I’m scheduled from 7:40 to 8:00 this morning on Fault Lines with Garland Nixon and Lee Stranahan.
The House Judiciary Committee has released the transcript of the second day of its recent interview with James Comey. It’s available here. I found the following exchange which begins on p. 160 interesting. (Mr. [ ] is a representative of the FBI whose name has been redacted by the Committee.)
Chairman Goodlatte. Mr. Comey did any country other than Russia attempt to influence the 2016 election?
[Discussion off the record.]
Mr. Comey. I don’t think I can answer that, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Goodlatte. And what’s the reason?
Mr. Comey. I believe that’s across the line the FBI told me to steer — stay on one side of.
Chairman Goodlatte. We need a reason why the FBI told you to steer clear of that.
Mr. [ ]. First, I think it is impacting the Special Counsel’s Office purview; and, second of all, if you’re going so far as to ask who were those investigations may be on, we —
Chairman Goodlatte. I haven’t asked that yet.
Mr. [ ]. I understand that. I just don’t want the witness to blurt something out either.
Chairman Goodlatte. He doesn’t seem disposed to blurt things out. He can answer a straightforward question of, did any country other than Russia attempt to influence the 2016 election?
Mr. Comey. So I can give you this answer. One of the things I don’t want to do is give adversaries — we’re in an unclassified setting — an idea of what we didn’t know as well as know, so the answer would be I believe so — nations other than Russia.
Chairman Goodlatte. Did the FBI have any evidence that another country was attempting to influence Hillary Clinton or hermPresidential campaign?
Mr. Comey. Mr. Chairman, I want to be careful answering that question because, again, I don’t want to give — a negative answer or a positive answer will give information to an adversary that I don’t want to give them, and so I’m sure the FBI maybe could arrange for a briefing of you on that, sir, but I don’t think I can responsibly answer that in an open setting.
But CNN, et al. are telling us this is disastrous for Flynn and the President …I think I’ll wait to see how this sorts out in the real world. Meanwhile, if the Gentle Reader would like to see what the Special Counsel filed with the court, it’s posted here.
As my podcasting partner Stacy McCain and I were saying on last night’s episode of The Other Podcast, there’s some interesting connections starting to pop up. The Creepy Porn Lawyer Michael Avenatti has tweeted out that he’s representing Democrat activist Alexandra Chalupa, citing a Vox story trying to tie recent reporting on Chalupa’s work for the DNC to a suggestion in the summer of 2017 by Paul Manafort to “target Alexandra Chalupa, a political strategist and consultant for the DNC, for allegedly working with Ukrainian officials to hurt Trump’s candidacy.”
News of Chalupa’s activities broke much earlier. The Daily Caller ran a story connecting her and her anti-Trump efforts with Brett Kimberlin in March, 2017. The Kimberlin-run Manafort Watch website was put up in August, 2016, when Chalupa was taking particular interest in Paul Manafort. The site is still live, although nothing new has been posted there since September, 2016.
Curiouser and curiouser.
My friend and former codefendant Dan Backer has an article over at Investor’s Business Daily titled The Anatomy Of Hillary Clinton’s $84 Million Money-Laundering Scheme. (Ironically, Dan and I were among a couple of dozen codefendants accused of money laundering as a predicate crime in a civil RICO suit filed by Democrat party operative Brett Kimberlin.)
Democratic donors, knowing the funds would end up with Clinton’s campaign, wrote six-figure checks to influence the election — 100 times larger than allowed.
HVF bundled these megagifts and, on a single day, reported transferring money to all participating state parties, some of which would then show up on FEC reports filed by the DNC as transferring the exact same dollar amount on the exact same day to the DNC. Yet not all the state parties reported either receiving or transferring those sums.
Did any of these transfers actually happen? Or were they just paper entries to mask direct transfers to the DNC?
For perspective, conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza was prosecuted and convicted in 2012 for giving a handful of associates money they then contributed to a candidate of his preference — in other words, straw man contributions. He was sentenced to eight months in a community confinement center and five years of probation. How much money was involved? Only $20,000. HVF weighs in at $84 million — more than 4,000 times larger!
So who should be worried? Everyone involved — from the donors themselves to Democratic fundraisers to party officials who filed false reports and, ultimately, to Clinton campaign and HVF officials looking at significant legal jeopardy.
The Federal Election Commission has failed to act on a complaint filed in 2017, so a never-before-used option in the law is being used to file a private lawsuit, placing the matter in Dan’s hands as lawyer for his client, the Committee to Defend the President. As the plaintiff’s counsel, he’ll have the tools of discovery—including subpoena power to go after bank accounts and other DNC records and to question party officials and bundlers. Every big-shot donor participating the scheme could be exposed to criminal prosecution based on evidence turned up in the civil matter.
Meanwhile, the Press is excited over $130,000 in non-campaign hush money paid to a porn star.
Now that sentencing memos for Flynn and Cohen are floating around in public, the Left and the press, but I repeat myself, are having a good time explaining how those memos show that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has the evidence to take down President Trump. One of the sanest summaries I’ve read was by Max Bergman and Sam Berger at The Daily Beast. As much as I dislike Donald Trump and wish a different person were President, I find the evidence of collusion presented thus far to be sketchy. Most of it doesn’t even qualify as circumstantial. A good deal of it doesn’t past the laugh test. I mean, who would think that Putin would accept a penthouse in a Trump building when he already has equal or better housing with much better security?
It may be that there is some there there, but those memos don’t make a good case for it.
We’ll have to wait and see.
Matthew Walther has a post over at The Week that begins this way—
Do you remember when the United States was about to have her constitutional order upended? If you printed out all the concern-trolling articles from the fall of 2016 about whether Donald Trump would “accept” the results of the presidential election and laid them end to end, they would stretch from China to Peru. As far as I recall, no one actually predicted that opioid-addicted out-of-work steelworkers in Carhartt jackets would roam the streets of Washington looting and burning and eventually installing an Alex Jones puppet government under the nominal leadership of the host of Celebrity Apprentice. The point, assuming there was one, was that the “credibility” of our election system would be undermined if one of the candidates and most of his supporters refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the next commander-in-chief.
Of course, one side did reject the legitimacy of the 2016 election, and they’ve been trying to do something about it. Hence, the “Russian collusion” investigation which, to date, has failed to turn up any solid evidence of collusion between any Russians and anyone associated with the Trump campaign.
At this point the most obvious fair-minded explanation of the Russia investigation is that it exists to paralyze the Trump administration. It certainly monopolizes the president’s attention. When he is abroad he broods over the latest media talking points from his suite. When he is in Washington, he fumes in front of the television and tweets his favorite tidbits from Fox News. The special counsel has taken his attention away from diplomacy and the other ordinary business of the presidency. Mueller has failed to deliver the goods not simply because there are no goods to deliver but because delivering them is not the point. The point is to hurt Trump.
Read the whole thing.