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McQuade writes: "The special counsel made something public he could've kept private. It's full of hints and carries a message to Jared Kushner: Cooperate now."

Robert Mueller. (image: Lyne Lucien/The Daily Beast)
Robert Mueller. (image: Lyne Lucien/The Daily Beast)


It's Russia, Stupid

By Barbara McQuade, The Daily Beast

04 December 17


The special counsel made something public he could’ve kept private. It’s full of hints and carries a message to Jared Kushner: Cooperate now.

he guilty plea by President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn on Friday showed once again that for special counsel Robert Mueller, the devil is in the documents.

Flynn pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Filed along with his guilty plea were three documents: a criminal information statement containing the charge, a plea agreement, and a document called “Statement of the Offense.” Just as we saw in the guilty plea of former campaign advisor George Papadopoulos, the documents provide a number of interesting insights.

It’s Russia, Stupid

One clear point that these documents reveal is that Mueller is eager to strip away extraneous issues and focus on Russia. The charge focuses on Flynn’s false statements regarding (1) sanctions against Russia for interfering with the election and (2) a request of Russia to block a United Nations resolution relating to Israeli settlements. The plea agreement agrees not to charge Flynn for undisclosed lobbying on behalf of the government of Turkey. It makes no mention of the reported kidnapping plot against Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, a potentially very serious violation of kidnapping or bribery statutes. This strategy demonstrates two goals for Mueller: keeping his eye on the Russia ball, and keeping the investigation moving quickly.

More to Come

The Statement of the Offense makes it clear that when Flynn spoke to Russia, he was not acting on his own as some rogue player. The Statement of Offense sets out a timeline indicating that Flynn’s conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak were being discussed in real time with a “senior member of President-elect Trump’s Transition Team” and a “very senior member of the Presidential Transition Team.” The document notes that the “senior member” was with other transition officials at the Mar-A-Lago resort in Florida, where President-elect Trump was staying at the time. Some reports indicate that the “senior member” is Flynn’s former deputy K.T. McFarland and the “very senior member” is Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Regardless, Flynn knows who they are and is prepared to testify about them, according to the plea agreement. This disclosure sheds new light on the reports that Kushner sought a back channel for communication with Russia during the transition. Flynn likely can confirm or refute this report and explain why any back channel for communicating with Russia might have been sought. (Kushner denied it was a “secret back channel” and said communications were to be about Syria.)

And unlike Papadopoulos, who has already pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s team, Flynn was a high-level member of Trump’s team who was involved in the campaign for a long period of time. Flynn cannot be dismissed as a low-level volunteer. Flynn likely knows about any coordination between the campaign and Russia to interfere in the election, efforts to obtain information about Hillary Clinton, and any assistance in Russia’s cyber efforts to influence the election, such as the hacking and releasing of emails and the use of social media to influence voters. He likely will sit down with Mueller’s team for lengthy debriefing sessions if he has not done so already.

Cooperators Get Good Deals

Next, the plea agreement permits Flynn to plead guilty to a single count of making false statements, a relatively minor crime with a calculated sentencing guidelines range of zero to six months in prison. This document signals to other subjects of the investigation that they, too, might be able to get a good deal if they cooperate with Mueller. It might be too late for such a deal for Paul Manafort and Richard Gates, who were charged by the special counsel with a variety of fraud crimes in October, but not for others.

The Statement of Offense is not a document that Mueller is required to file. Why, then, did he file it? In part, no doubt, he wants to lock Flynn into what he will testify to if necessary at any trial. But if locking in Flynn’s statement was Mueller’s goal, he could do that by having Flynn testify under oath and in private before the grand jury. So why make it public? The “senior member” and “very senior member” of the transition team mentioned in the documents know who they are. Including this language in a public document sends a message to them that if they want to cooperate, now is the time, and perhaps, they, too, can get a good deal.

Lying to the FBI Is a Big Deal

Mueller’s charges against Flynn and Papadopoulos make it clear that he takes lying to the FBI very seriously. Lying to the FBI is a significant crime because it makes it harder for investigators to uncover the truth. As a result, when FBI agents interview subjects, they show their badges to make sure that the person knows that they are in fact FBI agents. They tell the person that lying to the FBI is a crime. This occurs for two reasons, (1) to provide fair notice to the person that he should take this interview seriously and that lying brings significant consequences, and (2) to help prove at trial the essential element of the crime that the person was aware that lying to the FBI was illegal. This protocol was likely followed in this case.

Flynn, like Papadopoulos, who has already pleaded guilty for lying to the FBI, is getting a pass for other crimes, but not for lying to the FBI. Mueller likely wants to hold accountable individuals who lie to the FBI and wants to deter lying by other subjects who are to be interviewed down the road.

Obstruction of Justice

The documents also raise the heat on the obstruction of justice investigation into President Trump. It now appears that when Trump allegedly asked then-FBI Director James Comey to let the investigation into Flynn go after Flynn was caught lying to the FBI, and later fired Comey when he did not, Trump was aware that the investigation could implicate not just Flynn, but also senior members of his transition team, and perhaps even himself. This information provides additional evidence that Trump may have acted “corruptly” when he fired Comey, the required motive under the obstruction of justice statute.

Left Unanswered

The documents raise some other questions. Why did Flynn lie to the FBI in the first place? One theory is that his conduct may be a violation of a statute known as the Logan Act, which prohibits ordinary citizens from negotiating with foreign governments. This statute, though, is rather obscure and has never been enforced. It seems unlikely that Flynn even knew about the statute at the time he was interviewed.

If Flynn was not concerned about prosecution under the Logan Act, was he concerned about the appearance of undermining U.S. foreign policy? Was he trying to protect other members of the transition team? Why did he talk to Russians in the first place before the inauguration? Was this the first time they had talked? Were these conversations somehow connected with an overall strategy by Russia to not only interfere with our election, but also the conduct of their preferred candidate once he was in office? This is all part of the quest for the truth by Mueller and his team, and Flynn may have the answers.


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-26 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-12-04 10:26
This article is how the establishment media wants to spin the events, but the facts point in an other direction.

1. the "collusion" was not with Russia but with Israel. Netanyahoo called Trump as president elect and asked him to intervene to prevent Obama's administration from abstaining on a UN resolution condemning Israeli settlements. Trump complied and told Flynn to contact ambassadors from all members of the UN security council. Why focus on Russia here?

2. "Mueller’s charges . . . make it clear that he takes lying to the FBI very seriously. Lying to the FBI is a significant crime." Yes, this is the Martha Stewart approach. When the FBI can't prosecute you on anything they will get your for lying. The FBI does not hesitate to lie to you in order to trap you. The FBI had recordings of all Flynn's and Kislyak's conversations, emails, and etc. and it knew how to lead Flynn into saying things that were not in the transcripts.

3. this plea deal shows that there was no obstruction of justice. Trump asked Comey to back off and now Mueller has backed off. He did not charge Flynn with any action while working for Trump, but only something that happened much later when Flynn was talking to the FBI.


The lesson here is clear. NEVER talk to the FBI. I've been interviewed twice by the FBI. They lied to me and said I was not the target of the investigation but others were. I did my best to say nothing to them and still be polite.
 
 
+17 # madresabia 2017-12-04 12:20
I agree totally with you. Oh, I do believe that Trumps has been involved with the Russians, but on a totally different level. It has become public knowledge that for decades Trump has been doing business with Russian oligarchs as well as mafia both here in the US and in Russian (even when it was still the Soviet Union) and profitting (both then and now) from those relationships. That is what investigators should be looking at.
 
 
-7 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-12-04 14:05
mad -- "for decades Trump has been doing business with Russian oligarchs as well as mafia both here in the US and in Russia"


You are probably right. I've read a little on this. But why is this not the focus of the Russia-Trump investigation. I think it would be 1000 times worse to have a Russia-mobster affiliate in the white house than someone who was indirectly linked to the exposure of DNC/Podesta emails or a few adverts on Twitter and Facebook. Why is the really serious stuff never mentioned by Comey, Mueller, the congressional committees, the Adam Schiff loonie, or the Wapo and NYT?

Something is really wrong here.
 
 
+5 # bread and butter 2017-12-04 23:06
What if the really serious stuff isn't being mentioned, for PRECISELY the reason, that THAT'S what they're going after?

In other words, if they keep people talking about nonsense, they can quietly go about the business of getting to the bottom of Trump's TRUE connections with Russia, which probably ARE with the Russian mob.

This sounds a lot like any other mob investigation.

When you hear, "Trump", think "Gotti".

Imagine if John Gotti were our president! Not that much different, in reality. Just Italian connections, instead of Russian.

If the media keeps harping on about bullshit red herrings, like they've been doing, they may actually, inadvertently, help Mueller investigate the REAL shit that's going on.

This all may be a good thing.

What if we got to dodge the bullet of another Clinton presidency - AND - we got to see Trump fully prosecuted?!?

Then again, you know as well as I do that any Republican President, has ABSOLUTELY LEGAL IMMUNITY for any crime he commits. Trump could get caught eating babies, and you'll NEVER see him serve time for it. It's just not allowable to put Republican Presidents in jail - no matter what crimes they commit.

He'll probably have another "reality" show after he's gone, where he can spout off about how "liberal", our next right-wing Democratic president is.
 
 
-4 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-12-05 11:09
B&B -- "What if the really serious stuff isn't being mentioned, for PRECISELY the reason, that THAT'S what they're going after?"


You may be right. But I doubt it. I think they are really going after these goals:

1. a new cold war against Russia. Justify the $1 trillion renovation of the nuclear arsenal.

2. eliminate or severely restrict independent media which the major media are now labeling "fake news."

3. re-assert CIA/FBI control over the presidency. Trump is too independent; he's a loose cannon.

4. mass brainwash the american people so they will accept whatever narratives the Deep State puts out through its controlled media. This is an on-going project. It never stops.
 
 
-1 # librarian1984 2017-12-05 23:48
I just zipped through Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes -- wall-to-wall Russia Russia Russia Roy Moore Russia.

AND YET I kind of recall there is a horrific tax bill in the works, the GOP is trying to pass gun law reciprocity, CHIP still hasn't been renewed, ACA partial repeal, Arctic drilling ok'd -- but all they want to talk about is click-bait.

Even if these are legitimate stories there should be room for some of these other important stories.
 
 
-7 # yolo 2017-12-04 13:32
Agreed. If the US bothered to investigate the JFK assassination and 9/11 the way they are this investigation the truth would come out. But it isn't about truth its about undermining you political opponents. If there was any collusion it would have been exposed by now. Any dealings with Russia are no different that what top officials do with every other country, which is lie cheat and steal for your own self interest.
 
 
-14 # mashiguo 2017-12-04 14:52
Let's see - at the beginning of the year some 17 or 18 agencies concurred that there was 'collusion' (whatever that is suppoed to mean).

Where is the evidence? What did they agree on? Did they agree without any actual evidence? If they had evidence, why hasn't Mueller brought it forth in indictments?

So far all we have is a big noisy nothing-burger with numerous media outlets serving as willing tools.

There is no there there.
Trump will be strengthened.
Quit whining and go after policy.
 
 
+11 # Working Class 2017-12-04 16:42
Mash - do you really think the intelligence and law enforcement agencies should publish their findings/inform ation prior to conclusion of the on-going investigations? Why? The fact that they have not shared information does not mean there isn't information.
 
 
+14 # bread and butter 2017-12-04 11:38
I guess I'm stupid.

Because I think there are two things about "Russia":

1. That Trump probably has been involved in money laundering with Russian criminals and/or its government. This should have been prosecuted before he ran for office.

2. That Russia may or may not have been the tattle-tails who tattled on Hillary about her true intentions, and just how duplicitous and manipulative she was. If Russia is the tattle-tale, THANK YOU, RUSSIA! If not, then any further discussion about this is a waste of time.

None of this undoes the fact that Clinton lost, and would lose again if the election were held again.

The DNC prevented us from beating Trump.

And now, we'll ALL have to be punished, until it learns its lesson (no matter how many more election cycles that takes).
 
 
0 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-12-07 07:11
B&B - "The DNC prevented us from beating Trump."

This is true but it is water over the dam. The problem now is that they are preventing us from implementing true progressive or democratic socialist reforms within the democratic party so that we can win in 2018 and 2020. Sanders is forced to walk a tight-rope. He's organizing inside the democratic party but he can't change its fundamental management. People are getting frustrated with Sanders because he's cooperating too much with the establishment democrats who appear only to be using him. Meanwhile, opinions that the Clintons are pure evil are hardening. The split in the party grows worse. I'm really worried about 2018. What if democrats lose more seats in the congress?

I say stop this Russiagate distraction and focus on reforming the democratic party. This does not mean I'm a Hillary hater, though I will be accused of that. I only think the Clintons have had their day and it is time for them to retire and move on to other things. A new and younger generation is ready to take the lead and to move in a new direction.
 
 
+22 # Elroys 2017-12-04 11:47
Truth, transparency and honesty - good concepts that Trump and his corrupt pals should try sometime. Otherwise, they will wind up in a black hole with only their twisted values and small minds to keep them company.
 
 
+17 # chrisconno 2017-12-04 12:15
Give us an M-U-E-L-L-E-R. What does that spell? TRUMP prosecution! YEAH!!!!
 
 
+19 # Blackjack 2017-12-04 12:37
Regardless of some of the posts here, the only confidence I have that this mess will result in unpleasant consequences for the thugs on the Trump team is Mueller and the rule of law. Without that, I have no confidence at all that any kind of justice will be done. More than that, I believe that Mueller knows exactly what he's doing and is doing it for the right reasons.
 
 
+3 # REDPILLED 2017-12-04 14:37
No, it's not, Stupid!

Israel and Saudi Arabia have interfered much more than Russia with U.S. politics, policies, and elections.

Why is there no IsraelGate and SaudiGate?

Russophobia provides a very convenient distraction for both corporate, imperialist parties and the corporate, imperialist media to ignore poverty, homelessness, and massive inequality here as well as U.S. war crimes abroad, and the truly EXISTENTIAL threats of climate chaos and nuclear Armageddon.
 
 
0 # Caliban 2017-12-05 02:14
Israel and Saudi Arabia are small fry on the world stage compared to a nuclear armed Russia. Mueller should keep digging out the Trump - Russian connections -- which are both important and real.
 
 
-7 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-12-04 17:00
"One clear point that these documents reveal is that Mueller is eager to strip away extraneous issues and focus on Russia."


I'd like to see this author actually support this bogus claim. Mueller does not seem to be able to focus on Russia. All he can get are throw-away charges. Flynn and Papadopolus were entrapped into lying. The FBI had recordings of all their phone calls, so it did not need to interview them to ask what happened. I knew what happened. It interviewed them in order to trap them into a lie. This is standard operating procedure for the FBI.

So far, there is no proof of a collusion between the Trump campaign and anyone in Russia to influence the 2016 election. The only "Russian connection" that has been proven is that of Christopher Steele and his infamous dossier, but he was working for and paid by the Clinton campaign.
 
 
+2 # sbessho 2017-12-04 19:00
"All he can get are throw-away charges."

That's one way to look at it. Another is that, as McQuade says, these are strategic charges. Compared to Watergate, this is a lightning fast investigation, but there's still a long way to go.
 
 
-3 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-12-04 21:48
If you think for a moment about Mueller's charges against Flynn, they only concern things he said well after the Nov. elections. Flynn has said that he did not collude with Russia on the election and Mueller did not charge him with lying about this. So, in effect, Mueller has conceded that Flynn told the truth when he said that there was no pre-election collusion between Russians and the Trump campaign. Slam dunk. Case closed.

But of course, we all know that this was never about Russians. This is about the US and the American public mind. People are being brainwashed into seeing Russia as an enemy and they -- just as after 9-11 -- are being made willing to give up freedoms and news sources in order to make the homeland safe from Russia.

Mueller's real goals are first propaganda and thought control in America. And second, to re-assert that the intelligence agencies control US elections and they will not tolerate an upstart or outsider candidate. Americans can vote for a Bush or a Clinton and no one else. Anyone else will be regime changed.
 
 
+4 # Jaax88 2017-12-05 19:18
I do not think it is as simple as you want to make it Rasko. Make it so there is nothing there, case closed as you write. In other words, do what you have advocate for a long time, let trump go and give the Russians a pass. Very nice of you to be so generous with Americans' election system and safety.
 
 
-10 # Inspired Citizen 2017-12-04 17:43
I still haven't seen any evidence of Trump/Russia collusion. This narrative is full of empty bombshells. Trump is horrible without making use of the Clinton excuse (established by Mook and Podesta right after the election) for losing the election.

Caitlin Johnstone has been all over this: https://medium.com/@caityjohnstone/another-empty-bombshell-russiagate-story-d046d68fff9f
 
 
-5 # Secret Squirrel 2017-12-05 01:37
Perhaps RSN should run stories that disprove the anti-Russian frothing that it seems to take for granted. At let, it would give readers the chance to think for themselves, Gratuitous piling-on stories like this do more to breed uninformed conformity than foster debate. I will write an essay to prove not only that there is NO PHYSICAL EVIDENCE of Russian hacking but that the story emanated from the zionist-control led Democratic Party in 2016. What say you? Are you up to my challenge?
 
 
-5 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-12-05 11:15
Squirrel -- it is OK. We can read them on other sites. ConsortiumNews is particularly good. Sputnik Radio is good.

But I do think you point about piling on breeding uninformed conformity is very good and precisely the point of this whole campaign. Americans are being bludgeoned into brain death.

The VIPS have already done the article on the lack of physical evidence of a DNC hacking. Joe Lauria has a great article on the fabrications by Fusion, Crowdstrike, FBI and other organizations working with the Demo Party. Lauria's article first was published on HuffPost, but was taken down in 24 hours. Censorship. You'll be censored, too.
 
 
-6 # Jaax88 2017-12-05 19:13
Yes let us see what you are boasting about.
Prove there was no evidence of Russian hacking. Also define what you mean by PHYSICAL EVIDENCE in this situation. I see a possible snake in the grass here.
 
 
0 # Secret Squirrel 2017-12-05 20:50
Quoting Jaax88:
I do not get this "there is no evidence" of trump/Russia/Putin collusion or similar statements. That sound similar to Big Tobacco and the fossil fuel people throwing up a smoke screen and denying any problems with their productQuoting Jaax88:
Yes let us see what you are boasting about.
Prove there was no evidence of Russian hacking. Also define what you mean by PHYSICAL EVIDENCE in this situation. I see a possible snake in the grass here.

s. I just have to ask those nitwits what they think an investigation really is?

How many people are going to come right out and confess and admit to wrongdoing?

I have not decided if the nitwits are just naive or on the other hand are malicious in that they want or hope the investigation will be thwarted and the truth will not come out.


First, one does not prove a negative proposition. It is up to the other side to provide the positive evidence, and this has not happened. There is no evidence to argue. That is my point. All these Russian conspiracists do is state assertions, beliefs and claims. The originator of this story is the DNC and it predates the election. by more than 1/2 a year.
 
 
0 # librarian1984 2017-12-05 23:52
VIPS report has been out for months. Geez. Read.
 
 
0 # Jaax88 2017-12-05 12:31
I do not get this "there is no evidence" of trump/Russia/Pu tin collusion or similar statements. That sound similar to Big Tobacco and the fossil fuel people throwing up a smoke screen and denying any problems with their products. I just have to ask those nitwits what they think an investigation really is?

How many people are going to come right out and confess and admit to wrongdoing?

I have not decided if the nitwits are just naive or on the other hand are malicious in that they want or hope the investigation will be thwarted and the truth will not come out.
 
 
-4 # Secret Squirrel 2017-12-05 19:22
Your cognitive dissonance is noted. The only nitwit is you for picking a fight over something you know nothing about. These three links debunk the Russia story.
The third is an excellent demolition of the so-called electronic "proofs" of Russian hacking.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/27/us/politics/trump-dossier-paul-singer.html

https://consortiumnews.com/2017/09/20/more-holes-in-russia-gate-narrative

https://theintercept.com/2016/12/14/heres-the-public-evidence-russia-hacked-the-dnc-its-not-enough/
 
 
+1 # Blackjack 2017-12-05 12:54
There are obviously people here who hate the FBI more than they hate Trump and his minions. Wonder why that is?
 
 
-4 # Secret Squirrel 2017-12-05 19:23
Quoting Rodion Raskolnikov:
Squirrel -- it is OK. We can read them on other sites. ConsortiumNews is particularly good. Sputnik Radio is good.

But I do think you point about piling on breeding uninformed conformity is very good and precisely the point of this whole campaign. Americans are being bludgeoned into brain death.

The VIPS have already done the article on the lack of physical evidence of a DNC hacking. Joe Lauria has a great article on the fabrications by Fusion, Crowdstrike, FBI and other organizations working with the Demo Party. Lauria's article first was published on HuffPost, but was taken down in 24 hours. Censorship. You'll be censored, too.


Indeed. RSN refused to put up two of my posts.
 
 
-5 # Secret Squirrel 2017-12-05 19:25
Quoting Blackjack:
There are obviously people here who hate the FBI more than they hate Trump and his minions. Wonder why that is?


Hatred is not at issue. People like you who moralize a political issue like this are interested in propaganda, not debate.
 

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