Posted tagged ‘Washington Post’

No good deed goes unpunished for Israel

September 27, 2017

No good deed goes unpunished for Israel, American Thinker, Michael Berenhaus, September 27, 2017

Even the Syrians who were treated by Israel understand the situation better than the Post.  The article ended with this: “‘At first I was afraid, but then I saw that the treatment was superb,’ the 36-year-old woman said.  ‘We were told they are the enemy, but in reality, they are friends.'”

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Israel courts Syrians with humanitarian aid on border” (9/12/17) is yet another Washington Post article that tells a true, touching story yet spins it 180 degrees because of the paper’s antipathy toward Israel.  Israel takes in its neighbor’s war casualties and is vilified for the deed.  Talk about no good deed going unpunished! 

The article admits that “[m]ore than 600 Syrian children have been bused to Israeli hospitals for treatment in the past year.”  And “Israel has now treated more than 3,000 wounded Syrians, military officials say, though a Syrian medic on the other side of the border said the number traveling for care appeared to be higher.” 

But then there are the digs.  “Israeli officials stress the humanitarian aspect of the program, but it has another aim: to create a friendly zone just inside Syria as a bulwark against Israel’s arch enemy.”  The Washington Post provides no evidence to support this. 

The headline of the second page of the article on A13 reads, “Israeli aid to Syrians is humanitarian and strategic.”  But even according to the Post’s own reporting, “[i]t was in 2013, Israeli military officials say, when the first Syrians approached the Israeli fence on the Golan Heights.”  The Post provides no evidence that contradicts Israel’s official report.  The Post then adds its own spin by saying Israel’s motive for helping the wounded was “strategic.”  In a court of law, such conjecture would be deemed inadmissible.  Further, if the Syrians initiated the plea for help, what does that say about the motivations of the Israeli people?

According to the Post, “Israel has transferred 360 tons of food, nearly 120,000 gallons of gasoline, 90 pallets of drugs and 50 tons of clothing as well as generators, water piping and building material, the IDF says.”  Israel also has given supplies and medical care in areas ranging from as far away as Haiti and most recently Florida (See here.)  Was this also strategic?

 Moreover, is this reporting of Israel consistent with how The Washington Post reports on other countries providing humanitarian aid or disaster assistance?  Or does The Washington Post single out Israel when it comes to this sort of critique?  Without a doubt, the latter!

The Washington Post can’t help but be negative on Israel.  The Post states, “Israel has been in a state of war with its northern neighbor [Syria] for nearly 70 years.”  Hardly!  The truth: Syria and most surrounding Arab or Muslim nations have been at war with Israel for nearly 70 years.

Israel can’t get a break at The Washington Post.  Israel is less than 1% of the Middle East, and the moment it declared independence in 1948, five Arab armies and the local Arabs, now known as Palestinians, attacked the nascent Jewish state with the goal of genocide.  And they didn’t hide that goal!  They bragged about the impending genocide.  Fortunately, the Jewish state won.  Had it not, it would have meant back-to-back Holocausts for the Jewish people.

The Post described a seven-year old girl whose mother said a Syrian “local commander told them to go to Israel” for treatment.  Does this sound like a plot hatched by Israel for disingenuous reasons?

Even the Syrians who were treated by Israel understand the situation better than the Post.  The article ended with this: “‘At first I was afraid, but then I saw that the treatment was superb,’ the 36-year-old woman said.  ‘We were told they are the enemy, but in reality, they are friends.'”

 

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.

The Washington Post Swings and Misses at Jeff Sessions

July 22, 2017

The Washington Post Swings and Misses at Jeff Sessions, Power LinePaul Mirengoff, July 21, 2017

The Post’s sources clearly are out to get Sessions. It’s anyone’s guess whether they are accurately characterizing what the ambassador told his government and the reliability of what he told it.

In any event, the Post and its sources have failed to identify any contradiction between Sessions’s statements about his interaction with the ambassador and what the ambassador supposedly told the Russians about the interaction.

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The Washington Post claims that Attorney General Sessions’ statements about what he discussed with the Russian ambassador are at odds with reports by the ambassador to his government about what he and Sessions discussed. The Post relies on, you guessed it, “current and former U.S. officials.”

But the Post fails to describe a contradiction between what Sessions has said and what the Russian ambassador supposedly reported. Here are the only statements by Sessions cited by the Post and its sources as problematic:

I never had meetings with Russian operatives or Russian intermediaries about the Trump campaign.

I don’t recall any discussion of the campaign in any significant way.

I never met with or had any conversation with any Russians or foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election in the United States.

Here is the Post’s description of what the Russian ambassador told the government:

A former official said that the intelligence indicates that Sessions and Kislyak had “substantive” discussions on matters including Trump’s positions on Russia-related issues and prospects for U.S.-Russia relations in a Trump administration.

Maybe. But even someone with average skill in reading and logic would understand that this description is not inconsistent with Sessions’ denial that he did not discuss the campaign with the ambassador.

It stands to reason that Sessions might discuss Russia-related issues with the Russian ambassador. And Russia-related issues are also campaign-related issues in the sense that Russia was an issue in the campaign.

But what Sessions denied was that he discussed the campaign and any interference by Russia with it. The denial was important because, at the time Sessions made it, the issue Washington fixated on was whether Team Trump sought or knew about Russian help for the candidate, or coordinated with Russia regarding the campaign.

The Post’s piece, by Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima, and Greg Miller, is dishonest. It finds a contradiction where none exists by glossing over the distinction between discussing a “campaign-related issue” — which is any substantive issue raised by any candidate during the campaign season — and discussing the campaign.

Discussing hacking or “opposition research” research with the Russian ambassador would constitute discussing the campaign. Telling the ambassador how the campaign is going or what its strategy is would constituted discussing the campaign. Telling the ambassador — as President Obama told the Russian president — that the candidate would be more flexible with Russia after the campaign would probably be a borderline case.

Simply discussing Russia policy — past, present, or future — is not discussing the campaign.

There is also the question of whether the Russian ambassador was telling his government the truth. The Post admits that “the Russian ambassador could have mischaracterized or exaggerated the nature of his interactions” with Sessions. It notes: “Russian and other foreign diplomats in Washington and elsewhere have been known, at times, to report false or misleading information to bolster their standing with their superiors or to confuse U.S. intelligence agencies.”

The Post adds, however, that the Russian ambassador “has a reputation for accurately relaying details about his interactions with officials in Washington.” Maybe. But I’m not inclined to take the word of the “deep state” on this. I suspect there are “current and former officials” who would grant the Russian ambassador sainthood if it meant embarrassing the Trump administration.

The Post’s sources clearly are out to get Sessions. It’s anyone’s guess whether they are accurately characterizing what the ambassador told his government and the reliability of what he told it.

In any event, the Post and its sources have failed to identify any contradiction between Sessions’s statements about his interaction with the ambassador and what the ambassador supposedly told the Russians about the interaction.

President Trump in Poland

July 6, 2017

President Trump in Poland, Power LinePaul Mirengoff, July 6, 2017

President Trump’s visit to Poland — a great U.S. ally and a nation with strong personal links to ours — has become the latest pretext for Trump bashing by the U.S. media. The Washington Post (paper edition) tells us, darkly, that Trump “shares ideological affinities” with Poland’s right-wing ruling party. In particular, he shares its aversion to immigration by Muslims and its combative relationship with the press.

The Post also suggests that the visit is a slap in the face of European allies, especially Germany, who are estranged to some degree from the current Polish government. In addition, it tells us that Trump picked Poland because the ruling party will be able to bus in cheering crowds from rural areas. The folks in Warsaw are too sophisticated to like Trump, the Post assures its readers.

Thus, Trump’s visit to Poland serves as a perfect confluence of anti-Trump talking points. He’s a right-winger; he’s anti-Muslim; he’s anti-free press, he’s against the European alliance; he depends on rubes for support; he’s an egomaniac in search of adoring crowds.

But one key anti-Trump talking point cannot be enlisted — the bogus Trump-Putin collaboration theme. As the Post gets around to acknowledging, grudgingly, very late in its story:

Poland also remains a strategically critical European nation that is particularly sensitive to the threat of rising Russian power. Despite Trump’s efforts to pursue warmer relations with Putin, the Polish government expressed optimism that Trump remains committed to the security of Central and Eastern Europe.

“It’s important that the president will be there and he will hopefully confirm again the U.S. commitment to NATO and to our cooperation,” said Piotr Wilczek, Poland’s ambassador to the United States. “For us, his visit to Poland before meeting with President Putin sends a very strong message.”. . .

“Poles were really afraid that it would be President Trump having a very successful summit with President Putin and sitting at the table together with Putin and making divisions or [establishing] a new order for this part of the world — that was a real threat here,” said Michal Kobosko, director of the Atlantic Council’s Warsaw office. “This has not materialized yet, so Poles are looking with some optimism toward Trump.

(Emphasis added)

Actually, the opposite seems to be materializing. In the speech President Trump delivered today in Poland, he reaffirmed the bond between the United States and its European allies, calling their pact as “strong as ever.”

In fact, he expressly affirmed his commitment to Article 5, the collective security provision of the NATO treaty. Trump stated: “The United States has demonstrated not merely with words, but with its actions, that we stand firmly behind Article 5, the mutual defense commitment.”

These are the magic words, the absence from which in some Trump speeches has given the mainstream media fits. Yet, its presence in this speech doesn’t get a mention until the back half of the Post’s story.

In addition, Trump rebuked Russia:

We urge Russia to cease its destabilizing activities in the Ukraine and elsewhere and its support for hostile regimes, including Syria and Iran, and instead join the community of responsible nations in our fight against common enemies and defense of civilization itself.

This too isn’t mentioned until relatively late in the Post’s report. By then, the Post has complained about the speech’s “dark nationalism,” the supposed Trump rift with Germany, and even his unwillingness to say with certainty that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

The “darkness” of Trump’s speech is actually its virtue. Trump stated:

The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive. Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost? Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?

If Trump’s critics were serious about countering Russia and defending Europe, they would be asking the same questions (with the possible exception of the one about immigration, at least as applied to the U.S.). The left can’t have it both ways. It can’t be the case both that no one is out to subvert or destroy our civilization and that we must maintain our commitment to defending Europe, while obsessing over the Russian threat.

And after the Poland visit, it can’t be the case that Trump is under the sway of Putin. It’s still early in his presidency, but so far Trump is, I think, the hardest-line U.S. president on Russia/the Soviet Union since Ronald Reagan.

President Obama was the least hard-line.

Hugh Fitzgerald: No Room at the Inn for an Iftar Dinner

June 26, 2017

Hugh Fitzgerald: No Room at the Inn for an Iftar Dinner, Jihad Watch

The Washington Post has reported — drop a ready tear — that there will be no Iftar Dinner this year in the White House:

For the first time in nearly two decades, Ramadan has come and gone without the White House recognizing it with an iftar or Eid celebration, as had taken place each year under the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations.

And the article by Amy Wang attempts to suggest that the “tradition” of the Iftar Dinner goes all the way back to Thomas Jefferson who, as is well known, was asked by a visiting Muslim envoy of the Bey of Tunis, one Sidi Soliman Mellimelli,  to postpone the dinner to which Jefferson had invited him, along with others, until after sundown, which Jefferson, as a matter of courtesy, did.

The Post continues:

Jefferson’s decision to change the time of the meal to accommodate Mellimelli’s [the envoy from the Bey of Tunis] observance of Ramadan has been seized on by both sides in the 21st-century debate over Islam more than 200 years later. Historians have cited the meal as the first time an iftar took place in the White House — and it has been referenced in recent White House celebrations of Ramadan as an embodiment of the Founding Father’s respect for religious freedom. Meanwhile, critics on the far right have taken issue with the characterization of Jefferson’s Dec. 9, 1805, dinner as an iftar.

Notice how in the Post article it is “historians” (disinterested, authoritative, not to be doubted) who cite that 1805 meal as the first Iftar dinner in the White House,  while those who deny that the meal was an “Iftar dinner” are described as being on the “far right,” apparently for no other reason than that very denial.

What actually happened is clear for those without an insensate need to make Islam, as Barack Obama has repeatedly  claimed it was, “always part of America’s story.” And you can be as left-wing as all get out, and still recognize that Jefferson was not putting on an Iftar dinner. A little history will help:  Mellimelli came to Washington as the envoy of the Bey of Tunis. The Americans had blockaded the port of Tunis, in order to force the Bey to halt his attacks on American shipping. Mellimelli was sent to make an agreement that would end the blockade. Invited by Jefferson to a dinner at the White House set for 3:30 (dinners were earlier in those pre-Edison days of our existence), he requested that it be held after sundown, in accordance with his Muslim practice, and Jefferson, a courteous man, obliged him. There is no hint that the dinner had changed in any way; no one then called it, or thought of it, as an “Iftar dinner.” Mellimelli himself did not describe it as an “Iftar dinner.” There is no record of it being anything other than the exact same dinner, the same menu, with wine (no removal of alcohol as would be necessary were it a real Iftar dinner), the only change being that of the three-hour delay until sunset. Nothing Jefferson said or did at the time, or in his later writings,  indicates that he thought of that delayed dinner as an “Iftar dinner”; nor did he think he was in any way honoring Islam.

In fact, Jefferson had a very dim view of Islam, which came out of his experience in dealing with the Barbary Pirates, that is, the North African Muslims (in Morocco, Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli), who attacked Christian shipping and seized ships and Christian sailors, and then demanded ransom. The sums were not trivial; the American Republic found itself spending 20% of its national budget on such payments. These continued until Jefferson became President, stopped the practice of paying such tribute, and instead made war on the Barbary Pirates. And that worked.

In 1786, years before he became president, Jefferson, along with John Adams, met with the Tripolitanian envoy Sidi Haji Abdrahaman in London.  Perhaps by then Jefferson had read the Qur’an he had purchased in 1765 out of curiosity (no one knows how much of that Qur’an Jefferson  may have read, or when, though some Muslim apologists have baselessly claimed he must have bought his Qur’an out of sympathetic interest in Islam.) If he did read it,  it would have helped him to understand the motivations of the North African Muslims. Certainly by the time he became President in 1801, he was determined not to negotiate with the Barbary Pirates, but to implacably oppose with force these Muslims whom, he knew from his encounter with Abdrahaman in London, were permanently hostile to all non-Muslims.

In London, Jefferson and Adams had queried the Tripolitanian ambassador “concerning the ground of the pretensions to make war upon nations who had done them no injury” for the Americans had done nothing to deserve being attacked, and the ambassador replied, as Jefferson reported:

“It was written in their Koran, that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every mussulman who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to paradise.”

And later, Jefferson reported to Secretary of State John Jay and to Congress at greater length, with a nearly identical quote from the ambassador:

“The ambassador answered us that [the right] was founded on the Laws of the Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have answered their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every Mussulman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.”

These reports do not sound as if they came from someone who thought well of Islam. The more dealings Jefferson had with the representatives of the Barbary states, and the more he learned from them directly of the tenets of the faith, the more he began to understand the aggressive nature of Islam, the centrality of Jihad, the inculcation of permanent hostility toward non-Muslims, and the heavenly reward for Jihadis slain in battle.

The Iftar dinner “tradition” begins not with Jefferson in 1805, and that three-hour delay in a meal that was otherwise unchanged, but with our latter-day interfaith outreach presidents — Clinton, Bush, Obama — each of whom, in his own way, has managed to ignore or misinterpret the texts and teachings of Islam.

That “tradition” of Iftar dinners in the White House is less than 20 years old, as compared with the other “tradition,” ten times as long, that is, the 200 years of Iftar-less presidencies. That short-lived “tradition”  has been ended, for now, by an administration that, for all of its self-inflicted wounds and woes in other areas, continues to exhibit a better sense of what Islam, foreign and domestic, is all about, than its predecessors, and has no desire to obliquely honor it.

The interfaith outreach farce that the Iftar Dinner at the White House embodies, honoring Islam — while, all over the world, every day brings fresh news of Muslim atrocities against non-Muslims, more than 30,000 such attacks since 9/11/2001 alone, not to mention attacks as well  against other Muslims deemed either of the wrong sect, or insufficient in the fervor of their faith — now comes to an end, if only for four years. That is certainly what Jefferson (and John Adams, and that most profound presidential student of Islam, John Quincy Adams), if not The Washington Post, would have wanted.

And since John Quincy Adams has been mentioned, why doesn’t The Washington Post take it upon itself to share with its readers what that most scholarly of our presidents wrote about Islam. It does not date. And it might prove most instructive.

An Epidemic of Lawlessness

June 24, 2017

An Epidemic of Lawlessness, Power LineScott Johnson, June 24, 2017

Taking the story at face value, we can conclude that the Post and its sources have done great damage to the national security of the United States. The Post attributes the leaks on which the story is based to “three dozen current and former U.S. officials in senior positions in government, including at the White House, the State, Defense and Homeland Security departments, and U.S. intelligence services. Most agreed to speak only on the condition of anonymity…”

Again, taken at face value, the story buries this bombshell. Three dozen current and former U.S. officials in senior government positions have undertaken a campaign of gross lawlessness for their own purposes undermining the national security of the United States beyond anything Vladimir Putin can do.

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Yesterday’s Washington Post carried the Russia story of the day. Post reporters Greg Miller, Ellen Nakashima and Adam Entous purport to deliver the goods on “Obama’s secret struggle to punish Russia for Putin’s election assault.” It’s a long, long story that is of interest from a variety of perspectives.

The Post purports to give us the inside story on the collection of intelligence on Russian interference in the presidential election and serve up the apologetics explaining the Obama administration’s passive response. Based on highly classified intelligence related to the Post, the CIA discovered Russian interference in the election while it was in process within months of the election in the last year of the Obama administration. According to the CIA intelligence, the interference came on the order of Vladimir Putin and furthered Putin’s desire to aid the election of Donald Trump as president.

The Post dates the critical intelligence “bombshell” obtained by the CIA to August 2016. The Post reports that CIA Director John Brennan deemed it so confidential that he withheld it from the President’s Daily Brief and conveyed it directly in writing to Obama by hand delivery.

The intelligence provided Obama administration officials plenty of time to do foil Putin’s plans. Indeed, administration officials concocted plans to punish and deter Russia from interference. The Post reports that “Obama administration secretly debated dozens of options for deterring or punishing Russia, including cyberattacks on Russian infrastructure, the release of CIA-gathered material that might embarrass Putin and sanctions that officials said could ‘crater’ the Russian economy. But in the end, in late December, Obama approved a modest package” (emphasis added). In other words, President Obama declined to take any action while it might still have done some good.

One might infer from story that President Obama “colluded” with Putin to defeat Hillary Clinton and elect Donald Trump. One might support the inference with Obama’s own comment open mic comment to Dmitri Medvedev that during Obama’s second term he would have more “flexibility” to cooperate with Putin.

To be fair, we might consider the explanation that Obama was just a pusillanimous pussy disinclined to protect the interests of the United States from our enemies. Perhaps Obama’s passivity was overdetermined and several of the possible explanations apply. Certainly some explanation beyond any offered by the Post’s sources is called for. The possibilities are endless.

By contrast, however, the Post’s reportage offers no evidence of Trump’s “collusion” with the Russian interference intended to assist Trump’s election. Zero. Nada. Not even by inference.

Perhaps evidence of Trump “collusion” is beyond the scope of the Post’s story. If the Post had obtained such evidence from its numerous sources, however, it would be in the story.

So far as I can tell, sophisticated commenters on the story take it at face value and consider it on the terms presented by the Post. See, for example, David French’s NRO column and Tom Rogan’s Examiner column.

The story comes complete with this revelation: “Obama also approved a previously undisclosed covert measure that authorized planting cyber weapons in Russia’s infrastructure, the digital equivalent of bombs that could be detonated if the United States found itself in an escalating exchange with Moscow. The project, which Obama approved in a covert-action finding, was still in its planning stages when Obama left office. It would be up to President Trump to decide whether to use the capability.”

I’m sure Putin is grateful for the heads-up from the Post. You don’t have to be a CIA officer of analyst to figure that out.

Now like much of the Post story, this is a piece of highly classified intelligence whose disclosure violates the oaths of those who gave it to the Post. The violation of a solemn oath by a witness is commonly taken to detract from the credibility of the witness’s testimony. Consider, moreover, that the Post did not place its sources were not under oath when they confided in Greg Miller, Ellen Nakashima and Adam Entous. The intelligent reader would be well within his rights not to believe a word they say.

If we believe it, however, this pertinent fact should be added. The disclosure of highly classified intelligence by government officials seriously violates the espionage laws of the United States. It is in all likelihood felonious several times over in the case of each of the Post’s numerous anonymous sources.

The Post and its reporters are accomplices to the crimes committed by their sources. They have disseminated highly classified intelligence to the enemies of the United States — as the left has lately discovered Putin and Russia to be.

Taking the story at face value, we can conclude that the Post and its sources have done great damage to the national security of the United States. The Post attributes the leaks on which the story is based to “three dozen current and former U.S. officials in senior positions in government, including at the White House, the State, Defense and Homeland Security departments, and U.S. intelligence services. Most agreed to speak only on the condition of anonymity…” As for the requirement of anonymity imposed by the Post’s sources, see the paragraph above.

Again, taken at face value, the story buries this bombshell. Three dozen current and former U.S. officials in senior government positions have undertaken a campaign of gross lawlessness for their own purposes undermining the national security of the United States beyond anything Vladimir Putin can do.

Obstruct This (2)

June 16, 2017

Obstruct This (2), Power Line, Scott Johnson, June 16, 2017

(I am reminded of the little optimist whose bedroom his parents had filled with horse manure on Christmas Eve while he was sleeping. Early in the morning, he was found joyfully digging through it, sure that there must be a pony somewhere in the pile. — DM)

The investigators have no evidence of Trump campaign coordination with Russia and, if it is possible, they have even less cause to believe there was a bribe (for the coordination that did not happen), and less still to believe the bribe (that there’s no reason to believe happened) was conveyed in a deceptive manner that amounted to a felony money-laundering violation.

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Today’s word from anonymous, unnumbered “official sources” — that is some deep cover they’ve got going there — to Washington Post reporters Sari Horwitz, Matt Zapotosky and Adam Entous (count ’em) goes like this:

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is investigating the finances and business dealings of Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, as part of the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

FBI agents and federal prosecutors have also been examining the financial dealings of other Trump associates, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Carter Page, who was listed as a foreign-policy adviser for the campaign.

The Washington Post previously reported that investigators were scrutinizing meetings that Kushner held with Russians in December — first with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and then with Sergey Gorkov, the head of a state-owned Russian development bank. At the time of that report, it was not clear that the FBI was investigating Kushner’s business dealings.

The officials who described the financial focus of the investigation spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

Let’s pause here for a brief moment with Professor Glenn Reynolds. Glenn translates the journalese for the untutored reader. “Not authorized to speak” means “unprofessional” and/or “illegal.”

Round about paragraph seven the Post reporters concede this much:

Mueller’s investigation is in a relatively early phase, and it is unclear whether criminal charges will be brought when it is complete.

Now this is rich. We have no evidence of wrongdoing by the president or his campaign. By contrast, however, the air of criminality injected by “official sources” and their media conduits itself constitutes a gross form of wrongdoing.

Again, however, translation is required. Here we can draw on the expertise of former Assistant United States Attorney Andrew McCarthy, whose translation also addresses the parallel New York Times version of the leak (“A former senior official said Mr. Mueller’s investigation was looking at money laundering by Trump associates. The suspicion is that any cooperation with Russian officials would most likely have been in exchange for some kind of financial payoff, and that there would have been an effort to hide the payments, probably by routing them through offshore banking centers”):

Allow me to translate. The investigators have no evidence of Trump campaign coordination with Russia and, if it is possible, they have even less cause to believe there was a bribe (for the coordination that did not happen), and less still to believe the bribe (that there’s no reason to believe happened) was conveyed in a deceptive manner that amounted to a felony money-laundering violation.

Get it? In the absence of an evidentiary predicate for a criminal investigation, a bunch of smart lawyers are theorizing that if there had been some kind of collusion, there might have been a money trail. On that pretext, they have moved on to a new crime they speculate, but have no evidence, may have occurred. This enables them to start poking around people’s banking records, business ledgers, tax returns and the like.

Inevitably, it will be forgotten that there was no evidence of the collusion, of the bribery for the collusion, or of the money laundering for the bribery for the collusion – i.e., no evidence supporting the rationale for the fishing expedition. Instead, Mueller’s team will be on to theorizing financial irregularities that have utterly no connection to Russia, the election, collusion, or anything that the investigation was supposed to be about in the first place.

We have entered a zone of what Hunter Thompson would call deep weirdness. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — the man responsible for Mueller’s appointment and supervision of the investigation — issued this statement Thursday night:

Americans should exercise caution before accepting as true any stories attributed to anonymous “officials,” particularly when they do not identify the country — let alone the branch of agency of government — with which the alleged sources supposedly are affiliated. Americans should be skeptical about anonymous allegations. The Department of Justice has a long established policy to neither confirm nor deny such allegations.

Well, thanks. We’re cynical out here in flyover country without the advice. The last thing we need from Rosenstein is this particular encouragement. We need him to raise holy hell to find out who’s doing what under his nose.