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The assault on Mueller: Six ways Russia investigation is under attack

Alexander Panetta

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As its trail of arrests gets closer to U.S. President Donald Trump, the Russia investigation is facing a multi-front assault. The attacks have ramped up following news that Trump’s close confidant Michael Flynn has pleaded guilty and become an informant.

The president’s defenders are now seeking to poke holes in, and undermine, the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller. Here are six avenues of attack:

1. Mueller is biased: “It’s so disturbing and troubling,” Trump aide Kellyanne Conway told Fox News on Monday. She was speaking about weekend news that the Mueller probe removed a top investigator over the summer, after the discovery of texts to a lover blasting the president. This is atop reports that the same FBI investigator, Peter Strzok, was a key figure in the emails investigation that yielded no charges against Hillary Clinton. And there’s more: a paper trail of political donations shows several senior probe employees have a history of donating to Democrats. Another report said Strzok was involved in interviewing Flynn. Said Republican lawmaker Ron DeSantis: “It was almost as if they bent over backwards not to make the case on Hillary. With the Mueller probe, they’re just scorching the earth finding whatever little ticky-tack charge they can find on anyone… (Strzok’s role) undercuts the legitimacy of both those investigations.”

2. Presidents can’t be charged for obstructing justice: This is potentially a key question. There’s evidence Trump tried thwarting an investigation into Flynn. The argument here is he’s allowed to. Trump lawyer John Dowd expressed it via the Axios website: “The president cannot obstruct justice.” Harvard scholar Alan Dershowitz says Trump has constitutional power — to pardon Flynn himself, to fire the FBI director, and to issue instructions to the Justice Department. So what’s the legal problem if he orders the FBI to lay off Flynn, Dershowitz asks: “We’d have a constitutional crisis (if Trump is charged with obstruction),” he told Fox News. “You cannot charge a president with obstruction of justice for exercising his constitutional power.” He says presidents can only be charged with obstruction that involves innately illegal acts — like the Nixon White House destroying evidence and paying hush money. Other legal scholars call this a laughable, quasi-regal, anti-democratic argument. One headline on the Vox website said, “Trump’s lawyer: the president can’t obstruct justice. 13 legal experts (say): yes, he can.” A list of law professors cited legal precedents, and the fact that the president’s power comes from the Constitution — the same Constitution that says he must faithfully execute the law. Peter Shane of Ohio State University called the Dershowitz-Dowd argument “nonsense.”

3. It’s a nothing-burger: They say this investigation is built on a flawed foundation. Mueller’s probe was struck to examine collusion with Russia — during the election. His critics note that four people are now charged — two for financial crimes predating the election, two for lying to the FBI after the election. This view is articulated in a Washington Examiner piece, “Was it all about the Logan Act?” In this narrative, the root of the probe is a dust-gathering, never-used law from 1799, the Logan Act, which forbids people from undermining U.S. foreign policy: Flynn spoke with Russians during the presidential transition; the FBI then questioned him about it; Flynn lied; he and Comey were forced out; Flynn was charged; now he’s a co-operating witness against Trump. A closely related argument involves the notorious Steele dossier — a document filled with jaw-dropping allegations that the Russians spent years recruiting Trump as an asset, and collecting blackmail material on him. The document was gathered by a former British spy and handed to the FBI. But his original customers were Trump campaign opponents. Critics now argue that any evidence stemming from this dossier is illegitimate. Others say this entire line of attack is wishful thinking — there are already several documented communications during the campaign with Russians, or suspected Russian intermediaries like Wikileaks, and some other investigation targets, like Paul Manafort, had reportedly been under surveillance for years.

4. Cut off funding: This is reportedly the route suggested by Steve Bannon. Trump’s ex-staffer, and still-ally, doesn’t want him to fire Mueller. He’s publicly said so. What he’s urging, reports say, is that Congress slash Mueller’s funding. That view is articulated by pro-Trump senator Steve King, who told Politico: “For them to say to us, ‘Vote for an open-ended appropriation into a Mueller witch hunt,’ I think you’ll see significant objection.”

5. Fire Mueller: Canadian friend of Trump Conrad Black suggests how to make this happen. Deriding the investigation as a “never-ending fishing expedition,” Black proposed a chain-reaction of moves, starting with Rex Tillerson’s removed as secretary of state — shift the CIA director to the State Department; appoint to the CIA Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has recused himself from Russia-related matters; have Dershowitz replace Sessions; have Dershowitz kill the probe.

6. Rally the base: Ultimately, politics could decide all of this. Trump’s fate could eventually rest with Congress, given the legal realities — the president’s power to pardon; doubts about whether a sitting president can be charged; and the aforementioned debate about obstruction of justice. Impeachment, the ultimate political punishment, requires a two-thirds vote in both chambers of Congress. That’s 290 in the House, 67 in the Senate. It means more than 100 Republicans would have to turn on their president. And the full-throated assault on Mueller — from Trump’s Twitter feed, Fox News, and conservative news outlets — provides a daily rallying cry for the ranks to remain united.

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GOP

NRA’s Chris Loesch Tried to Get Me Fired from My Job

Polipace Staff

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You can’t make this up: Chris Loesch of the NRA called up the US Secret Service and tried to get me fired from my job, because I criticized the NRA and his wife for being hypocrites.

Seriously — he actually has been calling the Secret Service up over and over again looking to get me fired. I’m not sure why, as a private citizen that like millions of other people that dislike the NRA, I am a target.

Here’s the problem: I haven’t worked as a consultant for the Secret Service in 20 years, and no longer have anything to do with them whatsoever. Calling them up is only going to annoy them, because I’m neither an employee or contractor.

Still, it raises questions why Chris Loesch would target me of all the people out there to get “fired” from his job? I can only assume its because I’m a visible progressive Jew and he’s such a snowflake that he needs to threaten people with exposure to get his way.

However, this is what the NRA does: they threaten people with violence and exposure to hurt them on a day to day basis. That’s when they aren’t molesting their own kids.

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GOP

Facebook Bans Alex Jones After Threatening Women and Immigrants

Polipace Staff

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Facebook and Apple have removed content belonging to controversial radio host Alex Jones.

Jones’ pages were removed from Facebook for “repeatedly posting content over the past several days that breaks” community standards, including urging his followers to harass and illegally threaten minor victims of violent shootings,

“All four pages have been unpublished for repeated violations of Community Standards and accumulating too many strikes,” a Facebook post said. The four pages were Alex Jones Channel Page, the Alex Jones Page, the InfoWars Page and InfoWars Nightly News page. Jones himself was placed on a 30-day block for his role in posting the content.

Facebook said the violations included posts that glorified violence and others that used dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants. Jones is able to appeal the ban but if he doesn’t or those efforts fail, the pages will be removed permanently.

The pages have more than 2.5 million followers.

The Facebook ban comes after Apple, YouTube and Spotify removed Jones’ podcast and videos from their platforms. Apple’s decision removed five of Jones’ six podcasts, including “The Alex Jones Show.”

Jones is known for promoting a host of conspiracy theories, most noticeably one that claims the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School was fake and those involved were actors. Families in the massacre that claimed the lives of 20 young children have filed defamation lawsuits against Jones.

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ICE Barricades Entrances to Prevent Protestors from Entering Government Building

Polipace Staff

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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers barricaded an employee and visitor entrance Wednesday to prevent activists from performing an “occupation” of the agency’s D.C. headquarters.

Several dozen activists had intended to enter the building to protest Trump administration deportation and border detention policies, but arrived to find temporary fencing and a line of officers blocking their way.

Amid heavy rain, activists chanted slogans anyhow, including “quit your jobs!” at Department of Homeland Security guards and ICE employees who peered from windows.

The protest was organized by Movimiento Cosecha and was advertised in a press release as a demonstration by “undocumented activists and allies,” as similar protests occur in other cities.

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