Archive for the ‘2016 elections and Russia’ category

The Rohrabacher-Assange meeting

August 21, 2017

The Rohrabacher-Assange meeting, Washington TimesDavid Keene, August 20, 2017

Smoking Gun Flash Drive Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

The piece resulted in turmoil within the left-wing publication [the Nation] itself with many writers and contributors bitterly suggesting it should never have been printed because the publication has some sort of obligation to only publish material that strengthens rather than weakens the case against the president they despise.

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ANALYSIS/OPINION:

California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s recent three-hour meeting with WikiLeaks head Julian Assange as reported earlier this week by The Hill may prove interesting in light of the allegations of several former high-ranking U.S. intelligence analysts that the Democratic National Committee was not hacked by the Russians or anyone else prior to last fall’s presidential election.

Mr. Rohrabacher said little after the meeting other than that Mr. Assange repeated his denial that the materials he obtained and made public did not come from the Russians, but claimed he had more information about what actually happened that he intended to share with President Trump.

The “common wisdom” in Washington circles is that the Russians were responsible for illegally hacking into the DNC computers during the campaign and leaked the emails thus obtained through WikiLeaks, but recent revelations suggest that there is at least a possibility that the “common wisdom” is dead flat wrong. If it is wrong and can be proven, the charges of “collusion” so dear to Mr. Trump’s opponents could collapse.

The Nation magazine earlier this month published a lengthy report on the conclusions of a number of intelligence analysts who have looked at the available evidence and concluded that it would have been physically impossible for the Russians to have done what Mr. Trump’s critics allege.

They maintain that the information that made its way into the public sphere wasn’t hacked at all, but leaked by someone within the DNC itself.

The Nation piece, by Patrick Lawrence titled “A New Report Raises Big Questions about Last Year’s DNC Hack,” claimed that for technical reasons, the data that was supposedly downloaded to a hacker could not have been downloaded in the manner alleged because the underlying data they analyzed showed it was downloaded far faster than would have been possible given the technology available to the supposed hacker at the time.

The only way they believe the data could have been downloaded in the time it was in fact downloaded was if the job was done internally to something like a thumb drive that was later turned over to WikiLeaks.

The piece resulted in turmoil within the left-wing publication itself with many writers and contributors bitterly suggesting it should never have been printed because the publication has some sort of obligation to only publish material that strengthens rather than weakens the case against the president they despise.

Many were particularly upset that the piece was picked up and praised by a number of conservative publications and commentators.

In response to the attacks, Katrina vanden Heuvel, the Nation’s editor and publisher has launched what she is calling a “post publication review” of the article.

It is certainly true that the allegations in the article are both controversial and contested, but it is at least possible that whether the Nation decides to trash its own writer and disavow the conclusions of his article, the analysts quoted in it are right.

The Obama administration, Hillary Clinton and Mr. Trump’s enemies take it as fact that the Russians were behind the “hacks” and that they constituted an attempt by Vladimir Putin’s regime to “affect” the outcome of the election and hint openly that it was all done in collusion with the Trump campaign. That, after all, is what Special Counsel Robert Mueller is trying to prove.

They almost as one dismiss evidence to the contrary, relying on the “consensus” view of “seventeen” US intelligence agencies that it was indeed the Russians who did it. The “consensus” view as former Obama Director of Intelligence James Clapper has since admitted was put together by “hand-picked” analysts from three agencies and never underwent the rigorous review one might have expected.

This is, of course, the same James Clapper who had earlier been caught lying to Congress.

When the Nation article first appeared, the Democratic National Committee responded in writing “U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded the Russian government hacked the DNC in an attempt to interfere in the election. Any suggestion otherwise is false and is just another conspiracy theory like those pushed by Trump and his administration.”

When The Hill article reporting on the Rohrabacher/Assange meeting appeared, the DNC was at it again, “We’ll take the word of the U.S. intelligence community over Julian Assange and Putin’s favorite Congressman,” said DNC Deputy Communications Director Adrienne Watson,

There are conspiracies and then there are conspiracies. Julian Assange may have the proof as to who is right and who is fantasizing and if he provided that proof to Mr. Rohrabacher things could get very interesting for all involved and especially for Mr. Clapper and those who have relied on his “consensus view.”

Trump Campaign Repeatedly Rejected Efforts to Set Up Russia Meetings

August 15, 2017

Trump Campaign Repeatedly Rejected Efforts to Set Up Russia Meetings, Power LinePaul Mirengoff, August 14, 2017

What about Paul Manafort, supposedly a key player in the alleged collusion? The Post says he expressed concern about meetings with Russian officials and, as campaign chairman, rejected a May 2016 proposal that such a meeting take place.

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The Washington Post reports that in 2016, a new member of the Trump foreign policy advisory committee sent emails to the Trump campaign urging that the candidate meet with top Russian leaders including Putin, but that the campaign repeatedly rejected this suggestion. The Post’s report is based on emails that it says were “read to The Post by a person with access to them.”

The foreign policy adviser in question is George Papadopoulos, described by the Post as “a campaign volunteer with scant foreign policy experience.” According to the Post, between March and September of 2016, he sent at least a half-dozen requests for Trump or members of his team to meet with Russian officials.

The campaign’s response is bad news for those who claim that Trump colluded with Russia. According to the Post:

Campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis wrote that he thought NATO allies should be consulted before any plans were made. Another Trump adviser, retired Navy Rear Adm. Charles Kubic, cited legal concerns, including a possible violation of U.S. sanctions against Russia and of the Logan Act, which prohibits U.S. citizens from unauthorized negotiation with foreign governments.

What about Paul Manafort, supposedly a key player in the alleged collusion? The Post says he expressed concern about meetings with Russian officials and, as campaign chairman, rejected a May 2016 proposal that such a meeting take place.

The Post argues that “the internal resistance to Papadopoulos’s requests is at odds with other overtures Trump allies were making toward Russia at the time, mostly at a more senior level of the campaign.” Not really. Reading the two sets of emails I believe the Post has in mind — the ones involving Papadopoulos and the ones involving Donald Trump Jr. and the Russian lawyer — the logical conclusion is that Team Trump was not interested in making overtures to, or negotiating with, the Kremlin, but was willing to check out information harmful to Hillary Clinton provided by Russian sources, including ones with possible ties to the Kremlin.

The first position is exactly what one would hope for and expect. The second should not shock anyone’s conscience.

It seems to me that if the Trump campaign wanted to collude with Russia, as opposed to simply reviewing “dirt” on Clinton provided by Russians, it would have been eager to meet with top Russian officials including Putin. The emails reportedly show a decided lack of interest in such meetings by top campaign officials.

It’s possible that the candidate himself was interested in overtures, negotiations, or some other form of collusion with the Russians. It’s even possible that he did these things through back channels. But there doesn’t seem to be any evidence to support this speculation. And the fact his campaign managers appear not to have believed Trump had any interest in such endeavors cuts against claims of collusion.

Thus, the Post’s story, which it bills with the headline “Trump campaign emails show aide’s repeated efforts to set up Russia meetings,” seems like a significant setback for the Russia collusion story.

Left-Wing Magazine The Nation Report Puts ‘Russian Hack’ DNC Narrative in Freefall

August 12, 2017

Left-Wing Magazine The Nation Report Puts ‘Russian Hack’ DNC Narrative in Freefall, BreitbartIan Mason, April 10, 2017

REUTERS/Stevo Vasiljevic

The files apparently were transferred to a data storage device at a speed not possible over the internet. Metadata also indicate that the emails were taken by someone in the Eastern Daylight Timezone and then deliberately copy-and-pasted into a Microsoft Word file that had its language settings changed to Russian in a ruse to throw off investigators.

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A bombshell report published Wednesday by avowedly liberal news magazine The Nation may have put the last nail in the coffin of the “Russian hack” narrative that has dominated the mainstream media’s coverage for the last year.

Author Patrick Lawrence assembles the findings of months of investigation by forensic computer experts and former NSA officials to conclude, quite categorically, what Breitbart News and other independent media outlets have suggested for nearly a year: there was no hack of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) by the Russian government or anyone else last summer. An internal leaker is a much more likely source of the confidential internal DNC emails that upended the presidential campaign season when they became public last June.

Some supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders saw in the emails a DNC plot to support eventual nominee Hillary Clinton, dealing a blow to Democratic unity in the runup to the party’s convention.

The Nation, a leading publication of the American left for over a century, may seem an unlikely place for such a thorough refutation of one of the Democratic Party’s most salient talking points. Lawrence, however, is strikingly forthright. Calling the supposed hack and the continual allegations of collusion by President Donald Trump and his associates a “great edifice,” Lawrence points to the central role the “DNC Hack” plays in the “Russiagate” narrative. He writes:

All this was set in motion when the DNC’s mail server was first violated in the spring of 2016 and by subsequent assertions that Russians were behind that “hack” and another such operation, also described as a Russian hack, on July 5. These are the foundation stones of the edifice just outlined. The evolution of public discourse in the year since is worthy of scholarly study: Possibilities became allegations, and these became probabilities. Then the probabilities turned into certainties, and these evolved into what are now taken to be established truths.

Now, according to the research by the experts Lawrence cites — the group Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) — a Russian government cyberattack on the DNC’s computers is likely not a “possibility.” The group has examined several aspects of the emails’ journey to the public eye and concluded it cannot be made to comport with a hacker in the former Soviet Union. The files apparently were transferred to a data storage device at a speed not possible over the internet. Metadata also indicate that the emails were taken by someone in the Eastern Daylight Timezone and then deliberately copy-and-pasted into a Microsoft Word file that had its language settings changed to Russian in a ruse to throw off investigators.

The conclusions of four of VIPS’s investigators was unanimous. Lawrance writes:

All those interviewed came in between 90 percent and 100 percent certain that the forensics prove out. I have already quoted Skip Folden’s answer: impossible based on the data. “The laws of physics don’t lie,” Ray McGovern volunteered at one point. “It’s QED, theorem demonstrated,” William Binney said in response to my question. “There’s no evidence out there to get me to change my mind.” When I asked Edward Loomis, a 90 percent man, about the 10 percent he held out, he replied, “I’ve looked at the work and it shows there was no Russian hack. But I didn’t do the work. That’s the 10 percent. I’m a scientist.”

Nothing in the report, however, dissuaded the DNC from its conviction the Russians are responsible for the publication of their internal communications. “U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded the Russian government hacked the DNC in an attempt to interfere in the election. Any suggestion otherwise is false and is just another conspiracy theory like those pushed by Trump and his administration,” Adrienne Watson, the DNC’s deputy communications director told Breitbart News Thursday.

The Nation’s story is by no means the first indication something might be awry with the “official version” of what happened at the DNC last summer. Shortly after the emails became public, Julian Assange, whose Wikileaks played a major role in the emails’ dissemination, claimed Russia played no role, but this did nothing to stem the flood of assurances about a Russian hack.

The central text of the Russiagate gospel became the “Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA)” issued in January of this year, days before President Barack Obama left office. Presumably this ICA, quoted for months in the mainstream media as being the work of “all 17” American intelligence agencies, is the basis of the DNC’s continued claims of a Russian hack.

The reality, as the New York Times finally admitted in June, was that only three intelligence agencies participated in the creation of the ICA. The “17 intelligence agencies” line, a fixture of pro-Russiagate media since Hillary Clinton used the figure in her second presidential debate performance, was and is fake news.

Lawrence’s piece further takes the ICA to task. “James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, admitted in May that ‘hand-picked’ analysts from three agencies (not the 17 previously reported) drafted the ICA,” he writes, pointing out that not even the whole of the three agencies cited (the FBI, NSA, and CIA) were involved but only a few staffers “hand-picked” by Clapper.

The intelligence agencies, according to Lawrence, did not even examine the DNC’s computers, an omission he calls “beyond preposterous,” and instead relied on a third-party report from Crowdstrike, a non-profit co-founded by Dmitri Alperovitch, described as “vigorously anti-Russian.” The “high confidence” in Russian culpability we heard of again and again in mainstream media reporting is an “evasive term” and “how officials avoid putting their names on the assertions we are so strongly urged to accept.”

Some conservatives are already lauding Lawrance’s report and the work of VIPS as a final vindication of their skepticism. Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning, for example, issued the following statement Thursday:

If the whole premise of the [Special Counsel Robert] Mueller investigation, that Russia hacked the DNC emails interfering with the elections, is in fact false and it was a DNC insider as the Nation reports former NSA officials contending, there is simply no rationale for the special counsel to continue investigating the Russia angle. It is incumbent upon the Justice Department to determine and settle once and for all the true source of the DNC emails. The only prosecutions that can flow from that investigation must be of Obama administration officials who covered up the real facts surrounding the DNC emails, setting the nation off on this new red scare. If Mueller is unwilling to go where the evidence leads, in this case to the DNC itself and the Obama administration cover-up, then he is not fit to serve. In Mueller’s case, this is either obstruction or willful blindness.

As Breitbart News’s Joel Pollak wrote last month, the “DNC Hack,” now better known as the “DNC Leak,” the term originally used in these pages, is not the only pillar of the Russia collusion narrative to face collapse as the media hysteria passes its first anniversary. It became clear through the testimony of Investor William Browder that Fusion GPS, the research firm that assembled for a still unknown client the infamous, perverse 2016 dossier describing now-President Trump asking Russian prostitutes to urinate for his pleasure, had, in fact, worked for the Russian government in the past.

With actual evidence of Russian collusion with the Trump campaign now looking increasingly unlikely to come to light, there are increasing indications  Mueller’s investigation has shifted to looking for financial crimes allegedly committed by President Trump and his family long before and far outside the presidential campaign. The impact of the revelations unearthed by the VIPS team and The Nation on that investigation have yet to be seen.

Bloomberg: Manafort Alerted Authorities About Russian Meeting

August 10, 2017

Bloomberg: Manafort Alerted Authorities About Russian Meeting, Jonathan Turley’s Blog, Jonathan Turley, August 10, 2017

Buried in a new article out of Bloomberg is an understated but potentially significant statement: “In fact, Manafort had alerted authorities to a controversial meeting on June 9, 2016, involving Trump’s son Donald Jr., other campaign representatives and a Russian lawyer promising damaging information on Hillary Clinton, according to people familiar with the matter.”  That would be a huge development in this controversy if true, particularly if the notice occurred before the Russian meeting occurred.

Much of the criticism directed at Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort has been that only chumps would have gone to this meeting or, at a minimum, alerted authorities.  Now Bloomberg is saying that it has sources saying that Manafort did indeed alert authorities.  That would go a long way to defusing the conspiracy theories surrounding the meeting and shatter the narrative put forward by critics.

What is also concerning is that, if true, this fact is one of the only facts not leaked out of Congress.  It seems that closed sessions have been mere precludes to media leaks.  Yet, members have been saying as a mantra that the FBI or some other agency should have been notified.  Ironically, this is the most significant part of the Bloomberg story but is buried without further comment.  Why?

Robert Mueller impanels grand jury in Russian meddling investigation: Report

August 3, 2017

Robert Mueller impanels grand jury in Russian meddling investigation: Report, Washington ExaminerMelissa Quinn, August 3, 2017

Robert Mueller, the special counsel in the Russia probe, has impaneled a grand jury to look into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election, according to a report.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the grand jury has begun its work in Washington in recent weeks.

News that Mueller has impaneled a grand jury signals that the Justice Department’s investigation into Russian meddling and ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials is ramping up, and that Mueller could be close to subpoenaing witnesses for documents or testimony.

Republicans and the Lost Art of Deterrence

August 1, 2017

Republicans and the Lost Art of Deterrence, American Greatness, July 31, 2017

(How about media bias against Candidate and then President Trump? — DM)

In a logical world in which Republicans enjoy monopolies on political power, they would have dispensed with the progressive strategy of emasculating the Trump administration through endlessly hyped fake news accounts of quid pro quo Russia-Trump subversion. And they would have done so by themselves taking the offensive.

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In a perfect and disinterested world, when Washington, D.C. is deluged in scandal, a nonpartisan investigator or prosecutor should survey the contemporary rotten landscape. He would then distinguish the likely guilty from the probably falsely accused—regardless of the political consequences at stake.

In the real cosmos of Washington, however, the majority party—the group that controls the House, Senate, presidency, and U.S. Supreme Court—if it were necessary, would de facto appoint the government’s own special investigatory team, and then allow it to follow where leads dictate. Its majority status would assure that there were no political opponents in control of the investigations, keen on turning an inquiry into a political circus. That cynical reality is known as normal D.C. politics.

But in contemporary Republican La-La Land, the party in power with control over all three branches of government allows its minority-status opponents to dictate the rules of special investigations and inquiry—a Jeff Sessions recused, a Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) excused from his investigations of unmasking and leaking, a Robert Mueller appointed as special counsel, friend of to-be-investigated James Comey, and employer of partisan attorneys.

Is naiveté the cause of such laxity? Do Republicans unilaterally follow Munich rules because they hope such protocols will create a new “civility” and “bipartisan cooperation” in Washington?

Demonizing Resistance 
Or is the culprit civil dissension among the ranks, as the congressional leadership secretly has no real incentive to help the despised outsider Trump? When Republicans get re-elected on repealing and replacing Obamacare during the assured Obama veto-presidency, and then flip in the age of surety that Trump would reify their campaign boasts, should we laugh or cry? Is the Republican establishment’s aim to see Trump’s agenda rendered null and void—or does intent even matter when the result is the same anyway?

Or is the empowerment of progressive conspiracy-mongering due to fear of the mainstream media, which demonizes principled resistance to progressivism and lauds unprincipled surrender to it?

Or, lastly, is the cause a bewildering misreading of human nature? I say “bewildering” because conservatives supposedly brag that they are the more astute students of unchanging human nature, while progressives are purportedly naïve believers in therapeutic remedies to perceived human frailties?

If any of the above, the Republicans had better soon wise up. For eight months, progressives have swarmed the media and our politics with false charges of Russian collusion, aimed at delegitimizing both a president and his conservative agenda.

In a logical world in which Republicans enjoy monopolies on political power, they would have dispensed with the progressive strategy of emasculating the Trump administration through endlessly hyped fake news accounts of quid pro quo Russia-Trump subversion. And they would have done so by themselves taking the offensive.

Endlessly refuting each week’s new progressive charges—no, Donald Trump did not watch sick sex acts with prostitutes in Moscow; no, Donald Trump did not send his lawyer to Eastern Europe to rig the election; no, three swing states did not have their voting machines rigged; no, the electors will not betray their constitutional responsibilities; no, Trump is not going to be removed through impeachment, the 25th Amendment, or the Emoluments Clause—achieves nothing but to undermine public confidence in the conservative effort to undo the Obama agenda. They are no more serious stories than the scandal sheet allegations that Trump shorts his guests a scoop of Häagen-Dazs, that his wife is an illegal alien, or that his son is autistic. Apparently, Republicans don’t get it that when a president is smeared as watching urine-porn in Moscow or getting Russian hush money for undermining Hillary’s campaign, then the abyss between such charges and assassination chic in the popular media, is considerably narrowed.

Go Full-Bore on Real Scandals
The salvation of both the Trump Administration and the Republican congressional fate in the 2018 elections is to reestablish political deterrence—accomplished by going on a full-fledged offensive against real, not merely perceived or alleged, political scandals. Only that way will the accusers feel the predicament of the accused, especially as there is real merit to Democratic liability in a way that charges of Trump collusion have largely proved a political fraud. Only when deterrence is achieved, will the Democrats be forced to concentrate on agendas, issues, laws, and messages, not on ambushing the president.

The Republicans should announce far more forcefully to the media that Vladimir Putin may have been funneling via shady third-parties millions of dollars to anti-fracking groups. Such collusion, if proven through investigation, really is treasonous—given that the crashing price of oil, brought about solely due to North American frackers, is about the only check on Putin’s ambitions that the West enjoys. So, to take one example, did the San Francisco-based, family-controlled, and hedge-funded Sea Change Foundation receive laundered Russian money to help enhance its anti-fracking messaging? If so, when, how, and who?

Secondly, Republicans should go full bore on the most explosive scandal of the age, the House Intelligence Committee’s investigations into the surveilling, unmasking, and leaking of American citizens by key members of the Obama Administration, likely done for perceived political advantages.

Rather than envisioning the ethical Devin Nunes as a liability to be controlled, the House leadership should see him as an asset to be encouraged to uncover inconvenient truths—especially given that progressives see the unprincipled Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) as a resource in hiding a scandal. After all, what in the world was the self-righteous and self-described civil libertarian and humanitarian Samantha Power doing, as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, in allegedly reading, unmasking, and leaking intelligence reports on conservative private citizens during a national campaign?

Thirdly, we forget that Hillary Clinton’s scandals were terminated not by exonerating investigations, but by the fact that she lost a presidential campaign, and thus they were no longer deemed disruptive of an election.

No one has ever really understood exactly why Russian interests paid such lucrative honoraria to Bill Clinton or gave so lavishly to the Clinton Foundation, or why they cut an advantageous deal to acquire substantial interests in North American uranium holdings, but apparently did not prove so generous both before and after Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state and her announced presidential candidacy. When Clinton not only destroyed requested emails, but also lied that they were all neither classified nor connected to government business, and faced no consequences at a time when regular citizens went to jail for such transgressions, then there is no equality under the law left to speak of.

Fourthly, what an Orwellian world it is when progressives allege “obstruction of justice” (which  Mueller’s burgeoning team of lawyers is apparently investigating) in the case of Donald Trump’s sloppy, off-handed, and out-loud wishes to FBI Director James Comey that he hoped “good guy” Michael Flynn did not get ruined by a loose investigation.

Yet obstruction is not much pursued even when no one seems to deny that former Attorney General Loretta Lynch met stealthily for private discussions with the spouse of a suspect of a current Justice investigation (subsequently dropped), and when she unapologetically seems to have directed the self-described moralist, Director Comey again, to alter the nomenclature of his ongoing investigation of fellow Democrat and presidential candidate Clinton (and Comey shamelessly acceded to Lynch’s detailed requests).

Fifthly, there is the surreal case of Imran Awan and his tribal clan, the frauds, cheats, and possible blackmailers, who worked as techies for Democratic congressional representatives and in particular for former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Schultz apparently maintained some unfathomable relationship with the disreputable Awan that would force her into utterly untenable positions to protect his skullduggery. And unlike other allegations of collusion, the Florida congresswoman appears on video unapologetically threatening the chief of the U.S. Capitol Police with “consequences” unless he returns computer data concerning possible crimes to Awan.

Reestablish Deterrence or Lose
Finally, no one has ever fully gotten to the bottom of the Fusion GPS/Steele dossier, the fountainhead (thanks to Buzzfeed and CNN) of the entire Russia-Trump collusion mythos.

The much passed-around file was one of the most repugnant episodes in our recent checkered history, with evidence of ethical and perhaps legal wrongdoing on the part of Republican primary candidates, the Clinton campaign, the office of Senator John McCain, the FBI, and the Obama administration, who all at various times trafficked in preposterous and pornographic untruth, in some cases leaked the smears to the toady press, and apparently believed that it was the silver bullet that would put down the Trump werewolf.

Reestablishing deterrence—or what a mellifluous constitutional scholar and recent Nobel Peace Laureate once variously called “taking a gun to a knife fight,” “getting in their faces,” and “punishing our enemies”—is not quite Old Testament eye-for-an-eye, but rather, given human nature, the only way to stop a progressive and media lynch mob.

In the old West, a sheriff did not save those falsely accused in his jail by walking outside to the street to calm an armed and frenzied hanging mob through reason and appeals to sobriety.

The Russian Collusion Story: The Acme of Fake News

July 16, 2017

The Russian Collusion Story: The Acme of Fake News, American ThinkerClarice Feldman, July 16, 2017

Richard Fernandez is one of the most brilliant authors on the Internet. This week he wrote:

Conventional wisdom posits the chief challenges facing the post-Cold War World are Global Warming and the decline of international institutions. But maybe that assurance is a species of Fake News. Suppose the most pressing problems in the next decade is finding new energy supplies to 1) keep the price of oil low enough to contain Russia (and Islamism); and 2) adapting to a disruptive information revolution no one can seem to control. Who will hand you that unconventional wisdom unless you come to it yourself.

He’s right, as I explain, but the significance of his observation is this: which of the two candidates — Hillary or Trump — was more likely to tap into America’s huge energy resources to contain both Russia and the Islamists? And when you answer that as you must — Trump — you can dismiss all the folderol about Donald J. Trump Jr’s, 15 minute meeting in Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer as evidence of “collusion” with Russia.  As I further explain, the non-stop media promotion of some nefarious scheme between Russia and Trump does not pass even the most cursory forensic examination, proving once again in the age of fake news, you cannot remain a passive consumer of news. You have to bring to each story the good sense and diligence with which you handle your most important personal affairs.

A. Russia and Environmental Groups

As Fernandez explained:

The oil crash collapsed the ruble and forced a 27% reduction in the Kremlin’s military budget in 2016.  With oil prices set to stay flat the Russians have to keep drilling and investing simply to stay level as the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies notes.  The Kremlin doesn’t make any real spending money until world oil price gets above levels before the great oil crash of 2014, which may not happen any time soon.[snip] You would think this a Eureka moment: to contain oil prices is to contain Russia (and Islamism). But cheap fossil fuels are not everyone’s cup of tea.  “Drill, baby, drill” is not popular on the left.  Even though liberals understand the power of cheap energy — one of Hillary’s supposedly hacked emails even alleged anti-fracking and environmental causes were a Russian plot to depress oil production — to advocate it is bad progressive politics. This probably led the Saudis to Hillary’s camp in 2016. “According to Bob McNally, president of consulting firm Rapidan Group, countries in the oil-producing Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, are hoping for Hillary Clinton to become president.”

If you’re looking for collusion with Russia, it is not to be found in the Trump Tower meeting.  Paul Mirengoff of Powerline details the Russian efforts through environmental groups — at best Stalin’s “useful idiots” — to tamp down US energy production.

 Lamar Smith, chairman of the House Science Committee, tells James Freeman of the Wall Street Journal:

If you connect the dots, it is clear that Russia is funding U.S. environmental groups in an effort to suppress our domestic oil and gas industry, specifically hydraulic fracking. They have established an elaborate scheme that funnels money through shell companies in Bermuda. This scheme may violate federal law and certainly distorts the U.S. energy market. The American people deserve to know the truth and I am confident Secretary Mnuchin will investigate the allegations.

To help Sec. Mnuchin conduct such an investigation, Rep. Smith, along with Energy Subcommittee Chairman Randy Weber, sent him a letter. They noted:

According to the former Secretary General of NATO, “Russia, as part of their sophisticated information and disinformation operations, engaged actively with so-called nongovernmental organizations – environmental organizations working against shale gas – to maintain dependence on imported Russian gas.” Other officials have indicated the same scheme is unfolding in the U.S.

Reps. Smith and Weber add that, according to public sources including a 2014 report from Republican staff on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, “entities connected to the Russian government are using a shell company registered in Bermuda, Klein Ltd. (Klein), to funnel tens of millions of dollars to a U.S.-based 501(c)(3) private foundation,” which supports various environmental groups. Klein denies this allegation.

Regardless of the conduit for the money, the allegation of funneling appears to be substantial. Indeed, says Freeman, it appears to have been noted by none other than Hillary Clinton:

If a document posted last year on WikiLeaks is to be believed, Clinton campaign staff summarized in an email attachment Hillary Clinton’s remarks on the subject during a private speech:

Clinton Talked About “Phony Environmental Groups” Funded By The Russians To Stand Against Pipelines And Fracking. “We were up against Russia pushing oligarchs and others to buy media. We were even up against phony environmental groups, and I’m a big environmentalist, but these were funded by the Russians to stand against any effort, oh that pipeline, that fracking, that whatever will be a problem for you, and a lot of the money supporting that message was coming from Russia.” [Remarks at tinePublic, 6/18/14]

Freeman suggests that Mnuchin commence his investigation by speaking with Mrs. Clinton, who “obviously knows the terrain.” He also thinks John Podesta would be a useful source.

Podesta is invested in and acts for a “green energy company backed by the Russian government.”

B. The Media Has lost all Credibility, Serving as the semi-official newsroom for the Democratic Party

Just as Fernandez detailed the rise of Samizdat in Russia as the official press was uniformly distrusted, the growth on alternate media in the U.S. is disrupting the old news models .

Our trust hierarchies have collapsed. As with Soviet Russia, the “official” media sources are now distrusted as purveyors “fake news”.  To fill the gap a peer-to-peer grapevine, similar to the “friends and family”, a samizdat is emerging to pick up the slack. Sonya Mann at Inc uses a startup to illustrate the growing division of society into trust groups. “Pax Dickinson wants to fund the revolution. Not a blood-in-the-streets revolution, but one where hardcore right-wingers can economically secede from the parts of society they vehemently dislike. “We need parallel everything. I do not want to ever have to spend a single dollar at a non-movement business.

Nothing so illustrates why the media has  deservedly lost all credibility than it’s unending, overdone effort to fit any action on the part of the President or those around him into a narrative of Russia somehow colluding with him to defeat Hillary. This week’s take was the short meeting his son held with a Russian lawyer in Trump Tower last summer.

The clearest summary of the facts surrounding the meeting with Trump’s son last summer is to be found in The American Spectator.  Scott McKay writes:

[Natalia] Veselnitskaya’s  [The Russian lawyer’s] presence in the United States alone ought to be the source of suspicion that not only is the Trump-Russian collusion narrative suspect in this case but that the real inquiry ought to be into whether the encounter was a small part of a larger attempt to trap the Trump campaign.

The Russian lawyer wasn’t even supposed to be here. She had been denied a visa for entry into the United States in late 2015, but given a rather extraordinary “parole” by the federal government to assist preparation for a client subject to asset forfeiture by the Justice Department. That was in January. The client was Prevezon Holdings, a Russian company suspected of having been paid some portion of $230 million stolen by Russian mobsters. When Sergey Magnitsky a Russian lawyer representing a company that had been the victim of the theft, reported it to authorities in Moscow he was promptly jailed and beaten to death. The American response to this atrocity was the 2012 Magnitsky Act, which sanctioned several individuals connected to human rights abuses. The Russian government retaliated by preventing American adoptions of Russian children.

But in June, she was permitted to fly back to the U.S., have the meeting with Trump Junior  —  at Trump Tower, no less  —  and then end up in the front row for a congressional hearing involving testimony from a former U.S. ambassador to Russia, then turning up at a D.C. showing of a documentary film on the negative effects of the Magnitsky Act, and later appearing at a dinner involving Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and former Rep. Ron Dellums (D-CA) who is now a lobbyist for the Russians. The repeal of that legislation is a priority item for the Russians and a personal project of Veselnitskaya’s; it, rather than any Clinton dirt, was reportedly the primary subject brought forth at the meeting with Donald Trump Jr.

All of this without a visa! Not to mention Veselnitskaya didn’t file a FARA (Foreign Agents Registration Act) document before acting as a lobbyist for a foreign entity, as required by law. Neither, apparently, did Dellums. Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) wrote a fascinating letterTuesday to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asking them to please find out what in the hell Veselnitskaya was doing in this country last June.

And further, it turns out Veselnitskaya was connected to Fusion GPS, the Democrat opposition research firm which employed a former British spy who used Russian contacts to produce the infamous and debunked Pee Pee Dossier smearing Trump. Veselnitskaya hired Fusion GPS head Glenn Simpson to work on behalf of Prevezon, the company she was allowed into the country to represent, in its efforts to repeal the Magnitsky Act. Fusion then hired Christopher Steele, the British spy who drew on Russian sources to produce that dossier, and made him available for private briefings on the dossier with left-leaning media sources such as Mother Jones, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Yahoo! News, the New Yorkerand CNN in September.

Naturally, John McCain is involved  —  if that fact should produce his resignation, all of this will have been worth it.

By the way, there is Veselnitskaya’s social media account, which is decidedly more aligned with the Fusion GPS side of this equation than the Trump side.

And the meeting came about largely due to hyped-up promises made by a publicist for a Russian pop star who was connected to the Trump family from the Miss Universe pageant having been held in Moscow in 2013  —  promises which don’t appear to have been fulfilled. If this whole thing doesn’t look like an old-fashioned dangle to you, then you haven’t watched enough spy movies.

If timelines are interesting to you, there is this  —  reportedly, the Obama administration sought permission to electronically monitor Trump Tower in early June, and the FISA court would not grant it. But in October, that warrant was given. [snip]

And once that meeting  —  which on its surface was a waste of everyone’s time  —  was had, the Obama administration now had something to sell to the FISA court to get that warrant  —  from which they snagged Mike Flynn and gave the Democrat party and the media a mechanism to shroud the Trump administration in what can best be described as a rather dubious scandal. Remember how Hillary Clinton was accusing Trump of being a Putin’s puppet at the October 19 debate?

C. Donald J Trump’s son had every reason to believe that there was evidence of Hillary’s collusion with Russia

If this seems farfetched, consider this Veselnitskaya  was barred from entry to the US until Loretta Lynch granted her an excedptional “immigration parole” to appear in a judicial proceeding; a federal judge considered — but we can find no ruling — her motion  on January 6, 2016,to extend her stay by a week, and then  with no explanation of how this occurred, she was back in the US on June of that year  where she met with Donald J Trump Jr and attended as a front row guest a Congressional hearing on the Magnitsky act which imposed sanctions on Russia.

To add a dash of extra color to the story the media reported that with the lawyer was a “former Russian counter intelligence officer”, Rinat Akhmetshin.  He denies this.

“I am an American citizen since 2009 who pays taxes, earned his citizenship after living here since 1994, and swore an oath of loyalty to the United States of America,”

Kayleigh McEnany in The Hill characterized this as a “conspiracy theory desperately in earch of evidence”.

Bill Clinton had given a $500,000 speech in Russia.  Clinton had given her approval in handing one-fifth of U.S. uranium to Russia, after which her foundation received $2.35 million from the Russian-controlled company.  Suspiciously, Clinton did not disclose the transaction.

Likewise, Clinton campaign chief John Podesta sat on the board of a company that received $35 million from the Russian government alongside fellow board members Anatoly Chubais, a senior Russian official, and Ruben Vardanyan, an oligarch.

Given this context, why wouldn’t Trump Jr. be open to taking a meeting that offered evidence of incriminating Clinton dealings with Russia, particularly when most of the media refused to look into Clinton’s question-raising actions?[snip] We likewise know that several foreign countries known for their human rights violations  —  like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Brunei, and Algeria  —  donated millions to the Clinton foundation, and yet few publications construed their “support” in a negative way.

Taken together, the micro story of Donald Trump Jr. seeking opposition research  —  much like Clinton allies did in their dealings with the Ukrainian government  —  does nothing in the way of proving the macro allegation that the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia in hacking the DNC and releasing Clinton’s illegally obtained emails.

The American people see through this leftist-purveyed Russia conspiracy theory.  That’s why a full 56 percent want Congress and the media to focus on real issues, not Russia.  If the left continues to concoct Russian collusion evidence, they can fully expect for the 2018 congressional elections to look a lot like the special elections in Kansas, Montana, South Carolina, and Georgia  —  Republican victory.  Voters dismiss the salacious in favor of solutions, and as of now, the left have nothing besides an evidence-free smear campaign.

In any event, isn’t it curious that those who claim to consider a meeting to listen to opposition research, bought hook line and sinker the ridiculous-on-its-face Dossier concted by GPS against Trump, a far more likely piece of Russian intel disinformation? Or why they ignore DNC officials meeting with Ukrainian government officials for dirt on then Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.

Politico detailed the many ways the Ukrainians worked to help Hillary beat Trump.  As you might guess, they indicated these efforts were “far less concerted or centrally directed than Russia’s alleged hacking and dissemination of Democratic emails.” Covering with the word “alleged” a smear without any evidence but for the mutterings of Crowdstrike, a private outfit which was the only investigation the DNC allowed , a misstep by the Comey FBI which let this pass.

In any event, Legal commentators on both sides of the aisle have confirmed there was nothing illegal about the meeting.   I suppose we can’t expect much more of a press corps so stupid it mistakes the Star Spangled Banner for France’s La Marseillaise, and Bastille Day for the 100th Anniversary of the U.S. entry in WW I.

You’ll just have to work harder in the face of such ignorance and bias to find out what you need to know.