Friday, February 16, 2018
MSNBC Journal, Feb 16, 2018
Fri Feb 16
BREAKING: 13 Russians and 3 organizations were indicted for various ways of interfering with our election:
https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/4380504/The-Special-Counsel-s-Indictment-of-the-Internet.pdf This is the indictment. It reads like a spy novel. It’s incredible. My RW cousin, who has bought the line that it’s all a hoax and witchunt, posted today that if this investigation is legitimate, HRC, BHO, and some FBI officials will wind up in prison. FISA-gate makes other scandals look like a parking ticket. I answered, be prepared to be surprised in days to come. They lay it all out there. It’s too long for me to do that. It’s all over MSNBC today. I wonder if some crazy new Trump scandal will slip out soon that will distract from this. Something that horrifies the left, but his base doesn’t care about.
Matthews: We restrict all kinds of things, pills, cigarettes, booze, we legislate voting, driving, why can’t we restrict guns? [The kid can’t buy a drink but he can buy an AR-15.] What was the FBI supposed to do with the kid? Give him a restraining order. Or we could pick them up and put them in Guantanamo.
Discussion of what was in the indictment and what the Russians did. It was extraordinary. Hillary is vindicated big time. Trump said it vindicates him. In a tweet he said “No collusion.” But it doesn’t exonerate anyone. Rosenstein said it doesn’t indicate that anyone colluded or helped the Russians, and that is true, and on Hardball they felt he said that to save his job. But we all know that indictments have been issued to 4 of his surrogates, and they are flipping, so there is time for more to come.
One surprising thing is that some actually came here. They heavily pushed the “Hillary for prison” meme.
Naveed Jamali, fmr FBI agent: There has to have been Americans involved.
Julia Ioffe, The Atlantic: This is a shot across the bow to the Trump administration. You won’t find Putin’s fingerprints on anything. Plausible deniability is crucial. [Same with Trump.]
Harry Litman, fmr deputy asst Attorney General, DOJ: The fact that Rosenstein announced all this vindicates him and puts him above partisanship. He wears the mantel of this development. American collusion will be more challenging. These are all the guys that have been Trump’s whipping boys.
Frank Figliuzzi, fmr FBI agent: They probably also have the names of the hackers. They may be indicted next. These are the underlying crimes. The level of detail was to show everyome a message that we’ve wrapped this up. The 3-letter agencies have had eyes on this for some time, and all agreed to declassify this.
Today Trump just walked past the reporters and waved. Answered no questions.
Rep Jerry Nadler, D-NY: This is what we’ve known all along. Attacks are continuing. This is an attempt to destroy our democratic system of government. The president’s oath is to defend and protect the constitution. “This president is refusing to do that.” Trump is breaking the law by not imposing sanctions. Millions of dollars were spent on this, it must have had an effect. Rosenstein should be safer now. If he were fired now, it would be viewed as abetting the attack on our democracy. This is the beginning of telling America what happened, but there is more to come. They said there were co conspirators in the US.
Discussion of Scott Pruitt’s travels, huge amounts of money. Passengers in coach are not nice to him. I can imagine. I can think of what I would say to him if I saw him. One person said, “Scott Pruitt, you’re f----g up the environment.” So if he surrounds himself with rich people, he’ll be safe.
James Risen, The Intercept: “Is Donald Trump a Traitor.” Asking if Trump is an agent of a foreign power? Russians are experts at injecting disinformation into political situations using cutouts and unwitting news organizations. They convinced people in the third world believed that the US was behind the HIV Aids virus. It was kind of the precursor to fake news.
Hayes: The supposed documentation even led me down a rabbit hole.
Risen: There were East German scientists involved in it, and Putin was in the KGB. He has a long history of covert action. In the piece I wrote, I was stunned by how much information was already available to show that the Russians were involved. There was a story in the Dutch press that said they were passing on information to the NSA. They even got control of the security cameras in the Russian offices and were able to match faces in the room where they were doing the hack. Another story is the spy case in Moscow where a hacker there said he hacked for the FSB and he named an officer who has been arrested there.
Hayes: why is the central question is Trump a traitor?
Risen: If collusion is proven, by definition he is a traitor. If you collude with an adversary to take over the government of the US, you are a traitor. The evidence we have on collusion is not as strong as Russian meddling, but pretty strong evidence of obstruction of justice, and some evidence of collusion. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence of contacts.
Rachel cancelled her day off today.
New charges are being filed against Manafort tonight. Team Mueller doesn’t leak. No one saw this coming. A man named Ricky Pinedo bought and sold bank accounts. Pleaded guilty, but his attorney said he didn’t know he was helping the Russians. He steals identities. “Defendants and their co-conspirators purchased credit card and bank account numbers from online sellers for the unlawful purpose of evading security measures at PayPal, which used account numbers t verify a user’s identity.” The Russians stole our money to attack us. So this Ricky Pinedo may be a cooperating witness now.
The Russians targeted our election process, they targeted the DNC, and they targeted us. Lots of good reporting about those latter efforts. She didn’t predict that if there would be charges against Russian citizens, it would be about that third prong of the attack. They got some really intimate quotes from Russian communications and internal documents. They have the teams and their names, work products, job descriptions, and personal emails.
The Russians did start the attack in 2014, before he announced that he would run, but you could also say that they started right after 2013 when he returned from the Miss Univese pageant.
Mueller clearly has been following the money. There is one co-conspirator mentioned who was paid to hire an actess to pretend to be Hillary in a prison uniform in a cage. Several crimes were committed. A criminal conspiracy.
The budget was more than a million dollars a month. It was run by professionals, and it was effective. We could use some protections. This was the first time that Rachel felt like someone was defending us and showing what was really going on. That was the biggest shock for her. [For a year, the GOP has done nothing against this. John McCain said that the GOP was doing the Russians work for them.]
Manafort has been negotiating a bail bond for a while. Tonight, the special counsel told Manafort that they are issuing more criminal allegations, including bank fraud. And there could be more charges beyond the allegations of tonight. Manafort wanted to put up his property as bail, but due to the falsified papers and lies, the bank is considering foreclosing on the property.
Michael McFaul, fmr US ambassador to Russia is at a conference in Germany and it’s 3:30 am there. Russia’s response is a good turn of events. They can’t go to France or Britain. Their lives have changed. And this doc criminalizes these kinds of actions. This may deter Russia from doing this in the future. This is hybrid with cut outs and ways of hiding actions. The oligarch running this is close to Putin, and there’s no way they would launch this without Putin’s green light. He was actually surprised at the scale of it and the sophistication. What is also incredible is that we discovered it all.
Video of Clint Watts, fmr FBI special agent: In an open hearing, almost a year ago he testified in an open hearing as what might happen, and it did. Four years ago when we got started on this, it was hard to convince anyone that it was happening. The indictment is what we expected. The real surprise was the level of masking to make themselves look like Americans. They sent people to do reconnaissance here. The finances helped them track these guys. This operation came from the troll farm in St. Petersburg. That is harder to track, but purchases or wire transfers are easy to track. He thinks they have a good witness from the inside because it was very detailed.
Michael Beschloss: This may be the biggest covert operation in our history. It may have effected who became president.
John Kelly said that he created a 5 page memo about how the WH needs to improve security issues, but there was no news about what he intended to do to fix things. He would have to fire Jared and Ivanka and Don McGahn.
VA secretary David Shulkin’s chief of staff retired today because the Inspector General accused her of altering documents so that Shulkin’s wife could go on a trip to Europe free of charge. Shulkin says he will pay the wife’s air fare. But that trip was elaborate. It’s not just an air fare that should be repaid. He needs to resign as well.
Puerto Rico is looking for a $300m loan to restore their electrical grid or it will be cut off all over the island by Tuesday. Forty percent of the island is still without power.