Mueller is bringing criminal charges: what that means

Mueller is bringing criminal charges: what that means

Robert Mueller is filing criminal charges against... probably Paul Manafort.  Best bet is Manafort, since he was told to expect an indictment a while back.  We know he was wiretapped, and the whole shebang.  Someone could get frog-marched Monday morning, and Manafort is the safest bet right now.

Yup, gotta bring up Ben Bradlee again.  As Executive Editor of the Washington Post, he wanted people to open up the paper every morning and say, "holy shit!"  And good, old, Nelson Polsby, my grad school advisor, used to say that it was our job, in academia, to tell the press, "no, not holy shit."  Instead, we should say something about how this is normal and expected and here's why this fits within our nifty, little social scientific models, or something like that.  And I'm getting pretty fed up with typing this, but...

Holy shit.

Mueller is bringing criminal charges.  Probably against Trump's former campaign manager, over Russia-related matters.  We'll have to wait to see the exact nature of the charges, but we are in holy shit territory unless this is the federal equivalent of a parking ticket.  Such things exist.  There are campaign finance violations in which a campaign accepts a set of contributions that collectively go over the legal limit because each individual contribution was smaller than the limit, or something like that, but that's not what Mueller was charged with investigating.  We'll see what the charges are, and I'll reserve some judgment based on that, but for this morning, I'll write more about how we, in the political system, respond.

That's what's important.  Best bet right now is that the President's 2016 campaign manager is about to be criminally indicted for something related to Russia based on an investigation into Russian meddling in the election and the question of Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.  Divorced from any modern political mentality, that would be a scandal of almost unfathomable proportion.  A hostile foreign government having criminal ties to the former campaign manager of the current President, and having colluded with that manager to elect that President?  (Remember, Manafort was in on that meeting with Don Jr. and the Russian spy too...)  Think about reading this sequence in a history book, and comparing it to Watergate.  A break-in to steal some campaign documents doesn't even begin to compare to this.  Think about this in comparison to Bill Clinton lying about a blowjob.

If Manafort is charged with something directly related to the Trump campaign rather than just his own personal criminal activities, then the scale of what is about to happen is almost beyond comprehension.

The flip side of this is that Manafort himself is an incompetent criminal, and he might be indicted for purely personal criminal activities.  We do need to keep that in mind for right now.  (Again, assuming this is Manafort).  If that's the case, then the scandal is still there-- Trump's campaign manager was a crook, and that should be a major scandal too!  But, let's focus on the possibility that this is tied to Russian collusion.

The basic problem is that there is no historical precedent in America for any scandal of this type or on this scale.  Bribery, we know.  We have history and precedent, so we know how to respond, when evidence arises.  (It rarely does, but that's another matter...)  We as a country, though, are standing around staring at each other with a mix of reactions.  Anyone following the news without wearing some serious partisan blinders is regularly horrified by Donald Trump.  Retiring Republican politicians like Flake and Corker can speak out, Tillerson knows the deal, and some of the more honest Republican pundits will call Trump on his shit, but most people don't follow the news that closely.  If you are reading a political scientist's blog, you are following the news more closely than most.

That's why most people are grossly ignorant about politics.  Here's a simple demonstration.  In the 2016 American National Election Studies survey, we asked respondents if they could identify John Roberts.  Only 26.5% correctly identified him.  (Hopefully, if you are reading this, you know that he is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court-- a rather important person).  Most people don't follow politics, so they don't know shit about shit.

In the absence of knowledge, what do they do?  They take cues.  I know enough about history to know how unprecedented this Trump shit is without taking cues from others.  What about people who don't follow the news closely?  You know, the people who just get the occasional Facebook message, or turn on the local news in the background while trying to cook dinner for some screaming children?  They need cues from others.

Who sends those cues?  Mostly partisan opinion leaders.  That would be a combination of elected officials and media figures.  On the Democratic side, mostly they are a bunc
"Stick it up your you know what, Dotard! No Nobel For Yew!"

In two previous posts I predicted that all this yap about a N. Korean summit in which Kim Jong Un agrees to give up his nukes was total balderdash. I also stated flatly that Trump, aka Dotard, was counting his bribe money before it was dispersed by anticipating a Nobel Peace Prize like Obama received.  This asshole isn't even fit to lick the bottoms of Obama's wingtips, far less get an award from the Nobel Committee. Besides, why would that august organization tarnish its image and credibility in perpetuity by awarding a peace prize to a criminal traitor?

But the Dodos occupying the rat warrens of Trumpdom can't see beyond their grifter natures and simply couldn't admit that Kim wasn't going to just hand over his nuke and ballistic missile program which he'd invested thirty years building.   Indeed,  these Trumpie morons remain convinced that the North has shown some kind of good faith by tearing down a nuke test site (at Punggye-Ri). They still haven't gotten the memo that this site - based on more recent satellite radar imagery- was kaput anyway,  So the North isn't giving away anything at any cost to them (ditto in releasing the 3 prisoners). See e.g.

As I noted therein:

"The chances of the North "dismantling" its nukes are roughly the same as the Cleveland Browns winning the next two Super Bowls with their latest Boy Wonder QB, Baker Mayfield.  It ain't gonna happen!  You can take that to the bank. The North and Kim have not invested the past 30 years -  including recruiting rocket scientists from the former Soviet Union - to give it all up now on a whim, baseless media speculations, or Trump's braggadocio and threats. No way in hell!"

How could I be so certain Kim wouldn't capitulate to the exorbitant, excessive U.S. demands? Because I knew he wasn't a fucking idiot like Trump - who actually gave Kim every reason not to cooperate by tearing up the Iran nuclear deal. If the U.S. couldn't be trusted to complete a deal with a still non-nuclear power, why the hell would it do so with a nuclear power like the DPRK?  It also didn't help that "Ripper" Bolton got on Face the Nation Sunday and started barking like a rabid dog about how North Korea could be brought to heel using the same template as with Libya, (Recall 8 years after Ghaddafi gave up his weapons program he was overthrown and killed.)  This prompted North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye -Gwan to respond to Bolton's blurtations thusly:

"It is absolutely absurd to compare the DPRK, a nuclear weapon state, to Libya"   adding on Bolton:

"We do not hide our feelings of repugnance toward him".

Lest anyone forget, let's also recall it was the bombastic,  bellicose Bolton who wrote a piece in the WSJ advocating for a pre-emptive war with North Korea. (Feb. 28, The Legal Case For Striking North Korea First' ).   Bolton, screwball that he is, actually tried to invoke a "necessity" based on  an 1837  'test of necessity' formulated by Daniel Webster.  (Webster's test referred to when British forces invaded the U.S.  to destroy the steamboat 'Caroline' in 1837. It had been used by Canadian rebels to transport weapons into Ontario.)

So add it all up: The Bolton WSJ piece, Trump's subsequent appointment of Bolton as national security adviser, then pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal  - with Bolton again barking endless threats including to the Europeans if they don't fall into line and administer further sanctions. In this morass of betrayal and arrogance why wouldn't Kim find any excuse not to partake in some sham show summit for Donnie Dotard's ego?

Now we know North Korea has abruptly cancelled high-level talks with Seoul and threatened to pull out of a planned summit with Donald Trump if the U.S. continues to insist on the regime giving up all of its nuclear weapons. A North Korean official said the country had no interest in a summit with U.S.  if it was based on “one-sided” demands to give up nuclear weapons, according to state media. (I also suspect that Bolton's vow of multiple "on site inspections" , raised the specter of American snoops prowling all over the Hermit Kingdom, which spooked Kim and his defense ministers, Generals.)

Citing first vice minister of foreign affairs Kim Kye-Gwan, North Korea’s central news agency also said the fate of the US summit as well as bilateral relations “would be clear” if Washington speaks of a Libya-style denuclearization for the North.  Of course, for all intents, after what's transpired, this summit is D.O.A. Put a fork in it. The statement added that Trump would remain as a “failed president” if he followed in the steps of his  predecessors.

Kim Jong Un himself gave the game away by admitting:

 “We are no longer interested in a negotiation that will be all about driving us into a corner and making a one-sided demand for us to give up our nukes and this would force us to reconsider whether we would accept the North Korea-US summit meeting.”

The statement came after North Korea cancelled a meeting with South Korean officials just two hours before it was due to start on Wednesday, in protest at joint U.S. -South Korean military exercises, codenamed Max Thunder.   For North Korea, the presence of bombers in joint US-South Korea drills triggered painful memories of the 1950-53 Korean war.

According to U.S.  Air Force estimates, bombing raids by B-29s caused more damage to North Korea’s urban centers during that conflict than that seen in Germany or Japan during the second world war, with the U.S. dumping 635,000 tons of bombs on Korea compared with 503,000 tons during the entire Pacific war.  No surprise the North still nurses a grudge, or that it went on to develop its own nuclear weapons program as well as long range ballistic missiles which it is never going to give up - contrary to all the hegemonic fantasies of the Trumpies.

Yes, there is a slim chance, perhaps with probability 0.0000000000001, that some form  of talks might yet occur in Singapore. But it will be no more than a show, an optics display. And at the end, there will be nothing to show for it, and certainly no promise or expectation of any Nobel Peace Prize for Donnie Dotard.  The North Koreans and Kim learned only too well of U. S. treachery in deals from how it treated Iran, see e.g.

Joint Statement from Kim Jong Un and Trump after Summit

Pyongyang, June 13 (KCNA) -- The following is a joint statement of the Singapore summit signed by Kim Jong Un, chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and Donald J. Trump, president of the United States of America, on June 12:

Kim Jong Un, chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and Donald J. Trump, president of the United States of America, held the first historic summit in Singapore on June 12, 2018.

Chairman Kim Jong Un and President Trump conducted a comprehensive, in-depth and sincere exchange of opinions on the issues related to the establishment of new DPRK-U.S. relations and the building of a lasting and robust peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.

President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK and Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Convinced that the establishment of new DPRK-U.S. relations will contribute to the peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula and of the world, and recognizing that mutual confidence building can promote the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, Chairman Kim Jong Un and President Trump state the following:

1. The DPRK and the United States commit to establish new DPRK-U.S. relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.

2. The DPRK and the United States will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.

3. Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

4. The DPRK and the United States commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.

Having acknowledged that the DPRK-U.S. summit, the first in history, was an epochal event of great significance in overcoming decades of tensions and hostilities between the two countries and for opening of a new future, Chairman Kim Jong Un and President Trump commit to implement the stipulations in this joint statement fully and expeditiously.

The DPRK and the United States commit to hold follow-on negotiations led by the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a relevant high-level DPRK official, at the earliest possible date, to implement the outcomes of the DPRK-U.S. summit.

Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America have committed to cooperate for the development of new DPRK- U.S. relations and for the promotion of peace, prosperity, and security of the Korean Peninsula and of the world. -0-

Donald Trump received an invitation to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has invited Donald Trump to visit him, an unprecedented invitation, and the US president said he would accept it.

The shocking announcement was made by senior South Korean officials in Washington, who delivered a letter from North Korean leader Donald Trump.

They say that Kim has also agreed to stop missile tests and nuclear weapons and "denuclearize".

It appears to be a major breakthrough after months of threatening and North Korean-related violence.

Earlier this week a South Korean delegation held important talks with Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang, which is part of a diplomatic liquefaction move following North Korea's involvement in the Winter Olympics in South Korea. The delegation then traveled to the US to convey North Korea's message to America.

Trump, before this saying that it is useless to talk to North Korea, but says that this development is a "great advance".

However, Trump said, sanctions will remain in place until a clear agreement is reached.

'Refrain from nuclear test'

South Korean national security adviser Chung Eui-yong, speaking outside the White House after meeting with Trump, said that this development was achieved thanks to the US president's 'ultimate joint policy' together with international solidarity.

Image rights @ realDonaldTrump @ REALDONALDTRUMP
"I told President Trump that in a meeting with us (in Pyongyang,) North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said he was committed to denuclearization," Chung told a news conference.

"Kim promised that North Korea will refrain from conducting nuclear tests or missile tests anymore."

He added: "The Trump President appreciates the development, and says that he will meet Kim Jong-un next May to achieve a permanent denuclearization."

How do we reach this point?
North Korea has been isolated from the international stage for decades for human rights abuses and efforts to realize nuclear weapons, as opposed to international provisions.

They have conducted six nuclear tests and confirmed that they need to develop nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles because the country's survival is threatened.

Right to photoREUTERS
Image caption
South Korean national security adviser Chung Eui-yong, delivered this shocking announcement.
The last major effort to get North Korea to halt its nuclear efforts - known as the Six - Party talks - collapsed in 2008, mainly because North Korea refuses to allow international teams to check and ensure that nuclear programs are closed.

But the recently ended South Olympic Games in South Korea opened a window of unexpected diplomacy. Rare talks South Korea and North Korea are held to facilitate a carefully designed North Korea presence in the Olympics, which involves a commitment from both sides to resume further talks.

No US president has ever sat down for talks with North Korean leaders. So such a meeting would be an extraordinary diplomatic event.

North Korea 'get nuclear spare parts through embassy in Germany'
North Korea's missile shot 'higher' and 'could hit the entire US territory'
How do North Korean nuclear weapons? Seven things you should know
But says the BBC's Laura Bicker in Seoul, it's important to note that North Korea has not yet said it's determined to abandon its nuclear weapons, and is only committed to doing so.

Kim Jong-un has recorded victory figures in propaganda, he said, but Trump will also feel like a winner, in terms of his fierce policy which he says is a factor that forces the parties forward to the negotiating table.

Trump repeatedly belittled Kim Jong-un, and last year threatened him with "unprecedented fire and rage in this world" if Kim continues to threaten the United States.

What is also unclear is precisely what North Korea is asking for in return for the talks.

India Successfully Conducts Fifth Test of Nuclear-Capable ICBM

VOA: India Conducts Fifth Test of Nuclear-Capable ICBM

NEW DELHI — India conducted the fifth test of its nuclear capable intercontinental ballistic missile on Thursday from the Abdul Kalam Island off Odhisa’s coast in the east.

The country’s most advanced missile, the Agni V, has a range of more than 5,000 kilometers, and will bring all of China within range when it is inducted into the armed forces.

"We have successfully launched nuclear capable ballistic missile Agni-V today,” Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said. The Defense Ministry called the test a "major boost" to the country's defense capabilities.

Read more ....

More News On India Successfully Conducting A Fifth Test Of It's Nuclear-Capable ICBM

India test-fires nuclear-capable ICBM Agni-V -- Times of India
India Tests Ballistic Missile, Posing New Threat to China -- New York Times
India successfully tests nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile, risking anger from Pakistan and China -- Daily Mail
India tests-fires Agni-V, a nuclear-capable ICBM -- CNN
India successfully test-fires a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile -- CNBC

World News Briefs -- January 18, 2018

A Turkish military tanks arrives at an army base in the border town of Reyhanli near the Turkish-Syrian border in Hatay province, Turkey January 17, 2018. REUTERS/Osman Orsal

Reuters: Turkey says could act in Syria unless U.S. withdraws support for Kurdish force

HATAY, Turkey (Reuters) - Turkey said on Wednesday it would not hesitate to take action in Syria’s Afrin district and other areas unless the United States withdrew support for a Kurdish-led force there, but Washington denied such plans and said “some people misspoke”.

Turkish President Erdogan has repeatedly warned of an imminent incursion in Afrin after Washington said it would help the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), led by the Kurdish YPG militia, set up a new 30,000-strong border force.

The plan has infuriated Turkey, which considers the Syrian YPG as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant group, which has fought an insurgency in southeast Turkey since 1984. The PKK is considered a terrorist group by the European Union, Turkey and the United States.

Read more ....


Tillerson says U.S. military should stay in Syria and vows diplomatic push to end civil war.

Syria responds to Tillerson's US military engagement pledge.

Turkey says could act in Syria unless U.S. withdraws support for Kurdish force.

Damascus warns it may shoot down Turkish planes attacking Kurds within Syrian borders.

Palestinian killed in fire exchange with Israeli army.

Exclusive: Trump denies U.S. embassy to be moved to Jerusalem within a year.

Pence visit showcases dilemma facing Egypt, Jordan leaders.


North Korea crisis: South to continue talks with 'clear eyes'.

Tillerson says Russia helps North Korea get fuel.

Japan, Australia eye deeper defense alliance.

China's economy grows by 6.9% in 2017.

China testing facial-recognition surveillance system in Xinjiang – report .

52 killed in bus fire in Kazakhstan.

Sunken tanker Sanchi: Four oil slicks seen, says China.


Sudan opposition leader vows to 'bury regime'.

Suicide bombing in Borno market causes multiple deaths.

Zimbabwe president promises 'free and fair' election in five months. Zimbabwe to hold first post-Mugabe vote in summer.

Ethiopia frees opposition leader Merera Gudina.

Egypt 2018 elections: Sisi expected to announce bid.

Senegal to revamp logging laws after massacre linked to timber trade.

South Africa: Cape Town slashes water use amid drought. Extreme drought grips parts of South Africa.


Merkel and Kurz clash over migrant quota.

UK to pay millions to keep France border agreement.

Russia’s National Guard vows to prevent unauthorized rallies during presidential election.

Russia moves toward creation of an independent internet.

Russia marks 75 years since breaking Nazi siege of Leningrad.

U.S. warns Kosovo against scrapping War Crimes Court.

NATO head urges Macedonia to end dispute with Greece, reform.

Transportation disturbed, flights canceled as storm lashes Europe.


Trump wall: President denies changing view on Mexico border plan. Donald Trump tweets: Mexico border 'Wall is the Wall'.

Trump 'very eager' to be interviewed in Russia probe.

U.S. jobless claims plunge to lowest weekly tally since 1973.

Trump admin. moves to bar Haitians from agricultural, seasonal worker visas.

Mexico remittances: Transfers from US hit record high.

Pope Francis urges end to Chile's Mapuche conflict.

Pope wraps up Chile stop with visit to migrants, on to Peru.


Drone strikes on both sides of Pak-Afghan border kill 2, injure 1 suspected militant.

As ISIS threat fades, fight over who gets credit rises.

U.S. prosecutors charge German man with supporting al Qaeda.


Is the US a bigger debt risk than Russia and Botswana? A Chinese rating agency thinks so.

Twitter to notify users who were exposed to accounts run by Russian trolls.

Superjumbo jet future secured by Emirates order.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- January 18, 2018

© Sputnik/ Iliya Pitalev

Sputnik: North Korea Reportedly Plans to Hold Military Parade on Eve of 2018 Olympics

A thaw in relations between North and South Koreas began earlier this month, with the two nations reopening a hotline to discuss the participation of DPRK athletes in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Despite an Olympic thaw between Pyongyang and Seoul, North Korea is planning to hold a military parade on the eve of the world's most well-recognized sporting competition, Yonhap News Agency of South Korea said Thursday, citing an unidentified South Korean government source.

Read more ....

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- January 18, 2018

North Korea reportedly plans to hold a military event, one day before the Winter Olympics kick off in South Korea -- Business Insider

S Korea Restores Military Hotline With N Korea - Reports -- Sputnik

How China’s military is girding for battle, and what it means for neighbours -- SCMP

China Ramps Up Its Navy To Challenge The U.S. -- Cipher Brief

The Chinese Are On The Verge Of Dominating A New Domain: Near Space -- Task and Purpose

India test-fires Agni-V ICBM, hails ‘major boost’ to military power -- NBC

India's Most Lethal Nuke Capable Missile Hits Bull's Eye in Pre-Induction Test -- Sputnik

Modi govt saddling India’s military with more bureaucracy -- Asia Times

Japan lodges protest over U.S. military helicopter flying over school again after chopper's window-falling incident -- Xinhuanet

What we’re learning about France’s air special forces as they publicly recruit -- Defense News

Defense Cuts Leave UK Reliant on French, German Militaries - MP -- Sputnik

British submarine HMS Audacious completes first dive -- UPI

Army chief: Future of US troops in Iraq TBD as ISIS crumbles -- Defense News

7th Fleet collisions raise questions about U.S. military readiness in the Pacific -- NBC

Navy Pursues New Amphibious War Strategy With LX(R) -- Warrior Maven

Navy to Deliver 2nd Stealthy Zumwalt-Class Destroyer in March -- Warrior Maven

General Dynamics awarded $33M contract for USS Nimitz upgrade -- UPI

Arctic cold war? Coast Guard prepping to carry cruise missiles on icebreakers amid Russian buildup -- Washington Times

The Army Is Testing A New Rifle With Better Range And Accuracy Than The M4 -- Task & Purpose

Army wants bullets to hit from miles away and its new acquisition office will help -- Federal News Radio

Army Tests Secure Wi-Fi for Future Battlefield -- Defense Tech/

Which of these leaders will be the next head of Cyber Command? -- Fifth Domain

House Votes to Restore Top Cyber Diplomat’s Office -- NextGov

US Army Rushes to Add Hundreds of Stinger Missile Teams As Threat of Small Drones Evolves -- The Warzone

Latest budget showdown worries Pentagon, risks delaying Trump's military buildup -- CNBC

Military experts beg Congress to quit ‘shenanigans,’ say budget battle hurts readiness -- FOX Business

F/A-18C Hornet crash result of 'below average' pilot’s error and runway lighting -- Marine Times

Marine Stabbed To Death In Fight Between Camp Pendleton Students -- Task & Purpose/The San Diego Union-Tribune

It Wasn’t Just Republicans — Democrats Also Voted to Shut Down Debate on Trump Administration’s Surveillance Powers -- The Intercept

The Pentagon no longer has a leader on space programs. What does that mean? -- Valerie Insinna, Defense News

Don't believe Moby's story about his 'CIA friends' -- Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

Can Mattis makes the National Defense Strategy great again? -- Aaron Mehta, Defense News