Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Russian To Judgment, Con't

It took less than 10 hours for a jury in Special Counsel John Durham's case against Steele dossier informant Igor Danchenko to acquit him of all charges, in a final failure of the entire case against the "Russia hoax".

A jury on Tuesday found Igor Danchenko — a private researcher who was a primary source for a 2016 dossier of allegations about former president Donald Trump’s ties to Russia — not guilty of lying to the FBI about where he got his information.

The verdict in federal court in Alexandria, Va., is another blow for special counsel John Durham, who has now lost both cases that have gone to trial as part of his nearly 3½-year investigation. Durham, who was asked by Attorney General William P. Barr in 2019 to review the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign in 2016, is sure to face renewed pressure to wrap up his work following the verdict.

Trump predicted Durham would uncover “the crime of the century” inside the U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies that investigated his campaign’s links to Russia. But so far, no one charged by the special counsel has gone to prison, and only one government employee has pleaded guilty to a criminal offense. In both trials this year, Durham argued that people deceived FBI agents, not that investigators corruptly targeted Trump.

The jury in Danchenko’s case deliberated for about nine hours over two days. Juror Joel Greene said in an interview that there were no holdouts in the deliberations and that the decision was “pretty unanimous.”

“We looked at everything really closely,” said Greene, who declined to comment on the politics of the case. “The conclusion we reached was the conclusion we all were able to reach.”

Durham, a longtime federal prosecutor who was U.S. attorney in Connecticut during the Trump administration, personally argued much of the government’s case against Danchenko. The special counsel alleged that Danchenko misled the FBI officials asking in 2017 about his sources, after the agency determined the researcher was the unnamed person behind some of the most explosive allegations about Trump in reports compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele.

The trial could be Durham’s last. A grand jury that the special counsel had been using in Alexandria is now inactive, people familiar with the matter have told The Washington Post, though the status of a similar panel in D.C. was not immediately clear. A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment when asked whether Durham would continue as special counsel in the wake of the Danchenko acquittal.

Barr, reached by phone Tuesday afternoon after the jury announced its verdict, declined to comment. In a statement released by the Justice Department after the verdict, Durham said, “While we are disappointed in the outcome, we respect the jury’s decision and thank them for their service. I also want to recognize and thank the investigators and the prosecution team for their dedicated efforts in seeking truth and justice in this case.”

A representative for Trump could not immediately be reached for comment.
And with that, given four years and endless resources, Durham couldn't find a damn thing. The fabled conspiracy to get Trump was just that, a conspiracy. Meanwhile, Trump now faces multiple cases in multiple jurisdictions and at least one of them will nail him to the wall for good.
This was all Bill Barr's idiocy, a convenient smokescreen that petered out because it was bullshit all along. Unlike the Mueller probe, Durham's bag of turds dropped off the Empire State Building landed with a splat and no convictions. 

It should be the end of his career. Of course like Barr, Durham will be fine, having done his job in damaging American democracy for years to come.

Maybe fatally.


Vote Like Your Country Depends On It, Con't

More that 70% of all voters in this week's NY Times/Siena College poll agree that American democracy is under threat, but in 2022 that simply means "The other political party".
Voters overwhelmingly believe American democracy is under threat, but seem remarkably apathetic about that danger, with few calling it the nation’s most pressing problem, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll.

In fact, more than a third of independent voters and a smaller but noteworthy contingent of Democrats said they were open to supporting candidates who reject the legitimacy of the 2020 election, as they assigned greater urgency to their concerns about the economy than to fears about the fate of the country’s political system.

The doubts about elections that have infected American politics since the 2020 contest show every sign of persisting well into the future, the poll suggested: Twenty-eight percent of all voters, including 41 percent of Republicans, said they had little to no faith in the accuracy of this year’s midterm elections.

Political disagreements appear to be seeping into the fabric of everyday life. Fourteen percent of voters said political views revealed a lot about whether someone is a good person, while 34 percent said it revealed a little. Nearly one in five said political disagreements had hurt relationships with friends or family.

“I do agree that the biggest threat is survival of our democracy, but it’s the divisiveness that is creating this threat,” said Ben Johnson, 33, a filmmaker from New Orleans and a Democrat. “It feels like on both sides, people aren’t agreeing on facts anymore. We can’t meet in the middle if we can’t agree on simple facts. You’re not going to be able to move forward and continue as a country if you can’t agree on facts.”

The poll showed that voters filtered their faith in democracy through a deeply partisan lens. A majority of voters in both parties identified the opposing party as a “major threat to democracy.”

Most Republicans said the dangers included President Biden, the mainstream media, the federal government and voting by mail. Most Democrats named Donald J. Trump, while large shares of the party’s voters also said the Supreme Court and the Electoral College were threats to democracy.

Seventy-one percent of all voters said democracy was at risk — but just 7 percent identified that as the most important problem facing the country.

These ostensibly conflicting views — that voters could be so deeply suspicious of one another and of the bedrock institutions of American democracy, while also expressing little urgency to address those concerns — may in part reflect longstanding frustrations and cynicism toward government.
We've spent two generations calling the federal government a threat, and when we get to the point where we're on the knife's edge looking into the abyss, most Americans want to jump. 

I take that back. Most Americans want permission to push the most marginalized among us off the edge in order to "improve" their own lives. A third of a billion bastards, we've become.

I have to hope we can overcome this, but it'll take a miracle.


Made In Taiwan, Con't

US Secretary of State Tony Blinken is warning that Chinese plans for invading Taiwan have now become a much higher military priority for Beijing.

China has made a decision to seize Taiwan on a “much faster timeline” than previously thought, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday, shortly after China’s leader reiterated his intent to take the island by force if necessary.

“There has been a change in the approach from Beijing toward Taiwan in recent years,” Blinken said in an event at Stanford University in California.

The remarks from America’s top diplomat on Monday come as China holds its twice-a-decade Communist party congress, and shortly after Chinese President Xi Jinping used a widely-watched speech on Sunday to say the “wheels of history are rolling on towards China’s reunification” with Taiwan. While peaceful means were preferable, Xi added, “we reserve the option of taking all measures necessary.”

Blinken said China had made a “fundamental decision that the status quo was no longer acceptable, and that Beijing was determined to pursue reunification on a much faster timeline.” He didn’t elaborate on the timing or provide other details.

Although Biden administration officials have regularly accused China of eroding the balance of power in the Taiwan Strait, comments about Beijing’s intentions with regard to an invasion are less common.

Observers are highly sensitive to any remarks that might provide insights into how senior officials in Beijing or Washington view the potential for war over Taiwan -- an event that would have enormous geopolitical and economic consequences, particularly given President Joe Biden’s repeated pledges that the US would help defend the island.

The State Department didn’t immediately respond to a question on Monday about whether Blinken’s comments reflected any formal assessment that China has moved up its agenda for taking Taiwan. In March of last year, Admiral Philip Davidson, then commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that China wanted to take Taiwan “during this decade, in fact, in the next six years.”
Pretty sure you can change "years" there to "months". 
Seems to me that Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin have made a deal, and both are betting that there's no appetite here, especially among the GOP, for US troops in Taiwan at all. Besides, we're busy with Ukraine, is the thinking.
We can't handle both.
The world may about to be changed dramatically by that assumption, and not in a good way.
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