Sunday, October 6, 2019

Last Call For It's All About Revenge Now, Con't

It's incredible to note that while the focus in the Ukraine impeachment case has been on Trump, Giuliani, and Mike Pompeo, the real enabler here is Attorney General Bill Barr, who is continuing to take a personal hand in punishing those responsible for the Mueller investigation.

Attorney General William P. Barr has taken an interest in a mysterious European professor whose conversation with an adviser to President Trump’s 2016 campaign helped launch the FBI investigation into possible coordination with Russia — and who has since become the focal point of an unproven conservative theory that the entire inquiry was a setup, people familiar with the matter said.

Those involved in the FBI investigation said they are mystified by the attorney general’s activities and interest in the professor, Joseph Mifsud, and they suspect that Barr might be using Justice Department resources to validate conjecture that Mifsud was deployed against a Trump adviser by Western intelligence to manufacture a basis to investigate the campaign.

“It just seems like they’re doing everything they can to delegitimize the origins of that investigation,” said one person involved the Russia probe, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the politically sensitive matter that is still being reviewed. “I just don’t think there’s any real basis to disparage it.”

But Barr’s inquiry has heartened Trump and his conservative allies. Trump, who at times has inquired about the origins of the Russia investigation and the professor in particular, has bragged that Barr will get to the bottom of the case and is doing a good job as the country’s top law enforcement official, a White House official said.

Barr’s defenders assert that he is exploring what he views as possible problems.

“He’s not a conspiracy theorist. He’s a realist,” said George Terwilliger, a former deputy attorney general and longtime friend of Barr’s. “And I’m confident that if he has a concern that justifies his personal involvement, it’s based on fact, not conjecture.”

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment.

Sure he is.  He's not chasing down right-wing conspiracy theories like a nutjob in order to justify coming legal action against the intelligence community.

Unproven or vague allegations about impropriety in the origins of the FBI’s Russia probe have long been passed between Trump, his conservative allies on Capitol Hill and the conservative media ecosystem — with the country’s top law enforcement official and conservative lawmakers sometimes helping to fuel them.

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) wrote in recent days to Australian, Italian and British officials, asking them to cooperate in Barr’s review of the Russia investigation and asserting that the attorney general was “simply doing his job.” Graham said in an interview that he expected Mifsud to be a significant part of the investigation.

“He’s a curious character in this whole deal, and we need to know more about him,” Graham said, adding that he had not talked to Barr about the matter.

Graham is helping Barr get his pound of flesh as chair of the Senate Judiciary.  But Barr is doing all this to defend Trump, not to pursue justice.  Remember, Barr has two investigations going, one from IG Michael Horowitz, the other from Connecticut US Attorney John Durham.  They've been on the back burner until the last month.

The Horowitz IG investigation is said to be completed.  The Durham investigation has been going on nearly as long as the Mueller probe at this point.  The closer we get to a scenario where Trump is in real trouble -- and we're rapidly approaching that point now -- the more I fear that Barr will radically change the game and start prosecuting Mueller investigators and FBI, CIA, and NSA personnel.

We'll see.

The Whistle Sounds A Second Time

As expected over the weekend, the rumored second Ukraine whistleblower has now come forward to corroborate the first whistleblower's claims.

Mark Zaid, the attorney representing the whistleblower who sounded the alarm on President Donald Trump's dealings with Ukraine and triggered an impeachment inquiry, tells ABC News that he is now representing a second whistleblower who has spoken with the inspector general.

Zaid tells ABC News' Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos that the second person -- also described as an intelligence official -- has first-hand knowledge of some of the allegations outlined in the original complaint and has been interviewed by the head of the intelligence community's internal watchdog office, Michael Atkinson.

The existence of a second whistleblower -- particularly one who can speak directly about events involving the president related to conversations involving Ukraine -- could undercut Trump's repeated insistence that the original complaint, released on Sept. 26, was "totally inaccurate."

That original seven-page complaint alleged that Trump pushed a foreign power to investigate his political rival, Joe Biden, and Biden's son, Hunter, and that unnamed senior White House officials then tried to "lock down" all records of the phone call.

"This set of actions underscored to me that White House officials understood the gravity of what had transpired in the call," the first whistleblower stated, in a complaint filed Aug. 12.

Zaid says both officials have full protection of the law intended to protect whistleblowers from being fired in retaliation. While this second official has spoken with the IG -- the internal watchdog office created to handle complaints -- this person has not communicated yet with the congressional committees conducting the investigation.

The New York Times on Friday cited anonymous sources in reporting that a second intelligence official was weighing whether to file his own formal complaint and testify to Congress. Zaid says he does not know if the second whistleblower he represents is the person identified in the Times report.

Zaid’s co-counsel, Andrew Bakaj, confirmed in a tweet Sunday that the firm is representing "multiple whistleblowers." Zaid later confirmed in a tweet that two are being represented by their legal team.

According to the first whistleblower, more than a half a dozen U.S. officials have information relevant to the investigation -- suggesting the probe could widen even further.

From a legal standpoint this is devastating to Trump, but I'm not sure politically how much of a difference a second whistleblower will make at this point.  Trump partisans aren't going to believe a word of the second individual's complaint against their Orange Emperor, and let's remember, the impeachment and trial process will be 100% political.  But for 99% of Republicans, their mind is made up, and we get ridiculous conversations like this one between Chuck Todd and Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson.

Still, this puts additional political pressure on Trump's partisans and the ridiculous "it's hearsay!" defense, now that we have a second source with first-hand evidence.  How much pressure, we'll see in the days and weeks ahead.  And as Chuck Todd shows above, the media is actually fighting back because of how ridiculous defending Trump looks.

Understand though the base accusations are still the same: Trump used foreign aid and pressured foreign leaders into fabricating intelligence on his political allies to help him in 2020.

Sunday Long Read: Dorian's Devastation

The destruction from Hurricane Dorian is still very much evident on the Grand Abaco island of the Bahamas, and in this Sunday postcard from the Miami New Times, the island and the nation may never recover.

Five days after Hurricane Dorian stalled over the Abacos and nearby Grand Bahama, pummeling the islands for 24 hours with its 185 mph winds, the runway of the Leonard M. Thompson International Airport had been cleared. But the buildings that ringed the landing strip had been ripped open like Christmas presents. The control tower remained upright, but the attached office building was stripped to its skeleton. Once our twin-prop six-seater touched down, I realized the airstrip was being operated by U.S. Navy personnel who were orchestrating the traffic from the tarmac via radios.
The strangest sight: Blackhawk helicopters, C-130 Hercules transport planes, and untold millions' worth of gleaming Gulfstream jets parked scant steps from hundreds of people who, having made it this far, had no idea when — or whether — they'd be able to get out.

"I don't know where I'm going to go — no idea. Maybe somewhere where I can have a job, but who knows," said Benghy Delotte, a 35-year-old carpenter who'd been waiting outside the airport for four days with scarcely any food or water. "We've had to survive on our own. Whatever we find on the ground is what we eat."

Delotte and several dozen other men were clustered outside the airport's powder-blue-trimmed main terminal. Women and children had been allowed inside, where they'd transformed the space into a musty shelter ripe with the stink of dirty diapers. The security checkpoint had all but lost its former identity: A conveyor belt that once scanned the luggage of moneyed tourists had become a triage station littered with discarded medical supplies; the cafeteria was the domain of a burgeoning swarm of flies.

In stark contrast to Delotte, my three fellow travelers and I were well equipped. We had clean clothes. Our employer, Reuters news service, had outfitted us with plenty of water, ready-to-eat meals, mountains of batteries, portable solar panels, powdered electrolytes, and fruit juice. We had cigarettes, mesh bug nets, camera equipment, functioning smartphones, and portable satellite dishes to beam back images and interviews from the aftermath.

For the next three days, it would be our discomfiting task to point our recording equipment at piles of rubble that days earlier had been houses, and to extract stories from the occupants who'd abandoned them to the hurricane, who now were reduced to convulsive sobs at the sight of what had become of their homes and their lives.

When I deplaned in the tourist-thronged capital of Nassau late the previous afternoon, September 5, the Holiday Inn Express on Bay Street across from Junkanoo Beach was already one of the de facto headquarters for personnel arriving on behalf of relief agencies and news organizations. The lobby bustled with blue-vested United Nations workers; the thumping of Dutch, Canadian, and U.S. military boots; and the chatter of Japanese, French, Italian, and Mexican journalists.

The 700 islands that compose the Bahamas archipelago dot a swath the size of Texas in the western Atlantic Ocean. (Bimini is closest to the U.S. mainland, about 70 miles southeast of Miami.) Dorian had spared all but two of the former British colony's 16 major islands: Grand Bahama, where the city of Freeport is located, was hit hard, while Great Abaco was nearly obliterated — the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) estimated 90 percent of that island's structures were destroyed. According to the WFP, 70,000 people were in need of housing and shelter on the two islands, respectively the second- and third-most-popular tourist destinations in the Bahamas. Nassau, meanwhile, remained a veritable Disneyland, with cruise ships arriving and departing regularly.

My plan was to board a charter to Great Abaco the next morning. But the promised plane didn't materialize. Nor did a helicopter service that had accepted a $5,000 wire transfer for two rides.

Marooned in Nassau, I walked to Princess Margaret Hospital, a pastel-yellow complex styled in the imposing manner of the country's onetime British colonial overlords and the only large medical facility in the Bahamas that was fully functioning after the storm. Victims had begun arriving the day before, yet the lobby was eerily calm. I found Leon Lazard, a 42-year-old contractor from Abaco who'd been airlifted in after he was injured while rescuing his mentally handicapped brother Lawrence. Lazard and about 30 others had been caught for hours in a horrifying relay race, running from one flooded house to another, fleeing each as the winds ripped off roof after roof.

"Every time we tried to go outside, the weather would show its might," Lazard said, speaking quietly while staring off into the distance. "It would pick up something and throw it at us — like it was saying, 'If you come out here, all of you are dead.

Trump may be the biggest hurricane in the news right now, but he's far from the only one.  We can't forget that.
Related Posts with Thumbnails