By Lucy Komisar
July 24, 2019
Some notes from today’s surreal House Judiciary and Intelligence Committee hearing where the Democratic inquisitors showed fake outrage and frequent ignorance about the subject of Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election. The Republicans refused to challenge the evidence-free premise of massive, albeit unproved, Russian interference, which put them at a big disadvantage. And nobody mentioned the unseen elephant in the room, William Browder.
At the Judiciary & Intelligence Committee Hearing
More Robert Mueller fakery. He said when it came to computer crimes, the Russian government was “implicated.” Implicated is vague. Another way of saying we have no proof. Is that the new legal standard for conviction? He wrote about “sweeping and systematic” interference. Still no evidence. So “implicated” means there is no proof. Nobody followed that up.
How could the Russian government have used Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort‘s polling data to interfere in the election? Would they change their campaign strategy? (Joke) Followed by the complaint that Manafort met with Russians and their agents. However, Tom McClintock (R-Calif) pointed out the focus there was Konstantin Kilimnik, a Ukrainian who also has Russian citizenship and has been identified as a source for the U.S. State Department!
Joe Neguse (D-Col) about the Trump Tower meeting quoted the music publicist Rob Goldstone’s email to Trump Jr. as if it represented a real Russian effort to give dirt to Trump campaign when we know, Goldstone admitted, it was just a PR guy‘s effort to get a meeting. For Nataliya Veselnitskaya to talk with the Trump people about William Browder. Is Neguse just disingenuous or really stupid?
The Democrats’ fantasies
Adam Schiff (D-Calif) railed at “The most serious attack on our democracy by a foreign power in our history.” Really, ahead of Pearl Harbor or 9/11? Who died in the FB or DNC email attacks? Next to that, it was mild to hear his oft repeated but still unproved foreign adversary‘s sweeping and systematic intervention in a close U.S. presidential election. (Though home-grown racism and Citizens United are the real threats.)
Schiff: The Russians made outreach to the Trump campaign and no one called the FBI to report it. So, a music publicist‘s email should have launched a major investigation. He says the Trump campaign welcomed Russian help. It wasn‘t Russian “help,” it was lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya seeking to talk about Bill Browder, who had brought down the wrath of the Justice Dept on her client, Prevezon, targeted in its Browder proxy case aimed at protecting him from Russian charges of then $40 mil (now much larger) in tax evasion. Browder, BTW, went unmentioned in the hearings, even when they focused on the Trump Tower meeting.
Terri Sewell, (D-Ala): “The crown prosecutor of Russia offered to provide….support of Mr. Trump.” But, Russia doesn‘t have a crown prosecutor, England does. Did she check that out? Or anything else about the Goldstone puffed up email? And “the Russian delegation” she cited didn‘t have dirt abut Clinton, but about the tax evasion of a Browder client, the Ziffs. There was no delegation, just the lawyer. (And an observer connected to a Russian who facilitated the meeting.) Sewell was clueless.
Mueller talked about the GRU (Russian military intelligence) agents indictment for conspiracy. That‘s the case the NY Judge Friedrich told him to stop lying about. Because he didn’t have the claimed evidence. To top that, Jackie Speier, (D-Cal): “It wasn‘t just an intervention but an invasion, sinister and scheming!” Whew, quite a melodrama. Evidence, Mme Congresswoman?
Republicans weigh in
Even Devin Nunes, (R-Calif), started off base calling Fusion GPS a political operations firm. No, it‘s an investigations company that works mostly for law firms. Then he got more inventive. He said the Clinton campaign “dirty ops arm” met with Natalia Veselnitskaya more times than the Trump Campaign. Except if Fusion met, it would be about the case of her client Denis Katsyv and his company Prevezon which it was investigating for the law firm she had hired in New York, not about Clinton. (But that would get us back to Browder, whose name was apparently not allowed to be mentioned at these hearings.)
Finally, Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) made some sense, pointing out that Mueller‘s investigation showed no evidence that members of the Trump campaign played a role in the theft or publication of Clinton campaign emails and that it was inaccurate to claim that by the time of the Trump Tower meeting, the campaign knew that Russians had damaging information on Clinton.
Today’s exhibition of stupidity and Russophobic venality, largely by the Democrats, was depressing. Especially their smarmy talk about honesty when we know we have the best Congress money can buy, by Wall Street and corporations! (Can we remember their comments when they take lobbyists jobs if/when they lose their seats?)
The most bizarre fact of the hearings, of course, is that nobody talked about William Browder, the hidden figure at the origins of the Trump Tower meeting and a force in the Russiagate that made today’s vaudeville possible.
See earlier story of what the Mueller Report got wrong.