Streetwise Professor

October 30, 2017

Michael Weiss: Stupid or Dishonest? I’m Going With “Both!”

Filed under: Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 7:18 pm

The usual suspects spent the weekend wetting themselves over the news of an impending Mueller indictment. This morning the eagerly anticipated event happened: Mueller indicted Paul Manafort and a heretofore nobody–Manafort’s former business associate Rick Gates.

BFD. The indictments had nothing to do with Trump, Trump’s campaign, or Trump collusion with the Russians. It involved Manafort’s concealment of his dealings with the Ukrainians (the ousted pro-Russia Yanukovych regime) and moneys associated therewith.

As Andrew McCarthy notes, the indictment seems shaky and overcharged, and a boon to Trump because it is an implicit validation of his assertion of no collusion. He further claims that the indictment is an attempt to pressure Manafort into cooperating.

Well, if that were the intent, it is likely that Mueller failed. Usually such cooperation would be negotiated in advance of an actual indictment, and the cooperator would then plead guilty to a reduced charge: that’s the negotiated quid pro quo. Here, it looks as if Mueller threw everything he had (which isn’t much) against Manafort, and then Manafort pled not guilty–hardly the actions of a cooperating witness.

As an aside, my friend, Houston attorney Tom Kirkendall, the most dogged follower of the Enron prosecutions, has told me that shaky overcharging in order to coerce witnesses is the MO of Mueller assistant Andrew Weissman, who was in charge of the Enron cases. Weissman is truly a piece of work, as detailed in this Rowan Scarborough article.

It is particularly interesting–and appalling–to note that Weissman was head of the DOJ Fraud Section that allowed a Russian the FBI (under Mueller’s and Comey’s directorships) had implicated in a vast bribery scheme connected to the Uranium One deal–including donations to the Clinton Foundation–to plead to a trivial charge (likely in violation of DOJ charging guidelines) with virtually no publicity. Quite a contrast, eh? Quite revealing that the one time where Weissman went against his normal MO resulted in the burying of a case that was highly damaging to the Clintons.

The most damning thing the Manafort indictment indicates is that Trump showed very bad judgment, and a serious lack of due diligence, in hiring Manafort. Another example of Trump’s injudicious choice of associates is one George Papadopolous, a Trump campaign advisor who pled guilty to lying to investigators. Throw in Carter Page, and it is clear that Trump’s campaign was so desperate to attract people that it scraped the bottom of the barrel and didn’t look too closely at what it dredged up. Trump is paying now for that carelessness.

The Papadopolous plea does provide some comic relief, however, for CNN’s Michael Weiss attempts to leverage it into evidence of Trump collusion with Russia. As with most Weiss efforts, it is a laughable failure, making up in gruesome wordiness for what it lacks in substance (or logic, for that matter).

Where to begin?

Well, let’s start with the biggest howler–a classic bait-and-switch. One wonders if Weiss is too stupid to recognize the fundamental logical defects in his argument, or thinks we are so stupid that we’ll miss it:

But “[o]n or about” April 26, 2016, Papadopoulous again met with the Professor in a London hotel. The complaint reads that the Professor told him he had “just returned from a trip to Moscow where he had met with high-level Russian government officials” where he learned that the Russians “have dirt” on Hillary Clinton; “the Russians had emails of Clinton” — “they have thousands of emails.”

This date is important because The Washington Post only first reported on June 14, 2016, that the hackers working for the Kremlin had penetrated the servers of the Democratic National Committee. And while this correspondence, first published by WikiLeaks in late July, days before the Democratic National Convention, was distinct from Clinton’s personal emails and those she turned over to the FBI as part of the investigation into her use of a personal server to conduct government business while she was secretary of state, it nonetheless caused a scandal within the Democratic Party.

Did you see what he did there? The first quoted paragraph refers to “thousands of emails [of Clinton]” the Russians claimed to have in April. The second paragraph refers to Democratic National Committee emails, the leaking of which was reported almost two months later. Two very different things. Very different. The emails the alleged interlocutor for the Russians mentioned are NOT the emails that subsequently appeared on Wikileaks, meaning that Weiss is either to stupid to know the difference, or so dishonest that he is trying to obscure the difference in order to make a hit on Trump.

It’s trivially easy to see what was going on here. Everybody and his 5th cousin knew about Hillary’s secret server by April, 2016, and there was widespread speculation that the Russians (and the Chinese, and the Iranians, and your Aunt Fanny) had hacked it. The Russians were clearly trying to entice the Trump campaign by dangling the bait of Hillary emails.

This pretty much blows the collusion narrative to smithereens, eh? If Trump (or his campaign) was colluding with the Russians, why would as late as April the Russians have to use an intermediary to attract  Trump’s attention by claiming to have the widely-speculated about Hillary emails?

Obviously: they wouldn’t.

This is a piece with the Trump Tower meeting, where a Russian intermediary again attempted to attract Trump’s attention by claiming to have dirt on Hillary. Again, if the Russians were already providing information to Trump, that would have been completely unnecessary.

Note that the Weiss article makes it plain that the alleged Russian-connected source (who was not Russian, but presumably a Greek or maybe a Cypriot, and who mainly asserted tight connections) was willing to tell whoppers to convince Papadopolous of her ability to deliver the goods: she introduced Papadopolous to a Russian national who claimed to be Putin’s niece. Hilarious. Did she also claim to have connections with Marie of Roumania?

So, according to Weiss, the Russians told outrageous lies, but Papadopolous–and the Trump camp–were supposed to know that the claims regarding Hillary emails were gospel. Gospel I tells ya!

OK. Sure.

But the hilarity has just begun! Note that if the Russians were referring to Hillary emails, if Weiss believes the Russians were telling the truth (as his story requires) that would be an admission that Hillary’s server had indeed been hacked. Andy Kaufmann lookalike Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA, who is more absurd than Andy ever was) has made a similar implicit admission.

I really think they are too stupid to have figured that out. LOL.

But there’s more! (Isn’t there always?) The Trump campaign spurned the Papadopolous offer. But it’s even better than that: the alleged mastermind of the Russo-Trump collusive scheme–Manafort himself–is the one who told Papadopolous to pound sand:

In the event, no meeting ever took place. CNN reported in August 2017 that it was in fact Paul Manafort who “immediately dismissed the idea of meeting with top Russian officials and advised Trump to do the same.”

Manafort “[i]mmediately dismissed.” Self-satirizing.

The cherry on top of this comic sundae is this:

Gibbs is quite right to stress in his affidavit that using “nongovernmental intermediaries,” such as academics and think tankers, is one way Russian intelligence advances the Kremlin’s interests overseas. And there’s recent precedence for this in London, as I’ve documented elsewhere.

Uhm, Mike–the US does that too. And I would add journalists to that list: no conjecture there, as this is a widely documented fact. Further, I am highly confident that you fall into the category of U.S. “nongovernmental intermediary” as both a think tanker and a journalist. Heck, maybe this pathetic excuse of an article is just another example of that.

I could go on, but eviscerating this piece (of what, I’ll leave to your imagination) is far too easy. I need a much bigger challenge. So should I shoot fish in a barrel or steal candy from babies?

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6 Comments »

  1. Thank you for another wonderful article, sorry I have nothing to contribute, I just find your articles so informative.

    Comment by Peter — October 31, 2017 @ 12:00 am

  2. “The most damning thing the Manafort indictment indicates is that Trump showed very bad judgment, and a serious lack of due diligence, in hiring Manafort”

    Easy for you to say! You tell me how it goes the next time you run for President!

    Comment by Thomas Jefferson — October 31, 2017 @ 11:10 am

  3. “I really think they are too stupid to have figured that out.”

    They don’t care. They know some people are more equal than others. They are the regime: what they say goes.

    Comment by Thomas Jefferson — October 31, 2017 @ 11:36 am

  4. Manafort indictment has already led to Podesta Group as un-registered lobbyists for all things DNC. Oh wait – they did finally register 4 years after the fact. Guess what little objet-du-monde just hit the wires? Not only was Podesta Group an UN-regisered lobby firm for the Ukes in front of the BO admin, but — wait, there’s more! Podesta Group was a REGISTERED lobbyist for URANIUM-ONE! All in 2012, a full 4 years before Manafort had his short ugly stint with Trump campaign.

    Can you connect these dots? Well, I’m a darn nuclear engineer, not a Machiavelli and I can sure connect them. Manafort – un-registered lobbyist for the Ukes(pro-Russia Yanukovych) is lobbying the BO admin, with the help and support of Tony Podesta – the biggest DNC lobby firm extant(since demised when Tony ran away), who just happens to be the brother of John Podesta – Clinton For Pres campaign chairman, and Podesta Group also lobbying for Uranium One who sold our Uranium to the Russians as Clinton gathered her play-for-pay money. If any of these crooks are ever under seal, and in a depo, they had better be taking the 5th because – Katy bar the door, once the money angle leaks out, there’s gonna be a lot of finger pointing going on.

    OBTW – the MSM can’t say the name Manafort without the name Trump in close proximity – so, where is Clinton and BO? Shouldn’t they be front and center on CNN/MSNBC squealing like piggies and wagging their finger in the faces of the public with that head-shaking ‘I told you thusly’ smirk? Silence? Not a word, peep, or comment at all from Clinton-bama? Like Deep Throat told us; ‘follow the money’. We will Mark, we will.

    Comment by doc — October 31, 2017 @ 4:21 pm

  5. So much for the Bob Mueller investigation being a fake news witch hunt. Donald Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort, Manafort’s business partner Rick Gates, and former Trump foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos have all been indicted.

    Manafort and Gates are charged with concealing their work as agents of a foreign government, money laundering, and a number of additional crimes. Papadapolous just pled guilty for lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials on behalf of the Trump campaign.

    None of this means Trump himself is guilty of anything criminal, but he absolutely is guilty of terrible judgement. I confess to being unfamiliar with Manafort before the president hired him to manage his campaign last March, but I knew instantly and automatically that he was bad news for one simple reason—he spent years working for Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, the disgraced former strongman and Putin poodle overthrown during the Maidan Revolution and now living in exile in Russia.

    The best that can be said for Americans who would work for a guy like that is that they’re amoral mercenaries with no sense of political decency and a high tolerance for thuggery and corruption. Sure, it’s possible to work cleanly and honestly for corrupt thugs without becoming corrupt yourself, but it’s also probably safe to say that most clean and honest people wouldn’t want to, and either way, Manafort, if he’s guilty—and keep in mind that there’s a 93 percent conviction rate in federal cases—didn’t pull it off or even try. He had a giant red flag next to his name long before Donald Trump hired him.

    Trump didn’t see the red flag or, if he did, he ignored it.

    His supporters insisted that it was okay that he had no political experience and knew next to nothing about foreign affairs because his advisors would help him out. The problem here is that he wasn’t—and isn’t—knowledgeable enough to properly vet his advisors. He actually didn’t know that hiring a whole batch of people with Kremlin ties—not just Manafort, Gates and Papadopoulos but also Mike Flynn and Carter Page—virtually guaranteed a whole raft of trouble for himself and the country.

    Manafort is sucking up all the media oxygen right now—we all know who he is, and just about everybody but Trump has known he’s dirty for more than a year—but the indictment and guilty plea of foreign policy George Papadopoulos may prove more troublesome in the long run.
    https://twitter.com/RWPUSA/status/925026359323299840

    He lied about reaching out to a person named in the indictment, oddly enough, as “the professor,” a Kremlin-linked Russian national in an attempt to link the Trump campaign with Russian officials and even Vladimir Putin himself. The so-called professor told Papadopoulos that the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton and thousands of stolen emails. Papadopoulos sent an email to seven members of Donald Trump’s staff with the following text in the subject line: “Meeting with Russian Leadership – Including Putin.”

    And the Washington Post reports that Papadopoulos is cooperating with the Mueller investigation, which generally means he’ll trade dirt on bigger fish, so to speak, for a more lenient sentence.

    “Papadopolous is the big one,” former Bush administration ethics lawyer Richard Painter tweeted today. “Lesser charges but it is about collusion. And he is cooperating. Bad news for Trump.”

    Indeed. This was never fake news, never a witch hunt. So far, it defines the first year of Donald Trump’s presidency more than anything else and will go down in history as such.

    Comment by Anders Dahl — October 31, 2017 @ 6:10 pm

  6. I see we have a Trump basher in our midst who knew “instantly” all about Manafort because he “knew” about former Ukrainian prez Yanukovych.

    Quite amazing, because many people did not even know what Ukraine was, till the media idiots started screaming about Trump from every angle for every and any made-up reason they could think of.

    Anyone who was following anything in Ukraine knew all about Manafort and Podesta long before the 2016 US presidential election. But I don’t recall the media idiots in the US being interested at all. So it’s hard to believe a claim that someone knew “instantly” all about Manafort, while not mentioning Podesta and the goat blood and Satanic dinners.

    At any rate, I got a pretty good chuckle out of the RT (Russia Today) headline:

    “Mueller issues indictments – Kremlin not mentioned”

    Comment by elmer — November 2, 2017 @ 10:02 am

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