Trump's Red Line

A. Droogs in Blue Suits and Their Press Accomplices

The Mueller Special Counsel appointment is predicated on the notion that President Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to assure the defeat of Hillary Clinton -- a notion so ludicrous only a Democrat could fall for it.

Dennis Miller sets it out simply so we can see how preposterous a notion this is:

Dennis Miller✔@DennisDMZ

Obviously Trump is a Russian Agent. Sent to a Soviet Front military school in US and then from age 18 on chasing tail while becoming the quintessential capitalist billionaire. All for that moment at age 70 when Putin flipped the Red Queen and activated the Ghost in the Machine.

Despite this absurdity (and the fact that the Clintons had far more and very lucrative documented links to Russia), it was the predicate of an effort to topple the President, or, at a minimum, cripple what is becoming nevertheless a very consequential presidency.

In much the same way, a handful of miscreants, aided by a partisan press and Democratic leaders, tried to use the office of the special counsel to persuade the public that the war in Iraq -- which the Democrats voted for on the same basis of information in President Bush’s hands -- was based on lies. The specific target was Vice-President Richard Cheney. Every rotten trick in the book was used to convict Lewis Libby, Cheney’s top aide, as well to hide the fact that Libby was not a leaker and Valerie Plame was not at the time a covert agent. Richard Armitage was the leaker, something that Patrick Fitzgerald, along with the head of the FBI Robert Mueller and the acting Attorney General James Comey, knew before they sicced him on his witch-hunt. On these pages, I documented the course of that trial. In the Weekly Standard, I reported what was known at the time of Libby’s conviction. 

It is a dark mark against the former president George W. Bush that he only commuted the jail portion of the sentence Libby received, and failed to fully pardon him. This week, the President rectified that, noting that the D.C. Court of Appeals that reinstated Libby’s law license had fully investigated the matter and found there was "credible evidence to support Libby’s claim of innocence of the crime for which he had been charged.” 

In 2015, one of the key witnesses against Mr. Libby recanted her testimony, stating publicly that she believes the prosecutor withheld relevant information from her during interviews that would have altered significantly what she said.  The next year, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals unanimously reinstated Mr. Libby to the bar, reauthorizing him to practice law.  The Court agreed with the District of Columbia Disciplinary Counsel, who stated that Mr. Libby had presented “credible evidence” in support of his innocence, including evidence that a key prosecution witness had “changed her recollection of the events in question.”

News accounts of this pardon have been willfully misleading, from the AP and NY Daily News to the tweets of Jake Tapper and David Gregory. (In contrast to my policy of giving links to sources -- these are such disgusting spectacles of rotten journalism I don’t want to increase even by my small readership the traffic on their sites.)

Typical of the biased coverage, however, which uniformly ignored the stated basis and sound facts underlying the pardon, was Saturday’s Washington Post front-page article authored by Philip Rucker, Josh Dawsey, and Matt Zapotsky, The hard copy headline states “Critics question the pardon of Libby.” In the online version, the header is more blatantly partisan: “Trump grants pardon to former Bush official; some say he is using the law as a political tool”

The lead sentence is a model of partisan opinion masking as news:

In his decision Friday to pardon a former Bush administration official convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice, President Trump telegraphed his open hostility to the criminal justice system and his desire to use the power of the presidency as a personal political tool.

In support of this non-news news, the paper’s sources were Valerie Plame, the anti-Semitic blonde who was the putative “victim” of the leak BY ARMITAGE, and Patrick Fitzgerald, who by imputation the D.C. Court of Appeals had considered the perpetrator of the unjust conviction of Lewis Libby.

In contrast, we have the editors of the Wall Street Journal, a paper that closely and fairly reported on the events at the time:

Mr. Fitzgerald knew from his first days on the job that Mr. Libby hadn’t leaked Ms. Plame’s name. Yet rather than close up shop, he pursued dubious obstruction of justice charges based on the flimsiest of evidence. For two years Mr. Fitzgerald also let the country think a crime may have been committed by people close to President Bush or President Cheney when he already knew better.

As it happens, Mr. Fitzgerald was appointed by his good friend, James Comey, who was then Deputy Attorney General. This is the Jim Comey who told Congress last year that his goal in leaking information to the press about his conversations with Donald Trump after he was fired was to trigger a special counsel investigation that is now led by Mr. Mueller. This special counsel’s work isn’t done, but the Fitzgerald episode is worth keeping in mind as it unfolds.

The Washington Post Saturday front-page (Bezos’ vanity press, it seems) also shows a marked contrast to what Richard Cohen, writing for the Post in 2007, noted:

With the sentencing of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Fitzgerald has apparently finished his work, which was, not to put too fine a point on it, to make a mountain out of a molehill. At the urging of the liberal press (especially the New York Times), he was appointed to look into a run-of-the-mill leak and wound up prosecuting not the leaker -- Richard Armitage of the State Department -- but Libby, convicted in the end of lying. [snip]

The upshot was a train wreck -- mile after mile of shame, infamy, embarrassment and occasional farce, all of it described in the forthcoming "Off the Record," a vigorously written account of what went wrong, by Norman Pearlstine, Time Inc.'s former editor in chief. The special counsel used the immense power of the government to jail Judith Miller and to compel other journalists, including Time's Matt Cooper, to suspend their various and sacred vows of silence just so they could, understandably, avoid jail. The press held itself up to mockery, wantonly promising confidentiality, anonymity -- what's the diff, anyway? -- and virtual life after death to anyone with a piece of gossip to peddle. Much heroic braying turned into cries for mercy as the government bore down. As any prosecutor knows -- and Martha Stewart can attest -- white-collar types tend to have a morbid fear of jail.

As Fitzgerald worked his wonders, threatening jail and going after government gossips with splendid pluck, many opponents of the Iraq war cheered. They thought -- if "thought" can be used in this context -- that if the thread was pulled on who had leaked the identity of Valerie Plame to Robert D. Novak, the effort to snooker an entire nation into war would unravel and this would show... who knows? Something. For some odd reason, the same people who were so appalled about government snooping, the USA Patriot Act and other such threats to civil liberties cheered as the special prosecutor weed-whacked the press jailed a reporter and now will send a previously obscure government official to prison for 30 months.

The latest nonsense from the special counsel’s office includes interfering with the press again.

Just as Fitzgerald overreached in jailing its own reporter Judith Miller, the New York Times thinks the feds can ignore the First Amendment and beset the National Enquirer.

Making fun of the NYT suggestion that it’s okay for the special counsel to look into the Enquirer’s editorial decisions and payment of sources, Tom Maguire observes:  

Hmm. Is paying for stories a "legitimate press function"? That is how the National Enquirer broke the case of the murderer of Bill Cosby's son. They also paid Rush Limbaugh's housekeeper for the scoop that got Rush busted for his oxycontin habit -- I bet that looked legit to Common Cause.

To paraphrase slightly, the dark night of fascism is always descending on the right yet arriving from the left.

As for Mueller’s conduct in getting a local prosecutor to seize Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen’s records, that seems to be devolving into farce. The President has been allowed to intervene to protect his interests as Cohen’s client and Cohen has argued he cannot be compelled to testify in the former porn star’s case respecting breach of her nondisclosure agreement because of his Fifth Amendment privilege. Will the next step be Stormy Daniel’s lawyer seeking to intervene and quash the search and seizure warrant on Cohen as having been improperly entered?

And the prosecutorial leaks continue -- McClatchy suggesting there was a basis to go after Cohen because of a purported meeting he had in Prague, something long discredited.

Cohen’s response:

Michael Cohen
‏Verified account @MichaelCohen212
8m8 minutes ago

Bad reporting, bad information and bad story by same reporter Peter Stone @McClatchyDC. No matter how many times or ways they write it, I have never been to Prague. I was in LA with my son. Proven!

But the press falls for this nonsense every time. 

The next person who suggests the appointment of a special counsel under the now existing law where there is no court oversight ought to be committed. Twice now they’ve devolved into unconstitutional, partisan witch-hunts.

My suspicion is that the raid on Cohen's office is more related to his suit against GPS Fusion than it is against anything else. A correspondent shares my belief:

This is an old story that's been completely debunked. The claim that Cohen traveled to Prague was part of the Steele "dossier" that was put out by Fusion GPS = The Hillary Campaign. It turns out that there is more than one Michael Cohen in the world -- yes, imagine that! A different Michael Cohen went to Prague. And that's where things get interesting.

Have you ever tried to access the travel records of another person? Yeah, good luck with that, right?​ Well, then, how did Fusion GPS manage to do that? It turns out, via a FISA Court report, that the FBI employed "private contractors" who weren't cleared and gave them extensive access to government records. Yep. Fusion GPS was a "private contractor," meaning the FBI had given them access to just about everything in order to do oppo research for Hillary. Are you comfortable with that? Fusion GPS's big mistake in keeping this from coming out is that they didn't check to make sure they had the right Michael Cohen and went with the attempted smear.

So, what does Michael Cohen do? In very early January of this year he filed a defamation law suit against Fusion GPS! Uh oh! Imagine the stuff he's gonna be asking for in discovery! What happens next? Mueller's jackbooted FBI break down the doors to every place associated with Cohen, seize all his records, and start leaking accusations against him.

Does this sound like the whole Mueller operation is really just a coverup for Hillary and the Deep State? It does to me.

B. Trump tweets, the Russians Turn Tail

In the meantime as Scott Adams (the creator of "Dilbert") writes:

After he wrote that, the President masterfully played Bashar Assad, Russia, and Iran with tweets suggesting he had proof that Assad was behind the chemical attack on civilians and that we had big missiles to deal with this. The Russians skedaddled from the major port and the chemical weapon production sites and the Iranians hightailed it back home along with, it is reported, Assad and his family. We did nothing for a few days but certainly learned a lot of valuable information about the operations of the Iranians and Russians there as we listened in to their communications and watched their movements. In the meantime, Trump got the French and British to join us and wiped out specific targets:

The Pentagon said Saturday that the U.S.-led allied missile strikes in Syria successfully hit all three targets and have “significantly crippled” Syrian President Bashar Assad’s ability to make more chemical weapons.

“I think we dealt them a severe blow,” Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at the Pentagon after the overnight bombing. “We’ve attacked the heart of the Syrians’ chemical weapons program.”

McKenzie identified the targets as Barzah Research and Development, the Him Shinshar Chemical Weapons Storage Site and the Him Shinshar Bunker Facility. He also said 105 missiles were launched by air and sea.

The fabled Soviet anti-missile systems didn’t seem to work, nor did their radar, This should be a blow to their weapons sales and a message to Iran and Syria which bought this equipment encouraged in their aggression by the now proven false belief that they are immune from counterattack.

It all reminds me of those Spanish language novellas. Trump tweets, the mother-in-law (in this case the MSM, Democrats, and the market) faint, and in the next episode all is well and they sit down to dinner. He does not want to invade Syria. He wants to allow the Syrians to take charge of their fate without outside interference or attacks on the innocent. Period. How can anyone complain? Trump waited until we had evidence that Assad’s troops were responsible. The chemical weapons were not supposed to be there: Assad, John F. Kerry when Secretary of State, and the Russians told us they’d all been destroyed. Are we now to hear complaints about destroying what we were assured did not exist?

On Facebook, Harry Lewis sums it up nicely:

Trump's missile strikes on Syria (with British and French support) expose three truths devastating to the Syrians, Iranians, Russians, and Democrats (America's adversaries): (1) unlike Obama, under the right circumstances, Trump will pull the trigger; (2) Russia lied to John Kerry and Obama about disposing of Assad's chemical weapons in exchange for American inaction, and until Trump, we never called Russia or Syria on their lies; (3) the Russian anti-missile systems for which Syria and Iran paid high prices are useless, and were a waste of money, a huge loss of face for Moscow.

And Syria is unlikely to pull such atrocities off again:

@Sunrise51052
5m5 minutes ago

Nikki Haley to UN: I spoke with a President Trump this morning, he said if the Syrian regime uses this poisonous gas again, the United States is locked and loaded. When our president draws a red line, our President enforces the red line.

This is the way to show Never Again, not by marching or diplomatic cant. This president will not allow such things to occur again whenever we have evidence they are occurring and we are in a position to end it.

A. Droogs in Blue Suits and Their Press Accomplices

The Mueller Special Counsel appointment is predicated on the notion that President Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to assure the defeat of Hillary Clinton -- a notion so ludicrous only a Democrat could fall for it.

Dennis Miller sets it out simply so we can see how preposterous a notion this is:

Dennis Miller✔@DennisDMZ

Obviously Trump is a Russian Agent. Sent to a Soviet Front military school in US and then from age 18 on chasing tail while becoming the quintessential capitalist billionaire. All for that moment at age 70 when Putin flipped the Red Queen and activated the Ghost in the Machine.

Despite this absurdity (and the fact that the Clintons had far more and very lucrative documented links to Russia), it was the predicate of an effort to topple the President, or, at a minimum, cripple what is becoming nevertheless a very consequential presidency.

In much the same way, a handful of miscreants, aided by a partisan press and Democratic leaders, tried to use the office of the special counsel to persuade the public that the war in Iraq -- which the Democrats voted for on the same basis of information in President Bush’s hands -- was based on lies. The specific target was Vice-President Richard Cheney. Every rotten trick in the book was used to convict Lewis Libby, Cheney’s top aide, as well to hide the fact that Libby was not a leaker and Valerie Plame was not at the time a covert agent. Richard Armitage was the leaker, something that Patrick Fitzgerald, along with the head of the FBI Robert Mueller and the acting Attorney General James Comey, knew before they sicced him on his witch-hunt. On these pages, I documented the course of that trial. In the Weekly Standard, I reported what was known at the time of Libby’s conviction. 

It is a dark mark against the former president George W. Bush that he only commuted the jail portion of the sentence Libby received, and failed to fully pardon him. This week, the President rectified that, noting that the D.C. Court of Appeals that reinstated Libby’s law license had fully investigated the matter and found there was "credible evidence to support Libby’s claim of innocence of the crime for which he had been charged.” 

In 2015, one of the key witnesses against Mr. Libby recanted her testimony, stating publicly that she believes the prosecutor withheld relevant information from her during interviews that would have altered significantly what she said.  The next year, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals unanimously reinstated Mr. Libby to the bar, reauthorizing him to practice law.  The Court agreed with the District of Columbia Disciplinary Counsel, who stated that Mr. Libby had presented “credible evidence” in support of his innocence, including evidence that a key prosecution witness had “changed her recollection of the events in question.”

News accounts of this pardon have been willfully misleading, from the AP and NY Daily News to the tweets of Jake Tapper and David Gregory. (In contrast to my policy of giving links to sources -- these are such disgusting spectacles of rotten journalism I don’t want to increase even by my small readership the traffic on their sites.)

Typical of the biased coverage, however, which uniformly ignored the stated basis and sound facts underlying the pardon, was Saturday’s Washington Post front-page article authored by Philip Rucker, Josh Dawsey, and Matt Zapotsky, The hard copy headline states “Critics question the pardon of Libby.” In the online version, the header is more blatantly partisan: “Trump grants pardon to former Bush official; some say he is using the law as a political tool”

The lead sentence is a model of partisan opinion masking as news:

In his decision Friday to pardon a former Bush administration official convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice, President Trump telegraphed his open hostility to the criminal justice system and his desire to use the power of the presidency as a personal political tool.

In support of this non-news news, the paper’s sources were Valerie Plame, the anti-Semitic blonde who was the putative “victim” of the leak BY ARMITAGE, and Patrick Fitzgerald, who by imputation the D.C. Court of Appeals had considered the perpetrator of the unjust conviction of Lewis Libby.

In contrast, we have the editors of the Wall Street Journal, a paper that closely and fairly reported on the events at the time:

Mr. Fitzgerald knew from his first days on the job that Mr. Libby hadn’t leaked Ms. Plame’s name. Yet rather than close up shop, he pursued dubious obstruction of justice charges based on the flimsiest of evidence. For two years Mr. Fitzgerald also let the country think a crime may have been committed by people close to President Bush or President Cheney when he already knew better.

As it happens, Mr. Fitzgerald was appointed by his good friend, James Comey, who was then Deputy Attorney General. This is the Jim Comey who told Congress last year that his goal in leaking information to the press about his conversations with Donald Trump after he was fired was to trigger a special counsel investigation that is now led by Mr. Mueller. This special counsel’s work isn’t done, but the Fitzgerald episode is worth keeping in mind as it unfolds.

The Washington Post Saturday front-page (Bezos’ vanity press, it seems) also shows a marked contrast to what Richard Cohen, writing for the Post in 2007, noted:

With the sentencing of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Fitzgerald has apparently finished his work, which was, not to put too fine a point on it, to make a mountain out of a molehill. At the urging of the liberal press (especially the New York Times), he was appointed to look into a run-of-the-mill leak and wound up prosecuting not the leaker -- Richard Armitage of the State Department -- but Libby, convicted in the end of lying. [snip]

The upshot was a train wreck -- mile after mile of shame, infamy, embarrassment and occasional farce, all of it described in the forthcoming "Off the Record," a vigorously written account of what went wrong, by Norman Pearlstine, Time Inc.'s former editor in chief. The special counsel used the immense power of the government to jail Judith Miller and to compel other journalists, including Time's Matt Cooper, to suspend their various and sacred vows of silence just so they could, understandably, avoid jail. The press held itself up to mockery, wantonly promising confidentiality, anonymity -- what's the diff, anyway? -- and virtual life after death to anyone with a piece of gossip to peddle. Much heroic braying turned into cries for mercy as the government bore down. As any prosecutor knows -- and Martha Stewart can attest -- white-collar types tend to have a morbid fear of jail.

As Fitzgerald worked his wonders, threatening jail and going after government gossips with splendid pluck, many opponents of the Iraq war cheered. They thought -- if "thought" can be used in this context -- that if the thread was pulled on who had leaked the identity of Valerie Plame to Robert D. Novak, the effort to snooker an entire nation into war would unravel and this would show... who knows? Something. For some odd reason, the same people who were so appalled about government snooping, the USA Patriot Act and other such threats to civil liberties cheered as the special prosecutor weed-whacked the press jailed a reporter and now will send a previously obscure government official to prison for 30 months.

The latest nonsense from the special counsel’s office includes interfering with the press again.

Just as Fitzgerald overreached in jailing its own reporter Judith Miller, the New York Times thinks the feds can ignore the First Amendment and beset the National Enquirer.

Making fun of the NYT suggestion that it’s okay for the special counsel to look into the Enquirer’s editorial decisions and payment of sources, Tom Maguire observes:  

Hmm. Is paying for stories a "legitimate press function"? That is how the National Enquirer broke the case of the murderer of Bill Cosby's son. They also paid Rush Limbaugh's housekeeper for the scoop that got Rush busted for his oxycontin habit -- I bet that looked legit to Common Cause.

To paraphrase slightly, the dark night of fascism is always descending on the right yet arriving from the left.

As for Mueller’s conduct in getting a local prosecutor to seize Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen’s records, that seems to be devolving into farce. The President has been allowed to intervene to protect his interests as Cohen’s client and Cohen has argued he cannot be compelled to testify in the former porn star’s case respecting breach of her nondisclosure agreement because of his Fifth Amendment privilege. Will the next step be Stormy Daniel’s lawyer seeking to intervene and quash the search and seizure warrant on Cohen as having been improperly entered?

And the prosecutorial leaks continue -- McClatchy suggesting there was a basis to go after Cohen because of a purported meeting he had in Prague, something long discredited.

Cohen’s response:

Michael Cohen
‏Verified account @MichaelCohen212
8m8 minutes ago

Bad reporting, bad information and bad story by same reporter Peter Stone @McClatchyDC. No matter how many times or ways they write it, I have never been to Prague. I was in LA with my son. Proven!

But the press falls for this nonsense every time. 

The next person who suggests the appointment of a special counsel under the now existing law where there is no court oversight ought to be committed. Twice now they’ve devolved into unconstitutional, partisan witch-hunts.

My suspicion is that the raid on Cohen's office is more related to his suit against GPS Fusion than it is against anything else. A correspondent shares my belief:

This is an old story that's been completely debunked. The claim that Cohen traveled to Prague was part of the Steele "dossier" that was put out by Fusion GPS = The Hillary Campaign. It turns out that there is more than one Michael Cohen in the world -- yes, imagine that! A different Michael Cohen went to Prague. And that's where things get interesting.

Have you ever tried to access the travel records of another person? Yeah, good luck with that, right?​ Well, then, how did Fusion GPS manage to do that? It turns out, via a FISA Court report, that the FBI employed "private contractors" who weren't cleared and gave them extensive access to government records. Yep. Fusion GPS was a "private contractor," meaning the FBI had given them access to just about everything in order to do oppo research for Hillary. Are you comfortable with that? Fusion GPS's big mistake in keeping this from coming out is that they didn't check to make sure they had the right Michael Cohen and went with the attempted smear.

So, what does Michael Cohen do? In very early January of this year he filed a defamation law suit against Fusion GPS! Uh oh! Imagine the stuff he's gonna be asking for in discovery! What happens next? Mueller's jackbooted FBI break down the doors to every place associated with Cohen, seize all his records, and start leaking accusations against him.

Does this sound like the whole Mueller operation is really just a coverup for Hillary and the Deep State? It does to me.

B. Trump tweets, the Russians Turn Tail

In the meantime as Scott Adams (the creator of "Dilbert") writes:

After he wrote that, the President masterfully played Bashar Assad, Russia, and Iran with tweets suggesting he had proof that Assad was behind the chemical attack on civilians and that we had big missiles to deal with this. The Russians skedaddled from the major port and the chemical weapon production sites and the Iranians hightailed it back home along with, it is reported, Assad and his family. We did nothing for a few days but certainly learned a lot of valuable information about the operations of the Iranians and Russians there as we listened in to their communications and watched their movements. In the meantime, Trump got the French and British to join us and wiped out specific targets:

The Pentagon said Saturday that the U.S.-led allied missile strikes in Syria successfully hit all three targets and have “significantly crippled” Syrian President Bashar Assad’s ability to make more chemical weapons.

“I think we dealt them a severe blow,” Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at the Pentagon after the overnight bombing. “We’ve attacked the heart of the Syrians’ chemical weapons program.”

McKenzie identified the targets as Barzah Research and Development, the Him Shinshar Chemical Weapons Storage Site and the Him Shinshar Bunker Facility. He also said 105 missiles were launched by air and sea.

The fabled Soviet anti-missile systems didn’t seem to work, nor did their radar, This should be a blow to their weapons sales and a message to Iran and Syria which bought this equipment encouraged in their aggression by the now proven false belief that they are immune from counterattack.

It all reminds me of those Spanish language novellas. Trump tweets, the mother-in-law (in this case the MSM, Democrats, and the market) faint, and in the next episode all is well and they sit down to dinner. He does not want to invade Syria. He wants to allow the Syrians to take charge of their fate without outside interference or attacks on the innocent. Period. How can anyone complain? Trump waited until we had evidence that Assad’s troops were responsible. The chemical weapons were not supposed to be there: Assad, John F. Kerry when Secretary of State, and the Russians told us they’d all been destroyed. Are we now to hear complaints about destroying what we were assured did not exist?

On Facebook, Harry Lewis sums it up nicely:

Trump's missile strikes on Syria (with British and French support) expose three truths devastating to the Syrians, Iranians, Russians, and Democrats (America's adversaries): (1) unlike Obama, under the right circumstances, Trump will pull the trigger; (2) Russia lied to John Kerry and Obama about disposing of Assad's chemical weapons in exchange for American inaction, and until Trump, we never called Russia or Syria on their lies; (3) the Russian anti-missile systems for which Syria and Iran paid high prices are useless, and were a waste of money, a huge loss of face for Moscow.

And Syria is unlikely to pull such atrocities off again:

@Sunrise51052
5m5 minutes ago

Nikki Haley to UN: I spoke with a President Trump this morning, he said if the Syrian regime uses this poisonous gas again, the United States is locked and loaded. When our president draws a red line, our President enforces the red line.

This is the way to show Never Again, not by marching or diplomatic cant. This president will not allow such things to occur again whenever we have evidence they are occurring and we are in a position to end it.