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?

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.

 

Racists Shoot Themselves In the Foot: Part 1

President Bone Spurs reaction to hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico was distinctly less generous than his reactions to hurricane Harvey in Texas or hurricane Irma in Florida. The Republicans in Congress were no better. I don’t know of s single Republican congressman or senator who objected to President Bone Spurs lack of generosity.

But actions have consequences, or, in this case, lack of action has consequences. Since Maria hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans have moved to the mainland United States. They are U.S. citizens so they can make such a move no questions asked. Because there are no questions asked it is all but impossible to determine where all of those people ended up which in turn makes it all but impossible to predict what effect those new voters will have on the 2018 midterm elections but I cannot help but think that it will not benefit the Republicans. But there is another effect that all of this movement of people will have, namely that when the 2020 census is taken there will be somewhat more than a congressional district worth of additional Puerto Ricans living in the mainland U.S. than was thought to be the case before Hurricane Irma. This will make a little harder for the Republicans to control the house in the future. Thus the title of this post: Racists Shoot Themselves In the Foot.

John Bolton

John Bolton has not yet taken up his position as President Bone Spurs National Security Advisor but I have read numerous reports that he is an uber-hawk who has, in the past, advocated bombing both Iran and North Korea. This raises very serious concerns since Trump has voiced similar ideas in the past.

There is a very good chance that Trump will withdraw from the treaty with Iran under which Iran agreed to stop developing nuclear weapons in return for which the United States would drop trade sanctions against Iran. Oddly enough such a withdrawal will have very little effect. This is because the European Union is also a party to that treaty and I can guarantee that EU will not also withdraw. That means that the primary effect of a US withdrawal would be a slight disruption of the Iranian economy as they shift the small amount of trade they do with the US, 137 million dollars in 2017, to the EU which would result in a small loss of jobs in the US.

John Bolton, however, would also have us bomb Iran and possibly invade Iran. An invasion of Iran would be a bigger disaster than Iraq, but the the Boltons of the world don’t learn from their mistakes they double down on them instead. Aside from the fact that it would be a very bad idea to bomb Iran it would be an act of war and the Constitution gives Congress sole authority to declare war. The founding fathers explicitly explained why they did that. They did not want a single individual, specifically the President, to be able to take the country to war. This means that bombing Iran without prior congressional authorization would be a blatant violation of the constitution worthy of impeachment.

Next, North Korea. Not too long ago there were leaks coming out of the White House that Trump was considering the idea of bombing North Korean nuclear production facilities to give them ‘a bloody nose’ and thus discourage them from continuing further development of nuclear weapons. I have all of the same objections to bombing North Korea as I mentioned regarding the possible bombing of Iran. But there is a further complication with North Korea. There is no peace treaty with North Korea. What was signed on 27 July, 1953 was an armistice agreement which has held for over 64 years. Bombing North Korea would be a serious violation of that armistice and would have the potential of restarting the Korean War. I think the odds of the Korean War restarting are rather low, mainly because of China. China is still a communist dictatorship as it was in 1953, but China is now much more economically developed and much more involved in world trade. As such they would have much more to lose than in 1953, but both China and North Korea would probably feel the need to demonstrate to the United Sates that US cannot expect to violate the armistice without repercussions. I do not know what those repercussions would be but with two people as unstable and unpredictable as Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un it would be a very tense and dangerous situation.

Where would bombing either Iran or North Korea without congressional authorization go on the list of impeachable offenses that Trump has already committed? While blatant corruption is bad, as long as it does not establish a precedent for future presidents it will cause no long term damage, except, of course, to the reputation of the United States. Similarly with obstruction of justice, while Trump has tried to obstruct justice, he has not succeeded in doing so and if he would actually do something like fire Robert Mueller the repercussions would be enough to deter future presidents. Oddly enough I do not think that getting away with collusion with the Russians would be a problem for the future because I don’t believe there will be a future president with as many financial ties to foreign countries as Trump. But getting American military personnel unnecessarily killed and wounded would put bombing either Iran or North Korea without congressional authorization right at the top of the list. The American people are sick and tired of unnecessary wars and neither Iran or North Korea are serious threats to the US.

So, if you agree with what I said above, I would urge you to go to the websites for your congressman and both senators and leave them a message saying that you object to any bombing of Iran or North Korea without congressional authorization and also that you would object to any such authorization.

Now, I think that there is a very real possibility that that Bolton won’t last long enough to cause real problems because Bolton is very much a hardliner regarding Russia. I don’t know what strings the Russians have attached to Trump but I cannot imagine they like the idea of a hardliner vis-a-vis Russia as National Security Advisor. I think what will happen is that Bolton will become the next NSA but that he will very quickly start to clash with Trump over a number of issues but specifically Russia. As soon as such clashes become known to the public, and this White House leaks like a sieve, Trump will end up firing Bolton. Oddly enough, by having Russia pulling Trump’s strings to get Bolton fired they would be doing us a favor. Such is life under President Bone Spurs.

President Bone Spurs

‘President Bone Spurs’ is what Tammy Duckworth, US Senator from Illinois, started calling Trump after he accused Congressional Democrats of treason for not applauding his State of the Union address. Tammy Duckworth lost both legs and partial use of her right arm when her helicopter was hit by a rocket propelled grenade in Iraq. Trump, on the other hand, got five draft deferments for bone spurs, which miraculously disappeared as soon as he could no longer be drafted.  That was the last straw. I will no longer refer to Trump as President Trump. It will be either just plain Trump or President bone spurs.