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Notes on the Mueller Report: A Reading Diary


Thursday I surveyed the entire Mueller report. I read some sections carefully; I skimmed others. My job was to anchor Lawfare’s initial coverage, so I needed to have a sense of the big picture, as well as detailed knowledge of certain findings and arguments. Starting Friday, however, I am reading the entire document carefully, starting at the beginning. I’m writing up my thoughts as I go in this post. There will be no cohesive argument to this journal. It will simply be a collection of my observations, questions and thoughts as I go through the document. It will get long. I will not attempt to summarize the underlying document, merely to reflect on it, but I will organize this post by document section. I will update the post as I read. I hope people find it useful.

The following table of contents are links to the sections of this journal, which correspond to sections of the report itself:

Introduction to Volume I

The Special Counsel Investigation

Russian "Active Measures" Social Media Campaign

GRU Hacking Directed at the Clinton Campaign

Russian Government Links to and Contacts with the Trump Campaign

Prosecution and Declination Decisions

Introduction to Volume II

Background Legal and Evidentiary Principles

Factual Results of the Obstruction Investigation

B. The President's Conduct Concerning the Investigation of Michael Flynn

C. The President's Reaction to Public Confirmation of the FBI's Russia Investigation

D. Events Leading Up to and Surrounding the Termination of FBI Director Comey

E. The President's Efforts to Remove the Special Counsel

F. The President's Efforts to Curtail the Special Counsel Investigation

G. The President's Efforts to Prevent Disclosure of Emails About the June 9, 2016, Meeting Between Russians and Senior Campaign Officials

H. The President’s Further Efforts to Have the Attorney General Take Over the Investigations

I. The President Orders McGahn to Deny That the President Tried to Fire the Special Counsel

J. The President’s Conduct Toward Flynn, Manafort, [REDACTED]

K. The President’s Conduct Involving Michael Cohen

L. Overarching Factual Issues

Legal Defense to the Application of Obstruction-of-Justice Statutes to the President

Introduction to Volume I

This is a short little section, barely two pages, but it has several interesting items in it, starting with Mueller’s almost casual endorsement of the FBI’s historical account of the Russia investigation’s origins. In the middle of page 1, Mueller describes the investigation as beginning when “a foreign government contacted the FBI about a May 2016 encounter with Trump Campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos.” Papadopoulos, Mueller writes, had “suggested to a representative of that foreign government that the Trump Campaign had received indications from the Russian government that it could assist the Campaign through the anonymous release of information damaging to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.” It was that information, the paragraph concludes, that “prompted the FBI on July 31, 2016, to open an investigation into whether individuals associated with the Trump Campaign were coordinating with the Russian government in its interference activities.”

"Ice Ice Baby" re-done with Game of Thrones

Ice Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice 1989


New York City in 1911


2 minutes and 20 seconds, courtesy of MoMA

(the motion seems normal, which is slower than typical film I have seen of that era, maybe modified ?)

(Jewish Group) Twitter sucks at anti-semitic moderation

Case in point:



Poland's Populists Pick a New Top Enemy: Gay People


WARSAW — Growing up in a small city in southern Poland, part of a religious family and conservative community, Maciej Gosniowski was told again and again that something was wrong with him.

“It would be better if I changed myself,” he recalled teachers telling him. “It would be better if I behaved more like a boy. It would make my life easier.”

Mr. Gosniowski was beaten by other students who used homophobic slurs he did not yet understand. He does not want other young people to suffer as he did, so he welcomed the decision by the mayor of Warsaw to introduce a declaration last month aimed at promoting tolerance.

But the backlash to the declaration has left him shaken.

Trump's D.C. Hotel Tagged With $5 Million in Unpaid Worker Liens (from January 2017)


Donald Trump’s new Washington hotel, located just blocks from the White House, owes electricians, wood workers and a plumbing and heating business more than $5 million for unpaid labor, according to liens filed against the property with the District of Columbia.

The 263-room hotel, located on the historic site of the city’s former main post office, opened in October following a $212 million renovation of the 1899 structure. The liens were filed in November and December, according to public records.

(rest behind paywall)

Does anyone know if Trump actually paid these contractors ???? I put this originally in LBN, my apologies.

(Jewish Group) If You Are Defending Stephen Miller, You Are an Ally of Anti-Semitism


Last fall, Stephen Miller encouraged the president to focus his midterm message on the threat posed by a caravan of Central American migrants. Trump proceeded to tell supporters that this caravan was an “invasion,” that “the Democrats had something to do with it,” and that he “wouldn’t be surprised” if the Jewish billionaire George Soros was financing this “invasion” in an attempt to rig the midterm elections.

Lee Zeldin did not object to these remarks. In his view, it was not anti-Semitic (or even irresponsible) for the president to suggest that a wealthy Jew was orchestrating an invasion of the United States, using nonwhite immigrants as his shock troops — even though the president was saying such things just days after a neo-Nazi had murdered 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue because he believed that Jews were orchestrating an invasion of the United States, using nonwhite immigrants as their shock troops. Instead, Zeldin chose to demonstrate his solidarity with American Jews last fall by inviting Steve Bannon to headline one of his campaign events.

It is worth noting that even if Trump’s revanchist nativism didn’t contain traces of anti-Semitism, it would remain a form of politics that endangers Diaspora Jews. Jewish reactionaries like Stephen Miller might be able to assimilate to the form of Americanism that Trump champions. But the vast majority of American Jews are liberal, cosmopolitan, and secularist. Which is to say: They are the “globalist” villains in Trumpism’s Manichaean fable of American decline.

And even if Trump’s politics did not endanger Jews, anyone who has ever uttered “never again” in earnest would still be obliged to oppose him. If you are a Jew who has “zero tolerance” for anti-Semitism — but infinite tolerance for a president who describes immigrants as an “infestation,” and directs extrajudicial cruelty at their children — then you aren’t so different from the Nazis’ apologists. You share their conviction that some populations are entitled to basic rights, while others are not.

Amazon moving thousands of employees out of Seattle, relocating key division to nearby city


Amazon plans to relocate its entire Seattle-based worldwide operations team to Bellevue, Wash., by 2023, adding thousands of employees to its new campus just across Lake Washington, according to an internal email obtained by GeekWire.

Moving a large and critical team away from Amazon’s Seattle headquarters is a significant relocation of employees on its own, but it’s also a weighty symbolic gesture — the clearest sign yet that the tech giant is cooling on its hometown while doubling down on a neighboring city.

“I’m excited to share the news that we’re planning to migrate worldwide operations to Bellevue starting this year,” said Dave Clark, the senior vice president in charge of the team, in an email to his employees Wednesday. “This move gives room to grow while maintaining the campus feel that we’ve come to love around South Lake Union.”

Sources familiar with the plans said several thousand employees will be moving to Bellevue in the years ahead. Amazon confirmed the authenticity of the email obtained by GeekWire.

"Chuntering", a new addition to my vocabulary (if I can remember it)

chunter in British
(ˈtʃʌntə ) or chunner (ˈtʃʌnə )
(intransitive; often foll by on) British informal
to mutter or grumble incessantly in a meaningless fashion

reference: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2019-04-03/debates/5F15A794-4045-4A04-A714-1FED79C45726/EuropeanUnion(Withdrawal)(No5)Bill

(at 9 PM by Sir William Cash, a prominent Eurosceptic)

Sir William Cash
Absolutely; the idea of our subjecting ourselves to the European Council as well as to the European Parliament is about as humiliating as anybody could imagine. I suppose we are not supposed to say this but it happens to be true: we saved Europe twice in the last 100 years, yet we are now, as a result of this withdrawal agreement and these provisions, subjugating ourselves to the decisions taken by 27 other member states by majority vote.

9.00 pm

I see that the Opposition Front-Bench spokesman is chuntering. Perhaps he would like to come to the Dispatch Box and make his point. No, he is not going to, because he cannot understand what I am talking about, because he has not actually got the competence to do so.

I thought I heard him say this last night during the debate on parliamentlive.uk, but now the official record confirms it

CGI video of Amazon blimp-ship with small drones exiting and entering.....


in reference to : https://twitter.com/KBrownianMotion/status/1113150262947008512

and: https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2016/12/amazons-demented-plans-for-its-warehouse-blimp-with-drone-fleet/
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