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Frank Figliucci (former asst. dir. counterintelligence, FBI): “If all we do is apply criminal standards to investigative findings, we are missing the point… this thing… needs to end as a counterintelligence investigation.”

2019-03-28

(From the Atlantic on March 26, in an article by Natasha Bertrand, about a “critical” aspect to the Mueller investigation that Barr didn’t mention in his four-page summary: the counterintelligence investigation.)  As we all remember from the days after James Comey was fired by *he who must not be named, a counterintelligence investigation was immediately formally begun by the FBI under McCabe’s direction, looking at whether the *president himself was compromised or actually an agent of the Russian intelligence apparatus.

If, in fact, *he was/is a Russian stooge, there are probably no laws (other than impeachment) available to deal with that simple fact.  There are laws that prohibit various activities that *he might engage in.  There are laws against suborning perjury, for example.  But what if *he comes right out in the open and says that he is “resetting” the relationship with Putin, as when *he tried to cancel the sanctions on Russia immediately after he was inaugurated?

One could claim that this was *his prerogative as *president, to change policy course.  If the Russians didn’t have  any kompromat on *him and *he was doing it “of *his own free will”, then he may not have been breaking any laws– merely exercising his powers as a duly elected *president.

But the Russians do have kompromat on *him.  The FBI investigation may or may not have fully uncovered this information.  They may not have been able to confirm with high confidence that such information did, in fact, exist.  In that case, they may have made the conclusion that the available evidence “did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

Note the bolded phrases.  These words have specific meanings.  “Did not establish”  means that the investigation did not find sufficient evidence.  It does not mean that they did not find any evidence.  Attempts at coordination, such as taking a meeting with Russians who offered “government documents and evidence” that was embarrassing to Hillary, did in fact occur and were not revealed until July 2017.  Apparently, Mueller found the thesis that Jr. was too naive to realize he should have called the FBI when he received that email to be convincing enough that he overlooked this meeting.  Of course, we have only the word of Jr., Manafort, et al. that “nothing came of the meeting.”  In fact, the Republican campaigners in the meeting didn’t actually need to do anything other than to receive the information that the Russians were trying to help them and to expect the release of vast troves of private emails from the Democratic campaign and Hillary herself.

No active behaviors by the Republican campaigners were necessary.  They didn’t need to approve the releases, the Russians didn’t need any money (in fact, they apparently gave the Republican campaign approximately $20 million laundered through the NRA), and the Republicans didn’t need to give their consent or approval.  When the emails were published, they should have condemned their release, but they instead focused on their contents– which failed to reveal anything in the way of illegal behavior by Democrats– as being embarrassing to the Democratic side.

Russian activity on the internet– especially the publication of images which represented Hillary as the Devil and *him as Jesus, plus the explicitly racist messages sent only to susceptible recipients, to name only two of the objectionable types of messages– hadn’t been revealed before the election.  When the messages were identified, publicized, and “outed” as Russian plants, the Republicans didn’t have to do anything.  In fact, they have done nothing to try to stop this behavior or even to condemn it forthrightly.

The bottom line is that *he who must not be named was the beneficiary of Russian hacking and a secret internet disinformation campaign (on which the Russians spent roughly a million dollars a month during the campaign) that turned the corner on an extremely close election and washed *him into the White House.  The Russians did this because Vladimir Putin despised and feared Hillary Clinton.

The internal polling data which Manafort gave to Konstantin Kilimnik enabled the Russians to target their disinformation campaign at critical swing states and districts.  Winning in three of these states, in each case by considerably less than 100,000 votes and in one case, less than 20,000 votes, threw the election to *him and effectively negated the 2.9 million vote popular margin by which Hillary over-topped *him.  So it has been definitely established that the Republican campaign delivered information to the Russians which would have allowed just this targeting (such targeting has been posited but not definitely established.)

Thus, there is information that the Republican campaign did try to coordinate with the Russians in one critical area; there is unfortunately no definite proof  that they actually succeeded at coordination.  The ever-cautious Mueller investigation did not charge this incident as a crime, for reasons that we have yet to explain.

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