a diehard member of Team Trump will be absolutely certain he's killing it off because they're close to uncovering evidence of his dirty deeds. If he doesn't kill it off, "whatever I can find" is going to slowly grind through the ranks of his administration, as they uncover evidence of everyone's various 'three felonies a day'.

  • San Diego||

    So he tells us, "it's premature to say one way or the other what's what," after telling us what is what! Jees

  • Flinch||

    Of course Trump is guilty of something: reporting requirements on scores of things are buried in a byzantine pile of statutes/regulations/case law that no man can know. Lawyers get lawyers before taking action sometimes, and still get things "wrong". The only wey to discover much of our law is using a rear view mirror, making arguments in a vacuum [court]. That pretty much precludes getting any type of business done if law is our starting point: suggesting anything is discoverable in real time using our antiquated rear view mirror process means that every time you and I roll out of bed... the law is undiscoverable.

  • hpearce||

    People have a civil right to lie under freedom of speech which does not make a distinction between "good" speech and "bad" speech".

    When people are actually criminalized for exercising that right (in this case to federal agents), the civil right to freedom of speech has been violated.

    It is important to note that people may temporarily over-ride that right by taking an oath to tell the truth or though means like a contract.
    people who have right to lie to their next door neighbor have that same right when talking to federal agents.

  • Get To Da Chippah||

    Some of President Trump's opponents argue that by agreeing to the meeting, Donald Jr. knowingly solicited a campaign contribution from a foreigner, which would be illegal. That seems like quite a stretch.

    Agreeing to meet with a foreigner who claims to have dirt on a political opponent: Hang him high!

    Using a document from a foreign spy in order to get a warrant to wiretap a political opponent's campaign staffers: Totes cool!

    /proglodytes

  • hpearce||

    Much of the opposition to Trump is based upon his moves - from what I hear from social liberals.
    Motives however are a deviation from one's beliefs making them covered under freedom of belief

    Motives only become meaningful ONCE an actual wrongful act (like murder) has been committed - and even that is used for punishment only - not whether murder was committed.

    Social liberals want to criminalize people for their motives.

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    Are you saying they want motive to be the deciding factor wholesale? I mean, do they want this from the reverse angle? So if a gang anger shoots and kills another gangbangs, but did it solely over a turf war are they ok with that motive? What motives, regardless of action, are they for and against?

  • hpearce||

    Yes

    just look at the obstruction claims as to how it is based upon Trump's motive for firing Comey !!

    Meaning had he had another motive , then there would be no obstruction

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    ""Agreeing to meet with a foreigner who claims to have dirt on a political opponent: Hang him high!""

    Now Schiff is on a recording talking to Russians about the Russian investigation thinking he was going to get dirt on Trump.

    Schiff and the Russians

  • Kivlor||

    You got that link wrong.

    I fixed it for ya though.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    Damn it!!

    Thanks.

  • Sevo||

    "Now Schiff is on a recording talking to Russians about the Russian investigation thinking he was going to get dirt on Trump."

    But it's only a crime if an R does it!

  • Rebel Scum||

    it clearly did not meet the legal definition of treason, which involves giving aid and comfort to an enemy at war with the United States.

    Everyone knows "treason" is anything the Democrats don't like. And it definitely is not anything like deliberately failing to secure state secrets by using an unsecured, non-government computer server housed in the basement or bathroom of one's mansion.

  • WoodChipperBob||

    No, "treason" is anything that your political opposition says or does, no matter which team you're on - hence Trump referring to Democrats not standing and applauding for the good things he's done when he talks about them during the State of the Union. For Team Red folks, the computer thing you mentioned is treason. For Team Blue folks, being Trump or being associated with Trump is treason.

  • Philippe Lacoude||

    A very good article by Jacob Sullum, as usual. However, thinking along the lines of the famous book "Three Felonies A Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent", it would be extraordinary that a businessman with Trump's multinational dealings has not committed many crimes in the recent past. Mueller should have no problem finding many crimes in the 400000 pages of documents, accounting, tax returns and emails turned over to him by Trump's legal team.

  • livelikearefugee||

    "Show me the man and I can show you the crime." --Beria

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "If lying to the public were a crime, Trump would be eligible for a life sentence."

    And so would every other politician in the country.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    I still can't figure out how the whole concept of taking paid political opposition research to help get a warrant in a secret court isn't BS in some peoples mind.

  • Brian||

    I'm still waiting for Citizen's United fans to explain how the FBI is really making an illegal contribution to the DNC.

    Because abusing a federal agency for your own political gain isn't speech.

  • ||

    This has nothing to do with the CU decision.

  • Brian||

    It has everything to do with politics.

  • ||

    They can and have stated that they did not know it was paid for opposition research.
    Plausible deniability.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    ""They can and have stated that they did not know it was paid for opposition research.""

    Why should we believe them? They take information to a secret court and didn't vet that information? Didn't ask about the origin, or verify the validity of the source?

    I would be willing to bet that if you put the investigator who presented to FISA and asked them under oath if they knew it was opposition research, they would say yes, and that the agency misspoke when they said they didn't know.

    Not knowing what you are giving in a warrant application would be dereliction of duty.

    But the FBI has had a long history of not giving a fuck.

  • ||

    I agree and that is why they will skate on this one too.

  • Tony||

    Why does the fact that it was oppo research make it not evidence?

  • the_decadents||

    This is such a stupid question, I'm embarrassed to answer it.

    If...
    • unverified rumors
    • spoon-fed by Russian agents
    • to another foreign agent
    • paid by the opposition party and their candidate's campaign

    doesn't send up flares about the quality of your "evidence", then everything qualifies as evidence.

    You'd have a hard time coming up with a scenario that better describes shit you just don't chalk up as evidence without corroboration.

    It makes as much sense as, well, everything else you stand for.

  • Tony||

    Why would the Clinton campaign pay money for made-up information? Why not just do the Trump model and make it up themselves?

  • Brian||

    Did you just answer your own question?

  • Tony||

    Why don't you ponder on the question of why someone would pay for oppo research that wasn't true.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    Very little pondering needed. To sink the opposition at all cost.

    Partisan politics cares little for truth, neither side has ownership of that. The optics of what was said is more important than the validity.

    Setting the above aside, someone is paid for their time doing the work, not necessarily the quality of it

  • Tony||

    Ponder harder. What optics? Nobody knew who this guy was until after the election. Why would the Clinton campaign pay for oppo research that wasn't real oppo research?

  • Brian||

    Does pretending to be retarded usually work for you?

    "Gee! Why would anyone possibly manufacture false information? I just don't know! Especially in something as pure as politics!"

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    ""Why would the Clinton campaign pay for oppo research that wasn't real oppo research?""

    You need to ask the Clinton camp that one.

  • Flinch||

    Fusion GPS had unfiltered access to certain government databases prior to April 2016. Some of what they learned was salted into their 'dossier' I'm sure so that when rank and file FBI went to "vet" the document as instructed it would look like they had confirmation of certain information via different sources. They were used: they were looking at an edited version of their own information with added fiction so the whole package could be sold to the court. The higher ups knew this, and kept their mouths shut regarding provenance while the warrant was obtained and then extended. Crime of the century... and we need a new standard above simple 'obstruction of justice' in this case. RICO statutes were not built for application to the government, but certainly apply. The problem here is that the strings were largely pulled from inside the DOJ. Courts are not going to entertain a US v US case [it's an absurdity], which leaves charging individuals unfortunately. That falls short, because our law enforcement/court system was hijacked and [based on silence from the court issuing the warrant] was acting in concert. Mr & Mrs Ohr figure prominently, and appear to be the Rosenbergs of this generation. It's a multi branch breakdown, and congress needs to snap to.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    The real obstruction of justice that needs to be further investigated and revealed is the obstruction of justice by the FBI and DOJ that conspired to let Hillary off the hook for the crimes she committed.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    Very few things say obstruction like bit bleaching a server when you know it will become evidence.

  • damikesc||

    And going on Reddit to specifically ask how to do it and having the head of the FBI give you immunity regardless.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    Immunity when you had no plans to use the testimony given.

    It was basically a way to prevent that person from having to testify in the future.

  • AZ Gunowner||

    "If lying to the public were a crime, Trump would be eligible for a life sentence"

    So would Obozo.

    McCain too, lots of em, maybe all of em.

  • BYODB||

    At least in the case of McCain, it wouldn't be a very long sentence. Not that I'm happy he's dying, but I'm happy he's leaving office one way or another.

  • ||

    There is a "there" there.
    It;s submitting a fraudulent FISA application.
    Maybe you could explore the idea that Page was working for the FBI from 2013 on. This makes it nearly impossible to declare him an agent of a foreign government. Thus, this investigation is a frame up.

  • Sharksbreath||

    "The current Congress, controlled by the president's party, has shown little interest in exploring the matter. That's unlikely to change unless Mueller finds a "there"—something more than the meta-crimes he has already revealed or might trick Trump into committing"


    Little interest. Lol. I would argue they are showing great interest. In obstructing the investigation. Polls this morning would say the same.

  • Sevo||

    "Polls this morning would say the same."
    Are those the same polls that had the hag winning the presidency?

  • Deflator Mouse||

    So the Reason senior editor's major problem with the fraudulently-obtained FISA wiretapping of a private citizen for purposes of undermining an opposing presidential campaign is that it was ineffective?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    To be fair to some Reason writers, it was Trump after all.

    The ends justify the mean.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    To be fair to some Reason writers, it was Trump after all.

    The ends justify the mean.

  • damikesc||

    It seems disliking Trump is more important for some Libertarians than actual Libertarian principles.

  • ||

    I think they must have a thing for Strzok as well. At least, law maker and election official after law maker and election official has stood up, in opposition to everyone including the President and said, "There was no voter fraud and/or no vote tampering." and Reason has held out hope. That is, until Strzok, in an off-hand comment about his gut instincts, started to sway their opinion.

  • ThomasD||

    Although I suppose it possible for a private citizen, or other Officer, to perhaps be guilty of collusion with a foreign power, I do not think it possible to convict a President of committing the same crime.

    Because, once President, wouldn't any such sorts of acts a) be considered foreign policy, and b) only remedied by impeachment?

  • ThomasD||

    And, to be clear, this has nothing specific to do with what Trump may or may not have done, the same analysis would apply to what Obama did in relation to Iran.

  • ||

    One of the more egregious doctrines federal courts have propounded is that the defense of entrapment does not apply to the "perjury trap." Of all the cases where the entrapment defense would appear to be important, the "perjury trap" context would appear to be it.

  • Tony||

    The way to get out of a so-called perjury trap is not to commit perjury.

  • Microaggressor||

    And that's what Donald is doing by not agreeing to an interview. Are you implying that Donald is smart, Tony?

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    I think he should go in and answer "not that I recall" on everything.

    With regards to keeping your mouth shut and not answering questions, it's common, and good advice from any defense attorney. He should follow it.

  • Tony||

    Not at all, but it is hilarious that his defenders are implying that he's both an incompetent moron and should be president of the US,

  • BYODB||

    And there you have it. Nice summary of why you're exactly the thing you claim you hate.

  • DKWalser||

    The problem with this is you don't always know when what you are saying might be considered perjury. I believe the best explanation of Scooter Libby's erroneous testimony was not intentional lying by faulty memory. But, if you honestly think you recall having drinks with Jim at the bar at 5pm on April 15, how are you to know that the prosecutor has testimony from Jim saying you had drinks at 3pm on the 14th?

    My point is, it is up to the prosecutor to determine whether any discrepancy between what the prosecutor believes to be true and what you say is an intentional lie or an innocent misstatement. That's a lot to leave up to the discretion of someone -- particularly when there is a lot of pressure to 'get' the subject of the interview.

  • Tony||

    But Trump is the most powerful government goon in the world in charge of the Deep State, the welfare state, the bloated military, and has a particularly authoritarian personality. As a committed libertarian, "technically the president can do whatever he wants" doesn't fly especially well with me. I'm sure we all hope they find something if only to take State Power down a peg.

    Oh no, we're going to speculate about things we have no iota of a clue about in order to project our hope that this fat lying grifter gets off, because he has an (R) after his name.

  • Microaggressor||

    You are literally Blue John.

  • Tony||

    John has a good point with respect to picking a team, he just picked the wrong one and watches too much Hannity.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Given the low legal bar for wiretapping suspected foreign agents, it seems likely that the FBI could have obtained permission to wiretap Page even without the evidence that the memo portrays as questionable and tainted by partisan bias."

    I've read this a couple of time from Mr. Sullum. Not sure how that fits in with reports that the FISA court twice rejected the FBI's request for a subpoena before the Steele Memo was included in the warrant application.

    Here's what I'm talking about:

    "The Guardian has learned that the FBI applied for a warrant from the foreign intelligence surveillance (Fisa) court over the summer in order to monitor four members of the Trump team suspected of irregular contacts with Russian officials. The Fisa court turned down the application asking FBI counter-intelligence investigators to narrow its focus. According to one report, the FBI was finally granted a warrant in October, but that has not been confirmed, and it is not clear whether any warrant led to a full investigation."

    ----The Guardian, January 11 2017

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news /2017/jan/10/fbi-chief-given -dossier-by-john-mccain- alleging-secret- trump-russia-contacts

    I've read elsewhere that FISA courts have approved all but 11 of the 33,000+ warrant applications they've received.

    The court rejected it in Trump's case. In order to get the October warrant approved, the FBI went to a different judge and included information from the Steele Dossier.

  • Kivlor||

    The court rejected it in Trump's case. In order to get the October warrant approved, the FBI went to a different judge and included information from the Steele Dossier.

    I think we need to stop referring to this as a "Dossier". The word seems to imply (in modern parlance) that there is something truthful in the compiling of the document. There's nothing official or truthful about it.

    I've taken to calling it "Trump Erotica" since that's what it seems to be.

  • Sevo||

    How about "Clinton Press Release"?

  • Devastator||

    A lot of things have turned out to be true, give it time. The investigation will be over in a few months. We need to know how deep the Russians go, especially given Trump's reluctance to sanction them.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    A lot of things have turned out to be true, give it time.

    Not really.

  • Alan Vanneman||

    "Some of President Trump's opponents argue that by agreeing to the meeting, Donald Jr. knowingly solicited a campaign contribution from a foreigner, which would be illegal. That seems like quite a stretch."

    The Vox article that Jake links to quotes Ryan Goodman, a former Defense Department special counsel, Jens David Ohlin, a law professor at Cornell University, Nick Akerman, an assistant special prosecutor during the Watergate investigation, University of California Irvine election law expert Rick Hasen, and Bob Bauer, White House counsel for Barack Obama, all of whom are lawyers, as saying that little Donnie committed a crime. Jake, who is not a lawyer, disagrees. Because he's just so much smarter than everyone else? Color me skeptical.

  • the_decadents||

    Yeah, that's going to be hard to square with two little events.

    1. The Clinton campaign was soliciting information from Russians too. And actually received it it and took action on it.
    2. Poor Adam Schiff was doing the same thing, or at least attempting to, while not knowing the "Mr. Chairman" he was so intent on talking to the Russian equivalent of Opie and Andy. But you have intent.

  • the_decadents||

    ... or Opie and Anthony.

  • Kazinski||

    The only problem with all those experts claiming it was a crime for Trump Jr. to meet with the Russians to get dirt on Hillary, is that Hillary's campaign did the exact same thing by hiring Steele to dig dirt on Trump from the Russians.

    If just meeting with a foreign national to see if they have any information about your opponent is a crime, then laundering money through your attorneys to hire a foreign spy to either make up dirt on your opponent, or pay other unnamed agents to make up dirt on your opponent has to be illegal too.

    I've seen it asserted that because Trump Jr. didn't offer to pay for the nothing he got, then its a crime because he didn't pay for the something which was nothing. According to that theory, the Democrats are in the clear because they were paying for the nothing that they were trying to make into something.

    It all sounds like sound legal theory to me. But in any case Volokh disposed of the notion that merely talking to foreigners about information they have could be a crime on his blog when it was still on the WAPO.

  • BYODB||

    Yes, but as always the Clinton's built in a fall guy should their actions be determined to be illegal. You see, they had no idea that Steele was British or that he would go to the Russians even though both those things were right there on the guys resume and it's the only conceivable reason you would hire him in the first place.

  • Sevo||

    "little Donnie"

    Well, little Allie, I guess that, uh means squat.

  • Kazinski||

    The most troublesome part of the whole Mueller investigation was it started with absolutely no indication that a crime had been committed. It was just a witch-hunt from day 1.

    If you look at the other special counsel investigatios, Watergate started with a burglary that was discovered in progress. Whitewater started with the collapse of a savings and loan that Governor Clinton used to back a failed real estate speculation. The Lewinsky grand jury was started because Paula Jones alleged, and proved gross sexual harrassment, a sitting Governor sending a state trooper to summon a low level state employee to his room to be exposed and propositioned.

    The Russian collusion investigation started with vague unsubstantiated allegations that were not even criminal. There was more to pizzagate, because at least a crime was alleged, with just as many actual facts and victims produced.

  • ThomasD||

    Hillary lost.

    That was the ultimate crime.

  • Sevo||

    Kazinski|2.7.18 @ 1:04PM|#
    "The most troublesome part of the whole Mueller investigation was it started with absolutely no indication that a crime had been committed."

    Agreed.
    The hag lost and immediately, someone decided it must be the result of something other than the fact that she was the most pathetic, dirtiest candidate ever offered for the POTUS.
    I recall the investigation was to be wrapped up prior to the end of 2017; there was an FBI press release saying the details of the 'evidence' were to be released "by Thursday".
    That was getting close to 60 Thursdays ago, and no one has yet claimed a crime has been committed other than that lame 'got dirt for nothing, therefore a contribution!!!!!!'

  • rhkennerly||

    mueller is investigating possible espionage by an adversary, the Russians, on American soil. The fbi is charged with investigating espionage that takes place on American soil as well as of American citizens anywhere who are acting with a foreign power against the interests of the United States.

    Like all investigations of organized groups, once you pull one thread, more come unraveled. Many of those threads are anchored in the djt camp. Djt's national security advisor & son conspiring to kidnap a person from American soil & turn him over to the Turkish government for cash. The incident about the djt campaign wanting to use secure Russian embassy phones to communicate with Putin. There are many more incidents that require investigation & explanation.

    If this had all been on American soil by Americans, it would be just politics. Since the both the Russians are involved as well as us citizens appearing to work for Putin, it is clearly within the espionage act to investigate.

    [just as a historical fact and a legal note: no president/first couple have been officially investigated so much with so little to show for it. A tenet of American law is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. It's time to let the clintons out of the box. ]

  • Rockabilly||

    Must probe deeper.

    Get out the ... Probe Machine

    Abstract—A novel computing model, called Probe Machine, is proposed in this paper. Different from Turing Machine, Probe Machine is a fully-parallel computing model in the sense that it can simultaneously process multiple pairs of data, rather than sequentially process every pair of linearly-adjacent data

    Must be some evidence that Trump is a Russian mole or some other evidence

    Probe deep

    The command...

    Probe: Trump

    Please wait for your Prob resuts...

  • BYODB||

    Really makes me question if I've been wrong about what Probate attorneys actually do....

  • Tony||

    Well there is sure a crap ton of desperate defense of an unaccountable state going on here. Quelle suprise, for real.

  • Sevo||

    You lost, loser. Keep making up juvenile fantasies; it's amusing.

  • retiredfire||

    You do realize that that "crap ton of desperate defense of an unaccountable state" is coming from your side of the aisle, don't you?
    It is all the communists/progressives/liberals and their sycophants in the media who are saying that the fraudulently obtained FISA warrants should not be revealed or questioned.
    Those are your people, Tony.

  • BYODB||

    The big reveal behind it all is that apparently the process for getting one of these warrants is so simple with so few safeguards that a request to spy on a Presidential campaign didn't even kick up a red flag. And that's the version of events that is the least horrible.

  • Sevo||

    "Some of President Trump's opponents argue that by agreeing to the meeting, Donald Jr. knowingly solicited a campaign contribution from a foreigner, which would be illegal. That seems like quite a stretch."

    Pretty sure A-1 is relevant here, besides which it's beyond a "stretch"; it's a leap worthy of a gold at the Olympics.

  • Masturbatin' Pete||

    Please identify the statute that forbids "illegal collusion."

  • CuriousKevMo||

    "The current Congress, controlled by the president's party, has shown little interest in exploring the matter."

    This likely changes come November/January. They just need to drag it out a little longer, Impeachment proceedings being in FEB, 2019.

  • CuriousKevMo||

    "The current Congress, controlled by the president's party, has shown little interest in exploring the matter."

    This likely changes come November/January. They just need to drag it out a little longer, Impeachment proceedings being in FEB, 2019.

  • Sevo||

    Ha and ha.
    Tell us he's guilty of TREASON! I could always use a laugh.
    You lost, loser. Grow up and get over it.

  • CuriousKevMo||

    No Sevo, I didn't lose. I'm not on the losing side, just making an observation. Why so angry mate, someone whiz in your Wheaties?

  • JDS1||

  • David Peters||

    The sub-headline reads either that the President is guilty or that it is difficult to fabricate a believable accusation.

  • Flinch||

    Narrative - it's all Hillary knows, because facts are annoying and stubbornly resistant to convenience and control. That's how we got here: the tribe of goons sucking up to power were playing her tune [whether she asked them to or not]. Parties need to manage themselves better: ethical cripples are not ok on the ballot, or anywhere near the levers of power.

  • Flinch||

    Well, we sure are a long ways away from 'there' (whatever it is). We are so far, "there" is not worth talking about. What I mean is... there's no 'Russia' in this investigation! And that's pretty remarkable for an item that started in a FISA court, as it should be by rights a counter-intelligence investigation given that point of origin. Somebody help me: name just one Russian that has been looked at/talked to by team Mueller? Now I know 'russia investigation' is a term of media convenience, but the moniker [as handed down from network plants/dnc stooges] is part of the charade and propaganda in and of itself. Mueller has yet to investigate anything Russian - incidental or managed contacts [like the one engineered to ensnare Trump Jr.] were automatically granted legitimate nefarious status without reasonable examination, or any probative balance, and the spotlight has been 100% on US citizens as far as I can tell. Let's find a different name, please. There are two separate methods being used in the same case and that makes it fit for a banana republic.

  • rhkennerly||

    That's pretty lame. Page was just an entry point. Mueller has labored on the investigation since.

  • Devastator||

    My gut tells me there is a lot of 'there' there. I guess we'll see in a few months.

  • Rosemary||

    Your gut is costing us taxpayers millions of dollars. See a doctor.

  • Rosemary||

    If I were Trump, I would agree to the interview but keep my mouth shut - as should have Flynn.

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