Wednesday, December 12, 2018

You'll Shoot Your Io Out, Kid. It's SATURNALIA TIME

Okay, for those who are wondering how you say "IO SATURNALIA" the secret is to say the "I" in Latin like it's a hybrid of the English "J" and "Y". Sorta between the JO and the YO.

So for this season of Latin gambling and drunkenness, I call upon the Roman god Saturn and say unto him "YO BRO GIVE ME SOME NALIA!"

...

Okay, I might be losing it this year. But I do have a wish list and it pretty much goes like this, O Ringed God One:

1) Mueller indicts the whole damn trump criminal empire from the Shitgibbon himself down to the lowest-ranking Russian spy at the NRA.

2) Look, I know there are arguments about sitting Presidents and whether they can be charged/indicted while still in office, but a lot of the deferring relies on the belief that a functioning Congress would actively impeach such a crook in office so that the legal system wouldn't have to get into the political pitfalls. Problem is, THIS CONGRESS IS NOT FUNCTIONING. The Republicans in the Senate will NEVER follow through on any impeachment the Democratic-controlled House may file, meaning trump gets to sit in the Oval Office eagerly committing more crimes on a daily basis (for the Love of GOD every minute he is in office trump is violating the Emoluments Clause!) and maybe even cheat his way into a SECOND TERM OF CROOKED SH-T.

There's also a serious concern about Statute of Limitations: the fraud charges trump currently faces have a time limit to where they expire the year after this one term ends (2021). If trump were to steal (there is no GODDAMN way he wins a legitimate election in 2020) a second term, those charges may well evaporate.

I SAY CHARGE HIM NOW. No man should be above the law.

3) Totally hoping that Saturn pushes a little harder on the NRA's current fiscal woes to where they DO file for bankruptcy. Just desserts for a group that actively teamed up with a con artist in trump and with foreign crooks like the Russians.

4) A paid two-week vacation to Hawaii would be nice. Maybe Mercury can line up some speedy transportation.

5) WHAT PART OF SENDING trump AND HIS CON ARTIST EMPIRE TO JAIL DO YOU NOT GET, SATURN?!


AAAAAAAHHHH IT'S ATTACKING US!!!

Monday, December 10, 2018

The Chief of Staff Blues

Somewhere in the world, Prince Rebus is finishing off a bottle of whiskey with a smile on his face.

Popehat remains infallible among hats.
To wit: John Kelly, current Chief of Staff to the worst-managed White House in American history and someone who went into that job with eyes open and soul lost, is heading out the door and all of a sudden trump cannot find a single sucker to take the damn job.

As of right now - 7:30 PM or so EST - relatively respectable Republicans have turned down the offer, starting with the guy hand-picked to replace Kelly - Pence's CoS Ayers - en route to half the Cabinet and maybe even "acting" AG Whitaker saying "uh no can do, I gotta go wash my hair or iron the dog or something" and running for cover.

To be fair, the Chief of Staff to the President is one of the hardest jobs in Washington DC. While it's a powerful position with a massive West Wing staff at your command, the headaches outweigh the perks. As the gatekeeper to the President, you have to manage everyone from Cabinet Secretaries all the way down to some part-time intern wanting face-time with the Boss. You have to keep the administration on target with its agenda. You have to keep the scandals to a minimum and the public approval to a maximum. You get yelled at by Congress when the President is refusing to work with them, and you get yelled at by the President when his cereal gets too soggy in the morning.

To be a Chief of Staff you have to have the patience of Job, the zen of Buddha, the golf skills of Arnold Palmer, and the stern determination of a T-800.

So of course, the mayhem and insanity of a trump organization would be an impossible task to oversee.

The Republicans sent in a seasoned political operative in Rience Priebus to try and control trump's worst impulses, and he couldn't. They sent in a veteran Marines (!) general in John Kelly to try and control trump's worst impulses, and HE couldn't.

Who the hell CAN keep this trump administration under ANY semblance of focus and control? Who the hell wants to walk into a job that is - any day now - going to have to handle the revelations of Mueller's (and the other criminal investigations) grand juries into Russia's conspiracy with trump's campaign to subvert the 2016 elections?

Anyone sane and anyone with working brain cells should be saying NO to this job and run for the hills.

You do NOT board a sinking sink, people. You just don't.

You just watch from the shoreline enjoying the schadenfreude. BWHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Unavoidable Conclusions To an Ongoing Train Wreck

Welcome to the Darkest Timeline (via Ken White at The Atlantic).

Federal prosecutors filed three briefs late on Friday portending grave danger for three men: the former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, the former Trump fixer Michael Cohen, and President Donald Trump...
In brief No. 1, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office argues that Paul Manafort breached his cooperation agreement with the government by lying to the FBI and the Special Counsel’s Office in the course of 12 meetings. The brief oozes a level of confidence notable even among professionally hubristic prosecutors: Mueller says he’s ready to present witnesses and documents, and that he gave Manafort’s lawyers an opportunity to refute the evidence but they could not. Mueller is sure he has the receipts.
According to the brief, Manafort lied about his communications with the reputed Russian intelligence agent Konstantin Kilimnik, whom Mueller has scrutinized as a possible conduit between the Trump campaign and the Russian government... Mueller also asserts that Manafort lied about some of the payments he received and about an investigation in another district—possibly, based on the context, the Southern District of New York investigation of Michael Cohen and the president. Finally, and of great concern to the White House, Mueller claims that Manafort lied about his contacts with the Trump administration before his guilty plea, and that text messages, documents, and witnesses prove that he was in contact with administration officials...
In brief No. 2, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York asks a federal judge to sentence the former Trump attorney Michael Cohen to a “substantial term of imprisonment”—meaning between three and four years...
The New York prosecutors blast Cohen’s “rose-colored view of the seriousness of his crimes,” accusing him of a “pattern of deception that permeated his professional life.” Prosecutors portray Cohen as stubbornly obstructing his own accountant to cheat at taxes, even refusing to pay for accounting work that raised inconvenient issues he wanted suppressed...  Cohen, they say, schemed to pay for two women’s stories (Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, we now know) in violation of campaign-finance laws in order to influence the 2016 election, and did so “in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1”—that is, the President of the United States...
And that brings us to brief No. 3: Special Counsel Mueller’s separate sentencing brief in Cohen’s lying-to-Congress case. He does not recommend a sentence but informs the court about the nature of Cohen’s assistance to his office. Mueller discloses that Cohen has “taken significant steps to mitigate his criminal conduct” by pleading guilty to lying to Congress and meeting with the special counsel seven times to discuss his own conduct and other “core topics under investigation.” That includes information about multiple cases of contact between other Trump-campaign officials and the Russian government, and about Cohen’s contact with the White House in 2017 and 2018, suggesting an ongoing inquiry into obstruction of justice...

Just to note, the Obstruction of Justice relates to trump firing James Comey for refusing to stop the investigation on Michael Flynn, a retired general and major trump campaign player who was in deep with Russians already and was tagged as a serious security risk.

Everywhere in this mess of trump scandal, there are Russians. Russian business partners. Russian contacts. Russian handlers and GRU agents. At some point we're going to find red trump hats reading Druzhishche (buddy).

How serious a breach of national integrity is this?

I normally don't quote from Wired magazine, and you wouldn't normally think it would have any political insight to give. But Wired is tied into network security issues - which is where all the Russian hacking/subversion of our national security comes into play - so they would have a reason to comment. Or at least Garrett Graff would:

WE ARE DEEP into the worst case scenarios. But as new sentencing memos for Trump associates Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen make all too clear, the only remaining question is how bad does the actual worst case scenario get...?
A year ago, Lawfare’s Benjamin Wittes and Quinta Jurecic outlined seven possible scenarios about Trump and Russia, arranged from most innocent to most guilty. Fifth on that list was “Russian Intelligence Actively Penetrated the Trump Campaign—And Trump Knew or Should Have Known,” escalating from there to #6 “Kompromat,” and topping out at the once unimaginable #7, “The President of the United States is a Russian Agent.”
After the latest disclosures, we’re steadily into Scenario #5, and can easily imagine #6...
In fact, what’s remarkable about the once-unthinkable conclusions emerging from the special counsel’s investigation thus far is how, well, normal Russia’s intelligence operation appears to have been as it targeted Trump’s campaign and the 2016 presidential election. What intelligence professionals would call the assessment and recruitment phases seems to have unfolded with almost textbook precision, with few stumbling blocks and plenty of encouragement from the Trump side.
Mueller’s court filings, when coupled with other investigative reporting, paint a picture of how the Russian government, through various trusted-but-deniable intermediaries, conducted a series of “approaches” over the course of the spring of 2016 to determine, as Wittes says, whether “this is a guy you can do business with.”
The answer, from everyone in Trumpland—from Michael Cohen in January 2016, from George Papadopoulos in spring 2016, from Donald Trump, Jr. in June 2016, from Michael Flynn in December 2016—appears to have been an unequivocal “yes.”
Mueller and various reporting have shown that the lieutenants in Trump’s orbit rebuffed precisely zero of the known Russian overtures. In fact, quite the opposite. Each approach was met with enthusiasm, and a request for more.
Given every opportunity, most Trump associates—from Paul Manafort to Donald Trump, Jr. to George Papadopoulos—not only allegedly took every offered meeting, and returned every email or phone call, but appeared to take overt action to encourage further contact. Not once did any of them inform the FBI of the contacts...

What we are uncovering - something I'd long noted and what Graff is highlighting now - is not only a Presidential campaign willing to break election laws but also willing to betray our nation to a foreign power, driven entirely by a lust for everything that foreign power offered them.

I admit to personal bias. I wholeheartedly believe with only the partial evidence shown of Worst Case Scenario #7: trump AS A RUSSIAN AGENT. Straight up treason.

But here's the upsetting thing. Scenario #7 isn't the breaking point. Scenario #5 - where Russians actively infiltrated a Presidential campaign and trump knew/should have known - is just as bad as #7. This is the level where any honest citizen would have stopped and said "No". This is the point where a legal campaign would have drawn a line. ANY foreign intervention into our internal decision-making - our elections - would be tantamount to betraying every American living or dead who stood for our own nation's sovereign status.

trump and his Inner Circle crossed that line. They never said "No," they said "Yes" and repeatedly. They did it with eyes open and arms wide. Violating national security protocols we have in place to prevent foreign meddling, to stop foreign espionage and spying. They propped the door and let every crook in, because they are crooks themselves.

We're openly seeing evidence of Scenario #5 for trump's campaign, and every bit of it points to acts of treason.

And Cohen's revelations point to Russia being involved since the damned PRIMARIES, when trump was kneecapping Republican candidates from Jeb to Rubio to Kasich to Cruz to every other wanna-be who were left whimpering on the sidelines wondering how the hell they were beat. How does it feel, Republicans? HOW DOES IT FEEL TO KNOW YOUR OWN PRIMARY WAS COMPROMISED BY PUTIN?

To quote my boss Betty Cracker at Balloon Juice:

But here’s what matters: If Trump isn’t brought to justice, the United States of America will cease to exist as a sovereign nation. It’s frightening to face that fact, but face it we must because a criminal gang has seized the executive branch. We and our fellow citizens will either root them out, or we’ll pretend accept that this is just how things are now.

Welcome to the Darkest Timeline. Welcome to the Second Civil War, between us and Putin's Puppets.

Get to work saving the United States. STOP trump NOW. STOP THE REPUBLICAN PARTY FROM STEALING THE REST OF US. 'Cause right now, it's not really trump or the Republicans profiting from this crime. It's Putin. And the United States is going to suffer if he wins outright.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Grand Theft Elections

Update: (Not again! Every time it gets busy at work, I miss getting added to the daily Mike's Blog Round-Up at Crooksandliars.com! Sigh. Thank you this time to Frances Langum of the Professional Left podcasts!)

It used to be, not even that long ago, that the political parties showed at least some deference some respect to how the voters made up their minds each election cycle.

But something changed with the Republican Party. Whatever it's been that has driven that party further to the Right on issues, it's also driven them to a point where they won't even give Democrats a modicum of respect when the voters side with Dems.

We've seen it at the national level, when the Republicans dismissed and belittled Bill Clinton's Presidency, even pursuing any hint of scandal to find a way to impeach him out of office. We've seen it from Day One of Obama's entire tenure - with a plan of obstruction and denial on a scale never before seen - where they even denied Obama was an honest-to-God American.

And now we're seeing it at the state level. In situations where the voters have put a Democrat into the governor's office (or other elective executive offices like the Attorney General in Michigan), the Republican-controlled legislatures are holding "lame duck" sessions passing extremist laws taking away much of those offices' power or authority to do ANYTHING.

We saw it last elections in 2016 when North Carolina's GOP legislature decided to kneecap the incoming Democratic governor there (via Tara Golshan at Vox.com):

Within 48 hours, on a late December night in 2016, the Republican-controlled state legislature passed a series of bills that pulled Cooper’s ability to make key cabinet appointments without their approval, drastically cut the size of Cooper’s administration, and changed the Board of Elections so that Republicans would control it in election years. They ensured lawsuits had to first go through the Republican-controlled appeals court, before the Democratic-majority state Supreme Court.
Democrats — who thought of Cooper’s victory as one of the few bright spots in an otherwise devastating year for the party — were blindsided...

It doesn't matter if the North Carolina Dems have fought every twisted GOP law in the courts. It's caused just enough delay and confusion to where Governor Cooper has achieved little in office. A perfect example the state Leges in Michigan and Wisconsin are following with great relish.

Worse, the Republican legislatures are insulting the voters directly. Voter referendums that went against GOP dogma - like raising the minimum wage, or opening up voter registration to make it easier to vote - are being blatantly ignored, sabotaged, and overwritten.

To note what is happening in Michigan (via Nancy LeTourneau in Washington Monthly but linking to Paul Waldman in the WaPo ):

Republicans are responding to a Democratic sweep of statewide offices by giving the legislature the ability to overrule the attorney general on state lawsuits and take authority over campaign finance regulation away from the secretary of state. They are also considering a bill to cut off voter registration 14 days before every election, in effect overruling a same-day registration initiative voters just passed...
...Michigan activists had organized to get enough signatures to put a couple of items on the ballot: an increase in the minimum wage and paid sick leave for all workers. If those initiatives had been approved by voters, a two-thirds majority in the legislature would be needed to amend them.
In September, both of those measures were passed, exactly as written, by the state legislature, ensuring they would be removed from the ballot. Over the last week, however, Republican legislators have amended them via a simple majority vote...

The Republicans knew those referendum items were too popular, so they staged a fake-out to get them removed from the ballot and then when all was safe rewrote everything so that the voters would get screwed.

This is not governance. This is bullying.

If we can go back to Golshan at Vox:

“North Carolina set a precedent in playing a kind of political hardball that we haven’t seen in other places,” Rick Hasen, an election law scholar with the University of California Irvine, said. “Does it spiral out of control? This has been more asymmetric with Republicans, but I don’t think it would always stay that way...”
In Wisconsin, some of these proposals passed on Wednesday, and Republican Gov. Scott Walker said he would sign them into law. In all, they would limit Evers’s power to change policies around welfare, health care, and economic development, cut down early voting, and allow the Republican-led legislature to undermine the attorney general, giving them the power to block his decision to remove Wisconsin from federal lawsuits.
“Power-hungry politicians rushed through sweeping changes to our laws to expand their own power and override the will of the people of Wisconsin who asked for change on November 6th,” Evers said in a statement.
In Michigan, a Republican proposal would guarantee the GOP-controlled legislature the right to intervene in any legal battles involving state laws that the attorney general may be reluctant to defend, like restrictions for same-sex couples looking to adopt...
This isn’t normal. There’s a basic understanding in a democracy that when one party wins, they have won.
But Republicans across the country are explicitly rejecting election outcomes. In Wisconsin, the Republican state House Speaker Rep. Robin Vos said the reforms were necessary because otherwise, he said, “we are going to have a very liberal governor who is going to enact policies that are in direct contrast to what many of us believe in.”
These legislatures are turning to extremes, and before long those extremes can become the new norm.
“It’s a further devolution of norms of democracy, where the losers accept the results of an election and move on,” Hasen said. “This is about polarization generally, and a break down of political norms...”

Back to LeTourneau:

Over the last few years, we’ve witnessed many examples of how Republicans have been willing to spit in the face of our democratic principles to maintain their power. But this one should probably take its place at the top of the list. Could it be any more obvious that Republicans have nothing but contempt for the voting public? If this little charade is allowed to stand, what it will take to wake people up to that reality?

This has been one of the reasons why I'd been screaming STOP VOTING REPUBLICAN for the longest time. Republicans are not concerned with leading or responding to the people's will: Republicans want power and more of it, and Republicans want their tax-cut and patriarchal Utopia at all costs. They are willing to bend and break every rule to keep in power even when the majority of Americans are telling them NO We Do Not Trust You With That Anymore.

This is how we've gotten to Minority Rule of an increasingly shrinking and dying party unwilling to accept their losses when they happen and rebuild into a more responsive party.

It would be pretty to think that the growing Majority of Voters will push back, stop voting Republican, drive them out of office. But the bastards are exploiting their ungodly advantage of Gerrymandering to rig the votes, to give them enough seats in the Legislatures to keep rigging more votes and more tricks and more obstruction to favor them.

We're not going to see a truly representative state where the Republicans hold sway. They can't afford to let that happen. We are not going to see any salvation until Gerrymandering itself is wiped out of our electoral process once and for all.

Until then, every election is under threat of thievery by the GOP.

Gods help us.

Getting Ready for the 2018 Saturnalia Season

I've been thinking about making a Saturnalia logo or artwork to make my own Saturnalia stuff - Hallmark DOES NOT respect the holidays like this - so I went and made this:


Thing is, it just... sits there. Kinda underwhelming.

I think I need to add more wine and gambling imagery.

Anyway, I got a little shop up on CafePress to see about getting myself greeting cards printed up.

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Things I Remember About Bush The Elder 1924 - 2018

With Bush Sr's. passing yesterday, this has been a day of reflection and pondering.

His was the Presidency of my college years, and the first election I voted in. So there's a lot of significance in this for me looking back at what I recall (more than the Character review I made about five years ago).


  • I voted for Bush as President. Yes, in hindsight voting for ANY Republican feels blasphemous. But in 1988 as a college freshman I couldn't really recognize the damage - on social issues and public health issues like the AIDS crisis and the Drug War - being done. And a lot of the REALLY BAD stuff the Republicans would get into came during the 1990s under darker leadership by Newt Gingrich and others.
  • Bush on foreign policy was one of the more competent Presidents we had, overseeing a serious transitional moment with the collapse of Communism, the opening of Eastern Europe, and political power shifts across every continent.
  • Bush *was* quick on the trigger finger when it came to troop deployments, border clashes, and straight-up war. People seem to forget we sent in armed forces to overthrow Noriega in Panama in 1989 on what turned out to be sketchy reports. There was also the first Persian Gulf War/invasion of Iraq in 1990-91 where U.S. mishandling of Saddam - our government saw him as a useful opponent against a hostile Iran throughout the 1980s - allowed that dictator to invade Kuwait and disrupt the local balance of power. Towards the end of his term, Bush sent troops into Somalia as a peace-keeping force to help the citizenry during a famine caused by civil war... but doesn't leave in place an agenda or pull-out strategy, leaving it to Clinton.
  • Bush did attempt bipartisan dealing with a Democratic-controlled Congress... by agreeing to tax hikes that went against the Supply-Side dogma of many Republicans who came to power during the Reagan years. It actually triggered an intraparty revolt by Newt that drove out moderates (RINOs) and led to the current monstrous party leadership running the GOP now.
  • As a political campaigner, Bush was a nasty piece of work, relying on slander and mudslinging even in the 1960s as a Texas Congressman. The Willie Horton attack ads of the 1988 Presidential campaign was a new low - even compared to the harsh "Daisy" ad LBJ ran against Goldwater in 1964 - and essentially opened up a new era of dirty campaigning that has darkened our electorate since (and it's a tactic his own sons Dubya and Jeb rely on far too often themselves).
  • Bush *did* preside over major achievements such as the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a major Immigration Reform act (something the modern GOP would never touch), a key Civil Rights Act protecting workers from discrimination, overall reductions in nuclear weapons across the globe...
  • Oh, and he gave Dana Carvey good reason to earn a paycheck on Saturday Night Live for 4 straight years.


Seriously, message received.

Friday, November 30, 2018

The Ballot Ballad of Bladen County

You wanna know what voter fraud REALLY looks like?


There are two major pieces to this puzzle: First, specific allegations of unusual activities related to absentee ballots, made in a series of affidavits submitted to the state board by lawyers for the Democratic Party, and second, analyses by political experts suggesting the number of absentee ballots requested but not returned in the Ninth District was unusually high...
* One voter says a young woman came to her house and asked for her absentee ballot because she was collecting them. The voter had made her choice for only two offices on the ballot, but still gave her ballot to the young woman, who said she would fill out the rest (Note: OMFG THIS IS ILLEGAL AS HELL).
* Another voter also says a young woman came to her house and claimed she was responsible for collecting absentee ballots. The voter filled out her ballot while the young woman waited; the woman then took the ballot, but never asked the voter to sign it and did not put it in a sealed envelope (Note: I've done door-to-door canvassing offering to hand-deliver absentee ballots-by-mail. We *had* to ensure the signatures, put it in envelopes, and leave a receipt. It doesn't seem like this woman did any of that).
* A third voter says she did not request an absentee ballot but received one in the mail anyway.
* A fourth person says she saw unusual activity at a polling site: election results being run after polls closed on the last day of early voting and observed by people who were not elections judges, which she understood to be “improper.” The person said she also helped tabulate absentee ballots after the election that were quite worn and had “coding” written on them.
* A fifth person, Dwight Sheppard, says he overheard people talking outside a polling station on Election Day who said a well-known local operative, Leslie McCrae Dowless, Jr., would be paid a $40,000 bonus if Harris won the election.
* In another affidavit — signed and witnessed, but not notarized — a sixth person said he actually talked to Dowless in April during the Republican primary, in which Harris upset sitting Republican Rep. Robert Pittenger (Note: Hmmmmm), According to this person, Dowless said he was working on the absentee vote for Harris, that he had 80 people working for him, and that he accepted cash payments only from campaigns.
This isn’t the first time Dowless’s name has come up in relation to voting shenanigans: In 2016, several people filed complaints about campaign workers hired by Dowless who were collecting absentee ballots, as WECT reported at the time...

You might notice that at no point did any group of "questionable" or "illegal" voters showed up by the bus-load to stuff ballots. Every tidbit of "questionable" actions were by campaign/party workers. This has nothing to do with illegal voters: it has everything to do with illegal campaigners.

Back to Point Two: A high count of absentee balloting within two counties - Bladen and Robeson - with even higher counts of non-returns.

Most of the attention has focused on two counties in the Ninth: Bladen and Robeson, in the southeast corner of the state near the South Carolina border. Notably, each of the affidavits provided by Democratic attorneys involved voters in Bladen County, and one man said that Dowless himself had stated he was working on absentee ballots for Harris in the county.
Michael Bitzer, a politics professor at Catawba College who obsessively follows North Carolina, documented the unusual trend in those counties: They had a much higher rate of mail-in absentee ballots that were requested but not returned, compared to other counties in the Ninth District...
And at the district level, according to Bitzer’s calculations, the Ninth had a much higher rate of unreturned absentee ballots than any other district in North Carolina...

If you follow the link back to Vox, you'll see the charts showing the discrepancies. The volume of non-returns jumps way out of the scope of statistical norms compared to the other counties.

What makes this matter really striking is how the response has been. The state's Elections Board - the oversight authority - is freaking out:

The state board took these allegations seriously enough to vote unanimously — with four Democratic members, four Republicans, and one unaffiliated member — not to certify the results from the Ninth District earlier this week.
Democrats want further investigation into these various allegations of odd behavior and possible tampering, and the state board seems ready to pursue the matter. At the end of the day, North Carolina law allows the elections board to call for a new election if there is evidence that casts doubt on the basic fairness of the vote. The number of ballots in doubt or in question doesn’t appear to make a difference...

The Harris campaign may yet win the argument that overturning the results shouldn't happen. The statistical oddities may not point to an overall attempt to rig the ballots by messing with the absentee/mail-in voting.

But something is rotten in the State of Denmark Counties of Bladen and Robeson. An honest investigation into what happened in those places and how the entire 9th District may have been subverted needs to take place.

 

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Waiting For the Week It All Goes Down

It's been established that federal investigators clamp down on issuing indictments or make public statements about cases that would affect things in the months before an election - which is THE reason James Comey will NEVER be forgiven for that nothingburger of a "But Her Emails" report the week before Nov. 9 2016 - so now that the midterms are over (and Thanksgiving done and did) there's a ton of expectations about Mueller's ongoing special counsel cases surrounding Russia's interference in the 2016 elections.

The buzz is out there that Mueller has been sitting on "dozens" of sealed indictments, with various trump Inner Circle players - Roger Stone, donnie junior himself - reportedly telling their friends they're facing charges. trump himself has been going through noticeable mood swings in public, and had re-upped his attacks on Mueller post-election.

With yesterday's announcement that Mueller is pulling Paul Manafort's plea agreement over the fact that Manafort has continued lying to investigators, we're facing a likely moment for those sealed indictments to go out, linking Manafort's culpability to the people about to get arrested.

An interesting side note is "why did Manafort endanger his plea deal in the first place?" I caught this little tidbit on Twitter:


Quick link to Emptywheel here:

Paulie can’t help himself. According to Mueller’s team, he has kept lying and lying since entering the cooperation agreement.
After signing the plea agreement, Manafort committed federal crimes by lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Special Counsel’s Office on a variety of subject matters, which constitute breaches of the agreement. The government will file a detailed sentencing submission to the Probation Department and the Court in advance of sentencing that sets forth the nature of the defendant’s crimes and lies, including those after signing the plea agreement herein.
As the defendant has breached the plea agreement, there is no reason to delay his sentencing herein.
As I noted back in September, the standard the government has to prove to claim Manafort has breached his agreement is just “good faith,” as compared to preponderance of the evidence with Rick Gates...
Just about the only explanation for Manafort’s actions are that — as I suggested — Trump was happy to have Manafort serve as a mole in Mueller’s investigation.
But Mueller’s team appears to have no doubt that Manafort was lying to them. That means they didn’t really need his testimony, at all. It also means they had no need to keep secrets — they could keep giving Manafort the impression that he was pulling a fast one over the prosecutors, all while reporting misleading information to Trump that he could use to fill out his open book test. Which increases the likelihood that Trump just submitted sworn answers to those questions full of lies...

If Manafort was an attempt to subvert the investigation within, it didn't work. If it did anything, it revealed that Mueller's team has more damaging - and VERIFIABLE - information on hand condemning a lot of players in trump's world. Worse, Mueller's investigators gave trump enough room to condemn himself by likely answering their questionnaire all wrong.

All this means one thing: a lot of people are facing a lot of jail time (unless trump breaks every foundation of the Constitution first). What does this actually mean?

The most likely targets of the indictment will be every person who showed up at the June  9 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between Russians and trump's campaign. This is huge: the most direct link of trump's people to a foreign power in discussions to get aid from that foreign power to steal the election.

So who we know was AT the meeting:

Americans
donald trump junior, inner circle family confidant
Jared Kushner, trump's son-in-law and major campaign advisor
Paul Manafort, at the time trump's campaign manager

Russians
Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer with Kremlin connections
Irakly Kaveladze, a Georgian-American, under investigation for money laundering
Rinat Akhmetshin, a Russian-American lobbyist accused of ties to Russian intelligence
Anatoli Samochornov, Vesenlitskaya's translator

Brit
Rob Goldstone, business go-between and media PR for Russian entertainers/ connected figures.

(If anyone noticed anybody hiding behind the coffee cart in the corner, I hope they get named too)

It's unlikely the Russians will see a courtroom in the U.S. but any charges will restrict their ability to travel outside of Russia. So the real damage is going to hit the Americans and the Brit Goldstone (unless he flees jurisdiction, but I doubt the UK government will give him any protection).

While the direct participants are in serious danger, there's a question mark about the people who knew the meeting happened but didn't personally attend. They could be on the hook - under charge of conspiracy, or related charges to any criminal activity that happened because of that meeting - and it may explain the "dozens of indictments" that insiders say are out there.

It would be interesting to see how broad a net Mueller will cast when the indictments go out.

He'd better do it quick, before we get distracted by our Saturnalia decorating and party plans.