Mueller Recommends No Jail Time For Michael Flynn

Citing substantial cooperation, Special Counsel Robert Mueller is recommending no jail time for former Trump associate Michael Flynn.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is recommending no jail time for former Trump campaign adviser and National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, citing what Mueller’s office terms substantial cooperation by Flynn with the Special Counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and allegations of collusion between Russian officials and Trump campaign officials:

WASHINGTON — Michael T. Flynn, President Trump’s first national security adviser, helped substantially with the special counsel’s investigation and should receive little to no prison time for lying to federal investigators, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Mr. Flynn was a key cooperator who helped the Justice Department with several investigations, prosecutors for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, said. He sat for 19 interviews with Mr. Mueller’s office and other prosecutors and handed over documents and communications, they said.

“His early cooperation was particularly valuable because he was one of the few people with long-term and firsthand insight” into the subject of Mr. Mueller’s investigation — Russia’s election interference and whether any Trump associates conspired, prosecutors wrote in a sentencing recommendation memorandum and an addendum that was heavily blacked out.

In particular, they wrote, he might have prompted others to cooperate with the inquiry. “The defendant’s decision to plead guilty and cooperate likely affected the decisions of related firsthand witnesses to be forthcoming,” prosecutors said.

They also indicated that Mr. Flynn helped with other investigations without revealing details about them.

Mr. Flynn, who served briefly as the president’s national security adviser, is the only White House aide and the first person from the president’s inner circle to strike a cooperation deal with the special counsel’s office in exchange for a more lenient penalty. He pleaded guilty a year ago to lying to the F.B.I. about conversations he had with the Russian ambassador to the United States at the time, Sergey I. Kislyak.

“The defendant deserves credit for accepting responsibility in a timely fashion and substantially assisting the government,” prosecutors wrote.

“The defendant deserves credit for accepting responsibility in a timely fashion and substantially assisting the government,” prosecutors wrote.

The cases of some other former Trump aides caught up in the special counsel investigation are also nearing resolution, marking an active week for Mr. Mueller’s inquiry. By Friday, Mr. Mueller’s prosecutors are due to enumerate how they believe Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman, violated a plea agreement and separately to outline the extent of cooperation by Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s longtime lawyer and fixer.

(…)

Prosecutors said Mr. Flynn’s more than 33 years of military service — he was a three-star Army general before being fired as the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014 — should be taken into account when Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia sentences him on Dec. 18. But they also noted he should have known better than to lie to the F.B.I. “Senior government leaders should be held to the highest standards,” they wrote.

Close observers of Mr. Mueller’s investigation had hoped his team might provide revealing details about possible cooperation between Trump associates and Russia, but in typical fashion, the special counsel’s office kept its cards closely held.

Though the lack of details suggested that Mr. Mueller’s investigation remains active, one of the president’s personal lawyers, Rudolph W. Giuliani, seized on it to underscore that Mr. Mueller had yet to prove any Trump associates conspired with Russia’s campaign of disruption. “This is what we get for $30 million and two years of an investigation and no evidence of collusion, and we get a process charge?” he said, referring to Mr. Flynn’s plea of lying to the F.B.I. and rounding up the estimated costs of the special counsel inquiry.

More from The Washington Post:

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III on Tuesday recommended that former national security adviser Michael Flynn serve no prison time, citing his “substantial assistance” with several ongoing investigations, according to a new court filing.

Flynn was forced out of his post as national security adviser in February 2017 after the White House said he misled administration officials, including Vice President Pence, about his contacts with Sergey Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the United States at the time.

Since then, Flynn has been cooperating with Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign, and his full account of events has been one of the best-kept secrets in Washington. He is one of five Trump aides who have pleaded guilty in the special counsel probe.

The special counsel’s filing Tuesday is the first time prosecutors have described Flynn’s assistance since the former national security adviser’s guilty plea last year.

But Tuesday’s sentencing memo was heavily redacted, continuing to shroud in secrecy the details of what Flynn has told Mueller’s team and other prosecutors.

The special counsel wrote that Flynn has provided information for several ongoing investigations — participating in 19 interviews with federal prosecutors and turning over documents and communications.

The filing indicated that Flynn has provided extensive assistance to Mueller, including about matters that were redacted and hidden from public view. It also indicated that he has cooperated with a separate unidentified criminal investigation, the details of which were completely redacted.

Mueller wrote that Flynn had provided “firsthand information about the content and context of interactions between the transition team and Russian government officials,” though the details were largely redacted.

Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to one felony count of making a false statement, despite a longer list of charges he could have faced. Prosecutors said last year they would likely seek a prison sentence between zero and six months.

On Tuesday, the special counsel’s office said that based on Flynn’s assistance, the government was recommending a sentence on the low end of that range, “including a sentence that does not impose a term of incarceration.”

Mueller wrote that Flynn’s guilty plea “likely affected the decisions of related firsthand witnesses to be forthcoming with the SCO and cooperate.”

And the special counsel noted that Flynn’s “early cooperation was particularly valuable because he was one of the few people with long-term and firsthand insight regarding events and issues under investigation by the SCO.”

(…)

Mueller will have an opportunity to lay out additional pieces of the evidence he has been gathering later this week. On Friday, prosecutors with the special counsel’s office are scheduled to file a letter to the judge who will sentence Michael Cohen, the president’s former attorney. The letter will outline additional details of Cohen’s cooperation with Mueller’s office.

Also Friday, Mueller’s team will submit a filing to a judge in Washington describing ways that Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, lied to prosecutors after pleading guilty in September and promising to cooperate. Prosecutors have said that Manafort breached his agreement by continuing to be dishonest in meetings with prosecutors.

From the beginning, it was clear that Flynn was the focus of at least part of Mueller’s investigation due to factors that are completely separate from the Russia investigation itself. Long before he started working for Trump on the campaign and at the White House, Flynn had spent a good part of his post-military career working as a lobbyist and part of that work included lobbying on behalf of foreign governments and foreign business interests, including in nations such as Russia and Turkey. Under Federal law, for foreign governments are required to disclose such arrangements on specific legal documents, and Flynn also would have been required to disclose such lobbying on any relevant security clearance application for a position in the Trump Administration. As was the case with former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, Flynn failed to report much of his foreign lobbying as required by law and did not do so until his failure to do so came to light. Flynn’s son, Michael T. Flynn Jr, was also involved in many of these foreign lobbying jobs and similarly failed to properly disclose them These are serious transgressions that could expose Flynn and his son to substantial criminal liability. The fact that they are not being charged with anything in regard to these failings is a strong indication that Flynn has been given a very generous deal in exchange for his cooperation.

In addition to his failure to disclose his foreign lobbying, and more pertinent to today’s developments is the fact that Flynn lied to campaign officials and to Vice-President Pence regarding his contacts with the Russian Ambassador to the United States. This led to his departure as National Security Adviser only two weeks into the Administration. It was shortly after this, course, that President Trump asked F.B.I. Director James Comey if he could end the investigation of former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and later when he fired Comey abruptly just days after he had testified about the investigation into Russia and the Trump campaign before a Senate committee. As we know now, Trump later openly admitted that he took that later action specifically because of the Russia investigation. We now know that Flynn also lied regarding his meetings with Russian Ambassador Kislyak to agents of the F.B.I. and these lies occurred on January 24, 2017, just four days after President Trump’s Inauguration at a time when Flynn was already serving as head of the National Security Council inside the White House. This is the closest that Mueller’s investigation has gotten to the President himself and it suggests quite strongly that there’s much more to come. In addition to all of this, Flynn was one of Trump’s closest associates throughout the campaign, traveling with him on the campaign plane, participating in campaign rallies across the country, and generally being one of the few people outside of the Trump family who was close to the President throughout the campaign.

It was just over a year ago that Flynn pled guilty to a single charge of lying to the F.B.I. regarding his meetings with the Russian Ambassador and, for the most part, we have not heard much about what the substance of his cooperation might be. For that reason, many people were looking forward to the release of this sentencing memorandum in the hope that it might reveal something about what Mueller knows or what direction his investigation is heading at this point. Several legal experts warned, though, that those hopes would likely be disappointed since these reports are often not replete with  details and that when they are the documents released to the public will be heavily redacted so as not to reveal things to potential targets of the investigation what the prosecution’s strategy might be at the moment.

This is the fact with the documents that Mueller’s office released late yesterday, but even with those redactions, it seems apparent that Flynn’s cooperation with Mueller has been substantial. The first indication of this is the revelation that Flynn met with Mueller’s investigation a total of nineteen times over the course of the past year. As several legal analysts and former prosecutors have noted, this is not typical for cooperating witnesses unless they have significant evidence to provide to investigators and are being particularly useful. Additionally, while the language in the memorandum and addendum is vague, it appears that there is a criminal investigation outside of the one being conducted by the Special Counsel’s office that Flynn has also been providing “substantial assistance” to over the course of the year. There is no real indication of what that investigation could be, but the most likely candidate would seem to be the ongoing investigations in the Southern District of New York related to Michael Cohen, Donald Trump, and the efforts to silence women such as Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal during the final weeks of the 2016 campaign. Alternatively, it could be something entirely unrelated to that investigation. Finally, the best indication of Flynn’s usefulness and relative cooperation with the Mueller team is the fact that they are recommending that he not serve any jail time at all. This recommendation is usually reserved for cooperating witnesses who have been unusually helpful to prosecutors. While the sentencing Judge is not obligated to abide by this recommendation, they often do. In any case, it’s likely that Flynn will get a minimal sentence at best.

Here’s the Mueller team’s Sentencing Memorandum:

United States v. Michael Fl… by on Scribd

And the (redacted) Appendix:

United States v. Michael Fl… by on Scribd

FILED UNDER: Crime, Donald Trump, Law and the Courts, National Security, Politicians, Russia, Russia Investigation, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Ben Wolf says:

    Queue the Dembots who screamed “traitor!” for 18 months and will now rationalize the guy getting a sweetheart deal.

    And because some of you don’t know what “rationalize” means, it’s when you tell a lie to make yourself feel better.

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  2. Kathy says:

    S**t, meet fan.

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  3. gVOR08 says:

    So many questions, so few answers. Yet. Starting with:
    Why did Flynn lie to the FBI about a conversation with Kislyak he had to at least suspect the FBI recorded? A conversation that on it’s face wouldn’t get Flynn in any real trouble.
    Why did Trump hire Flynn in the first place, then ignore the FBI warning that Flynn was compromised?
    Does anybody really believe Flynn was finally fired for lying to Pence? I doubt even “Mother” gives a damn about Pence one way or another.

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  4. James Pearce says:

    In any case, it’s likely that Flynn will get a minimal sentence at best.

    “No jail time” for being a song bird, or “no jail time” because we’ve overestimated the Mueller investigation’s teeth?

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  5. Michael Reynolds says:

    It’s outrageous that Flynn won’t do time. He knew better. He knew what he was doing, and he was an American military officer. His actions were inexcusable.

    But. Tactically clever of Mueller, who has bigger fish to fry. And if I were Trump – and quite possibly Pence as well – this would chill me to the bone because of what seems to have been downright enthusiastic cooperation. You don’t give immunity to a guy punching down, you give immunity to a guy who gives you someone bigger, and the only two people upstream from Flynn are Pence and Trump.

    19 times this man sat down with Mueller’s people. Apparently he had quite a lot to say.

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  6. Michael Reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:

    “No jail time” for being a song bird, or “no jail time” because we’ve overestimated the Mueller investigation’s teeth?

    That makes literally no sense. This was the recommendation of the prosecutor following evidently very enthusiastic flipping. How would that be a sign that Mueller’s got nothing? Once again, Pearce, why not try actually informing yourself? You know, by like, following the news?

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  7. MarkedMan says:

    Flynn was credibly accused of involvement in a kidnapping in order to remove someone from American soil in order to be killed. If that is true, letting him off is like letting off Whitey Bulger. He better have delivered more than just explanations. And it better be someone higher up in the Trump administration than what he was – a cabinet official.

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  8. James Pearce says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    His actions were inexcusable.

    And yet the sentencing memo is basically a thank you note.

    Have you considered the possibility that Mueller is going after Russians and will leave Americans mostly untouched?

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  9. EddieInCA says:

    @James Pearce:

    Christ! Are you this F**KING dense? You really believe, honestly, that Mueller is going after Russians exclusively? WTF? Why? That makes no sense whatsoever.

    Mueller lists three investigations, clearly, despite the redactions.

    He’s already indicted Russians, so why would anything on Russians be redacted. No. Most legal observers are assuming that Flynn was a prolific source to get such a sweetheart deal AFTER A YEAR AND NINETEEN MEETINGS. Assuming each meeting averaged 1 hours, and you’re talking at LEAST 19 hours of conversations. Think of how long 19 hours of conversations is. Now, for the sake of argument, let’s assume each meeting was 2-5 hours instead of an hour, which is highly possible. Now you’re talking about 57 hours of conversations. Why would Flynn speak for 19 hours, at least, if he didn’t have any information valuable to prosecutors? What could he have possibly said over 57 hours (if he spoke that long) to the Special Prosecutor?

    Your comment defies logic, and I’m breaking my own rule in responding to you.

    If I were the VP or President, I’d be worried.

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  10. Slugger says:

    A day or two ago, Trump said that he wanted to see Michael Cohen to receive a “full and complete sentence.” Now Mueller offers to spring Flynn. Message to people close to Trump who may have fudged the exact borders between licit and illicit: if you want sunshine without bars in front, spill your guts to Mueller ‘cause Trump will not save you. Interesting strategy by Mueller.

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  11. Slugger says:

    A day or two ago, Trump said that he wanted to Michael Cohen to receive a “full and complete sentence.” Now Mueller offers to spring Flynn. Message to people close to Trump who may have fudged the exact borders between licit and illicit: if you want sunshine without bars in front, spill your guts to Mueller ‘cause Trump will not save you. Interesting strategy by Mueller.

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  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    the fact that Flynn lied to campaign officials and to Vice-President Pence regarding his contacts with the Russian Ambassador to the United States. This led to his departure as National Security Adviser only two weeks into the Administration.

    Assumes facts not in evidence. Far more accurate to say, “His getting caught in blatant lies and obvious criminal conduct (most likely on trump’s behalf) led to his departure as National Security Adviser only two weeks into the Administration.” Why else would trump pressure Comey to lay off investigating him?

    @Michael Reynolds:

    But. Tactically clever of Mueller, who has bigger fish to fry.

    Consider the timing, right after Manafort has his own plea deal abrogated for repeatedly lying to investigators. The message couldn’t be clearer to anyone with half a functioning brain, and for those that can’t read the all bold all caps font even the lowliest night school lawyer can read it loud and clear and explain the consequences of their choices.

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  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Flynn was credibly accused of involvement in a kidnapping in order to remove someone from American soil in order to be killed.

    If you are talking of Fethullah Gülen, he was never kidnapped (he’s still here in the US, trump recently offered him to Erdogan as a bribe to back off on the whole Kashoggi affair). As far as I know Flynn was involved in some preliminary discussions about the possibility of kidnapping Gülen but the discussions did not progress much beyond that if any at all.

    Or am I misremembering something?

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  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @EddieInCA: Maybe Manafort is a Russian.

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  15. MarkedMan says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Yep, that’s the one I was talking about. It seems now we will never learn if there is hard evidence that Flynn committed conspiracy to commit kidnapping. And yes, you are right. The kidnapping plot was not successful.

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  16. James Pearce says:

    @EddieInCA:

    You really believe, honestly, that Mueller is going after Russians exclusively?

    I do think it’s conceivable, and perhaps even likely, that the Mueller investigation is going to focus on Russian bad actors and may largely absolve the Trump team.

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  17. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    if I were Trump – and quite possibly Pence

    If I were Kushner I’d be googling a list of non-extradition countries.

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  18. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @James Pearce:

    I do think it’s conceivable, and perhaps even likely, that the Mueller investigation is going to focus on Russian bad actors and may largely absolve the Trump team.

    You have gone from simply ridiculous, to Tyrell level of nonsense.

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  19. MarkedMan says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Your comment defies logic

    Sure, his comment denies logic if you think it was offered in good faith. But since the first rumblings of the Russia involvement his comments have been 100% consistent in minimizing the importance of Trump’s treasonous behavior with foreign powers and/or diverting the comments into a futile discussion of some Democratic bugaboo. In the early days he was much more explicit. I’m pretty sure a search would find at least one of his posts that said “Paying any attention to the Mueller investigation is just playing into Trump’s master plan, and we wouldn’t have this problem if crooked Hillary hadn’t been our candidate. What a b*tch. AMIRITE?”

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  20. James Pearce says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    You have gone from simply ridiculous, to Tyrell level of nonsense.

    Typed but deleted from my last comment:

    “I do think it’s conceivable, and perhaps even likely, that the Mueller investigation is going to focus on Russian bad actors and may largely absolve the Trump team.

    And I don’t feel like taking a bunch of shit from you guys for thinking that.”

    Adding it back.

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  21. Michael Reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:
    It is neither conceivable nor likely, and no one who knows anything about the issue agrees with you. Because it’s stupid, Pearce. It’s a @Guarneri level display of absolute cluelessness. I don’t know what you imagine you’re doing but the actual effect is to convince people that you’re either not very smart or not very honest.

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  22. EddieInCA says:

    @James Pearce:

    “I do think it’s conceivable, and perhaps even likely, that the Mueller investigation is going to focus on Russian bad actors and may largely absolve the Trump team.

    And I don’t feel like taking a bunch of shit from you guys for thinking that.”

    That’s delusional.

    Additionally it ignores the myriad of convictions, guilty pleas, and plea deals already accumulated by Mueller against US CITIZENS.

    If you don’t want to take sh*t for stupid positions that defy logic, don’t share them.

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  23. Kathy says:

    Because every prosecutor likes nothing better than to indict people he’ll never get to try, or negotiate a plea deal with. That’s the dream.

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  24. Pylon says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    I know what rationalize means. I also know that it’s “Cue the …”, not “Queue”. You thought you were being clever, but you weren’t. That’s cute.

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  25. James Pearce says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    It is neither conceivable nor likely, and no one who knows anything about the issue agrees with you.

    You have some special knowledge of the Mueller investigation you’d like to share with us?

    @EddieInCA:

    Additionally it ignores the myriad of convictions, guilty pleas, and plea deals already accumulated by Mueller against US CITIZENS.

    No, it doesn’t. It takes into account all 5 Americans who have pled guilty to various charges, as well as the 25 or so Russians who have been charged.

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  26. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @James Pearce:

    You have some special knowledge of the Mueller investigation you’d like to share with us?

    His mandate from Rosenstein specifically says links or coordination BETWEEN the Russian Government AND individuals associated with Dennison’s campaign.
    So you think Robert S. Mueller III is just going to take it upon himself to ignore his mandate? What is there in his past record that would make you think that?
    In addition, there are already seven Americans charged or found guilty or pled.
    So, in summation, your position is mostly nonsense…from jump street.

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  27. Michael Reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:

    You have some special knowledge of the Mueller investigation you’d like to share with us?

    Yes, I do: try reading the Washington Post, the NYT, the WSJ, Daily Beast, Axios, Politico, the Guardian, Yahoo News (Isikoff). . . You share with @Guarneri a blissful ignorance of the story, which is one of the reasons you aren’t taken seriously. You’re like that guy who attends his first baseball game and keeps asking why the batter doesn’t just hit the ball. No one has time to explain the game to you, do the work.

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  28. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: This! Brava!

    ETA: @ Pylon: Well it COULD be that he wants them to form a line, I suppose.

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  29. grumpy realist says:

    So Mueller is sending out the signal like a foghorn: cooperate and flip on someone higher than you, and we’ll recommend no jail time. Lie to us or stonewall and, well, we’ll leave you to rot.

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  30. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @James Pearce:

    It takes into account all 5 Americans who have pled guilty to various charges

    There are 7. You have this position you want to go to the mattresses for…and you don’t even know what the fvck you are talking about.
    Papadopulous
    Manafort
    Gates
    Flynn
    Pinedo
    Cohen
    Patten
    Soon it will be 9. Add Stone and Corsi.

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  31. EddieInCA says:

    @James Pearce:

    No, it doesn’t. It takes into account all 5 Americans who have pled guilty to various charges, as well as the 25 or so Russians who have been charged.

    Again, you’re wrong on the facts.

    1. Manafort
    2. Flynn
    3. Papadopolous
    4. Rick Gates
    5. Richard Pinedo
    6. Sam Patten
    7. Michael Cohen

    That’s seven (and counting), not five.

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  32. EddieinCA says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Damn, Beat me to it.

    Shouldn’t have eaten the bagel before I hit send. But I can’t resist a Noah’s everything with Cream Cheese

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  33. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    now rationalize the guy getting a sweetheart deal.

    That’s how these things work. The minions get a break in exchange for helping to take down the real criminal at the top.
    Most people over the age of five, who have so much as watched a crime show on TV, understand that about our justice system.

    I’m not sure what happened to you. I used to respect you, if not always agree with you. But lately you’ve been off the rails. Do you need help?

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  34. Gustopher says:

    Just to play Devil’s Advocate… it is possible that what Mueller is turning up is lots of compromised behavior, with no major crimes behind it.

    Russians dangle the promise of information in front of the Trumpies. Trumpies come running, ready to make a deal. There’s no information there, but now there is a record of a meeting with the Russians. Repeat 50 times. Now, leak that information out to the American press, and watch as the Presidency goes into damage control mode, and looks guiltier and guiltier. Operation Chaos complete, America is weakened and divided.

    Play on the greed and stupidity of people like Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr.

    It’s possible, but not likely (the DNC hacks were likely coordinated). And we still have people who were happy to commit major crimes in the Trump Administration. But no smoking gun.

    And, Republicans rally around their President excusing his “process crimes”. Almost better for the Russians than a disgraced President Trump being forced to leave office for clear, proven collusion with a foreign adversary with defined quid pro quo that cannot be ignored.

    A weak US leaves Russia a lot freer to act elsewhere.

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  35. James Pearce says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    So you think Robert S. Mueller III is just going to take it upon himself to ignore his mandate?

    His mandate isn’t “Democratic politics by other means,” though.

    @Michael Reynolds:

    try reading the Washington Post, the NYT, the WSJ, Daily Beast, Axios, Politico, the Guardian, Yahoo News

    Jesus Christ, Michael. I have been rather consistent on this score: You can look to journalists to be the hero of the day. But I’m not going to join you.

    I read the sentencing document myself. I formed my opinion on it myself. That’s what you’re dealing with, dude. Not a guy who needs to consult a newspaper to know what he’s thinking.

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Oh, you got me there. I forgot two of them.

    Can you name even one of the Russians?

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  36. EddieInCA says:

    @Gustopher:

    To anyone who has been paying attention to Donald Trump since the mid 90’s, there are certainly crimes. And lots of them. The entire Trump Organization since the 90’s is a giant Russian money laundering operation.

    Why else would a Russian pay $95 Million for a Florida estate valued at $40 million a few months after Trump filed for Bankruptcy in 2008? That makes no sense unless the Russian is looking to move money out of Russia into a US Asset and take a 50% loss on his money. But $40 Million in clean cash is better than $95 million in cash you can’t use.

    Why else would only the Russians, through Deutche Bank, be the only ones willing to lend Trump cash when everyone else in the banking world refused?

    I guarantee you Mueller knows a whole lot more than me. But even me, with my few NYC Banking and Finance connections, knows that the Trump Org, for years, has been laundering Russian cash. It was well-known on Wall Street.

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  37. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @James Pearce:

    His mandate isn’t “Democratic politics by other means,” though.

    In other words…you got nothing…per usual.

    Can you name even one of the Russians?

    Konstantin Kilimnik
    Alex van der Zwaan…not Russian…but the son-in-law of Russian Oligarch German Kahn.
    Also 12 GRU officers and a bunch of others that will never see the inside of a US court. But you think Mueller is happy just chasing them.
    Insipid. Per usual.

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  38. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Gustopher:

    Russians dangle the promise of information in front of the Trumpies. Trumpies come running, ready to make a deal. There’s no information there, but now there is a record of a meeting with the Russians.

    But, I believe what you just described is Conspiracy to Defraud the US…whether it is successful or not.
    If you walk into a bank, point a gun at the teller, and demand all the money…is all forgiven if the drawer is empty?

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  39. Michael Reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:

    Not a guy who needs to consult a newspaper to know what he’s thinking.

    Facts? You don’t need no stinkin’ facts!

    The indictment is almost entirely redacted. From it you can’t even begin to glean the nature of the crimes. Which you would understand if you weren’t so proudly ignorant and lazy.

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  40. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:
    Dude, you’re suggesting that Mueller interviewed Flynn 19 times over the course of a year and yet there’s no underlying crime? Why would a very experienced prosecutor take all that testimony in pursuit of nothing?

    “This is our 19th interview, Mr. Flynn, your fiftieth hour of testimony, so, once again, just to clarify what you’ve told me in all 18 previous interviews. . . nothing happened?”

    Obstruction and witness tampering are felonies, and they are being committed by Trump right out in the open. There is no question whether Trump has committed felonies, he clearly has. Individual 1 is a criminal. Mueller is just connecting the rest of the dots which will lead to a host of more felonies and constitutional violations.

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  41. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Pearce:

    So you think Robert S. Mueller III is just going to take it upon himself to ignore his mandate?

    His mandate isn’t “Democratic politics by other means,” though.

    So enforcement of the laws upon all is now “Democratic politics by other means,”???

    Nice to see you concede DEMs are the Law and Order party. I’m a little surprised.

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  42. James Pearce says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    From it you can’t even begin to glean the nature of the crimes.

    Well, apparently you can, guy who said, “Tactically clever of Mueller, who has bigger fish to fry.”

    By bigger fish, I suppose you meant not Trump but the Russians?

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    But you think Mueller is happy just chasing them.

    I do not think Mueller is interested in taking down an elected president and might even do his part to protect him, especially in the face of foreign interference.

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  43. Inhumans99 says:

    @James Pearce:

    James, you and Ben have no idea how bad this is for the current administration, seriously…no clue at all, wow, just wow. If this is the same Flynn I considered a traitor to the country for basically spying on behalf of a foreign government than it is beyond amazing that Mueller and his team agreed to keep him out of jail. He clearly knew where the bodies are buried, so to speak (but with this admin maybe he literally knew where the bodies are buried, who knows), and it took an extraordinary amount of meetings with Muellers team to reveal all.

    This info coming to light is giving folks with brains instead of trains a shiver up their spine, and I suspect some folks in the administration are worried about the shoes that have yet to be dropped.

    I know I am some random person on the internet so you can care less about what I am about to say but I thought you were not as willfully ignorant as folks like Ben W, Jenos, Guarneri, and a few others, but I was sadly wrong. From this point forward I will not bother you with replies to your comments as I am choosing to ignore the ignorant.

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  44. just nutha says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Pearce is just demonstrating one of the things that made the US a great place for me as a teacher. While I was in Korea, it was sometimes difficult to get students to engage in discussion on topics that were less familiar to them. They would often say, “I don’t know anything about this, I can’t tell you what I think.” I would reply that in America, students don’t worry about knowing anything about what they are talking about and can have opinions even though they know absolutely nothing, so my Korean students shouldn’t be shy about giving an opinion either. Still, it was a struggle for them.

    So, in honor of James Pearce and his tiresomeless efforts at keeping the traditions of America alive, I hereby award him this beautiful, solid pyrite MAGA No-Prize. Laissez les bons temps rouller!

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  45. Michael Reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:
    Now you’re just trolling. You can’t actually be so dumb you’d throw me a softball that slow and squishy.

    Pearce, the reason I understand what’s going on is because I pay attention and I do the work. Yes, Pearce, surprise (!) people who pay attention and do the work are better able to understand the play. A point you just inadvertently made for me. Thanks.

    I honestly wonder what people like you and @Guarneri are going to do with yourselves when the report finally comes out. I don’t understand the mentality of people who will just keep plowing ahead, blissfully ignorant, while nevertheless professing strong opinions about things they willfully refuse to understand. Is it just sunk costs error? You dismissed the story early thinking it was nothing and later, when even people in comas understood it was serious as hell, you couldn’t just recalibrate and admit, “Ah, I was wrong, this is something”? You’re just going to go on doubling down on wrong? Forever? Until you die? Why? Lack of pride? Lack of courage? What do people like you think they gain by denying reality and insisting on things which are falsifiable?

    It’s all very Trumpian.

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  46. the Q says:

    OK, another devil’s advocate theory here……Why not redact the 19 hours? Why make that public? Was it done intentionally to scare other witnesses into cooperating knowing that Flynn may have told all in those 19 meetings? Maybe Mueller is coming up with not much and is bluffing his way into getting others to spill the beans using a prisoners dilemma gambit, hoping others start spilling the beans since they think Flynn has already done so.

    Also, the total lack of leaking from the Mueller team is troubling. Literally nothing has been leaked. This is Washington. Leaking is normal. Maybe this is going to be the Fitzgerald – Libby case redux. Massive sturm and drang….liberal hopes that this would bring down W and Cheney…never happened…no smoking gun, no massive conspiracy, just a felony charge against Libby when it wasn’t even Scooter who leaked! It was Richard Armitage.

    Maybe after all this, we find Trump’s cronies are keystone cops and not some well oiled conspiracy machine. So Mueller will find some fringe charges much like Fitzgerald who got Libby on small time perjury charges and not the big Watergate type take down.

    If Mueller does not find Trump in some serious schite, the liberals will take a huge beating. No leaks from Mueller’s side, to me is a sign of big trouble in really charging Trump with impeachment type offenses. I hope that I am wrong and we all get the satisfaction of watching the Trump family handcuffed and frog marched into prison. But something tells me this is the Scooter Libby scandal with a few more corrupt players.

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  47. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @the Q:

    Maybe after all this, we find Trump’s cronies are keystone cops and not some well oiled conspiracy machine.

    One does not negate the possibility of the other. By now we are all aware these guys are the Kestone Kops of Korruption and I’d bet my last dollar that most of them are well oiled.

    So Mueller will find some fringe charges much like Fitzgerald who got Libby on small time perjury charges and not the big Watergate type take down.

    This is possible, and if so I don’t think it will be liberals with mud on their face, it will be trump the GOP who engaged in all kinds of shady maneuvers to protect the trump admin from what? Nothing??

    Also, the total lack of leaking from the Mueller team is troubling.

    Just because it’s DC doesn’t mean everything leaks all the time. I find it rather reassuring, they are the exact opposite of the trump admin who leak like a steel sieve. Instead Mueller’s team is disciplined and dedicated, just like they are supposed to be.

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  48. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    Just to play Devil’s Advocate… it is possible that what Mueller is turning up is lots of compromised behavior, with no major crimes behind it.

    I’ve considered that possibility. It would be just like Trump to hate being embarrassed in public worse than anything else.

    But, just to devil-advocate your devil’s advocate, wasn’t the cover-up that brought Nixon down rather than the burglary?

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  49. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @James Pearce:

    I do not think Mueller is interested in taking down an elected president and might even do his part to protect him, especially in the face of foreign interference.

    OK…so youve gone from Mueller is going to give Americans a pass to Mueller is going to protect the President.
    Please give me one thing that makes you think Mueller believes anyone is above the law. Because that is what you have been arguing all day.
    I have no idea what “foreign interference” means. Conspiracy is now Interference?

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  50. Kathy says:

    BTW, Random Trump Joke:

    Q: What’s the difference between Trump and an ass?
    A: An ass doesn’t brag about the sh*t he leaves in his wake.

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  51. Mister Bluster says:

    Every political junkies favorite 5 o’clock shadow.
    Dead for 24 years and still as relevant as ever!

    “If you are going to lie, you go to jail for the lie rather than the crime. So believe me, don’t ever lie.”
    To John Dean in April 1973. Dean was due to testify before the Senate Watergate Committee, which he did on 25 June 1973.

    I still can’t believe he did not burn the tapes.
    Why don’t we play the counterfactual history game.
    Who knows?
    If Nixon burned the tapes (what tapes?) he might not have resigned. He could have finished his term and his son in law David Eisenhower might be president today instead of Deadpecker Don!

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  52. dmichael says:

    @Kathy: Historical note: The “coverup” was merely a continuation of the crimes. Nixon and his minions couldn’t cop to the Watergate burglary because it was part of a series of efforts, using some of the same people to commit crimes (e.g., Brookings Institute firebombing, burglary of the office of Ellsburg’s psychiatrist, creation of fake evidence to bring down Muskie, etc.)

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  53. James Pearce says:

    @Inhumans99:

    James, you and Ben have no idea how bad this is for the current administration, seriously…no clue at all, wow, just wow.

    I can’t speak for Ben, but I’m pretty confident the Trump administration is going to survive the Mueller investigation and I have a feeling that it may actually exonerate him.

    I’d love to be wrong, but I’m preparing nonetheless.
    @Michael Reynolds:

    I honestly wonder what people like you and @Guarneri are going to do with yourselves when the report finally comes out.

    Someone’s gonna owe someone a round of “toldyasos,” that’s for sure.

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  54. SenyorDave says:

    @James Pearce: Just curious, what is your idea of exoneration?

    For example, what if Mueller’s report contains evidence of the Trump Organization engaging in money laundering for the Russians? What if senior people like Don Jr. lied to Congress about Russian contacts? What if senior people cooperated with Wikileaks in obtaining DNC emails?

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  55. JohnSF says:

    It looks like Mueller’s team and SDNY are following multiple interconnected lines of investigation; though it’s hard to be sure given the clam-like inscrutability of the prosecutorial teams.
    – Russia related money laundering
    – Conspiracy with Russia (Hiya Paul, Eric and Jared! how them adoptions going?) and Russian linked operations (Hi Julian!) re. email hacking and social media operations
    – False testimony to Congress and to the prosecutors (yo Eric!)
    – Campaign finance violations (why, thank you, Mr Cohen!)
    – Corruption related to Administration (Hi Jared & Ivanka; who did refinance 666 BTW?)
    – General TrumpOrg financial sleazebaggery (the non-barking dog that is Weisselburg)
    – And last but not least: Obstruction of justice! Donald! Come on down!

    Now, it’s screamingly obvious to anybody who really LOOKS that TrumpOrg has been dabbling in dodgy finance from day 1.
    Bankrupt casinos? Four times? FFS.

    As I’ve said before: I’m reluctant to disagree with Mike Reynolds, but I doubt Trump thought he’s owned by FSB: IMHO he was too bloody thick and egocentric to realise, at least at first. Even now I suspect he thinks he can bargain with them.
    And Putin can prob. finish Trump; but that’s a weapon he can only use once.

    My guess is, these are people used to dealings with criminals in an “implausible deniability” sort of way.
    Stupid faux-swaggering wannabe Wise Guys who would fall headfirst into an FSB/GRU op. via existing mafiya connections, thinking hey, we’re real big time players now, ain’t we.
    Not realising that dealings with the Russian state/oligarch/crime nexus are way more perilous than the NY/NJ Mob. Especially if you’re stupid enough to step into the mincing machine of DC, piss off the security/intelligence community, and lose your House majority covering.
    Oopsie.

    I’m rather inclined to think Trump, at least at first, didn’t expect, or even really want, to win.
    Trump has spent a lifetime tap dancing around the law; now he’s tapdanced his stupid way into a World War 1 killing zone.

    The bigger question still, is: will the Democrats use their House investigatory powers to look hard at the much wider ramifications of all this?
    The NRA/Russia connection and various Republican/Russian trails (e.g. Rorabacher), the Mercer’s and Bannon’s media/political operations, the self-dealing of Cabinet members (why hello, Mrs De Vos!), the mutual interests of the Russian oligarchy and various Western monied interests in certain financial operations and political/economic objectives (carbon energy, tax havens), the London Connections, etc. etc.

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  56. SenyorDave says:

    @JohnSF: I’m rather inclined to think Trump, at least at first, didn’t expect, or even really want, to win.

    I’ve always thought that Trump saw this as a chance to really cash in big. Lose closely, claim foul, know that the GOP would investigate Hillary nonstop for four years. Then start Trump TV, he already had Ailes on board, could have raided his close allies from Fox, Then they could operate as a fulltime conspiracy network. 10 million subscribers at $10/month is a revenue stream of $1.2 billion per year.
    Winning forced him to actually work, and now that can’t be much fun with Mueller looking over his shoulder. He remembers when work was fun, he could do ANYTHING he wanted, fire anyone, say anything, grab p**** whenever he wanted…

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  57. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Dude, you’re suggesting that Mueller interviewed Flynn 19 times over the course of a year and yet there’s no underlying crime? Why would a very experienced prosecutor take all that testimony in pursuit of nothing

    I think it is very likely that Mueller is after the truth more than convictions, and that he would let Flynn skate on “minor” offenses to get the big picture, whether that big picture is damning or not. Yes, he’s a prosecutor, but he’s also navigating a constitutional crisis.

    Trump’s crimes in general have up to the point of his campaign been the type of white collar crime that is usually settled (offensively) for pennies on the dollar.

    I think it’s very likely that Mueller will eventually show that Trump was more of an unwitting asset of the Russians than an eager conspirator, and that Trump has committed obstruction and witness tampering to hide this. Bad, yes, but not the fever dreams of the people who want him brought down.

    The kids are active conspirators. I think we have that nailed down. But, the lines to Donald Trump himself aren’t there yet. Not publicly anyway.

    Expect “any father would stubborn justice to protect their vile spawn” to be a defense the Republicans hold to.

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  58. Moosebreath says:

    @SenyorDave:

    “I’m rather inclined to think Trump, at least at first, didn’t expect, or even really want, to win.”

    There is a lot of evidence for this, including his refusal during the campaign to allow his staff to do any post-election planning. Michael Lewis’s new book sketches out some very interesting arguments between Trump and Chris Christie on this.

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  59. Kathy says:

    @JohnSF:

    I feel we’re in the position of the proverbial frog int eh steadily heating water. There have been so many reports in dribs and drabs of Trump’s or trump-related malfeasance, that we kind of get used to it.

    If the litany had been presented all at once, it would hit you like a ton of bricks. as it is, it seems it has always been like this. It helps El Dennison he also broke norms a little at a time.

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  60. James Pearce says:

    @SenyorDave:

    Just curious, what is your idea of exoneration?

    I’m not sure he’ll ever be fully “exonerated” in the sense that we normally think of it. He’s a politician in very tribal times and neither his allies nor his enemies have any interest in an honest, accurate assessment. It’s really going to come down to what TV channel you watch, I think.

    But this is what exoneration looks like: Trump spends 2020 –post-Mueller– running for a second term.

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  61. Barry says:

    @the Q: “OK, another devil’s advocate theory here……Why not redact the 19 hours? Why make that public? Was it done intentionally to scare other witnesses into cooperating knowing that Flynn may have told all in those 19 meetings? Maybe Mueller is coming up with not much and is bluffing his way into getting others to spill the beans using a prisoners dilemma gambit, hoping others start spilling the beans since they think Flynn has already done so.”

    My guess is that he’s letting people know that Flynn, who is connected to a lot of this sh*t, has been talking at length since way back in the beginning.

    Anybody who interacted with Flynn now knows that their past testimony has been subject to serious ‘audit’. Some lawyers might be telling their clients that it’s time to ask for a deal right now.

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  62. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Gustopher:

    Yes, he’s a prosecutor, but he’s also navigating a constitutional crisis.

    This, times 1,000. He is dancing on the knife edge of the constitution and he is very aware of that fact (hence the lack of leaks).

    I think it’s very likely that Mueller will eventually show that Trump was more of an unwitting asset of the Russians than an eager conspirator,

    Not sure it’s likely, tho I definitely acknowledge the possibility. The man is dumber than a box of rocks after all but he also never met a scam he was reluctant to take advantage of.

    and that Trump has committed obstruction and witness tampering to hide this. Bad, yes, but not the fever dreams of the people who want him brought down.

    Now here’s where you lose me. “Committing obstruction and tampering with witnesses” to hide anygawdamned thing are the 2 sins no president can be forgiven of. I don’t care how innocent or stupid the original sins are, those 2 are beyond the pale. Clinton was impeached for lying about sex in the Oval Office, a thing that had nothing to do with national security or free elections.

    As to,

    Expect “any father would stubborn justice to protect their vile spawn” to be a defense the Republicans hold to.

    On the level of a father, I can understand the impulse, but as a constituent I say, “no how, no way.” anyone gets a free pass depending on who their father is.

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  63. SenyorDave says:

    @James Pearce: He’s a politician in very tribal times and neither his allies nor his enemies have any interest in an honest, accurate assessment.

    You make it sound like he’s just another run-of-the-mill politician. Nobody who has lived through the past three years could possibly believe that. Donald Trump lies all the time. There is no debate about that. His personal qualities are terrible by any reasonable standards. He is, as Michael Reynolds once stated, an amoral pig, and that is objective statement. But in addition he is corrupt, racist, and ignorant.

    Take the last ten presidents and think of their worst qualities, and Trump top them all.

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  64. MarkedMan says:

    @SenyorDave:

    Nobody who has lived through the past three years could possibly believe that.

    I think you’ve made a category error there. Trumpers don’t really believe in anything. They will say anything to support their team and Trump is their team captain.

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  65. Gustopher says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Regarding Donald Trump being an unwitting asset… it is clear that he is one now. The Russians have dirt on him, right now, that they can use to disrupt his presidency at any point it is in their interest. Trump may not even realize it.

    They cannot completely destroy him, not without US cooperation, but if the drip, drip, drip of damaging information stops naturally, they can restart it. Have someone leak information to WaPo or NYTimes about Trump Tower Moscow, and Trump is distracted for weeks and the US is ineffective in foreign policy.

    Also, while Bill Clinton was impeached for obstruction of justice and perjury, you are forgetting that different rules apply to Democrats.

    Short of a smoking gun for treason, I don’t think the Republicans will budge from “process crimes responding to a witch-hunt, not real crimes”, and impeachment will be effectively off the table. If they cared about obstruction of justice, there would have been a delegation of Republican leaders with a binder of Trump’s tweets, and a couple of career prosecutors, going up to the White House and explaining why he needs to resign.

    Instead, they just accept that he is corrupt, protect him, and will continue to do so. The “protecting his children” claim will be one of the defenses, as the creepy manchilds are already implicated. I also expect to hear “criminalizing politics”, “the presidents family should be left out of it”, and “the politics of personal destruction.” And no mention of Tiffany Trump, who somehow was raised to not betray her country to a foreign power, brazenly and stupidly.

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  66. wr says:

    @Gustopher: Well, we’ve already heard perjury dismissed as a “process crime” — by Lindsay Graham, one of the leaders of the impeachment of Bill Clinton for… perjury.

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