Elijah Cumming’s Praise of Mueller’s Results Examined.

Elijah, first, General Flynn was doing nothing illegal in his post election conversation with the Russian Ambassador.

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“In his opening remarks at today’s (7/12/18) joint hearing of the  House Judiciary Committee and House Oversight and Government Reform Committees.

His remarks and my response to his remarks.

Here are the individuals who are — already admitted their guilt. Michael Flynn, President Trump’s national security advisor, he pleaded guilty to lying about his secret communications with the Russians, making false statements to the FBI, and impeding the investigation while he worked at the White House last year.”

From Gen. Flynn’s indictment:

False Statements Regarding FLYNN’s Request to the Russian Ambassador that Russia Refrain from Escalating the Situation in Response to U.S. Sanctions  against Russia

3. On or about January 24, 2017, FLYNN agreed to be interviewed by agents from
the FBI (“January 24 voluntary interview”). During the interview, FLYNN falsely stated that he did not ask Russia’s Ambassador to the United States (“Russian Ambassador”) to refrain from escalating the situation in response to sanctions that the United States had imposed against Russia. FLYNN also falsely stated that he did not remember a follow-up conversation in which the Russian Ambassador stated that Russia had chosen to moderate its response to those
sanctions as a result of FLYNN’s request.  [Old Curmudgeon – How is it possible, short of a lie detector test to know someone FALSELY ‘did not remember’?]

Elijah, first, General Flynn was doing nothing illegal in his post election conversation with the Russian Ambassador.  The FBI/Mueller investigation was, at least initially, into the Russian Influence in the run up to the election and links or co-ordination of Russian Influence by the Trump Team .

Second, the secret communications, to the best of my knowledge, were telephone calls made on unsecured lines, vice any surreptitious means, most likely from the transition team headquarters located in the Trump Tower.  The following are elements of the indictment.

Re: the December 28th, from the Russian Ambassador (indictment 3-b.)  Gen. Flynn should have known that the call was subject to intercept by the National Security Agency on behalf of the intelligence community.  

Ditto, for the December 29th call to the Russian Ambassador (op. cit.  3-d).  It was hardly a secret communication since Mr. Flynn was directed to make the call by a ‘senior official’ of the transition team and after the call Mr. Flynn briefed the senior official about the call.  

Ditto, for the December 31st call from the Russian Ambassador (op. cit. 3-g).  As before Mr. Flynn briefed transition team officials after the call.  Likewise, the specificity of the indictment leads one to believe that the call was monitored. 

It should be noted that the FBI 302’s have not been made public, but there is reportedly evidence indicating the Peter Strzok’s 302 for the interview was edited by Andrew McCabe.  

There is also reported testimony by Andres McCabe and Jim Comey that the interviewing FBI agents did not believe Mr. Flynn was lying in their testimony before Congress. 

“Let me underscore: These are not allegations, these are admissions. President Trump’s National Security Advisor admitted that he committed these crimes, and he is now cooperating with the special counsel.

Rick Gates, President Trump’s Deputy Campaign Chairman. He pleaded…

[off the record comments/discussion]

CUMMINGS: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Let me underscore, these are not allegations, these are admissions. President’s top — Trump’s top national security advisor admitted and he committed these crimes and he is now cooperating with the special counsel.

Rick Gates, President Trump’s deputy campaign chairman, he pleaded guilty to, quote, “conspiracy against the United States of America,” end of quote. To intentionally engaging in a variety of criminal schemes and to lying to the special counsel and the FBI last year and even this year. He admitted to committing those crimes. He is also cooperating with the special counsel.”

Elijah, as you are well aware, all of the crimes in the indictment are related to financial crimes resulting from business transaction of Paul Manafort, before the 2016 Presidential campaign.

“George Papadopoulos, President Trump’s Foreign Policy Advisor. He pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI in 2017 about when he first learned that the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton. Also now cooperating with the special counsel.”

Elijah, as I am sure you know, George was one of  five named by President Trump’s as his Foreign Policy Advisors, and based on Congressional testimony he has NEVER spoken with the President.

The first count of George Papadopoulos’s indictment is that he lied to the FBI in an interview on January 27, 2017 about whether he met an ‘overseas professor’ before or after he joined the Trump campaign in, as the FBI stated, ‘early March of 2016’.  The FBI claimed the meeting took place on March 14, 2016.  The FBI claim that the discussion of ‘dirt on Hillary’ took place in April.

George’s description of the ‘overseas professor’ was “a nothing” and “just a guy talk[ing] up connections or something.”

Likewise he was in error as to when he met a ‘female Russian national’.

I will concede that this was possibly an attempt by foreign national to approach the campaign, whether they were FBI confidential informants is still up in air.  But the bottom line is they were rebuffed. 

“Richard Pinedo, Digital Marketing Strategist. Pleaded guilty to identity fraud and trafficking in hundreds of stolen bank account numbers over the internet, which were bought by Russians to interfere with the 2016 election.”

Elijah, as you know Richard Pinedo was indicted along with thirteen Russians for his part in the Russian Facebook campaign.  Neither Pinedo nor any of the Russians have been linked to President Trump, by Mueller or any others.

“And Alex van der Zwaan, the son-in-law of a Russian oligarch, pleaded guilty to lying to special counsel and the FBI in November about his work with President Trump’s Campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, for foreign nationals aligned with Russia.”

Elijah, like Gates and Manafort all of Alex van der Zwaan’s activities took place in 2012.  You should also know that Zwaan’s offenses were so egregious that he was sentenced to 30 days in jail and fined $20,000. 

“Of course this does not include Mr. Manafort himself, who is scheduled to begin his criminal trial later this summer. He is sitting in solitary confinement after allegedly engaging in witness tampering.”

Elijah, like Gates all charged offenses occurred before the campaign, and don’t we as a society have an ‘innocent until proven guilty’ credo?

“This also does not include Michael Cohen, the president’s longtime lawyer. At this moment, he may be considering whether to cooperate with special counsel.”

Elijah, I am sure you know that Michael Cohen, legal problems have nothing to do with Russian interference his case was referred to US Attorney in New York by Mr. Mueller.

Summary

Elijah, of the five indictments you cited it appears that four were outside the scope of Mueller’s investigation as laid out in ORDER NO. 3915-2017, to wit:

The Special Counsel is authorized to conduct the investigation confirmed by then-FBI Director James 8. Corney in testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on March 20, 2017, including:

(i) any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and

(ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and

(iii) any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. § 600.4(a).

The Manafort financial crimes were added in the August 2, 2017 Rod J. Rosenstein memo along with other redacted scope.

Andrew C. McCarthy does a great job of reviewing the memo and raises these questions:

  • Does the Steele dossier form any part of the government’s basis for Rosenstein’s allegation that Manafort was complicit in Russia’s interference in the election?
  • If not, what is the factual basis of that allegation, which to date has resulted in no formal charges against Manafort?
  • Do the extensive redacted portions of Rosenstein’s memo contain allegations that other named Trump campaign officials were complicit in Russia’s interference in the 2016 election?
  • Are those allegations, if any, based in any way on the Steele dossier?
  • If not, what is the factual basis for alleging that the named Trump campaign officials were complicit in Russia’s interference in the 2016 election?
  • Is President Trump among the individuals named in Rosenstein’s allegations?

I urge anyone interest to read McCarthy’s article, he raises many of the points I did and does a much better job.

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