Not Mueller Time – At Last!

At his wrap-up press conference in May, Robert Mueller sternly underscored what he called "the central allegation" of the two-year Russia probe. Namely, that the Russian government engaged in

"multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election, and that allegation deserves the attention of every American."

Today’s gong show on Capitol Hill presented him with innumerable opportunities to defend that heavy duty proposition.

Indeed, he had a massive TV audience before which to fortify the entire foundation on which the Russia meddling/collusion story is based and on which a concerted effort have been made by a goodly part of the Washington establishment to invalidate the 2016 election on the grounds that the Kremlin threw it to Trump.

But nothing doing. Instead, Mueller ducked, dodged and demurred – hiding behind the words of his 448-page report. Yet the latter doesn’t even attempt to "prove" this "central allegation" at all; it just asserts it based on purportedly classified information that the unwashed voters and most of their elected representatives are not allowed to see.

More crucially, both before and since the Report’s release, even its squishy nods and heavily qualified inferences implicating Russian state agents have been essentially refuted by evidence now on the public record.

The two tent poles of the whole RussiaGate affair are the social media campaigns of the St. Petersburg troll farm and the alleged hack of the DNC computers by Russian state operatives. That’s not our view but the claim of the Mueller report itself which said the alleged Russian interference occurred “principally through two operations.”

Yet both poles are so flimsy that they can’t be taken seriously by anybody who examines the facts with even a half-open, adult mind.

In a word, the troll farm’s efforts at using US social media were an amateurish joke which were well and truly lost in the sea of noise and trivia which washes through Facebook, Twitter et. al, and which had no relationship to the Kremlin in any event (see below). Likewise, the overwhelming evidence on the public record says the DNC emails were leaked by a disgruntled insider not hacked by Russian agents operating over the internet thousands of miles away.

We have buttressed both of these conclusions at length previously, and the essence is summarized below. But the implications go way beyond knocking the RussiaGate hoax into a cocked-hat.

What the two flimsy tent poles really show is the extreme danger of statism and the inherent infirmities of Big Government itself.

That’s because in today’s world of relentless 24/7 communications and messaging, haphazard information, random facts and mere factoids can be drafted into the service of a narrative that serves partisan ends, and then can be repeated with such monumental frequency and plenary breadth as to give the aura of truth to what amounts to self-serving nonsense.

That is to say, scratch a Washington pol, Deep State apparatchik or MSM journalist who embraces the "central allegation" of RussiaGate and you essentially have a Never Trumper who finds the Donald and that for which he stands so loathsome that they, perforce, must believe he was elected only by virtue of Kremlin intervention.

To RussiaGate believers, the alternative is not even thinkable. To wit, that 62 million voters knowingly preferred the Donald over Hillary – notwithstanding all his warts of character and his querulous denunciations of establishment policy and its officialdom.

Accordingly, the evidence needed to validate the Russian interference narrative was never examined deeply or subjected to skeptical assessment and challenge; it was just lined-up and recited endlessly as if the mere repetition of factoids, irrelevancies and sheer foolishness proved the truth of the narrative.

Still, if a proposition as grave as "multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election" can be embraced by a major section of the governing apparatus on such threadbare evidence as the two poles of the RussiaGate story how is it possible for Imperial Washington to rule the entire world or to micro-manage the very warp and woof of domestic economic and social life?

Indeed, if there was ever a case for free markets, small government, maximum individual liberty and minimal politicization of society at home and strict non-interventionism abroad, the RussiaGate Hoax is exactly that.

What today’s gong show really proved is that the governing classes and their media megaphones in America today cannot even chew bubble gum and walk a straight line at the same time. So why in the world do we want them to rule where no rulers are needed?

In any event, the St. Petersburg troll farm narrative is now deader than a doornail. Mueller and his posse have actually been prohibited from even asserting in public that it was a Kremlin operation by a U.S. District judge.

That’s right. Because they didn’t have a shred of evidence to support their insinuation!

That was proven in open court when much to Mueller’s surprise, the operation involved – the Internet Research Agency (IRS) – chose to defend itself and the 13 clueless ham sandwiches Mueller indicted and in so doing elicited a stern admonition from the presiding judge.

Thus, the first pole of the RussiaGate tent – the allegation that IRA was a part of the Russian government’s “sweeping and systematic” interference campaign – has already tumbled to the ground. Mueller’s team has been forced to admit in court that this was a false insinuation.

Aaron Mate, an intrepid and honest leftwing journalist for the Nation magazine, recently summarized the matter as well as anyone:

US District Judge Dabney Friedrich noted that Mueller’s February 2018 indictment of the IRA “ does not link the {IRA} to the Russian government" and alleges “only private conduct by private actors.”

Jonathan Kravis, a senior prosecutor on the Mueller team, acknowledged that this is the case. “[T]he report itself does not state anywhere that the Russian government was behind the Internet Research Agency activity,” Kravis told the court.

Mueller also goes to great lengths to paint it as a sophisticated operation that “had the ability to reach millions of US persons.” Yet, as we already know, most of the Russian social media content was juvenile clickbait that had nothing to do with the election (only 7 percent of IRA’s Facebook posts mentioned either Trump or Clinton). There is also no evidence that the political content reached a mass audience, and to the extent it reached anyone, most of it occurred after the election.

Indeed, 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.

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 been 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 via the IRA social media operation was always complete nonsense.

Needless to say, of course, if there was no "meddling", how could there have been Trump campaign "collusion" to accomplish something which didn’t happen?

As to the DNC emails, the notion that the Russian GRU (intelligence service) hacked the DNC emails and handed them off to WikiLeaks has now been equally discredited.

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 via a nefarious hacking operation, the digital fingerprints would be all over the computers and servers 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 at the get-go 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 and servers – 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. In fact, the whole case is based on a redacted draft report from an anti-Russian cyber-security outfit called CrowdStrike that was on the DNC payroll and had every incentive to find secret evidence of Russian hacking that has never been made public – or even available to Mueller and his posse of alleged criminal sleuths.

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.

Left-wing investigator Aaron Mate has distilled the same facts we have examined and come to the same conclusions.

But a close examination of the report shows that none of those headline assertions are supported by the report’s evidence or other publicly available sources. They are further undercut by investigative shortcomings and the conflicts of interest of key players involved:

  • The report uses qualified and vague language to describe key events, indicating that Mueller and his investigators do not actually know for certain whether Russian intelligence officers stole Democratic Party emails, or how those emails were transferred to WikiLeaks.

  • The report’s timeline of events appears to defy logic. According to its narrative, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange announced the publication of Democratic Party emails not only before he received the documents but before he even communicated with the source that provided them.

  • There is strong reason to doubt Mueller’s suggestion that an alleged Russian cutout called Guccifer 2.0 supplied the stolen emails to Assange.

  • Mueller’s decision not to interview Assange – a central figure who claims Russia was not behind the hack – suggests an unwillingness to explore avenues of evidence on fundamental questions.

  • US intelligence officials cannot make definitive conclusions about the hacking of the Democratic National Committee computer servers because they did not analyze those servers themselves. Instead, they relied on the forensics of CrowdStrike, a private contractor for the DNC that was not a neutral party, much as “Russian dossier” compiler Christopher Steele, also a DNC contractor, was not a neutral party. This puts two Democrat-hired contractors squarely behind underlying allegations in the affair – a key circumstance that Mueller ignores.

  • Further, the government allowed CrowdStrike and the Democratic Party’s legal counsel to submit redacted records, meaning CrowdStrike and not the government decided what could be revealed or not regarding evidence of hacking.

At the end of the day, there can be nothing more pitiful after 22 months of prosecutorial scorched earth on the Russian collusion file than Mueller’s list of indictments. To remind once again, they 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.

And today he said exactly nothing to alter that conclusion.

Perhaps there is a silver lining, however. Maybe now the RussiaGate "investigation" can turn to the real election meddling – the Deep State conspiracy lead by CIA director John Brennan and the anti-Trump cabal at the FBI to thwart Trump’s candidacy and then discredit his Presidency once he was elected to the nation’s highest office.

We will have more to say about the real assault on American democracy from within in the future, but if you do not believe that the entire Russian influence investigation was motivated by rank political animus against the GOP’s presidential candidate because he advocated the sensible path of rapprochement with Russia, just consider the paragraph below.

It tells you all you need to know about why RussiaGate happened; why the Mueller investigation dragged on for two years and still pollutes the media airways; and, most importantly, how the so-called progressive party in America in its grief over losing the 2016 election to an incompetent megalomaniacal bully like Donald Trump has become a pathetic handmaid of the Warfare State.

“I do always hate the Russians,” Lisa Page, a senior FBI lawyer on the Russia case testified to Congress in July 2018. “It is my opinion that with respect to Western ideals and who it is and what it is we stand for as Americans, Russia poses the most dangerous threat to that way of life.”

As he opened the FBI’s probe of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russians in July 2016, FBI agent peter Strzok texted Page: “fuck the cheating motherfucking Russians… Bastards. I hate them… I think they’re probably the worst. Fucking conniving cheating savages.” Speaking to NBC News in May 2017, former director of national intelligence James Clapper explained why US officials saw interactions between the Trump camp and Russian nationals as a cause for alarm: “The Russians,” Clapper said, “almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever, which is a typical Russian technique. So we were concerned.”

In a May interview with Lawfare, former FBI general counsel Jim Baker, who helped oversee the Russia probe, explained the origins of the investigation as follows: “It was about Russia, period, full stop.… When the [George] Papadopoulos information comes across our radar screen, it’s coming across in the sense that we were always looking at Russia.… we’ve been thinking about Russia as a threat actor for decades and decades.”

Indeed, all along it was all about War Party policy on Russia. Per the NYT:

Mr. Trump had caught the attention of F.B.I. counterintelligence agents when he called on Russia during a campaign news conference in July 2016 to hack into the emails of his opponent, Hillary Clinton. Mr. Trump had refused to criticize Russia on the campaign trail, praising President Vladimir V. Putin. And investigators had watched with alarm as the Republican Party softened its convention platform on the Ukraine crisis in a way that seemed to benefit Russia.

Trump’s July 2016 comment was a joke, and the story about the GOP platform change was overblown, while the policy change made all the sense in the world. Even then, it was later undermined in practice when Trump sold weapons to Ukraine – a move that even Obama had opposed.

David Stockman was a two-term Congressman from Michigan. He was also the 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. He’s the author of three books, The Triumph of Politics: Why the Reagan Revolution Failed, The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America and TRUMPED! A Nation on the Brink of Ruin… And How to Bring It Back. He also is founder of David Stockman’s Contra Corner and David Stockman’s Bubble Finance Trader.