Thursday, March 28, 2019

Not Mueller Time: Hey, MSM, This Dud's For You!

By David Stockman

Now that the giant Mueller Nothingburger (with a side of crow-flavored fries, per Jim Kunstler) has been officially delivered unto the mainstream media's wailing and gnashing of teeth, the essence of the matter should be obvious: To wit, the RussiaGate Collusion story was always way above the pay grade of the legal sleuths and gunslingers who wasted $25 million on it---and notwithstanding 2,800 subpoenas, 500 witnesses, 40 FBI agents and 21 lawyers.

This prosecutorial blitzkrieg had no chance of discovering the nefarious facts of conspiracy, however, because there never were any worthy of adult consideration. To the contrary, from day #1 the whole cock-and-bull story was based on a syllogism which held that Trump's very election victory and support for rapprochement with Russia were in themselves proof of a conspiracy with the Kremlin to steal the election.

That is to say, by the lights of the Dems, official Washington and their mainstream media echo chamber, Hillary Clinton could not have lost the 2016 election to the worst GOP candidate in history including Barry Goldwater and Alf Landon (true) without the sinister intervention of a foreign power hostile to Hillary.

Therefore, Putin and the Russians elected Trump. Q.E.D.

Likewise, Russia is perforce the enemy that Washington needs in order to stay in the business of Empire. So advocacy of rapprochement with Moscow was per se evidence that the Kremlin had blackmail (kompromat for the RussiaGate cognoscenti) on Trump and his campaign.

Once these predicates were established, of course, any old dog-eared "facts" could be hung on the frame in order to establishment an air of verisimilitude.
But now we know. Strip away the false predicates and the flotsam and jetsam of the case fall flat on their face. Even 22 months of Mueller Time couldn't stich together a Humpty-Dumpty that never was.

As it happens, however, there has been all along a perfectly plausible alternative explanation for why Trump won and why repairing relations with Russia made eminent good sense.

Namely, that America is suffering Regime Failure. Thus, wrong-headed Washington policies have brought prosperity to Wall Street but not main street, which is what actually explains why Trump won the left-behind precincts of Flyover America.

Regime Failure has also fostered confrontation with Russia when it is no threat to homeland security at all, but so doing has vilified Putin and Russia to the point that random dots of RussiaGate got woven into a preposterous theory of collusion.

What is left without the syllogistic predicates, of course, are the ludicrous threadbare facts of the case.

After all, can there be anything more pitiful after 22 months of prosecutorial scorched earth on the Russian collusion file than Mueller's list of indictments.

These include:
• 13 Russian college kids for essentially practicing English as a third language at a St Petersburg troll farm for $4 per hour;
• 12 Russian intelligence operatives who might as well have been picked from the GRU phonebook;
• Baby George Papadopoulos for mis-recalling an irrelevant date by two weeks;
• Paul Manafort for standard Washington lobbyist crimes committed long before he met Trump;
• Michael Cohen for shirking taxes and running Trump's bimbo silencing operation;
• Michael Flynn for doing his job talking to the Russian Ambassador and confusing the confusable Mike Pence on what he said and didn't say about Obama's idiotic 11th hour Russian sanctions;
• Rick Gates for helping Manafort shakedown the Ukrainian government and other oily Washington supplicants.;
• Sam Patten, another Manafort operative who forget to register correctly as a foreign agent;
• Richard Pinedo, a grifter who never met Trump and got caught selling forged bank accounts on-line to Russians for a couple bucks each;
• Alex van der Zwaan, a Dutch lawyers who wrote a report for Manafort in 2012 and misreported to the FBI what he told Gates about it. That's all she wrote and it's about as pathetic as it gets. Mueller should have been guffawed out of town on account of this tommyrot long before belatedly delivering a report that proved exactly that.

So it is perhaps a measure of the degree to which the Imperial City has fallen prey to the Trump Derangement Syndrome that the five core events of the case survived as long as they did. In fact, it has long been evident from public information that there was nothing nefarious about any of these ragged building blocks of the case:

• Baby George Papadopoulos's drunken conversation with a London professor who has long since disappeared and was likely a CIA asset;
• Carter Page's self-promotion into a bogus FISA warrant;
• the completely innocent June 2016 Trump Tower meeting;
• the disputed case regarding whether the DNC was the victim of a hack or a leak; and
• the ludicrous efforts of the Russian troll farm in St. Petersburg.

The foundation document which turned these random developments into the Russia Collusion story, of course, was the January 6, 2017 report entitled, "Assessing Russian Activities And Intentions in Recent US Elections".

The report was nothing of the kind, of course, and is now well-understood to have been written by outgoing CIA director John Brennan and a hand-picked posse of politicized analysts from the CIA, FBI and NSA. It was essentially a political screed thinly disguised as the product of the professional intelligence community and was designed to discredit and sabotage the Trump presidency.
And it was lied about over and over by the MSM who called it an assessment of the 17 US intelligence agencies when it was nothing of the kind, and said so right on the cover page.

In fact, when we first read this ballyhooed report our thought was that someone at the Onion had pilfered the CIA logo and published a side-splitting satire.
The 9-pager on RT America, which is presented as evidence of "Kremlin messaging", is so sophomoric and hackneyed that it could have been written by a summer intern at the CIA. It consists entirely of a sloppy catalogue of leftist and libertarian based dissent from mainstream policy that has been aired on RT America on such subversive topics as Occupy Wall Street, anti-fracking, police brutality, foreign interventionism and civil liberties.

Actually, your editor has appeared dozens of times on RT America and advocated nearly every position cited by the CIA as evidence of nefarious Russian propaganda.

And we thought it up all by ourselves!

So, yes, we do think US intervention in Syria was wrong; that Georgia was the aggressor when it invaded South Ossetia; that the American people have been disenfranchised and need to "take this government back"; that Washington runs a "surveillance state" where civil liberties are being ridden roughshod upon; that Wall Street is riven with "greed" and the "US national debt" is out of control; that the two-party system is a "sham "and that it doesn't represent the views of "one-third of the population" (at least!); and that most especially after killing millions in unnecessary wars Washington has "no moral right to teach the rest of the world".

So there you have it: Policy views on various topics that are embraced in some instances by both your libertarian editor and the left-wing Nation magazine were held to be examples of Russian messaging, and alarming evidence of nefarious meddling in our electoral process at that.

In fact, the single proposition in the entire ten-pages of political opinionating that relates to an actual Russian intrusion (other than the hideous St. Petersburg troll farm which we debunk below) in the American electoral process is the completely discredited notion that the Russian GRU hacked the DNC emails and handed them off to Wikileaks.

No, not at all.

William Binney, who is the father of modern NSA internet spying technologies, says that the DNC emails were leaked on a thumb-drive and couldn't have been hacked as a technical matter; and equally competent analysts have shown that Guccifer 2.0 is almost surely a NSA contrived fiction based on the oldest trick in the police precinct station house----planting evidence, in this case telltale Cyrillic letters and the name of a notorious head of the Soviet secret police.

Indeed, if the Russians did it-----from a troll farm in St. Petersburg or the Kremlin itself- ---the fingerprints from any remote hacking operation would be all over the computers involved. Moreover, the National Security Agency (NSA) would have a record of the breach stored at one of its server farms because it does capture and store everything that comes into the US over the internet.

Said record, of course, would amount to the Smoking Intercept. So the only thing Mueller really needed to do was to call the head of NSA and request the NSA intercept--- something he obviously didn't do or it would have leaked long ago.
In the alternative, if NSA has no such record, he could have confiscated the DNC computers---which had never even been inspected by the FBI, let alone taken into custody----to determine whether William Binney is right.

That didn't happen, either, or it too would have leaked in a heartbeat.

So what we are left with is the fact that Binney, a NSA veteran and actually the father of much of today's NSA internet spying capability, says that the recorded download speed of the DNC emails could only have been done by plugging a thumb-drive into the machines on site. That is, nothing downloads across 5,000 miles of digital expanse at the recorded 22.7 megabytes per second.

In short, if the Russians hacked them, the evidence is all there in the hard drives; and if they didn't, the entire RussiaGate hoax should have been shutdown long ago.

That's because the only thing that remotely smacks of untoward meddling by the Kremlin is the DNC emails---and even then, they only concerned intra-party squabbles between the Clinton and the Sandernista factions of the Dem party that were already well advertised and known to the American electorate.

Cyber Garbage From The St. Petersburg Troll Farm

By contrast, another prime exhibit in the meddling narrative is the pitiful efforts of the Russian troll farm called the Internet Research Agency (IRA). This is was cited over and over by the RussiaGaters as evidence of Putin's nefarious hand at work, but did they ever investigate the matter?

The fact is, the IRA was such a belly-splitting joke that they only thing it proved is that prosecutor Mueller did actually indict 13 Russian-speaking ham sandwiches.

Indeed, the joker in the whole deck is that the nefarious"troll farm" in St. Petersburg was not even a Russian intelligence agency operation at all.

It was just "Russian" even by the careful terminology of Barr's summary. As it happened, the RussiaGate hysteria had reached such a point that any contact with any of Russia's 144 million citizens became inherently suspect, as if that beleaguered nation had become a race of evil-doers.

Actually, the IRA was the relatively harmless Hobby Farm of a fanatical Russian oligarch and ultra-nationalist, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who has a great big beef against Imperial Washington's demonization of Russia and Vlad Putin.

Apparently, the farm was (it's apparently being disbanded) the vehicle through which he gave Washington the middle finger and buttered up his patron.

Prigozhin is otherwise known as "Putin's Cook" because he made his fortune in St. Petersburg restaurants that Putin favored and via state funded food service operations at Russian schools and military installations.

Like most Russian oligarchs not in jail, he apparently tithes in gratitude to the Kremlin: In this case, by bankrolling the rinky-dink operation at 55 Savushkina Street in St Petersburg that was the object of Mueller's pretentious foray into the flotsam and jetsam of social media low life.

Prigozhin's trolling farm was grandly called the Internet Research Agency (IRA), but what it actually did was hire (apparently) unemployed 20-somethings at $4-8 per hour to pound out ham-handed political messaging on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube etc. They banged away twelve hours at a shift on a quota- driven paint-by-the-internet-numbers basis where their output was rated for engagements, likes, retweets etc.

Whatever these keyboard drones might have been, they were not professional Russian intel operators. And the collection of broken English postings strewn throughout Mueller's indictment were not one bit scary.

The pure grandstanding nature of this blow against the purported election meddling of the nefarious Russians is more than evident in the 3,000 ads IRA bought on Facebook for about $100,000---more than half of which were posted after the election.

Yet here's a typical example of how the Russians stormed into America's sacred election space---even if according to Facebook this particular ad got less than 10,000 "impressions" and the mighty sum of 160 "shares".

For crying out loud, it didn't take any nefarious Russian intelligence agent to post this kind of cartoonish Islamophobia. There are millions of American xenophobes more than happy to do it with their own dime, time and bile.

Still, the fact that these Facebook ads and the St Petersburg troll farm were taken seriously shows how insidious the Deep State's RussiaGate campaign had become. In order to prove that their writ and rule will not be denied by the American electorate, they cynically fostered a mindless public hysteria that makes the work of Joe McCarthy appear benign by comparison.

And during a period, by the way, when the 80,000 Facebook posts attributable to IRA were up against the 33 trillion messages posted on that fetid network by its billions of users.

Indeed, talk about shooting fish in a barrel. Even Keeping Up With The Kardashians voters would get a pretty good yuck from the example displayed below.

A post called "Power to the people!" was typed out by some troll farm operative in St Petersburg, whose $4 per hour pay probably was not worth the effort: It was shared by the grand some of 20 people, who might well have been algos, anyway!

The fact is, the "evidence" for Russian meddling was always complete nonsense, and if there was no "meddling", how could there have been "collusion" to accomplish something which didn't happen?

Then there is the ridiculous case of Carter Page. Like the hapless George Papadopoulos, Page was an absolute nobody in Trump world. He apparently never even met DonaldTrump, had no foreign policy credentials and had been drafted onto the campaign's so-called foreign policy advisory committee out of sheer desperation.

That is, because the mainstream GOP foreign policy establishment had so completely boycotted the Trump campaign, the latter was forced to fill its advisory committee essentially from the phone book; and that desperation move in March 2016, in turn, had been undertaken in order to damp-down the media uproar over the Donald's assertion that he got his foreign policy advise from....well, watching TV!

That's how no-counts like 29-year old George Papadopoulos (indicted for allegedly lying to the FBI about the date of an irrelevant meeting) and Carter Page got on the foreign policy advisory committee---a phony campaign operation that held a single meeting, which was essentially a photo op.

And that's why Page has been able to keep repeating--- without being indicted for perjury---what he said on an ABC interview awhile back:
"I never spoke with him (Trump) any time in my life," Page said on Good morning America this morning. Stephanopoulos followed up, asking, "no e- mail, no text, nothing like that?" 

Page replied: "never."  
Surely that's also the reason why his appointment to the advisory committee back in March 2016 elicited a "who-he?" harrumph from the MSM.

Well, of course he was an unknown no count. That's all Trump's seat of the pants campaign could recruit for the photo op on short notice.

The truth of the matter is that Page had been a stock analyst in the Merrill Lynch Moscow office between 2002 and 2007, and thereafter set out to peddle himself as an international energy expert and the proprietor of a two-bit international energy advisory firm (of which he was the only employee).

In that capacity he bounced around various international energy conferences in New York, London and St Petersburg and undoubtedly attempted to burnish his credentials by touting his contracts in Moscow. At one point he even bragged about serving as an unpaid energy advisor to the Kremlin.

For crying out loud----the man was spinning his resume to land work!

That's why he had signed on, again, as an unpaid adviser to the Trump campaign, and had gotten their approval to attend another international conference in Moscow during July 2016. But on his own dime.

In fact, not only did he have no mandate to represent the Trump campaign; he was actually instructed to represent himself in Moscow as a private citizen. And in that modality, it turns out that his "meeting" with Rosneft actually consisted of drinks with an old buddy from his broker days who had become head of investor relations at Rosneft.

Yes, Carter Page did try to puff up his tail-feathers at the time via an email to colleagues on the Trump campaign claiming that he had met Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich and learned that Putin was keen on Trump's openness to rapprochement with Russia.

Aside from the fact that there would be absolutely nothing illicit about either the meeting or the idea of rapprochement, it turns out that the encounter with Dvorkovich was actually a handshake at a cocktail party held during the conference at which they both spoke; and that Page's insights about the Russian governments view of Trump came from listening to Dvorkovich's speech in an auditorium attended by about 1,000 others!

Yet on the basis of this utterly threadbare reality, the CIA/FBI cabal determined that Carter Page was a sufficient national security threat to seek (and receive) a FISA warrant to wiretap the campaign of the Republican candidate for President.

It doesn't get any more nefarious than that---and we are talking about the real meddlers of the FBI/Brennan cabal that actually attempted to mount an "insurance policy" against the election of Donald Trump.

Finally, at the heart of the overall RussiaGate mania lies a mindless obsession----indeed, a literal brain freeze---with respect to the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer by the name of Natalia Veselnitskaya.

Needless to say, she was not sent to New York by Vlad Putin to talk up some collusion plans. In part that's because Ms.Veselnitskaya had no ties to Putin, the Kremlin or the Russian intelligence services, but mainly because she speaks not a word of English! 

Do we really need to point out that Putin is way too smart to risk having a super- sensitive discussion about meddling in the American election lost in the translation?

The Trump Tower Meeting Was An Anti-Magnitsky Act Fly-Buy

In fact, the Trump Tower meeting was a just a fly-buy. Natalia was actually in New York doing god's work, as it were, defending a Russian company, Prevezon Holdings, against hokey money-laundering charges related to the abominable Magnitsky Act and its contemptible promoter, Bill Browder.

In fact, as explained below, the whole Trump Tower meeting wasn't about the American election at all; Veselnitskaya's pitch was all about Russia's deep (and warranted) grievances at Washington's meddling in their own internal affairs, and the bellicose demonization of Russian business and government leaders that stems from its sanctimonious imposition of sanctions on upwards of 50 Russians under Magnitsky.

Astonishingly, the Prevezon case amounted to a prosecution not at all on the moral high road, but was actually a very down and dirty exercise in government greed. Namely, the US government was attempting to steal via the U.S. forfeiture laws some of the proceeds of a theft that had allegedly happened in Russia!
Defending against that money grab was why the "Russian lawyer" was in New York and ended up at Trump Tower, and why her appearance there most surely had nothing at all to do with the Trump campaign colluding with the Kremlin.
In fact, the whole foundation of the Prevezon case is so rotten that Hollywood fiction writers would be hard-pressed to top it. To wit, Prevezon's crime was that its controlling shareholder, Denis Katsyv, had allegedly defrauded the Russian government of exactly $230 million via a tax refund scheme, and then routed the money through Cyprus financial entities, where a tiny portion ($600,000) made its way into a half- dozen luxury apartments and commercial properties in New York City.

But since the NYC properties were alleged to be worth upwards of $15-20 million, they essentially amounted to the poisoned fruit of an alleged crime which happened in Russia, and therefore presented a big fat forfeiture jackpot for the U.S. government prosecutors. The excuse for the attempted seizure, of course, was that the New York City properties were being used to launder illicit Russian money.

Then again, the US government had exactly zero objective information about the Russian end of the alleged crime and had done no independent investigation whatsoever. Accordingly, it had no way of verifying whether the money was actually illicit and whether the allegedly tainted properties were actually financial laundries--- and that's by the testimony of Homeland Security Special Agent Todd Hyman who had worked the case.

Except, except there was this: The Prevezon case had been brought to the headline- seeking US Attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) and Senator Chuckles Schumer's former chief hatchet-man, Preet Bharara, by none other than Bill Browder; and every stich of evidence presented by the government had been exactly as dropped into Bharara's inbox by Browder without further investigation.

What's more, the alleged $230 million theft from the Russian Treasury was one and the same $230 million that is the centerpiece of Browder's cock-and-bull story about how corrupt Russian police had stole it from his firm (Hermitage Capital) in the first place back in 2005 via an alleged fraudulent tax refund scheme.

Stated differently, the Russian government says Browder stole the loot, not Veselnitskaya's clients; and that the case belongs in a Russian Court, not the SDNY where it was being tried.

At The Heart Of The Matter---An Epic Swindler Named William Browder 

This alternative (and more likely) story, of course, is that Browder had pulled off an epic swindle during the wild west days of post-Soviet Russia, plundering billions by the unauthorized purchasing of Gazprom stock and then failing to pay the requisite Russian taxes. For the offense of not bringing Putin his expected tithe, Browder had been run him out of Russia on a rail in the fall of 2005.
Needless to say, it doesn't really matter who stole what and who was lying about the $230 million. The relevant fact is that Prevezon Holdings and the young Mr.Katsyv (his father is a powerful Russian transportation bureaucrat) were caught up in a Kangaroo Court and had become the victims of another huge publicity stunt by serial con artist Bill Browder.

As is now well known, Browder had he turned the murky 2009 prison death of his accountant, Sergei Magnitsky, who was also charged with tax evasion, into a revenge crusade against Putin.

That resulted in a huge lobbying campaign subsidized by Browder's illicit billions and spear-headed by the Senate's most blood-thirsty trio of warmongers---- Senators McCain, Graham and Cardin---to enact the 2012 Magnitsky Act, under which the aforementioned 50 Russian oligarchs, bureaucrats and Putin cronies are being sanctioned.

These sanctions, of course, are the very excrescence of Imperial Washington's arrogant meddling in the internal affairs of other countries. That is, sweeping Washington- dictated sanctions on Russians (and other foreigners) it deems complicit in Magnitsky's death in a Russian jail and for other alleged human rights violations in Russia and elsewhere.

Needless to say, imperial over-reach doesn't get any more egregious than this. Deep State apparatchiks in the US Treasury Department get to try Russian citizens in absentia and without due process for vaguely worded crimes under American law that were allegedly committed in Russia; and then to seize their property and persons if they should venture to travel abroad or involve themselves in any act of global commerce where Washington can browbeat local satrapies and "allies" into cooperation!

Only in an imperial capital steeped in a self-conferred entitlement to function as Global Hegemon would such a preposterous extra-territorial power-grab be even thinkable. After all, what happens to Russians in Russian prisons is absolutely none of Washington's business. Nor by any stretch of the imagination does it pose any threat whatsoever to America's homeland security.

So the irony of the Trump Tower nothingburger is that the alleged Russian agent in the meeting was actually there fighting against Washington's meddling in Russia's internal affairs, not hooking up with Trump's campaign to further a Kremlin plot to attack American democracy.

Indeed, the Magnitsky Act constitutes such an offensive affront to Russian sovereignty that it is not surprising that Putin and his gang are on the warpath against Bill Browder. They understandably and correctly view him as solely responsible for its enactment by dint of a relentless, well-financed anti-Putin demonization campaign.

And since the entire Prevezon case had been fabricated by Browder as just another maneuver in his fanatical campaign to vilify Russia, it is very obvious why the Russians wanted the Prevezon case defeated, and, in fact, ended up settling for a token $6 million on the eve of the trial.

In this context, the only basis for Natalia Veselnitskaya's alleged Putin ties was through Russia's Prosecutor General, Yuri Chaika.

The latter had made it a personal crusade to pursue Browder as a fugitive from Russian justice---he was convicted in absentia of tax fraud and other crimes in 2014--- and an enemy of the state.

As one report described Chaika's campaign:
Chaika's foray into American politics began in earnest in April 2016. 
That is when his office gave Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher and three other US representatives a confidential letter detailing American investor Bill Browder's "illegal scheme of buying up Gazprom shares without permission of the Government of Russia" between 1999 and 2006, one month after Rohrabacher returned from Moscow. 
As it happened, Veselnitskaya had apparently brought a memo to the Trump Tower meeting that contained many of the same talking points as one written by Chaika's office two months earlier (for the Rohrabacher meeting) 

There you have it. The "dirt" that Don Jr. had been promised was essentially a Trump Tower door opener so that Veselnitskaya could get in some licks against Browder and the hated Magnitsky Act.

Moreover, the dirt that she did have had nothing to do with the DNC and Podesta email hacks or even Hillary's 30,000 missing emails; it was still more anti-Browder stuff---a claim that certain Browder associates were then funding the Dems and the Clinton campaign with the tainted Russian money.

Indeed, this is the distinctly un-smoking gun---the talking points that the "Russian lawyer" brought to Trump Tower (originally in Russian). Yet there is no way that anyone in their right mind can interpret them as a pitch to meddle in America's 2016 elections.

In fact, what it reveals is the sweeping Russian antipathy to Browder and the fact that his completely fabricated and self-serving Magnitsky campaign has been a godsend to the Washington War Party by fueling irrational, anti-Russian sentiment throughout the Imperial City. That is, it was just the thing to keep the $800 billion national security pork barrel full to the brim and overflowing.
It doesn't get any more straight forward than this. The purpose of Veselnitskaya's visit to Trump Tower in June 2016 was to share with the Trump campaign Russia's deeply hostile attitude toward Browder and convey that his Magnitsky Act intrusion into Russia's internal affairs was deeply offensive to Moscow and a fundamental irritant to improved U.S./Russian relations.

Oh, and the simulacrum of "dirt" she had to offer, of course, was the above charge that Browder's co-fraudsters, the Ziff Brothers, were big backers of the Dems and Hillary Clinton. That is to say, the kind of "dirt" you don't need a collusion for because you can get it from your desk-top by querying the Federal Elections Commission's data base of contributors.

But what is astounding about the straight forward nature of Veselnitskaya's Trump Tower presentation, as revealed in the full text of her memo, is that the mainstream media has become so rabidly McCarthyite that they failed to see the forest for the trees.

Now, however, perhaps they might.

David Stockman was Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan. After leaving the White House, Stockman had a 20-year career on Wall Street.

The above originally appeared at David Stockman's Contra Corner.

1 comment:

  1. It's such a nothing burger, that william Barr promised he would release it j a few weeks just to ensure 'sensible' information is not released by mistake. Sensible information, in a nothing burger. That must be a first. It's such a nothing burger, that nobody knows what's in it save for Barr and Muller and a few others.