Archive for the ‘Hillary Clinton and Russia’ category

Nothing Burger With Wheeze

October 31, 2017

Nothing Burger With Wheeze, Amerian Greatness, October 31, 2017

 

It’s a carnival of corruption, a carnival of collusion, but the one name missing from the roster of malefactors is that of President Donald Trump. I believe this whole misbegotten investigation, in the end, will garner a lot of scalps. But the scalps will not, I suspect, be those of Trump or his supporters. Rather, the whole focus of the investigation is likely to shift to the real “colluders with Russia,” the Clintons and their enablers.

This is not a result, I surmise, that Robert Mueller will relish. But if he does not recuse himself (and there are good reasons that he should), I suspect that evidence of the real collusion—to deprive the United States of its lawfully elected president—will point in only one direction. It will be irresistible. And it won’t be directed against Donald Trump.

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Given the ocean of blaring red type with which the Drudge Report greeted the news of the indictment of Paul Manafort and Richard Gates on Monday morning, you might have thought that here, at last, was the smoking gun in the Trump-colludes-with-Ruskies-to-snatch-the-election-from-Hillary narrative. I have no doubt the collective hearts of Max Boot, Gabe Schoenfeld, and Bill Kristol skipped a joyous beat when they heard tell of the indictments this weekend. “At last!” I could almost hear them exclaim, “It’s make-way-for-ducklings time! Trump will soon be gone and the power brokers will once again pay attention to us. Order in the universe will be restored.”

No such luck, friends. As Ted Cruz observed many months ago, the whole Russian collusion delusion is a “nothing burger.” Robert Mueller’s heavy-handed “let’s-squeeze-’em” pursuit of these two former players in Donald Trump’s campaign may make for dramatic headlines. And doubtless, it is a nuisance (and potentially more) for Messrs. Manafort and Gates, who, if they have incompetent lawyers, may face jail time and extensive fines. But really, at the end of the day, their alleged malfeasance, despite the “Conspiracy against the United States” heading in the indictment, amounts to concealing from Uncle Sam some $75 million they hoovered up as unregistered foreign agents for Ukraine and sending the proceeds through the rinse, suds, spin, and dry cycle back home in the United States. Naughty, yes; prosecutable, to be sure; but it has nothing to do with the assigned subject of Robert Mueller’s terrier-like activities as special counsel.

As my friend Andrew C. McCarthy put it in a characteristically incisive summary of the episode, Mueller’s case “seems shaky and overcharged” and will likely be a “boon to Trump,” who is not mentioned in the indictment, which focuses on activities that took place five and even 10 years ago, long before Donald Trump began disturbing the sleep of the NeverTrumpers.

“Even from Paul Manafort’s perspective,” McCarthy notes,

there may be less to this indictment than meets the eye — it’s not so much a serious allegation of “conspiracy against the United States” as a dubious case of disclosure violations and money movement that would never have been brought had he not drawn attention to himself by temporarily joining the Trump campaign.

Moreover, McCarthy continues, “From President Trump’s perspective, the indictment is a boon from which he can claim that the special counsel has no actionable collusion case.”

It appears to reaffirm former FBI director James Comey’s multiple assurances that Trump is not a suspect. And, to the extent it looks like an attempt to play prosecutorial hardball with Manafort, the president can continue to portray himself as the victim of a witch hunt.

A few days ago, the world was stunned by the news that 1) the original funder of the Fusion GPS anti-Trump research was the conservative website Washington Free Beacon, edited by Matthew Continetti, the son-in-law of energetic NeverTrumper Bill Kristol, and 2) when the Beacon ended its contract with Fusion GPS, its services were picked up by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC. It was at that point, in May-June 2016, that Fusion GPS employed the former British Spy Christopher Steele to look for dirt on Trump in Russia. That was the origin of the infamous “Trump Dossier,” with its (in the words of former FBI director James Comey) “salacious and unverified” claims about Donald Trump’s behavior in Russia.

This whole story has been exhaustively and exhaustingly picked over. Who knew that Tony Podesta, older brother of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, was in bed (and in today’s climate, we must stipulate, not literally) with Paul Manafort? Yep, it’s true. And this just in—the elder Podesta has just announced that he is stepping down from his lobbying firm, the Podesta Group, after, nota bene, it was announced that Mueller was turning his jaundiced eye on him.

Who knew that the FBI, too, engaged the services of Spook Steele to continue gathering dirt on Trump? Did that work provide the rationale for the Obama Administration’s going to the FISA Court to get authorization to bug Trump’s associates? What about Robert Mueller? He was head of the FBI when that storied agency was prevailed upon not to announce it was investigating the Russian company that acquired Uranium One, and thereby some 20 percent of U.S. Uranium assets, back when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state and Barack Obama was still pursuing his “reset” with Russia. What’s going on there? And the $140 million (give or take) that found its way into the coffers of the Clinton Foundation around the time of that transfer? Or the $500,000 speaking fee for a short speech by Bill Clinton, paid by a Russian bank working for the Russian company acquiring Uranium One? What about that?

It’s a carnival of corruption, a carnival of collusion, but the one name missing from the roster of malefactors is that of President Donald Trump. I believe this whole misbegotten investigation, in the end, will garner a lot of scalps. But the scalps will not, I suspect, be those of Trump or his supporters. Rather, the whole focus of the investigation is likely to shift to the real “colluders with Russia,” the Clintons and their enablers.

This is not a result, I surmise, that Robert Mueller will relish. But if he does not recuse himself (and there are good reasons that he should), I suspect that evidence of the real collusion—to deprive the United States of its lawfully elected president—will point in only one direction. It will be irresistible. And it won’t be directed against Donald Trump.

Implausible Deniability

October 29, 2017

Implausible Deniability, American ThinkerClarice Feldman, October 29, 2017

The aftermath of the 2016 election has revealed the criminality of the Democrats, the perfidy of the Deep State, the corruption of the press, and the bought and paid for motives of the scribblers in the conservative pundit class. And Trump won despite all that. In many ways it reminds me of a Soviet operation called The Trust. If you missed Reilly — Ace of Spies, Edward Jay Epstein describes how the Soviets created a fake anti-Soviet group called The Trust and used it to nab dissidents plotting to overthrow the regime.

Fusion GPS’ dossier was a replay of a classic Soviet disinformation campaign.

“The Trust was not an anti-Soviet organization, it only imitated one.” In reality, he continued, the Trust was a creature of the Soviet secret police. Its purpose was not to overthrow Communism, but to manipulate real anti-communist organizations into misleading the West.

In much the same way, I believe, Russian agents working for the Clintons and the DNC through Fusion GPS and its hireling Christopher Steele provided fake information in a dossier which the FBI (headed by James Comey) and the Department of Justice (headed by Loretta Lynch ) used to craft an affidavit to obtain a FISA warrant authorizing electronic surveillance on people connected, however tangentially, to the Trump campaign. This, after previous such warrants had — and this is unusual — been turned down by the FISA court. Then-president Obama allowed the surveilled communications to be widely circulated throughout the government, so that the names of the targets caught up in the surveillance and their communications were thus widely available for leaking, and were leaked.

As Byron York noted in a series of tweets, here were some of the dossier’s sources:

1/6 — Looking at dossier itself, sure seems Kremlin-linked Russians were participating in anti-Trump effort…

2/6 — For example, dossier Source A is described as ‘senior Russian Foreign Ministry figure.’

3/6 — Dossier Source B is described as ‘former top level Russian intelligence officer still active inside the Kremlin.’

4/6 — Dossier Source C is ‘senior Russian financial official.’

The Trust was funded by émigrés who believed it was legit. And the Russian anti-Trump phony dossier was, we now know, funded by the Clinton campaign and the DNC, which would have us believe that their lawyer Marc Elias, who received over $9 million for unspecified work, did this without their consent or knowledge.

(Fusion GPS was also funded during the nomination period — and before Fusion GPS and Steele were poking around Russia, by Washington Free Beacon, something that it — like Elias — admitted shortly before a likely court ruling that Fusion’s bank account information had to be provided to congressional investigators.) In any event, their work with Fusion GPS ended with the nomination of Trump. They had nothing to do with the hiring of Fusion GPS and the creation and distribution of the dossier.

The Washington Free Beacon is a right-of-center publication, and certainly has done some fine work in the past, but its links to the anti-Trump crowd of the right is unmistakable. The publication is largely funded by hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer, who strongly supports gay rights and open borders. Among its original board members were Bill Kristol, and both the present editors, Michael Goldfarb (formerly deputy communications director for John McCain) and Matthew Continetti (Kristol’s son-in-law) both worked for the Weekly Standard while Kristol was its editor. Kristol, as you may recall, worked hard to promote others to run against Trump for the nomination. Singer financially supported Marco Rubio for the nomination. His aide, Dan Senor, was a senior advisor to vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan and reportedly retains strong ties to him.

I seriously doubt that any candidate Paul Singer would prefer could ever have won the general election. Singer strongly opposed both Ted Cruz and Trump.

The dossier was a means for the Russians at no cost the them to provide the Democrats with disinformation to be used against Trump.

Mollie Hemingway at The Federalist does the most thorough job of clearing the air on the dossier

Space and copyright limitations keep me from quoting more of it, but here are theten things about the dossier Hemingway thinks you should know:

 “1) Russian officials were sources of key claims in dossier”

“2) No, the Russian dossier was not initially funded by Republicans”

“3) The dossier is chock full of discredited information”

“4) The dossier was used as a basis for wiretaps on American citizens”

5) The FBI also paid for the dossier

…When Trump asked about the FBI payment, many political journalists feigned shock and outrage that he would make such a claim.

They should not have. Their outlets had already reported that the FBI had tried to pay for the dossier and had, in fact, reimbursed expenses for the dossier. We do not know if those expenses include the payments to the Russian officials for salacious stories on Republican nominee for president Trump.

6) Dossier publisher Fusion GPS works with shady outfits”

7) Fusion GPS’ ties to media are problematic

The principals at Fusion GPS are well-connected to mainstream media reporters. They are former journalists themselves, and know how to package stories and provide information to push narratives. They are, in fact, close friends with some of the top reporters who have covered the Russia-Trump collusion story.

Fusion GPS has placed stories with friendly reporters while fighting congressional investigators’ attempts to find out the group’s sources of funding. Fusion GPS leaders have taken the Fifth and fought subpoenas for information about the group’s involvement with Russia.

8) Jim Comey personally briefed Trump on the dossier, shortly before CNN reported it

What really got the ball rolling on last year’s Russia-Trump conspiracy theory, then, was not the dossier itself but the briefing of it by Obama intelligence chiefs to President-elect Trump in January. Former FBI head Jim Comey admitted under oath that former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper asked him to personally brief President Trump about this dossier. The fact of that meeting was quickly leaked to CNN.

Given the dossier’s many problems, was the entire purpose of the meeting to produce the leak that the meeting happened?

9) Mueller investigation spurred by dossier and illegal leaks from intelligence operatives about Trump.

We know from previous reporting that the dossier of Russia-supplied information or disinformation was used by the FBI to secure a warrant to spy on an American citizen advising an opposing political party’s presidential campaign. We know that this dossier was funded at least in part by the Clinton campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and the FBI. The firm that produced the report was itself funded by Russians.

10) The Steele dossier was a Clinton/DNC-funded operation supported by the FBI and influenced heavily by Russian operatives in the Kremlin The Clinton campaign, the DNC, and the FBI all worked wittingly or unwittingly with Russians to affect the results of the 2016 election. Far from just meeting with a Russian and not getting dirt on a political opponent, these groups wittingly or unwittingly paid Russian operatives for disinformation to harm Trump during the 2016 election and beyond.

Worse, these efforts perverted our justice system by forcing the attorney general to recuse himself for the crime of having served as a surrogate on the Trump campaign, spawning a massive, sprawling, limitless probe over Russia.[/quote]

Fusion GPS was also doing work directly for the Russians, which makes its claims doubly suspect:

You see, the Russian lawyer — often carelessly presented as a “Russian government lawyer” with “close ties to Putin” — Natalia Veselnitskaya, who met with Trump, [sic — actually it was Donald Trump, Jr.] also worked recently with a Washington, D.C. “commercial research and strategic intelligence firm” that is also believed to have lobbied against the Magnitsky Act. That firm, which also doubles as an opposition research shop, is called Fusion GPS—famous for producing the Russia dossier distributed under the byline of Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent for hire.[snip]

Yet at the same time that Fusion GPS was fueling a campaign warning against a vast Russia-Trump conspiracy to destroy the integrity of American elections, the company was also working with Russia to influence American policy — by removing the same sanctions that Trump was supposedly going to remove as his quid pro quo for Putin’s help in defeating Hillary.Yet it is rare to read stories about comms shops like Fusion GPS because traditional news organizations are reluctant to bite the hands that feed them. But they are the news behind the news—well known to every D.C. beat reporter as the sources who set the table and provide the sources for their big “scoops.” The ongoing transformation of foundering, profitless news organizations into dueling proxies for partisan comms operatives is bad news for American readers, and for our democracy. But it is having a particularly outsized effect on reporting in the area of foreign policy, where expert opinion is prized—and easily bought—and most reporters and readers are only shallowly informed.

The record clearly belies the Clinton-DNC (Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and John Podesta) claim that they didn’t know about the dossier.

In the first place, it is impossible to believe that they handed over $9 million to their lawyer without restriction or oversight. (Yes, I know the Department of State under then-secretary Clinton cannot account for $6 billion dollars, but this was their money, not ours, and I expect they paid more serious attention to it.) Once the bills are turned over to investigators, we’ll see who signed off on them. And we’ll find out soon whether Fusion was listed as a vendor in campaign-finance filings as the law requires.

Interestingly enough, one of Elias’ partners engaged Crowd Strike, ostensibly to review the claim that the DNC server had been hacked by Russia, and Comey’s FBI accepted their review without ever demanding to examine it themselves.

Daniel Greenfield once again does a fine job of analyzing the use made of the dossier and why Fusion GPS was engaged to dish the dirt.

The DNC, Hillary campaign and Obama Administration used former British intelligence agent Fusion GPS’ Christopher Steele as an interface to create deniability, allowing them, in effect, to launder the dossier and create a pretext for snooping on Trump and publicizing whatever dirt they might dig up on his campaign no matter how incredible the sources and product.

Hiring Fusion GPS and then Steele created two degrees of separation between the dossier and Hillary. A London ex-intel man is a strange choice for opposition research in an American election, but a great choice to create a plausible ‘source’ that appears completely disconnected from American politics. [snip]

The official story is that Steele was a dedicated whistleblower who decided to message an FBI pal for reasons “above party politics” while the Fusion GPS boss was so dedicated that he spent his own money on it after the election. Some figures in the FBI decided to take Steele’s material, offering to pay him for his work and reimbursing some of his expenses. Portions of the dossier were used to justify the FISA eavesdropping on Trump officials and were then rolled into the Mueller investigation. [snip]

But there isn’t supposed to be a link between the Democrats and the eavesdropping.

That’s why Marc Elias, the Clinton campaign and DNC lawyer who hired Fusion GPS, had denied it in the past. It’s why Fusion GPS fought the investigation so desperately. Opposition research isn’t a crime. A conspiracy to eavesdrop on your political opponents however is very much a criminal matter.

A forensic examination of the dirty dossier’s journey shows us that this modern Watergate was a collaborative effort between an outgoing Democrat administration and its expected Dem successor.

Greenfield details how the dossier was used to astroturf and create a demand for an investigation, which ultimately resulted in Sessions’ recusal and the appointment of a special counsel. He reminds us that the Obama administration had done such stuff before, spying on congressional opponents on the Iran Deal. (Recall how that spying was used to tar Congresswoman Jane Harmon); giving money to non-profit organizations to spur the media coverage, whispering tidbits to complaisant media shills, and smuggling billions to Iran. And, as he notes, there was the IRS shutdown of conservative groups (for which they finally apologized this week) and the lies about Libya.

Notably, when they thought the Russia “collusion” fairytale was not gathering enough steam, Steele personally briefed David Corn, the same propagandist who confected the story that Valerie Plame was a covert agent deliberately targeted by the Bush Administration as payback against her husband Joe Wilson.

But even more damning is the fact that Hillary herself started tweeting about the dossier shortly after GPS was hired — even though she claims she knew nothing about it.

The first FISA request was made in June and was turned down. In July Fusion GPS was hired. According to James Comey, the FBI began investigating “collusion” reports in July of 2016, Beginning on August 15, Hillary started tweeting about Trump and Russia. She tweeted again on September 7, September 26, October 7, October 25, October 31. The second request was made in October. It was on October 31 when Corn, now atMother Jones “broke the story of a ‘veteran spy’ who gave the FBI information on Trump’s alleged connections to Russia.” It wasn’t until Buzz Feed published the dossier that we could see how preposterous the story was. Mother Jones was just a small part of the media collaboration in spreading the manure — Slate worked it also, and larger outlets got involved.

Former CIA case officer Lee Smith reveals how shoddy was the dossier:

The dossier was designed to dig up “dirt” on Trump and his associates, but, more to the point, it was clearly intended from the start to do so by manufacturing and nurturing a Russian angle. It sought to discredit Donald Trump and to deceive the public, which suggests that Trump has been right all along regarding something like a conspiracy against him which included the active participation of the FBI and possibly other national security agencies.

The president also comes across as credible vis-à-vis his critics because of what has become evident since the dossier was surfaced. The clearly politically motivated multiple investigations carried out so far in which no rock has been unturned have come up with absolutely nothing, either in the form of criminal charges or in terms of actual collusion with a foreign government. And, one might add, there has been little in the way of evidence to sustain the charge that Russia sought to influence the election and might even have succeeded in doing so. But there is one thing new that we do know now: Russiagate began within the Clinton Campaign headquarters.

Trey Gowdy tweeted: “Did FBI rely on a document that looks like the National Enquirer prepared it?” Looks that way. Andrew McCarthy at National Review tweets “Trump DOJ should declassify & disclose FISA app to show what representations were made to court about source of dossier claims.”

That seems uncontestable.

 

How Much Did Mueller and Rosenstein Know about Uranium One?

October 19, 2017

How Much Did Mueller and Rosenstein Know about Uranium One? American ThinkerDaniel John Sobieski, October 19, 2017

Back in July, I called for a criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s collusion with Russia to turn over control of 20 percent of our uranium supplies to Russian interests in return for some $145 million in donation to the Clinton Foundation. Now it turns out that there was one, an FBI investigation dating back to 2009, with current Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller up to their eyeballs in covering up evidence of Hillary’s collusion, bordering on treason, with Vladimir Putin’s Russia:

Prior to the Obama administration approving the very controversial deal in 2010 giving Russia 20% of America’s Uranium, the FBI had evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were involved in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering in order to benefit Vladimir Putin, says a report by The Hill….

John Solomon and Alison Spann of The Hill: Federal agents used a confidential U.S. witness working inside the Russian nuclear industry to gather extensive financial records, make secret recordings and intercept emails as early as 2009 that showed Moscow had compromised an American uranium trucking firm with bribes and kickbacks in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, FBI and court documents show….

From today’s report we find out that the investigation was supervised by then-U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein, who is now President Trump’s Deputy Attorney General, and then-Assistant FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who is now the deputy FBI director under Trump.

Robert Mueller was head of the FBI from Sept 2001-Sept 2013 until James Comey took over as FBI Director in 2013. They were BOTH involved in this Russian scam being that this case started in 2009 and ended in 2015.

If evidence of bribery, kickbacks, extortion, and money laundering in the Uranium One affair are not grounds for a special prosecutor assigned to investigate Hillary Clinton, what is? Rosenstein and Mueller, by their silence on this investigation hidden from Congress and the American people, are unindicted co-conspirators in Hillary’s crimes and should be terminated immediately.

One can understand the Obama Justice Department covering up and slow-waking this investigation, but what about the Trump DOJ and our missing-in-action Attorney General Jeff Sessions? Was this the reason Democrats were hot-to-trot on him recusing himself from all things Russian? How could Rosenstein sit before Congress and not say anything, only to appoint Mueller to investigate Team Trump? Rosenstein and Mueller are poster children for duplicity and corruption.

Collusion itself is not a crime but jeopardizing American national security by conspiring to supply the Russian nuclear program with our uranium is a crime of the highest order. No one to date has provided any evidence that any favor was granted as a result of that meeting or that the Trump campaign benefited in any way from the meeting.

One cannot say the same thing about Hillary Clinton and her role in the Uranium One deal with Russia. Clinton played a pivotal role in the UraniumOne deal which ended up giving Russian interests control of 20 percent of our uranium supply in exchange for donations of $145 million to the Clinton Foundation. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a federal crime. As Clinton Cash author Peter Schweitzer has noted:

Tuesday on Fox Business Network, “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” Breitbart editor at large and the author of “Clinton Cash,” Peter Schweizer said there needs to be a federal investigation into the Russian uranium deal then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s State Department approved after the Clinton Foundation receiving $145 million from the shareholders of Uranium One…

Discussing the Clinton Foundation receiving $145 million from the shareholders of Uranium One, he continued, “Look, there are couple of things that are extremely troubling about the deal we touched on. number one is the amount of money $145 million. We are not talking about a super PAC giving a million dollars to support a candidate. We are not talking about campaign donations. We are talking about $145 million which by the way is 75 percent or more of the annual budget of the Clinton Foundation itself so it’s a huge sum of money. Second of all we are talking about a fundamental issue of national security which is uranium — it’s not like oil and gas that you can find all sorts of places. They are precious few places you can mine for uranium, in the United States is one of those areas. And number three we are talking about the Russian government. A lot of people don’t realize it now, in parts of the Midwest American soil is owned by Vladimir Putin’s government because this deal went through. And in addition to the $145 million Bill Clinton got half a million dollars, $500,000 for a 20-minute speech from a Russian investment bank tied to the Kremlin, two months before the State Department signed off on this deal. It just stinks to high heaven and I think it requires a major investigation by the federal government.”

Yet seemingly the only thing warranting a major federal investigation is a wasted 20 minutes of Donald Trump Jr’s life that he will never get back. Democrats and the media and, again, apologies for the redundancy, had no problem with Bill Hillary Clinton brokering deals giving Russia and Putin 20 percent of our uranium supply to benefit Clinton Foundation donors, including Canadian billionaire Frank Giustra.

Giustra earlier had a cozy relationship with Bill Clinton and participated in and benefitted from his involvement in a scam run by the Clinton Foundation in Colombia.

Clinton donor Giustra benefited significantly from his association, even if the people of Columbia didn’t:

When we met him (Senator Jorge Enrique Robledo) in his wood-paneled office in Colombia’s Capitol building in May, his desk was stacked high with papers related to Pacific Rubiales’s labor practices, the result of years of investigative work by his staff. He did not see the Clinton Foundation and its partnership with Giustra’s Pacific Rubiales as either progressive or positive. “The territory where Pacific Rubiales operated,” he said, thumbing through pages of alleged human-rights violations, “was a type of concentration camp for workers.”…

In September 2005, Giustra and Clinton flew to Kazakhstan together to meet the Central Asian nation’s president. Shortly thereafter, Giustra secured a lucrative concession to mine Kazakh uranium, despite his company’s lack of experience with the radioactive ore. As Bill Clinton opened doors for Giustra, the financier gave generously to Clinton’s foundation.

As the New York Times reported, this mutual back-scratching gave Clinton donor Giustra control of a significant portion of the world’s uranium supply:

Late on Sept. 6, 2005, a private plane carrying the Canadian mining financier Frank Giustra touched down in Almaty, a ruggedly picturesque city in southeast Kazakhstan. Several hundred miles to the west a fortune awaited: highly coveted deposits of uranium that could fuel nuclear reactors around the world. And Mr. Giustra was in hot pursuit of an exclusive deal to tap them.

Unlike more established competitors, Mr. Giustra was a newcomer to uranium mining in Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic. But what his fledgling company lacked in experience, it made up for in connections. Accompanying Mr. Giustra on his luxuriously appointed MD-87 jet that day was a former president of the United States, Bill Clinton…

Just months after the Kazakh pact was finalized, Mr. Clinton’s charitable foundation received its own windfall: a $31.3 million donation from Mr. Giustra that had remained a secret until he acknowledged it last month. The gift, combined with Mr. Giustra’s more recent and public pledge to give the William J. Clinton Foundation an additional $100 million, secured Mr. Giustra a place in Mr. Clinton’s inner circle, an exclusive club of wealthy entrepreneurs in which friendship with the former president has its privileges…

In February 2007, a company called Uranium One agreed to pay $3.1 billion to acquire UrAsia. Mr. Giustra, a director and major shareholder in UrAsia, would be paid $7.05 per share for a company that just two years earlier was trading at 10 cents per share.

Now isn’t that special? Both the Clintons and their donor made out handsomely. Uranium One, which was gradually taken over by the Russians, would later be involved in a curious deal involving Hillary Clinton when she was Secretary of State. As the New York Times reported:

At the heart of the tale are several men, leaders of the Canadian mining industry, who have been major donors to the charitable endeavors of former President Bill Clinton and his family. Members of that group built, financed and eventually sold off to the Russians a company that would become known as Uranium One.

Beyond mines in Kazakhstan that are among the most lucrative in the world, the sale gave the Russians control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States. Since uranium is considered a strategic asset, with implications for national security, the deal had to be approved by a committee composed of representatives from a number of United States government agencies. Among the agencies that eventually signed off was the State Department, then headed by Mr. Clinton’s wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well…

Soon, Uranium One began to snap up companies with assets in the United States. In April 2007, it announced the purchase of a uranium mill in Utah and more than 38,000 acres of uranium exploration properties in four Western states, followed quickly by the acquisition of the Energy Metals Corporation and its uranium holdings in Wyoming, Texas and Utah.

So in exchange for donations, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, along with husband Bill, gave Vladimir Putin’s Russia, a nuclear power, control of 20 percent of the world’s uranium supply. Is that what Hillary Clinton meant by a “Russian reset”? Yet neither Congressional Democrats, who accuse Trump and his son of being too cozy with Moscow, nor their wholly owned subsidiary, the mainstream media, are eager to talk about the Clinton uranium deals with Russia.

Actually, we no longer need an investigation of Hillary Clinton and Uranium One. This FBI investigation in conjunction to what we already knew is prima facie evidence of criminal corruption and intentionally putting of American national security at risk for personal financial gain. If an indictment of Hilary Clinton is not forthcoming, then Jeff Sessions should also be fired.

Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.

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.

Obama, Russia, The Election, and A Visitor From Mars

December 11, 2016

Obama, Russia, The Election, and A Visitor From Mars, PJ Media, Claudia Rosett, December 10, 2016

(But Obama says his Administration is the most transparent in history.

You can see right through him. — DM)

So, as chance would have it we are currently hosting a newly arrived visitor from Mars, who has been avidly following the headlines. Having studied our world for some time, he is intrigued by the news, as reported first by the Washington Post on Friday: “Secret CIA assessment says Russia was trying to help Trump win White House.”

This is the story in which U.S. “officials” told the Post it is “now ‘quite clear’ that electing Trump was Russia’s goal.” Earlier in the week, according to White House spokesman Eric Schultz, President Obama “instructed the intelligence community to conduct a full review of the pattern of malicious cyber activity related to our presidential election cycle.” Obama wants this report completed and submitted to him before the end of his term, Jan. 20 — now less than six weeks ahead.

Since this story broke, we have been trying to field questions from our inquisitive Man from Mars, who seems oddly disinclined to take things at face value. (We think our visitor is a he, so I’ll proceed on that assumption, though we have not inquired about gender identification).

I’m sharing below some excerpts from our chat. For convenience, I’ve abbreviated “Man from Mars” as MFM. Our replies, I am attributing simply to “Us.”

MFM: This is shocking news about Russia, but surely meddling in America’s elections is not new. What were the findings of the deep-dive report produced at speed by the Obama administration, its concerns leaked in advance to the press, over the effects, starting early in his first term, of the IRS targeting conservative groups?

Us: There was no such report. There were congressional hearings in which a prominent witness from the IRS took the Fifth. There were tussles over destroyed hard drives, emails not turned over, or some turned over long after the deadlines, and this year brought news that the targeting may still be going on — see Kim Strassel’s May 19 column in the Wall Street Journal on the “The IRS’s Ugly Business as Usual.”

MFM: But wasn’t Obama deeply worried that this targeting might silence a lot of conservatives, skew public debate and warp America’s political process?

Us: Nah. In 2014, Obama in a TV interview dismissed it all as nothing worse than “bone-headed decisions,” saying there was “not even a smidgen of corruption.” So much for that.

MFM: OK. But what about the deep-dive report Obama demanded, urgently, prior to the 2012 presidential election, to shed light on his own administration’s lies about the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi. You remember, all that “messaging” about an ad hoc mob, and blaming the “video.” That sure looked like Obama was trying to mislead the American public in order to bolster his campaign line that “the tide of war is receding,” plus his administration’s claims that leading-from-behind in Libya was a success. I mean, there were four Americans murdered, including — as I discern from your Earth records — the first American ambassador killed on the job in 33 years. Obama, who had the authority to send help directly to Benghazi, never did. What does Obama’s urgently ordered, in-depth and surely impartial report tell you about what Obama himself was doing that night?

Us: Get real. Obama was hardly likely to order an all-out urgent investigation of himself and his team, especially during the final weeks of his reelection campaign. He was already booked to go to Vegas, he needed his sleep. Anyway, by the morning after the Benghazi attack, the damage was already done. So — as somebody-or-other told Congress — “What difference, at this point, does it make?”

MFM: Right-o. I can see that a president needs his sleep. But I’m still puzzled over these latest news stories that imply President Obama thinks Russia is an enemy trying to subvert the United States. Yes, but…wasn’t Obama a buddy of Vladimir Putin?

Us: Well, yes. But only for the first six or seven of Obama’s eight years in office. There was Obama’s chummy 2009 “Reset” with Russia — you remember that mislabeled red button Hillary Clinton presented to Russia’s foreign minister. Obama threw in, as a bit more swag for Putin, the gift of shelving missile defense plans for Eastern Europe. And when NATO missile-defense plans became a sore point with the Kremlin during Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, there was that open-microphone moment in which Obama was caught promising Putin’s sidekick, Dmitry Medvedev, “After my election I will have more flexibility.” To which Medvedev replied, companionably, “I will transmit this information to Vladimir, and I stand with you.” Pretty friendly, actually. But, hey, dude, that was like four years ago.

MFM: Fair enough. But wasn’t there a bit more to it?

Us: OK, yeah, but let’s not get too bogged down in the past. There was Obama’s 2013 red line in Syria over chemical weapons, which he erased by way of basically turning over the Middle East to Putin — and, of course, to Iran. And of course there was the case that same year of Edward Snowden, the guy who fled the U.S. with a trove of National Security Agency secrets. After a quick sojourn in Hong Kong, Snowden washed up as Putin’s guest in Russia, where Putin has not gotten around to sending him back. Obama apparently didn’t like that, but he didn’t let a transient thing like wholesale plundering of the NSA, or Moscow’s asylum for the plunderer, interfere with buddying up to Moscow to clinch the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.

MFM: Well, at least when Putin snatched Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, Obama made him give it back.

Us: Umm, actually, no, he didn’t. Russia now owns Crimea, has roughed up more of Ukraine and seems to be eyeing the Baltics. Though Obama did impose sanctions on Russia, which Putin didn’t like.

MFM: And those sanctions, of course, stopped Russian aggression and put Putin back in his box?

Us: Would you like more coffee?

MFM: Thanks. You Earth people have such nice customs.

Us: Coffee’s even better with sugar, not salt. Try it.

MFM: Wow. Who knew? Which brings me to just a few more questions. In the stories this week about the urgent report Obama has ordered — following up on conclusions reached secretly with “high confidence” by U.S. “intelligence agencies” that Russia acted covertly to promote Donald Trump over Hillary — why are all the official sources anonymous? I see a couple of officials quoted by name, commenting on the need for such a report, including Obama’s counterterrorism and homeland security adviser, Lisa Monaco, who had breakfast recently with some reporters. But the whole thing seems based on specifics which the press has attributed only to anonymous “officials briefed on the matter,” or officials “who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.”

Us: Look, this is delicate stuff. The intel guys have to worry about exposing sources, and there are clearly big secrets involved. Check out the cloak-and-dagger stuff in the penultimate paragraph of the Washington Post story, telling how administration officials briefed select members of Congress, in ” a secure room in the Capitol used for briefings involving classified information.” That ought to tell you just how extremely secret and classified this stuff is.

MFM: Call me an idiot, but how secret is an assessment that has details of its contents leaked to one of America’s major newspapers, including the sweeping conclusion that, as one nameless “senior U.S. official” told the Post, “Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected.” Isn’t Obama, with his concerns for the integrity of state secrets, trying frantically to stop these anonymous officials from leaking these secrets to the press? Haven’t people lower down the food chain gone to prison for leaking classified information?

Us: Yes, but as you say, those jailbirds were lower down the food chain. Maybe Obama doesn’t know who exactly is leaking this information to the press. As you say, they’re anonymous.

MFM: Give me a break. If these anonymous officials have it right about Russia’s cyber abilities, I’d bet the Russians already know who these same anonymous officials really are. Surely Obama could find out. If he can’t find out direct, maybe he could order U.S. intelligence to steal the information from the Russians? Can’t he order up another urgent report, to get to the bottom of who’s leaking some of the state secrets that inspired him to order up the original urgent report?

Us: Enough already. You may know plenty about Mars, but you’ve got a lot to learn about White House politics under Obama.

MFM: Speaking of Mars, we Martians love conspiracy theories. There’s lots here that we don’t know, but all this leaking seems tilted toward delegitimizing the victory of Donald Trump, even before he takes office. I mean, how does someone defend himself, when accusations are all over the headlines, conveyed by anonymous officials, while the actual basis for these stories is officially secret? Is that what Obama meant when he promised to run the most “transparent” administration ever?

Us: Give it a rest. U.S. elections are sacred to our democracy, and if anyone — and we mean anyone — tries to fiddle them, we have to get to the bottom of it.

MFM: Calm down. I’m just curious. If the Russians did try to intervene, by hacking and flooding the public with emails humiliating to Hillary and the Democrats, but not to Trump, then did Trump have any control over this? Wasn’t it the responsibility of Obama to protect the country, and the election, from any such intrusions?

Us: You’ve been reading too much fake news. Obama’s a busy guy. He’s been trying for years to control the level of the oceans. He can’t cover everything.

MFM: And if the Russians, emboldened by Obama’s reset and flexibility and vanished red lines, did actually try to tip the 2016 American election, did they succeed? Did it make a difference?

Us: Look, please stop with the questions. We’re just the little guys here. Normal Americans. We don’t have time to read reams of emails dumped out by anybody. We come home tired from our day jobs. Or we’ve been reading about the wealth and fashions of the liberal elite, and the fat pensions of the federal bureaucracy, while we work the part-time night shifts, and look for any extra income we can scrounge up.

I’ll tell you what we read during the recent presidential campaign. We read the letter that arrived a week before the election, from our health insurance company, informing us of the double-digit rate hike slated for our premiums, yet again. We read about the terrorist attacks — in Paris, Nice, San Bernardino, Orlando — inspired or linked to ISIS, the “JV team” that was expanding its murderous reach while Obama was still boasting about killing Osama bin Laden. We listened to Obama exhorting people to vote for Hillary, in order to cement and extend his legacy. We listened to Hillary denouncing tens of millions of Americans as “deplorables.” Did Russia make her do that?

MFM: Don’t ask me. I’m from Mars.

Us: We get it. But watch out. If you keep asking questions like these, someone’s going to report you as part of a Russian plot. Speaking of… enough with the coffee. It’s gonna take more than caffeine to get through these next six weeks. Ever tried vodka?

How Clinton’s National-Security Cluelessness Emboldened Putin

November 4, 2016

How Clinton’s National-Security Cluelessness Emboldened Putin, Center for Security Policy, Fred Fleitz, November 4, 2016

whatmeworry

Joby Warrick and Karen DeYoung authored an important column for the Washington Post yesterday in which they tried to explain Hillary Clinton’s supposed feud with Russian President Vladimir Putin.  According to Warrick and DeYoung, when Clinton left the State Department in 2013, she advised President Obama to snub Putin, avoid working with him and turn down any invitations by Putin for a presidential summit.

Clinton also counseled Obama that “strength and resolve were the only language Putin would understand.”

Clinton’s advice reflected her frustration that the so-called U.S.–Russia reset she attempted in 2009 went nowhere. Instead, U.S.–Russian relations deteriorated drastically while Clinton was Secretary of State and Russia engaged in destabilizing and belligerent behavior in Ukraine and Syria.

Clinton’s recommendation that President Obama snub Putin goes to the heart of her foreign-policy incompetence. While the United States obviously does not condone Russia’s foreign adventurism and support for the genocidal Assad regime, Russia is nevertheless a major power with the world’s largest nuclear arsenal, thus Washington must maintain an ongoing dialogue with Moscow, especially at the head of state level. Despite the bashing Donald Trump has endured from the Clinton campaign and the mainstream media for supposedly admiring Putin, Trump seems to understand this since he has called for America to find a way to work cooperatively with Russia.

Trump gave his best response to Clinton’s criticism of him over Russia and Putin at the last presidential debate on October 9 when he said that “Putin has outsmarted her at every step of the way. From everything I see he has no respect for this person [Clinton].”

Clinton’s call to snub Putin ignores the reality that our country frequently must deal with many regimes accused of violating international law and having abysmal human rights records.

For example, China’s active oppression of Tibet and Xinjiang is far worse than anything Putin has done in Ukraine. China also has significantly increased international tensions by its naval maneuvers to seize control of the entire South China Sea. If Clinton believes the United States must shun Russia because of its human rights record and aggressive behavior, why did she not also call for China to be shunned?

And of course there is Cuba and Iran. The Obama administration decided to ignore both countries’ abysmal human rights records because it wanted to strike historic agreements – normalization of relations with Cuba and the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran – with both states.    The world sees these agreements for what they really are: American hypocrisy and appeasement.

Making this worse was Clinton’s advice that “strength and resolve were the only language Putin would understand.” I agree, but it is laughable that such a weak Secretary of State representing one of the weakest presidents in history would say this. Putin never sensed resolve or strength from the Obama administration or Clinton.

Instead of strength and resolve, the Obama administration’s Russia policy has consisted of fecklessness and confusion. President Obama and Secretaries of State Clinton and Kerry constantly issued ultimatums and endorsed sanctions in response to Russia’s intervention in Ukraine and support for the Assad regime. These actions undermined America’s credibility since Russia ignored them and Washington failed to back them up.

At the same time the Obama administration was condemning Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, it was simultaneously trying to engage it as a partner to negotiate the nuclear deal with Iran and has tried to work with Russia on the Syrian crisis.  This obviously undermined the Obama administration’s efforts to isolate Russia over Ukraine. But even worse, Russia exploited both situations to expand its influence with these countries and throughout the Middle East at America’s expense.

There was a good example of the Obama administration’s toothless Russia policy in September 2016 when Secretary of State Kerry told Moscow after it ignored a two-week old U.S.–Russia Syria cease-fire plan by stepping up airstrikes on the Syrian city of Aleppo that the United States would cease Syria talks with Russia if it continued to violate the cease-fire.  In a joint statement, Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham perfectly captured the absurdity of this threat.

Finally, a real power move in American diplomacy. Secretary of State John “Not Delusional” Kerry has made the one threat the Russians feared most – the suspension of U.S.-Russia bilateral talks about Syria. No more lakeside tête-à-têtes at five-star hotels in Geneva. No more joint press conferences in Moscow. We can only imagine that having heard the news, Vladimir Putin has called off his bear hunt and is rushing back to the Kremlin to call off Russian airstrikes on hospitals, schools, and humanitarian aid convoys around Aleppo. After all, butchering the Syrian people to save the Assad regime is an important Russian goal. But not if it comes at the unthinkable price of dialogue with Secretary Kerry.

Warrick and DeYoung cite officials who claim Putin dislikes Clinton because of policy differences and her condemnation of Russian elections.  Many experts have claimed this may be why Russia could be behind the WikiLeaks disclosures of Clinton campaign and DNC emails.  Although I don’t doubt Putin dislikes Clinton, I believe his aggressive policies and possible interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election are in response to his perception of American weakness under the Obama administration and have little to do with any personal animus toward Hillary Clinton.

The overall consequences of the failed Obama/Clinton/Kerry failed approach to Russia are much more alarming. In recent years there have been significant improvements in Russia’s nuclear ballistic missile arsenals, drastically improved air and missile defenses, and hardened shelters against nuclear attacks, apparently in preparation to survive a nuclear war. Russia also has stepped up economic, cyber, information and intelligence warfare against the United States to undermine American security and create a new global order.

The Center for Security Policy addresses these issues in a new book, Putin’s Reset: The Bear is Back and How America Must Respond.  This series of essays I edited by nine U.S. national security experts — Dr. Stephen Blank, Kevin D. Freeman, Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., Dr. Daniel Gouré, Cliff Kincaid, Roger W. Robinson, Jr, David Satter, Dr. Mark B. Schneider, and Dr. J. Michael Waller — document how the threat from Russia is growing as it gears up, at best, for a do-over of the Cold War. And at worst, how Russia is creating what the Soviets used to call “a correlation of forces” that will enable the Kremlin to engage decisively in actual hostilities against the United States.

The bottom line in this book is that the cluelessness of President Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry undermined American credibility to such an extent that it emboldened Putin’s belligerent and destabilizing behavior.

Strength and resolve are the only language Putin understands.  We haven’t seen that from the Obama administration. I am certain we would not see in in a Clinton presidency.

I am hopeful that Donald Trump, if he wins the 2016 presidential election, will launch a new U.S. approach to Russia that deals with Russia from a position of strength and restores a relationship of trust and respect between Moscow and Washington.

Clinton Cash Revisited, National Security Edition

November 4, 2016

Clinton Cash Revisited, National Security Edition, PJ MediaRoger Kimball, November 4, 2016

shhh

And people worry that Donald Trump had a few nice things to say about Vladimir Putin.  The Clintons, to feather their own nest, have actually empowered him. Extraordinary. Despicable. Disqualifying.

***************************

Back in May, I had the opportunity to see a screening of Clinton Cash, the documentary based on Peter Schweizer’s  book of the same title. I wrote about it in this space here.  Now that the commentariat is finally beginning to catch up with reality — at last count, there were five, count ’em five, FBI investigations into the machinations of the money factory known as the Clinton Foundation — I thought it might be worth briefly revisiting the subject.

In May, I asked my readers: “Are you worried about ‘money in politics’?” If so, I suggested that they “Stop the car, get an extended-stay room, and take a long, hard look at the Clintons’ operation for the last sixteen years.”

 The Associated Press estimated that their net worth when they left the White House in 2000 was zero (really, minus $500K). Now they are worth about $200 million.

How did they do it? By “reading The Wall Street Journal” (classical reference)?

Not quite. The Clintons have perfected pay-to-play political influence peddling on a breathtaking scale. Reading Clinton Cash [which I recommend] is a nauseating experience.

At the center of the book is not just a tale of private greed and venality. That is just business as usual in Washington (and elsewhere). No, what is downright scary is way the Clintons have been willing to trade away legitimate environmental concerns and even our national security for the sake of filthy lucre.

It’s this last item that’s most worrisome.  That the Clintons are a greedy, money-hoovering machine has been clear since they left the White House with cartloads of swag in tow (the exact amount is disputable: that they did so is not). There are some who say her mishandling of classified material is no big deal — it’s  just a technicality, who really cares? Can’t we put this behind us? Can’t we move on? At this point what difference does it make?

Well, there used to be such people.  If they still exist, they are scarce on the ground now.  Thanks to Wikileaks and some recent FBI revelations, it is now clear that Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified material was no casual act of inadvertence. It was not, as she at first claimed with false naiveté, done simply as a matter of convenience by someone who was technically ill-informed and maladroit.

No, the whole process was a thoroughly calculated tactic. Given what we know now, there is something slightly nauseating about watching clips of Clinton lie when asked about her emails.  One classic is this clip, in which, when asked about whether she wiped her server she said coyly “Like with with a cloth or something?” She knew all about wiping servers, since her IT guys employed a sophisticated tool called Bleach Bit to do the job. (The company even uses an image of Hillary Clinton at their web page.)

Scrutinize Clinton’s performance in this clip. In a way it’s quite masterly.  Watch how she coolly modulates between impatience, naiveté, evasion, and outright lies.  We turned over the server, she says, what more can we do?  “We turned over everything that was work related, every single thing.”

We now know (well, we’ve always known, but now we really do know) that assertion is a lie — not just an untruth, but a deliberate lie.

It’s hard to know what is the most brazen thing about her behavior.  Turning over a server for investigation after having it professionally wiped is a candidate for the prize.  But for my money the most outrageous thing was responding to a Congressional subpoena by destroying 33,000 emails. (Andy McCarthy lays out the whole story with his customary clarity here.)

The revelation by the FBI last week that material that could be “relevant” to the Clinton email investigation had been found on a laptop shared by Clinton aide Huma Abedin and her estranged husband, amateur photographer and penpal to pubescent multitudes Anthony Weiner, propelled the story to a new and vertiginous stage. Apparently, we are talking about 650,000 emails. How many had to do with yoga routines? How many concerned State Department business?  How many did Anthony Weiner see or share?  These are just a few of the questions prompted  by this ever more bizarre story.

The really amazing thing about the Clintons’ greed is how cavalier it has made them about national security issues. “Oh, that’s just a despicable right-wing talking point,” I sometimes here. Well, here’s what that well known right-wing publication The New York Times had to say in a long and devastating story about the how the Clintons sold out some twenty percent of American uranium assets to a Russian company controlled by Vladimir Putin. “At the heart of the tale,” the Times reported:

… are several men, leaders of the Canadian mining industry, who have been major donors to the charitable endeavors of former President Bill Clinton and his family. Members of that group built, financed and eventually sold off to the Russians a company that would become known as Uranium One.Beyond mines in Kazakhstan that are among the most lucrative in the world, the sale gave the Russians control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States. Since uranium is considered a strategic asset, with implications for national security, the deal had to be approved by a committee composed of representatives from a number of United States government agencies. Among the agencies that eventually signed off was the State Department, then headed by Mr. Clinton’s wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Worried yet? It gets worse:

As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well.And shortly after the Russians announced their intention to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One, Mr. Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock.

And people worry that Donald Trump had a few nice things to say about Vladimir Putin.  The Clintons, to feather their own nest, have actually empowered him. Extraordinary. Despicable. Disqualifying.