Category Archives: FAKE NEWS

Social media is ripping apart society

Former Facebook exec: Social media is ripping apart society
www.fastcompany.com

Facebook’s former vice president for user growth Chamath Palihapitiya recently gave a talk at the Stanford Graduate School of Business that’ll probably make you think twice about your social media use (via the Verge). The entire talk is well worth a watch, but some of his most prominent remarks included:

  • That he feels “tremendous guilt” about Facebook. “I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works.”
  • “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we’ve created [including the hearts, likes, and thumbs up of various social media channels] are destroying how society works.” He added, “[There’s] no civil discourse, no cooperation; [only] misinformation, mistruth. And it’s not an American problem–this is not about Russians ads. This is a global problem.”
  • Regarding an incident in which seven innocent men in India were lynched after a hoax about kidnappings spread through WhatsApp: “That’s what we’re dealing with. And imagine taking that to the extreme, where bad actors can now manipulate large swathes of people to do anything you want. It’s just a really, really bad state of affairs.”
    Unsurprisingly, when it comes to social media, his children “aren’t allowed to use that shit.”
    MG

 

3 MEDIA SCREW-UPS IN 1 WEEK!

The media’s Russia probe meltdown: 3 screw-ups in one week – Axios
www.axios.com

Rep. Trent Franks announced his immediate resignation on Friday, after saying Thursday he would be resigning effective January 31st after admitting he’d raised the topic of surrogacy with several of his staffers.

“Last night, my wife was admitted to the hospital in Washington, D.C. due to an ongoing ailment. After discussing options with my family, we came to the conclusion that the best thing for our family now would be for me to tender my previous resignation effective today,December 8th, 2017.”

Meanwhile… (same week)

CNN Botches Major ‘Bombshell’ Alleging Contacts Between Don Jr. And WikiLeaks
dailycaller.com

CNN misreported key details of an offer made to Donald Trump Jr. last year of a batch of stolen Wikileaks documents.

The story, which CNN published on Friday and covered extensively on TV, was touted as the first evidence that the Trump campaign was given a heads-up about documents stolen from Democrats.

But the story appears to have been riddled with errors, while also lacking key context.

Perhaps the most jarring error in the CNN report is the date on which Trump Jr. was sent the email. The network reported that a person named Mike Erickson emailed Trump Jr. and others on the Trump campaign on Sept. 4, 2016, with a link to Wikileaks documents as well as a decryption key to access them.

The email also offered access to emails that had been stolen from former Sec. of State Colin Powell, according to CNN.

But a copy of the email provided to The Daily Caller shows that Erickson sent the email on Sept. 14.

That date is significant because WikiLeaks had released a batch of stolen documents on Sept. 13. The group touted its release of the DNC documents, which were published by Guccifer 2.0.

The email shows that Erickson messaged Trump Jr. stating that “Wikileaks has uploaded another (huge 678 mb) archive of files from the DNC.”

“It is too big for me to send you by e-mail attachments, but you can download it yourselves,” he added, providing a link to the same website cited by Wikileaks the day before.

He also included a link to a decryption key that could be used to access the documents.

The Washington Post first reported on the true date and wording of the Erickson email.

The site that Erickson linked to leads to a page where a file with the same file name referenced in the Wikileaks tweet could be downloaded.

Powell’s emails were also published online on Sept. 13. DC Leaks, a group that has been affiliated with the Russian government, published the documents online. The group granted access to the documents to several news organizations, including The Daily Caller. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Colin Powell’s Emails Hacked, Published Online)

How CNN got its report so wrong is unclear.

The article states that its information was based on a read-out of the Trump Jr. email provided by multiple sources, none of who are identified. Trump Jr.’s lawyer, Alan Futerfas, speculated on Friday that the source was on the Democratic side of the House Intelligence Committee, which interviewed Trump Jr. earlier this week.

The spokesman for the committee Democrats did not respond to a request for comment.

Erickson also appears not to be a super-secret Kremlin agent. The Post identified him as the president of an aviation management company.

Attempts made by The Daily Caller to contact him were unsuccessful.

Futerfas, the lawyer for Trump Jr., said that the real estate executive received “tons of unsolicited emails” during the campaign.

“The email was never read or responded to — and the House Intelligence Committee knows this,” he said in a statement.

“This email arrived after published media reports disclosed 12 hours earlier that hacked documents had been posted. The suggestion that this information was not public is false.”

Futerfas blasted the House Intelligence Committee over what he says is its leak of the story.

“It is profoundly disappointing that members of the House Intelligence Committee would deliberately leak a document, with the misleading suggestion that the information was not public, when they know that there is not a scintilla of evidence that Mr. Trump Jr. read or responded to the email,” he said.

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Media Cover Up Conspiracy: Hillary Medically Unfit

How Brazile’s book exposes liberal media’s Hillary health coverup
nypost.com

Silly, silly Donna Brazile. She’s publioshing a book detailing turmoil in the Democratic Party during the 2016 campaign, highlighted by her concern that Hillary Clinton was seriously ill and might need to be replaced by Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders.

What’s the big deal? There’s no news here because all this was well-known and covered at the time by the big national newspapers and networks, right?

Wrong. If Brazile were rehashing things we knew, there would be no book and no bombshell headlines now.

Instead, she has thrown open a new and very big window on 2016 — and exposed yet again the consequences of the political biases of the Democratic media.

The missed stories are not merely the result of mistakes or sloppy reporting. Brazile’s book is a revelation in that it shows that many left-leaning journalists didn’t so much cover Clinton as cover up for her.

Put it this way: How is it possible that the leader of the Democratic Party was talking to colleagues about trying to replace its nominee during the general election because of health concerns, and none of the thousands of journalists covering the campaign got wind of it?

It’s not possible — if the media had been playing it down the middle and holding both candidates to the same standard of scrutiny. But big media missed a big story because so much campaign “news” coverage was tilted toward defeating Donald Trump and electing Clinton.

Anything that could possibly suggest Trump was unfit for the Oval Office — bingo, front page, top of the broadcast.

On the other hand, anything that could hurt Clinton was downplayed or ignored. Nothing to see here, move along.

The coverage of Clinton’s health was a prime example of the tilt. Her coughing fits, especially a long one on Labor Day, and a history of falling were pointed out by the popular Drudge Report, some Republicans and smaller, conservative-leaning sites to suggest she was not being honest about her health.

But her campaign always denied anything was wrong — allergies, the candidate and her flacks insisted, caused the persistent coughs, and major news organizations mostly nodded their heads and stayed mum, accepting the official denials without skepticism.

The dam cracked a bit on Labor Day, when an NBC reporter filed a 91-word, four-paragraph story that said Clinton had been unable to finish her speech in Ohio because of a coughing fit.

The truth was dangerous, so the Praetorian Guard sprang to Clinton’s defense. The NBC reporter, Andrew Rafferty, was mocked and insulted, first by the campaign, and then by journalists, including some MSNBC commentators who turned on their colleague as if he had violated a secret oath.

CNN joined the Clinton amen chorus, and at the Washington Post, political writer Chris Cillizza denounced the topic of Clinton’s health as “a totally ridiculous issue” and declared it a “sure-fire loser” for Trump.

“It’s hard to plausibly insist, based on the available data, that Clinton is ill,” insisted Cillizza, who is now at CNN.

Five days later, Clinton was unable to walk on her own and collapsed at the 9/11 ceremony in Manhattan as she tried to get into a van. The campaign insisted she was just “dehydrated” until a short video of the incident aired, then admitted the candidate had been diagnosed with pneumonia days earlier.

In other words, the claim of allergies was a big fat lie. That prompted Brazile to contemplate starting the process of replacing Clinton, writing in her book that the campaign also was “anemic” and had “the odor of failure.” She says she considered numerous tickets to replace Clinton and Sen. Tim Kane, and decided that Biden and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) would be the best.

It’s not clear how long she deliberated or how many people she talked to, but Brazile writes that Biden called her on Sept. 12. In the end, she says, she made no move because she couldn’t disappoint Clinton’s supporters.

Her book is called “Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House,” and it’s got lots of other juicy bits, including evidence that the party rigged the primaries to help Clinton beat Sanders and that Clinton possibly broke federal campaign finance laws by scooping money donated by big donors to state parties, far in excess of individual federal limits.

Brazile also writes that the Clinton team treated her like “a slave,” and she accuses its male hierarchy of sexism.

As is their wont, the Clinton campaign is attacking Brazile, saying she fabricated incidents just to sell books. But curiously, the candidate herself has been silent.

Presidential campaigns, of course, are grueling, dynamic events and infighting is common. But what is extraordinary here is the fact that none of the huge moments Brazile recounts has been reported before.

That would matter less if the media humbly acknowledged it missed major stories that could have rocked the race, but that’s apparently expecting too much from news organizations that have forfeited their public trust. Nothing has changed, with the anti-Trump bias firmly intact.

Still, Brazile’s book is timely, with today the anniversary of Trump’s smashing upset. It is a reminder that, thankfully, voters weren’t fooled by the media conspiracy to hide the truth.

Gray Lady hasn’t a ‘preyer’
An op-ed in the New York Times headlined “The Deep Confusion of the Post-Weinstein Moment” celebrated the way women are becoming emboldened to name their powerful abusers instead of staying silent. I was agreeing with the author that it is a welcome cultural change we are witnessing — until she spoiled her piece by twisting it with politics.

The writer, novelist Naomi Alderman, made three mentions of the sexual accusations against President Trump last year, but skipped the most famous sex case in the history of politics — the one involving a sitting president by the name of Bill Clinton and a young intern. Nor, having blasted Trump and his supporters, did she mention Harvey Weinstein’s prodigious fundraising for Democrats, or the way Hollywood liberals protect predators.

Left not right again on guns
The military screw-up that allowed the Texas killer to buy his weapons is a perfect example of how the failure to enforce laws often leads to horrible tragedy — and yet still provokes calls for ever more laws.

If the Air Force had done what it is supposed to and told the FBI that Devin Patrick Kelley had been dishonorably discharged after beating his wife and cracking the skull of his infant stepson, he would not have been allowed to purchase any firearms legally. But the Air Force never made the crucial notification, and Kelley passed all background checks as he assembled his small arsenal.

Still, the demand for more gun control, any gun control, dominates the left’s reaction.

Don’t facts matter?

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The real Russian Meddle – with Bill & Hillary Clinton

A YEAR of Clinton lies about the ‘golden showers’ dossier exposed
www.dailymail.co.uk

It’s claimed that Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer Marc Elias and other Democrats falsely denied to reporters their involvement in the ‘dirty dossier’
Two New York Times journalists say they were lied to at every turn
It’s now established that Clinton lawyer Marc Elias arranged for the campaign and the Democratic Party to pay a dirt-digging firm to produce the dossier
‘Folks involved in funding this lied about it, and with sanctimony, for a year,’ Times reporter Maggie Haberman tweeted
A Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer who launched what would become known as the anti-Trump ‘dirty dossier’ denied involvement in the project for a year as reporters pressed him for information.

Marc Elias brokered a deal between the Clinton camp, the Democratic National Committee and opposition research firm Fusion GPS to dig up dirt on the president while he was running for office.

But a pair of New York Times reporters said Tuesday night on Twitter that Elias and others involved had lied about their ties to the arrangement.

‘Folks involved in funding this lied about it, and with sanctimony, for a year,’ Times reporter Maggie Haberman tweeted after The Washington Post linked the dossier to Elias and his law firm Perkins Coie.

Kennth Vogel, another Times journalist, tweeted: ‘When I tried to report this story, Clinton campaign lawyer @marceelias pushed back vigorously, saying “You (or your sources) are wrong”.’

Hillary Clinton’s campaign lawyer Marc E. Elias hired opposition research firm Fusion GPS in April 2016 to dig up dirt about Donald Trump, but falsely denied involvement to reporters

Two New York Times journalists blew up on Twitter when The Washington Post broke the story

The Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee funneled money to Fusion GPS through Elias’s law firm.

The deal began in the spring of 2016, when Elias was approached by Fusion GPS, and lasted until right before Election Day. When Fusion approached Elias, it had already been doing research work on Trump for an unnamed client during the Republican primary.

But the dossier itself was funded entirely by Democrats, using Elias as a middle-man.

After the DNC and the Clinton campaign started paying, Fusion GPS hired former British spy Christopher Steele to do the dirt-digging. His work later resulted in the dossier.

Trump has called the material ‘phony stuff,’ and on Wednesday he portrayed himself as the aggrieved party.

Fusion GPS co-founder Peter Fritsch (left) and partner Thomas Catan (right) took the Fifth last week rather than talking to Congress.

The dossier, compiled by British spy Christopher Steele, contends that the Russian government amassed compromising information about Trump

The president posted a quote on Twitter that he attributed to Fox News: “Clinton campaign & DNC paid for research that led to the anti-Trump Fake News Dossier. The victim here is the President”.’

The FBI has worked to corroborate the document, and special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, which is investigating potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign, questioned Steele weeks ago.

The dossier circulated in Washington last year and was turned over to the FBI for its review. It contends that Russia was engaged in a long-standing effort to aid Trump and had amassed compromising information about the Republican.

Among its wild claims was that Russian officials have videos of the president cavorting with prostitutes, filmed during Trump’s 2013 visit to a luxury Moscow hotel for the Miss Universe contest

It also contains a highly unusual and unsubstantiated report that the call girls performed a ‘golden shower’ routine that involved them urinating on a hotel bed as a sign of disgust for then-president Barack Obama.

Trump has repeatedly dismissed the document as false and in recent days has questioned whether Democrats or the FBI itself had helped fund it.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly denied the dossier’s claims, including the salacious allegation that he hired prostitutes in Russia

Trump called himself a ‘victim’ of the infamous dossier that Democrats helped pay to produce

Trump also has challenged the findings of the FBI, NSA and CIA that Russia waged a large-scale influence campaign to interfere in the election.

The FBI and the CIA have said with high confidence that the effort was aimed at hurting Clinton’s candidacy and helping Trump. The NSA found the same with “moderate” confidence.

It’s unclear what Fusion GPS had dug up by the time Perkins Coie hired it in April 2016. According to a copy of the dossier published by BuzzFeed last year, the earliest report from Steele dates to June 2016.

It was not immediately known how much money Fusion was paid or how many others in the Clinton campaign or DNC were aware that the firm had been retained.

Clinton campaign officials did not immediately comment, but in a statement, a DNC spokeswoman said the party chairman, Tom Perez, was not part of the decision-making and was unaware that Perkins Coie was working with Fusion GPS.

Former Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon said on Twitter that he regretted not knowing about Steele’s hiring before the election, and that had he known, ‘I would have volunteered to go to Europe and try to help him.’

‘I have no idea what Fusion or Steele were paid but if even a shred of that dossier ends up helping Mueller, it will prove money well spent,’ Fallon in another tweet.

THE TRUMP-RUSSIA TIMELINE
2016

June 20: The dossier is first dated June 20 and had contained several unverifiable periodic reports made over the summer, according to Mother Jones. It was sent in dated sections from a former Western intelligence officer to the FBI and alleged Russia had enough to blackmail Trump.

It alleged that Trump had been cultivated by Russian officials ‘for at least five years.’ It also claimed that the Kremlin had compromising material related to ‘sexually perverted acts’ Trump performed at a Moscow Ritz Carlton where former President Barack Obama once stayed.

Dossier also alleged that Trump’s inner circle was accepting a regular flow of intelligence from the Kremlin on Hillary Clinton.

July 27: Trump asks Russian hackers to find Clinton’s 30,000 emails during a press conference.

July 31: Kremlin weighing whether to release more information about Clinton.

Late July: The FBI opens its investigation into Russia’s interference in the election, and the Trump campaign’s possible role in it.

August 27: Then-U.S. Sen. Harry Reid sent a letter to then-FBI Director James Comey and called for a full investigation and public disclosure. He wrote: ‘The evidence of a direct connection between the Russian government and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign continues to mount and has led Michael Morrell, the former Acting Central Intelligence Director, to call Trump an ‘unwitting agent’ of Russia and the Kremlin.’

September 23: U.S. intelligence officials began investigating links between Trump adviser Carter Page and the Russian government, Yahoo News reported. Page had extensive business links in Russia and is a former Merrill Lynch investment banker in Moscow.

October 7: The Obama administration publicly accuses Russia of ‘directing the recent compromises of e-mails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations’ to affect the US election.

October 30: Reid sent Comey another letter demanding that Trump’s possible ties to Russia be fully investigated and he cited the existence of ‘explosive information’ that the FBI has in its possession.

November 3, 2016: Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev flies into Charlotte, North Carolina on a private plane. Trump’s plane lands on the tarmac not long after and parks next to Rybolovlev, whose plane stays in Charlotte for 22 hours afterward. Trump rallies in nearby city Concord.

November 8: Trump wins the election to become the 45th president of the United States.

November 10: President Barack Obama warns Trump during a meeting at the White House that national security advisor Michael Flynn, a former U.S. Army lieutenant general and Defense Intelligence Agency chief, is a problem.

November 18: During a security meeting in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Sen. John McCain hears about the documents and dispatches a former US official to meet the source of the documents and gather more information.

December 9: McCain meets Comey gives the FBI director the documents, The Guardian reported.

December 13: This is the last date of the memos from the dossier written by the British source.

December 29: The Obama administration issues new sanctions on Russia in retaliation for Russia’s hacking of the Democratic National Committee in the summer and other efforts to interfere with the U.S. election.

2017

January 10: Obama and Trump were both given a two-page summary of the dossier, CNN reported. BuzzFeed News then reported on the dossier and published it in full about how it alleges Trump’s deep ties with Russia.

January 19: The New York Times reported that ‘intercepted communications’ between Trump associates and Russians are being investigated as part of the FBI’s inquiry into Russia’s election meddling.

January 27: Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, holds a meeting with Russian-American businessman Felix Sater and Ukrainian lawmaker Andrii Artemenko to discuss a backchannel ‘peace plan’ for Russia and Ukraine.

February 13: Flynn resigns as national security adviser after reports emerge that he misled Vice President Mike Pence.

March 2: Attorney General Jeff Sessions recuses himself from the investigation into whether the Trump campaign communicated with Russia.

March 4: Without presenting evidence, Trump tweets that Obama had Trump Tower’s ‘wires tapped’ during the presidential campaign.

March 15: Rep. Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, announced that the committee had not found any evidence to support Trump’s wiretapping claim.

March 20: Comey said he has ‘no evidence’ to support Trump’s wiretapping claim. He confirmed that an investigation into Russia’s election-related meddling includes an examination of contacts between Trump associates and Russia during the campaign.

Late March: Flynn asks for immunity in exchange for testifying to the House and intelligence committees investigating Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election.

April 1: Trump tweets: ‘It is the same Fake News Media that said there is “no path to victory for Trump” that is now pushing the phony Russia story. A total scam!’

April 3: Trump calls Putin to condemn a Saint Petersburg, Russia terrorist attack.

April 6: Nunes steps aside from the Russia investigation, because he himself is under investigation.

April 11: Page is now under investigation by the FBI who obtained court permission to monitor his communications. The U.S. believed he was acting as a Russian agent.

April 27: The Pentagon inspector general is investigating whether Flynn violated military rules by accepting foreign payments from Russia and Turkey, which is disclosed by a House committee.

May 8: Trump tweets ‘Russia-Trump collusion story is a total hoax’.

May 9: The president fires Comey from his position at the FBI.

May 10: Trump meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at the White House.

May 15: The Washington Post reported that Trump shared highly classified information about Islamic State with the Russian diplomats during a meeting the previous week.

May 17: Former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III is appointed the special counsel to take over the Justice Department’s Russia investigation.

Late May: Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is revealed to be under investigation by the FBI. According to the Post, he proposed a private back channel between the Kremlin and Trump’s transition team during a meeting in December.

June 8: Comey testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee and answers questions related to Russia meddling into the U.S. election.

June 13: Sessions denies colluding with Russia during Senate testimony.

June 14: The Washington Post reported that Trump is being investigated for possible obstruction of justice by Mueller.

September: Several news outlets, including POLITICO and Buzzfeed, are suing under the Freedom of Information Act to get records about how the federal government tried to vet the claims in the dossier.

October 24: It’s revealed that Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee helped bankroll research that led to the ‘golden showers’ dossier on Donald Trump. Clinton’s campaign lawyer Marc Elias hired research firm Fusion GPS back in April 2016 to look into allegations of Trump’s ties to Russia, according to the Washington Post.

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HERR MUELLER, DNC GESTAPO

Comey and known Communist Sympathizer & Muslim Apologist Jeh Johnson scheming together.

Silverglate: How Robert Mueller Tried To Entrap Me
news.wgbh.org

Is special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, appointed in mid-May to lead the investigation into suspected ties between Donald Trump’s campaign and various shady (aren’t they all?) Russian officials, the choirboy that he’s being touted to be, or is he more akin to a modern-day Tomas de Torquemada, the Castilian Dominican friar who was the first Grand Inquisitor in the 15th Century Spanish Inquisition?

Given the rampant media partisanship since the election, one would think that Mueller’s appointment would lend credibility to the hunt for violations of law by candidate, now President Trump and his minions.

But I have known Mueller during key moments of his career as a federal prosecutor. My experience has taught me to approach whatever he does in the Trump investigation with a requisite degree of skepticism or, at the very least, extreme caution.

When Mueller was the acting United States Attorney in Boston, I was defense counsel in a federal criminal case in which a rather odd fellow contacted me to tell me that he had information that could assist my client. He asked to see me, and I agreed to meet. He walked into my office wearing a striking, flowing white gauze-like shirt and sat down across from me at the conference table. He was prepared, he said, to give me an affidavit to the effect that certain real estate owned by my client was purchased with lawful currency rather than, as Mueller’s office was claiming, the proceeds of illegal drug activities.

My secretary typed up the affidavit that the witness was going to sign. Just as he picked up the pen, he looked at me and said something like: “You know, all of this is actually false, but your client is an old friend of mine and I want to help him.” As I threw the putative witness out of my office, I noticed, under the flowing white shirt, a lump on his back – he was obviously wired and recording every word between us.

Years later I ran into Mueller, and I told him of my disappointment in being the target of a sting where there was no reason to think that I would knowingly present perjured evidence to a court. Mueller, half-apologetically, told me that he never really thought that I would suborn perjury, but that he had a duty to pursue the lead given to him. (That “lead,” of course, was provided by a fellow that we lawyers, among ourselves, would indelicately refer to as a “scumbag.”)

This experience made me realize that Mueller was capable of believing, at least preliminarily, any tale of criminal wrongdoing and acting upon it, despite the palpable bad character and obviously questionable motivations of his informants and witnesses. (The lesson was particularly vivid because Mueller and I overlapped at Princeton, he in the Class of 1966 and me graduating in 1964.)

Years later, my wariness toward Mueller was bolstered in an even more revelatory way. When he led the criminal division of the U.S. Department of Justice, I arranged in December 1990 to meet with him in Washington. I was then lead defense counsel for Dr. Jeffrey R. MacDonald, who had been convicted in federal court in North Carolina in 1979 of murdering his wife and two young children while stationed at Fort Bragg. Years after the trial, MacDonald (also at Princeton when Mueller and I were there) hired me and my colleagues to represent him and obtain a new trial based on shocking newly discovered evidence that demonstrated MacDonald had been framed in part by the connivance of military investigators and FBI agents. Over the years, MacDonald and his various lawyers and investigators had collected a large trove of such evidence.

The day of the meeting, I walked into the DOJ conference room, where around the table sat a phalanx of FBI agents. My three colleagues joined me. Mueller walked into the room, went to the head of the table, and opened the meeting with this admonition, reconstructed from my vivid and chilling memory: “Gentlemen: Criticism of the Bureau is a non-starter.” (Another lawyer attendee of the meeting remembered Mueller’s words slightly differently: “Prosecutorial misconduct is a non-starter.” Either version makes clear Mueller’s intent – he did not want to hear evidence that either the prosecutors or the FBI agents on the case misbehaved and framed an innocent man.)

Special counsel Mueller’s background indicates zealousness that we might expect in the Grand Inquisitor, not the choirboy.

Why Special Prosecutors Are A Bad Idea

The history of special counsels (called at different times either “independent counsel” or “special prosecutor”) is checkered and troubled, resulting in considerable Supreme Court litigation around the concept of a prosecutor acting outside of the normal DOJ chain of command.

The Supreme Court in 1988 approved, with a single dissent (Justice Antonin Scalia), the concept of an independent prosecutor. Still, all subsequent efforts to appoint such a prosecutor have led to enormous disagreements over whether justice was done. Consider Kenneth Starr’s obsessive four-year, $40-million pursuit of President Bill Clinton for having sex with a White House intern and then lying about it. Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald’s 2006 pursuit of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby is not as infamous, but it should be. Fitzgerald indicted and a jury later convicted Libby, a top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, for lying about leaking to the New York Times the covert identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson. Subsequent revelations that there were multiple leaks and that Wilson’s CIA identity was not a secret served to discredit Libby’s indictment. Libby’s sentence was commuted. Libby’s relatively speedy reinstatement into the bar is seen by many as evidence of his unfair conviction. Considered in tandem, the campaigns against Democrat Clinton and Republican Libby raise disturbing questions about the use of special or independent prosecutors.

Yet despite the constitutional issues, the most serious problem with a special counsel is that when a prosecutor is appointed to examine closely the lives and affairs of a pre-selected group of targets, that prosecutor is almost certain to stumble across multiple actions that might be deemed criminal under the sprawling and incredibly vague federal criminal code.

In Mueller’s case, one can have a very high degree of confidence that he will uncover alleged felonies within the ranks of the inner circle of the President’s men (there are very few women to investigate in this administration). This could well include Trump himself.

I described this phenomenon long before Trump began his improbable rise, in my 2009 book “Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent” (Encounter Books, updated edition, 2011).  I explained how federal “fraud” statutes were so vague that just about any action in the daily life of a typically busy professional might be squeezed into the elastic definition of some kind of federal felony. Harvard Law Professor (and, I should note, my former professor and subsequent longtime friend and colleague) Alan Dershowitz has beaten me to the punch, making the case in a raft of articles and on TV and radio that none of the evidence thus far leaked to or adduced by investigative reporters constitute federal crimes.

But Mueller’s demonstrated zeal and ample resources virtually assure that indictments will come, even in the absence of actual crimes rather than behavior that is simply “politics as usual”. If Mueller claims that Trump or members of his entourage committed crimes, it doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily so. We should take Mueller and his prosecutorial team with a grain of salt. But a grain of salt seems an outmoded concept in an age when both sides – Trump and his critics – seem impervious to inconvenient facts. The most appropriate slogan for all the combatants on both sides of the Trump wars (including, alas, the reporters and their editors) might well be: “Don’t confuse me with the facts; my mind is made up.”

The Author

Harvey Silverglate, a criminal defense and First Amendment lawyer and writer, is WGBH/News’ “Freedom Watch” columnist. He practices law in an “of counsel” capacity in the Boston law firm Zalkind Duncan & Bernstein LLP. He is the author, most recently, of Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent (New York: Encounter Books, updated edition 2011). The author thanks his research assistant, Nathan McGuire, for his invaluable work on this series.

CNN LIARS’ CLUB – BIG LOSERS

CNN war with Trump gets personal
thehill.com

President Trump’s war with CNN took an even more personal turn on Tuesday after the White House used its press briefing to tout a hidden camera video calling the cable news network’s coverage of the Russia controversy “bullshit.”

The undercover video from conservative sting artist James O’Keefe showed a CNN producer questioning the network’s coverage and suggesting important stories had been buried to keep the focus on Trump and Russia.

At Tuesday’s press briefing, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders encouraged viewers to watch the O’Keefe video, calling it “a disgrace to all of media, all of journalism.”
She also took a dig at CNN President Jeff Zucker, saying the sensationalism and disregard for facts was “coming directly from the top.”

CNN is standing by the producer, John Bonifield, who covers health and medicine from the network’s headquarters in Atlanta. In a statement, the network said “diversity of personal opinion is what makes CNN strong.”

“We welcome it and embrace it,” a spokesperson told The Hill.

A CNN source told The Hill that the tempest over the video will pass, saying it was recorded after an undercover conservative operative approached Bonifield claiming to have had a history of personal hardships and asking to be taken in to a mentoring program.

“It’s silly, it’s been spun up as something it’s not,” the CNN source said. “He’s a health unit producer in Atlanta. He has nothing to do with Washington politics or the investigative unit.”

The video appeared at a difficult moment for CNN, however, which was just forced to retract a story alleging that one of Trump’s associates had improper dealings with a Kremlin-backed bank. The episode led three of CNN’s reporters to resign and reinforced the notion among many conservatives that the network is hell-bent on taking Trump down.

On a Tuesday morning conference call with CNN officials, Zucker stressed that the network has to “play error-free ball” going forward, as all their mistakes will be magnified.

“He’s been saying it for months, it’s just unfortunate because there is no more room for mess-ups,” a second source at CNN told The Hill.

The feud between Trump and CNN, smoldering for years, had already intensified before the firings and O’Keefe video.

It pits against one another two men with a long history: Zucker was the head of NBC when Trump hosted his hit reality show “The Apprentice.”

Conservative media outlets such as Breitbart News are now agitating for Zucker’s removal, while Trump let the insults fly on Tuesday.

“Fake News CNN is looking at big management changes now that they got caught falsely pushing their phony Russian stories,” Trump tweeted. “Ratings way down!”

“CNN just posted it’s most-watched second quarter in history,” the network’s communications department shot back. “Those are the facts.”

According to Nielsen’s second quarter ratings, released on Tuesday, CNN is up 10 percent year-over-year in prime time and 25 percent overall. It is running third overall in the cable wars, behind Fox News but also MSNBC, the openly liberal outlet that has seen a dramatic 86 percent spike in prime-time ratings.

The new round of controversy has rekindled a briefly dormant cable news war between Fox News and CNN, with top talent from both outlets basking in the failings of the other.

Last week, CNN anchor John King likened Fox News’s “Fox & Friends” to “state TV.”

This week, Fox News anchors Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson are flooding the airwaves with coverage of CNN’s controversies, returning the favor after CNN leaned into reporting of former Fox anchor Bill O’Reilly, who left the network amid a slew of sexual harassment allegations.

“Hey CNN, when will you fire Zucker?” Hannity tweeted. “He has destroyed the network with lies and VERY FAKE NEWS.”

CNN has been registering small acts of protest against the administration by focusing on Trump’s treatment of the press, with chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta leading the charge in demanding more on-camera briefings.

The network sent a courtroom sketch artist to do a rendering of White House press secretary Sean Spicer at an off-camera briefing last week. Spicer has repeatedly ignored questions from Acosta and chided him in a tense off-camera exchange on Monday.

“There’s no camera on, Jim,” Spicer said as Acosta shouted questions at him.

CNN has displayed chyrons at the bottom of the screen accusing the president of lying and is airing a television ad with footage of anchors lecturing White House officials and musing about Trump being impeached. Earlier this year, CNN refused to run a Trump campaign ad because it cast the mainstream media as “fake news.”

The network has absorbed withering criticism from the right for its relentless focus on Russia and overwhelmingly negative coverage of Trump. A Harvard study found that CNN’s coverage of Trump was negative 93 percent of the time over the course of his first 100 days in office.

CNN has also taken a hit from other controversies; it cut ties with comedian Kathy Griffin for taking a photo with a fake severed head meant to look like Trump. CNN also canceled a series with documentary maker Reza Aslan after he cursed at the president over Twitter.

CNN also recently had to walk back a report authored by its top network talent, including anchor Jake Tapper and political analyst Gloria Borger, stating that former FBI Director James Comey would refute Trump’s claims that he was not the target of an investigation.

In testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey confirmed that he told Trump three times that he was not the target of an investigation.

“I think this is the day when the left rues ever coming up with the phrase ‘fake news,’ because now we have the evidence,” Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka said Tuesday on a Breitbart podcast. “We have the consequences of systematic generation of fake news happening at the epicenter of one of the places that was producing the most of it.”

The CNN source responded: “They’ve made it fairly clear they view this as a war. We view it as determination to seek truth and hold the powerful accountable regardless of how difficult they try to make it.”

DEMOCRAT LIES BACKFIRE

“THERE WILL COME A TIME WHEN YOUR LIES, DECEIT AND FALSE ACCUSATIONS COME BACK AT YOU, FORCE-MULTIPLIED”  – M Souza

“Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. ”

Dems push leaders to talk less about Russia
thehill.com

Frustrated Democrats hoping to elevate their election fortunes have a resounding message for party leaders: Stop talking so much about Russia.

Democratic leaders have been beating the drum this year over the ongoing probes into the Trump administration’s potential ties to Moscow, taking every opportunity to highlight the saga and forcing floor votes designed to uncover any business dealings the president might have with Russian figures.

But rank-and-file Democrats say the Russia-Trump narrative is simply a non-issue with district voters, who are much more worried about bread-and-butter economic concerns like jobs, wages and the cost of education and healthcare.

In the wake of a string of special-election defeats, an increasing number of Democrats are calling for an adjustment in party messaging, one that swings the focus from Russia to the economy. The outcome of the 2018 elections, they say, hinges on how well the Democrats manage that shift.

“We can’t just talk about Russia because people back in Ohio aren’t really talking that much about Russia, about Putin, about Michael Flynn,” Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) told MSNBC Thursday. “They’re trying to figure out how they’re going to make the mortgage payment, how they’re going to pay for their kids to go to college, what their energy bill looks like.

“And if we don’t talk more about their interest than we do about how we’re so angry with Donald Trump and everything that’s going on,” he added, “then we’re never going to be able to win elections.”

Ryan is among the small group of Democrats who are sounding calls for a changing of the guard atop the party’s leadership hierarchy following Tuesday’s special election defeat in Georgia — the Democrats’ fourth loss since Trump took office. But Ryan is hardly alone in urging party leaders to hone their 2018 message.

Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.) has been paying particularly close attention to voters’ concerns because he’s running for governor in 2018. The Russia-Trump investigation, he said, isn’t on their radar.

“I did a 22-county tour. … Nobody’s focusing on that,” Walz said. “That’s not to say that they don’t think Russia and those things are important, [but] it’s certainly not top on their minds.”

Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) delivered a similar message, saying his constituents are most concerned with two things: dysfunction in Washington and the Republicans’ plans to repeal ObamaCare. The controversies surrounding Trump, he said, don’t tally.

“We should be focused relentlessly on economic improvement [and] we should stay away from just piling on the criticism of Trump, whether it’s about Russia, whether it’s about Comey. Because that has its own independent dynamic, it’s going to happen on its own without us piling on,“ Welch said.

“We’re much better off if we just do the hard work of coming up with an agenda. Talking about Trump and Russia doesn’t create an agenda.”

The intrigue over Russian meddling in the 2016 elections and potential collusion with Trump’s campaign has engulfed Capitol Hill since even before the president was sworn in. Both the House and Senate Intelligence committees have launched investigations, and the Justice Department has named a special counsel, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, to lead a third probe.

Democrats have gone out of their way to keep the spotlight on the evolving investigations. Reps. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) are trumpeting legislation to create an independent panel, like the 9/11 Commission, to conduct a fourth investigation.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has repeatedly used her press briefings and cable news appearances to raise questions about Trump’s “political, personal and financial” ties to Moscow.

“What do the Russians have on Donald Trump?” she asked earlier this month in a common refrain.

And the Democrats, who have few opportunities to force votes on the House floor, have spent a lot of energy pushing proposals that would require Trump to release his taxes, which many Democrats suspect will expose business ties between Trump and Russia. The latest such vote was Wednesday, marking the 10th time this year Democrats have forced the issue.

“It’s important for us to have the returns on tax reform, it’s important to have it on the Russia investigation,” Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), the ranking member of the Ways and Means Committee’s tax subpanel, said on the floor.

Democratic leaders have defended their focus on the Trump-Russia affair, arguing that it’s not a distraction from the local economic issues that resonate in their districts.

“We can walk and chew gum at the same time,” Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), vice chairman of the Democratic Caucus, said Wednesday.

But even some leaders are ready to acknowledge that the Russia investigation alone won’t lead to a Democratic comeback.

“As much as I think people in Washington tend to focus on the issues of Russia, and the president and the Republicans’ inability to get much of anything accomplished, … we need to focus on the local issues,” said Rep. Joseph Crowley (N.Y.), chairman of the caucus.

“That’s what gets Democrats elected.”

A recent Harvard-Harris poll reveals the risks inherent for the Democrats, who are hoping to make big gains — or even win back the House — in 2018. The survey found that while 58 percent of voters said they’re concerned that Trump may have business dealings with Moscow, 73 percent said they’re worried that the ongoing investigations are preventing Congress from tackling issues more vital to them.

“While the voters have a keen interest in any Russian election interference, they are concerned that the investigations have become a distraction for the president and Congress that is hurting rather than helping the country,” said Harvard-Harris co-director Mark Penn.

With that in mind, many Democrats said they’re going out of their way to focus on the economy — and downplay the Russia saga — when they’re at home.

“If you see me treating Russia and criticisms of the president and things like that as a secondary matter, it’s because that’s how my constituents feel about it,” said Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.).

“I don’t think anybody wants to give a pass to illegal or unethical activity,” he added. “But in life we all have priorities, and the first priority for my constituents is to their families — as it should be.”

FOX NEWS BACK ON TOP; RACHEL MADCOW SLIDES

Scoreboard: Wednesday, June 21
www.adweek.com

25-54 demographic (Live +SD)

Total day: FNC: 380 | CNN: 232 | MSNBC: 234 | HLN: 84

Primetime: FNC: 660 | CNN: 313 | MSNBC: 481 | HLN: 108
4p: 5p: 6p: 7p: 8p: 9p: 10p: 11p:
FNC Cavuto: 262 Specialists: 361 Baier: 441 MacCallum: 486 Carlson: 642 TheFive: 709 Hannity: 628 Baier: 418
CNN Tapper: 233 Blitzer: 271 Blitzer: 285 Burnett: 303 Cooper: 260 Cooper: 346 Lemon: 331 Lemon: 248
MSNBC Wallace: 185 MTPDaily: 202 Greta: 167 Matthews: 283 Hayes: 414 Maddow: 596 O’Donnell: 432 Williams: 304
HLN Files: 36 Files: 49 Files: 43 Files: 85 Banfield: 77 Files: 93 Files: 155 Files: 147
Total Viewers (Live +SD)

Total day: FNC: 1.885 | CNN: 738 | MSNBC: 1.021  | HLN: 232

Primetime: FNC: 3.148 | CNN: 906 | MSNBC: 1.942 | HLN: 320
4p: 5p: 6p: 7p: 8p: 9p: 10p: 11p:
FNC Cavuto: 1.506 Specialists: 2.042 Baier: 2.501 MacCallum: 2.300 Carlson: 3.298 TheFive: 3.262 Hannity: 2.883 Baier: 1.626
CNN Tapper: 931 Blitzer: 947 Blitzer: 903 Burnett: 938 Cooper: 821 Cooper: 963 Lemon: 931 Lemon: 729
MSNBC Wallace: 805 MTPDaily: 880 Greta: 818 Matthews: 1.398 Hayes: 1.534 Maddow: 2.337 O’Donnell: 1.951 Williams: 1.510
HLN Files: 131 Files: 178 Files: 174 Files: 246 Banfield: 267 Files: 263 Files: 430 Files: 367