Mueller and the CIA

A thought occurred to me recently that I should have thought of a long time ago, namely that the FBI has responsibility for collecting intelligence, including national security intelligence, within the United States but is prohibited from operating outside of the United States. The CIA, on the other hand, has responsibility for collecting intelligence data, including national security intelligence, outside of the United States but is prohibited from operating within the United States. The NSA operates both within and outside of the United States, but is limited to gathering electronic information.

This means that for Robert Mueller to investigate the possibility of Russian collusion by either Trump or someone connected to him Mueller almost certainly needed to work with the CIA and NSA to know what was going on and had been going on outside of the United States. Despite this I have not seen a single reference in the media to the fact that Mueller is almost certainly working with the CIA and NSA during his investigation.

This has worked to Mueller’s advantage is two ways.

First, Trump’s criticisms of the FBI and claims that the FBI is out to get him have largely fallen on deaf ears. But the American people have a better opinion of the FBI than the CIA and if someone had realized early on that the CIA was involved Trump’s then his criticisms would have been a little more believable. For example, his claims that there is a conspiracy against him is easier to believe if you know that there are three agencies, the FBI, CIA, and NSA, cooperating in the investigation than if you think the FBI is going it alone.

Second, I suspect that some of the instances of people such as Michael Flynn or Paul Manafort getting caught lying to Mueller or the grand jury happened because they thought that Mueller had no way of knowing about things that happened outside of the U.S. For example, Paul Manafort may have assumed that Mueller had no way of knowing any details about Manafort’s dealings with Oleg Deripaska. But I would be willing to bet that the CIA has a rather large dossier on Deripaska and another only slightly smaller dossier on Manafort.

In conclusion I wonder how many other members of the Trump administration, past or present, or Trump associates have lied to Mueller or the grand jury believing that Mueller could not know about things that happened outside of the U.S. I would bet that there are some. Roger Stone anyone?

Brett Kavanaugh Vs. Clarence Thomas

I think the Republicans believe that if they can just ram Kavanaugh through the confirmation process and have him take up his seat on the Supreme Court then the aftermath will follow the same trajectory as followed the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill controversy, namely that all of the controversy will fade into the background and that the American people will fairly quickly accept Kavanaugh as being legitimately on the Supreme Court.

I think the Republicans are not only wrong in their belief, but very wrong. I think that for the following reasons:

  • Clarence Thomas came across as somewhat mild-mannered He also did not have any history of drinking problems even as a teenager. That made it easy for people to discount the accusations against him. Brett Kavanaugh, on the other hand, came across as a mean-spirited liar and could quite properly be described as being hysterical in his presentation following Dr. Ford’s presentation.
  • Clarence Thomas was accused of sexual harassment primarily in the form of inappropriate comments and inappropriate suggestions although there was one accusation that he deliberately left a pubic hair where Anita Hill would find it. Brett Kavanaugh is accused of attempted rape, a much more serious offense. The American people were willing to overlook accusations of sexual harassment against Clarence Thomas. I don’t believe they will be willing to overlook accusations of attempted rape against Kavanaugh.
  • The culture has changed. American women are sick and tired of being sexually harassed and sexually assaulted, and rightly so. The #MeToo movement is not going away. The far right is trying to discredit them, but they will not succeed. If anything Kavanaugh is making the #MeToo movement a little bit stronger every single day. Evidence for this is that I recently read that Democratic state and local organizations are being swamped by phone calls from women and walk ins by women asking how they can help in the upcoming election.

In summary, I think that the very attempt to get Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court is going to hurt the Republicans. If he actually gets on the Supreme Court he will be a millstone around the Republican’s necks for as long as he is on the court. Which would be a good thing since there cannot be enough millstones around Republican necks as far as I am concerned.

 

Brett Kavanaugh

A lot of people, especially among Republicans, are saying that even if the accusation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted a 15 year old girl were true it was just a stupid mistake by a high school student 36 years ago and that we should not hold it against him now. I might agree with that except for three things:

  1. It was sexual assault, not underage drinking or any similar indiscretion of an immature teenager. There is also the fact that the girl was only 15 years old. Since the age of consent in Maryland is 16 even if she had consented to sex it would have been statutory rape.
  2. He has never owned up to doing it.
  3. He has never apologized to the 15 year old girl, now a college professor.

Given those three things what he did absolutely should be held against him now. Furthermore, there should be an FBI investigation and if the assault claim can be verified he should be impeached and removed from his position on the Circuit Court of Appeals. (Note that by ‘verified’ I do not mean the criminal trial  standard of ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ but rather the civil standard of ‘a preponderance of guilt’.)

Donald Trump is Toast – Part 3

Trump’s real estate empire is based on his name. Every Trump property has Trump’s name in it. So it is not simply the Turnberry golf resort in Scotland, it is the Trump Turnberry golf resort. Now there is nothing wrong with that, nor is it unusual. The Hilton hotels are named after Conrad Hilton, the founder of the company. For Trump, however, this may present a problem. Once all of the information that Mueller has been collecting becomes public and it is revealed that Trump has been cheating on his taxes, laundering money, stealing money from the Trump Foundation, obstructing justice, colluding with the Russians and who knows what else I think the Trump name will turn to dirt. He may be able to limit the damage somewhat while he is still President. However, I am not so sure how well he can do that and after he is out of office I definitely think that occupancy rates at all Trump properties will decline sharply, if not outright plummet. That will probably result in the entire Trump real estate empire crashing and burning.

If that does happen, I want the concession to sell marshmallows to all of the people who want to roast them over the burning embers of the Trump empire. I may roast a few myself.

Donald Trump is Toast – Part 2

Donald Trump has said multiple times in the past that there was a bright line that Mueller could not cross, namely that Mueller could not investigate Trump’s personal finances, nor investigate any of the Trump companies, nor investigate the finances or companies of any of Trump’s children. On March 15 this NY Times article said that  “The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, has subpoenaed the Trump Organization in recent weeks to turn over documents, including some related to Russia”.  To me that clearly crossed that bright line yet Trump’s reaction was not what you would expect, namely he did nothing. I think I know why he did nothing.

Robert Mueller is a smart man. He knows that Trump has been wanting to fire him since the day he was first appointed. He also knows that the Republican congress cannot be counted on to take any action against Trump were Trump to fire Mueller. So what I think Mueller did was to write up preliminary reports about obstruction of justice and collusion with the Russians as soon as he had collected sufficient evidence to justify such reports. He has then periodically updated those reports as new evidence was obtained. Specifically, he updated both reports immediately before issuing the subpoenas referenced in the NY Times referenced above. He then told Trump’s lawyers about the existence of those reports and that those reports would be immediately sent to Congress if he, Mueller, was fired. I doubt that he told Trump’s lawyers a single detail about what was in the reports, just that they existed.

This has put Trump into a severe psychological bind, namely that Trump knows if he fires Mueller he gets severely screwed right know but if he allows the Mueller investigation to continue to its conclusion he gets even more severely screwed in the future.

I have read that some people think that Trump is beginning to suffer from dementia but I don’t think that is the case. I think the constant severe psychological pressure is what is causing Trump to become more and more mentally unstable.

I hate to think how I would react to such pressure, but then I would never cheat on my taxes, launder money, defraud a charitable foundation, obstruct justice, and collude with the Russians.