Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Maximum Bob Has A Big Report Coming, But It May Not Be What You Think It Is

T.J. KIRKPATRICK FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES
The Intertubes have been afire over stories on the imminent release of a big report from Robert Mueller.   
It is widely assumed that this is the (drum roll, please!) eagerly anticipated final report as dictated by Department of Justice regulations, which require that at the conclusion of Mueller's investigation he will "provide the Attorney General with a confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions reached by the Special Counsel."  The attorney general is now William Barr, whom Donald Trump nominated because he hopes Barr will dig a hole and bury the report.   
The online conflagration was stoked by stories from NBC News, CNN and The Washington Post to the effect that their sources are being told Mueller could send his final report to Barr as early as next week, but none of the stories even hint at what the report will say.  
The WaPo story had the obligatory anonymous "adviser to Trump" source who said there "is palpable concern among the president's inner circle that the report might contain information about Trump and his team that is politically damaging, but not criminal conduct." 
Because I read that quote at night and not over breakfast, I was not able to blow coffee through my nose.  (Beer would not have worked.)  Since when has anything damaged Trump politically?  Two fricking years of revelations about all the contacts that Trump campaign officials and advisers had with Russians, some of them surely with Trump's knowledge, have failed to damage him politically in any significant way and still won't even if he is named by Mueller as an unindicted co-conspirator. 
Meanwhile, the CNN story was supplemented with kibbles from its Maximum Bob stakeout team such as "On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday last week, special counsel's office employees carried boxes and pushed a cart full of files out of their office — an unusual move that could foreshadow a hand-off of legal work." 
Portraying clerks pushing carts as an "unusual move" beggars belief, so until the news hounds come up with something more definitive than coffee grounds making interesting patterns at the bottoms of their newsroom mugs, I'm going to suggest that the real imminent release of a report will be anticlimactic but -- alas for the president and his sycophancy -- nevertheless a scene from their worst nightmare. 
That would be a thoroughgoing Paul Manafort sentencing memo due on Friday that Barr can't touch. 
The best-case scenario for the good guys is that Mueller will lay out in the sentencing memo in damning detail the former Trump campaign chairman's collusion with Russian spy Konstantin Kilimnik, specifically the sharing of inside campaign polling data as ammo for Vladimir Putin's cyberespionage of Hillary Clinton, as well as backchannel leaks to the White House through one of Manafort's lawyers as he set about breaking his plea agreement by lying through his teeth in hopes of securing a presidential pardon.   
And if perchance the memo is heavily redacted, it would be to protect aspects of Mueller's ongoing investigation into other Trump campaign perps that may lead to what Marcy Wheeler calls an "overarching conspiracy indictment." 
Marcy is the doyen of Russia scandal watchers and writes with unimpeachable (ouch!) good sense at emptywheel that such an indictment would lay out
[H]ow Trump and his spawn entered into a quid quo pro with various representatives of the Russian government, getting dirt on Hillary and either a Trump Tower or maybe a bailout for the very same building in which Manafort met with Kilimnik on August 2, 2016.  In exchange for all that, Trump agreed to — and took steps to deliver on . . . reversing the sanctions that were such a headache to Russia's oligarchs. 
Meanwhile, Mueller also has loose ends to wrap up.   
His prosecutors are involved in several subpoena fights, notably one involving a foreign state-owned mystery bank that has worked its way up to the Supreme Court, and I just don't see him dropping that ball.  
All this by way of saying that final report may remain a ways off. 

Click HERE for a comprehensive timeline of the Russia scandal
and related developments.    

3 comments:

Laura in IA said...

What you say about Trump's base continues to be scary. I only know a few people personally who back him and they seem to be doubling down in their support to him!

Dan Leo said...

As a few-times-a-week skimmer of Breitbart News I would humbly predict that nothing in Mueller's report will mean anything to Trump's base, because to them Mueller is part and parcel of (to adapt a Hillary phrase) a vast left-wing conspiracy to destroy Trump's presidency. Rationality is not an operative term for these people.

michael fahey said...

The barrenness of Donald Trumps human profile has now been demonstrated beyond debate. His total lack of humanity is an established historical and psychological archetype, never seen in public on these shores.But for me the Biggest takeaway of this Trump Era is that like a pH test he has scientifically and undeniably revealed the True State of The Union. This 40% are head scratchers. This is not a small slice of America.I think one can safely assume that they see the issues facing us as a nation through their "gut" and not a lens that is at all rational. There are many equivalents. How does all the visceral and objective evidence of climate change still get denied? How many mass killings would it take for some change?...Apparently a lot more. And on and on.
SO, after now conceding the point that a political product like Trump can be sold to 4 in ten...what to do? What not to do is to forget that 60% is still a winning hand. Let us not forget that last November we witnessed what happens when there is a rock ribbed, boots on the ground, door knocking performance by outraged and motivated women. That energy did not end after that election. What is disturbing in the present..is a fearful hand-wringing over not running a candidate "too far to the Left" , that is blowing my mind. It is a given that Hilary was not a great candidate and her brain trust made some bad strategic decisions. Then add all the Russian help and things that were happening for the first time. All of that and she still had over 3 million more votes. Now, 8,000+ lies and Mueller , how do you see any Democrat losing? It will not happen . So, could we get real, grow a pair, and March to The Sea like Sherman...because this is a Civil War and this battle must and will be won. Future voters need to be rigorously taught the Constitution and let my generation of horrible white men go to the grave with the comfortable ethics that have allowed this abomination to strut about.....forcing this nation into looking at itself in a mirror that does not lie: we have problems. Winning in 2020 is only a first step in a process that will not be easy or quick. Maybe the Chinese are onto something...those re-education camps are looking better.