Saturday, February 17, 2018

Bob Mueller Scuttles Russia "Hoax" Meme With Indictment Of 13 Russian Operatives

Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Bob Mueller - left - with his 13 indictments of Russian intel operatives shows the Dotard the Russian intervention in 2016 election is no "hoax".

Yesterday was a bad day for all the purveyors of the "Russian election interference is a hoax" meme - including the Fox & Friends 3 stooges, and the WSJ's  stable of resident deniers (William McGurn, Kimberley Strassel, Dan Henninger, and Holman Jenkins).  The reason?  Robert Mueller, announced that thirteen Russians have been criminally charged for interfering in the 2016 U.S. election to help catapult Donald Trump into office.  As Shepard Smith  - the only FOX News host with any integrity -  put it in his Friday p.m. hour: "Mr. President you can no longer say this Russian campaign  interference is a hoax."     Shep didn't go so far as to allege any witting Trumpie conspirators, but he did mention (several times) how the 37 page detailed indictment referenced "co-conspirators".  

Mueller alleged that Russian operatives “communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump campaign”, but the indictment did not address the question of whether anyone else in Trump’s team had knowingly colluded.  But let's be frank, these are minor details which will soon be "the next shoes to drop" as Mueller'e team consolidates and presents its abundance of evidence.

One defendant, Irina Kaverzina, is accused of admitting her involvement in the operation and a subsequent coverup in an email to a relative in September last year, after Mueller’s inquiry had begun. “We had a slight crisis here at work: the FBI busted our activity,” Kaverzina allegedly wrote, “so I got preoccupied with covering tracks together with the colleagues.”

Others  charged were Mikhail Ivanovich Bystrov, Mikhail Leonidovich Burchik, Aleksandra Yuryevna Krylova, Anna Vladislavovna Bogacheva, Sergey Pavlovich Polozov, Maria Anatolyevna Bovda, Robert Sergeyevich Bovda, Dzheykhun Nasimi Ogly Aslanov, Vadim Vladimirovich Podkopaev, Gleb Igorevitch Vasilchenko, Irina Viktorovna Kaverzina, Yevgeny Viktorovich Prigozhin and Vladimir Venkov.  All were charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States. Three defendants were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and five defendants were charged with aggravated identity theft.

Separately, Mueller’s office announced that Richard Pinedo, of Santa Paula, California, had pleaded guilty to identity fraud. Pinedo, 28, admitted to running a website that offered stolen identities to help customers get around the security measures of major online payment sites.  Basically, Pinedo was responsible for facilitating monetary support for the Russkie operations by making it possible for dumb Americans to PayPal donate or buy ad space on assorted (VPN) platforms  to air bogus anti-Hillary or pro-Trump material. 

Viktorovich Prigozhin is accused of using companies he controlled – including Concord Management and Consulting, and Concord Catering – to finance the operations against the US. The operation at one stage had a monthly budget of $1.25m, according to Mueller, which paid for operatives’ salaries and bonuses.

So what were the deviant Russkies up to?  Basically, sophisticated  psychological and information warfare to snare as many gullible or clueless Americans as possible to help  stir up shit storms and internecine hatreds during the 2016 campaign.  For example,

In August 2016, Russian operatives communicated with Trump campaign staff in Florida through their “” email addresses to coordinate a series of pro-Trump rallies in the state, according to Mueller, and then bought advertisements on social media to promote the events.  At one rally in West Palm Beach, a Russian operative is even alleged to have paid Americans to build a cage on a flatbed truck and to have an actor posing as "Killary"  in a prison uniform stand inside.

Thousands of 'Muricans turned into instant raving zombies screaming "YESSS!" amd made their own signs e,g, "Lock her up!" as divisions rent the country asunder.  But that was merely the beginning, and the Russians had planned their gambit from 2014. 

The Russians also worked to suppress turnout among ethnic minority voters. They  created an Instagram account posing as “Woke Blacks” and railed against the notion that African Americans should choose Clinton as “the lesser of two devils” against Trump.  Then in early November 2016, according to the indictment, the Russian operatives used bogus “United Muslims of America” social media accounts to claim that “American Muslims [are] boycotting elections today.”

Following Trump’s victory, the Russian operation promoted allegations of voter fraud by the Democratic party, according to Mueller’s team. Around that time, Trump repeatedly claimed without evidence that he would have won the popular vote if not for large-scale voter fraud.  As former Justice Dept. spokesman Matt Miller pointed out last night on All In, this was right out of the KGB-FSB playbook, i.e. to cast doubt on the integrity of the election process. It's worked in eastern Europe to the point of getting a number of Rightist authoritarians into power - including most recently in Austria.

In a statement on Friday, Trump suggested that what he called “outlandish partisan attacks, wild and false allegations, and far-fetched theories” relating to possible collusion were serving to further the Russian agenda.  But in fact, it's been Trump's obstinacy in imposing sanctions or doing anything to halt the next assault - on the midterms this year- that have done most to further the Russian agenda. That and continually denying any involvement by hitherto calling it a "hoax".  Right out of the Kremlin  agitprop playbook according to Matt Miller, former DOJ guy.

One could also suspect the WSJ editors of operating from the same playbook. Cue their  delirious, irritating, spin-infused  editorial today ('The Russia Indictments', p. A16) which also continued to bamboozle with the likes of this twaddle

"The 37- page indictment contains no evidence of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign but it does show a systematic effort to discredit the results of the 2016 election, On the evidence so far President Trump has been the biggest victim of that effort."

This absurd take is oblivious to the fact the Russians wanted a TRUMP win, not a Hillary Clinton win  - and how all the operatives in the U.S. were working feverishly to attain it  Hence, it's difficult to process this doggerel as little Donnie Doturd being the "victim" when he was the one handed the election based on a 77,000 voter differential in three states.  A margin so narrow that it can be easily explained by adept hacking into states' voter rolls, e.g. to disqualify or remove voter names.

As for the "no evidence of collusion" claim, the WSJ is too quick to jump on the premature conclusion bandwagon,  forgetting that  evidence of absence doesn't mean absence of evidence.  As former Watergate assistant prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks spelled it out last night on 'Last Word', this is only the beginning, adding:

"The indictments show there's a reason why there's been an obstruction of justice. We now have proof that the Russians meddled and that there was at least unwitting cooperation with Americans including Trump campaign aides.  

But that's not the end of it Just because this indictment doesn't set if forth doesn't mean there's not another one coming, and that will set out just who cooperated with this."

Then there was former DOJ spokes man Matt Miller, rebutting Trump's BS that the indictment "vindicates" him:  "This indictment does no such thing. There could well be multiple conspiracy charges in the months to come."  Adding:

"You have to remember we had the then candidate, now president of the United States, out there publicly not just benefiting from the Russian operation but actively encouraging Russian interference. Actively encouraging it in July when he asked them to hack Hillary Clinton's emails, (e.g. )

and encouraging it in the fall when he was talking about the Wikileaks hacks (e.g. )

He has been actively promoting the Russian interference in the election for now a year and a half."

Richard Painter, former ethics counsel in the Bush White House, was even more blunt appearing on 'Am Joy' this morning:

"Look, we already know there was collaboration, that was what the meeting in Trump Tower in 2016 was all about.  This indictment covers the social media side of what the Russians were doing....taking advantage of group identity politics, especially on the Right. Where you have all these people whose identity is tied to their guns.  Sure there were some unwitting people, but there were others - as I said in Trump Tower - who in June, 2016 were knowingly meeting with Russian agents who had dirt on Hillary.  That whole part of the operation has nothing to do with this indictment. That is yet to come."

So the WSJ editorial nabobs would do well to withhold their daft opinions until all indictments and evidence have been submitted. We know they are in a hurry to pardon Trump from any wrong doing, but their unseemly eagerness to paint this traitor as a victim does them no service. Indeed, it further puts them on the same yellow journalism  basis as say, The National Enquirer.
Let us recognize that Donnie J. (for Jackass) Dotard believes many things, most of which are not remotely true. One of those, emitted in another brain fart ....errr tweet earlier yesterday, is that he's convinced he can't be a target of Special Prosecutor Bob Mueller because the 13 indictments handed down yesterday don't mention collusion. Also, since the Russian intervention began in 2014 -  before Trump tossed his hat into the ring.  The dope seized on Rod Rosenstein’s remarks  to falsely claim that the indictment proved there had been no collusion and that the election result had definitely not been impacted. In fact it did no such thing. Mueller has simply provided the net and scaffolding to hang the prick in the next round of indictments.  (Trump in the candidate debates even hung himself  as guilty on multiple occasions, e.g. "Please,  Russia go get those thirty thousand emails!", And "I love WikiLeaks!" (Whose operatives hacked into the DNC)

For the Russians: What better traitor to use than a narcissistic megalomaniac dupe and puppet like Dotard to wreck American institutions and democratic governance ?  Hell, each day this abomination is in power more American norms and principles crash to the sewer and even worse is how a seeming increase in Americans believe him. A poll cited last night by Bill Maher on his show indicated the public now prefers the Trumpkins by 46% to 24% in matters of security.

The entire set of convictions expressed by 40 percent of Americans (now) that the Russian interference is "fake news" would be analogous, as Rep. Gerry Nadler put it (on All In),  to then Americans refusing to accept FDR's speech in December 1941 that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.   It would also be compounded by a GOP congress that refused to declare war. Now we are in an effective cyber war- attack situation and those like FOX News, the WSJ editors and others (e.g. Devin Nunes) want to sit on their hands?  Or twist it around to blame Dems for "doing the Russians' work for them"?

Apart from the 13 Russian individuals Mueller's office also named three Russian entities, including the notorious state-backed “troll farm” the Internet Research Agency. We already - most of us - were aware that IRA's denizens were able to get right inside the heads of the targets. Even before Mueller's revelations we knew (thanks to research published in The Atlantic)  these mind manipulators were mainly elite Russian college students specializing in linguistics, journalism and psychology trained at a central troll farm in St. Petersburg.

These were savvy kids who mastered their "Americana" politics by watching cynical, Machiavellian fare like "House of Cards".   By also using emotions and reading Americans' own emotional responses to race, Trump and immigration they were able to jack up their messages and twist them into fake news to mindfuck millions. How so? By using specially manipulated videos guaranteed to be shared by the gullible.

The Russians  posed as Americans to operate bogus social media accounts, buy advertisements and stage political rallies. They stole the identities of real people in the US to post online and built computer systems in the US to hide the Russian origin of their activity, according prosecutors. 

As for Rod Rosenstein, he said yesterday:

This indictment serves as a reminder that people are not always who they appear to be on the internet. These individuals worked to promote discord in the United States and undermine public confidence in democracy,” adding: “We must not allow them to succeed."
Two of these subversive Russian groups and bots included "Blacktivists"  and "Secure Borders" . The first was ostensibly run by two Baltimore homies. They professed to be supporting causes in the black community while skewering Hillary Clinton as a "witch" at the same time using hashtags such as #BlacklLives Matter.  The fake videos included police allegedly shooting unarmed black men.

The second featured  xenophobic yahoos who railed against illegal immigration.  Their weaponized shtick was to publish "material such as a photo-shopped image of a woman holding a sign reading 'Give me more free shit!'Such an image alone was worth about a million and a half shares - say on Facebook, or a half million retweets- multiplying the mindfuck effect.  The reason? It deliberately embodied sentiments already felt by millions of the weaker-minded  in key states, descendants of those who used to riff on about "welfare queens" in the Reagan era.

Now for some reality checks: Rosenstein also said at his press conference in Washington: “There is no allegation in this indictment that any American had any knowledge.”

Of course, Rosenstein wasn't going to put himself out on a limb because he planned to keep his job. Apart from the fact,Mueller is still building his prima facie case of Trumpie conspiracy  - knowing and witting - with the Russian interlopers.  The "ducks" are all being lined up in a row, just waiting to be taken down.

Rosenstein added that the charges "did not mean the Russian activity had an effect on the outcome of the election".  But as Salman Rushdie put in on Bill Maher's Real Time, anyone familiar with the state voting stats, i.e. Jill Stein (backed by the Russkie trolls) got 51,000 odd votes in Michigan and Trump took MI with a margin of barely 12,000, knows that is nonsense. Of course the outcome was affected, and we haven't even included the hacking into state election systems yet.

The key point is that the weaponized Russkie psychological warfare attacks - whether videos from Blacktivists or Secure Borders, were superbly designed to send hooks into millions of emotionally susceptible brains. If even a hundredth of them were influenced - say in the "Brexit" states (WI, MI, PA) - it would have tossed the 2016 election to Trump.

It is  also important to grasp here that the election board hacking and social media fake news strategies were not mutually exclusive The hacking attacks in fact complemented the initial propaganda, or information warfare attacks. The latter rendered hundreds of thousands of brains more averse to Hillary while the election hacking delivered dozens of vulnerable systems that might be useful - if compromised-  to reinforce the scale of interference.  If 1000 names in each precinct of the "Brexit" states (MI, WI, PA) could have the names or voter attributes altered, then overturning the election could became a real possibility since their electoral votes  ultimately determined the winner.

So we now know the Russians engaged in a three-pronged attack to subvert our elections and get Trump elected. These included: 1) hacking into the election systems of 21 states, 2) hacking into the DNC - using Wikileaks  and then releasing the negative information into the already polarized political landscape and 3) using social media platforms like Facebook to subvert American minds into being willing pawns.

An intriguing comparison  (to a Russian intervention) made last night by historian Michael Beschloss was  to the events immediately following the  JFK assassination. He noted how some in the political establishment thought maybe the Russians were behind it  because Lee Oswald - the alleged assassin- "had defected to Russia and married the niece of  a Soviet intelligence official."    Added Beschloss:

"The person most worried was Lyndon Johnson, the President, He knew that if Americans believed the Russians were behind a change in power there'd be a huge demand among Americans to retaliate against the Soviet Union, and would quickly lead to a nuclear war. And that's one reason LBJ did the Warren Commission, and told the Chief Justice I hope you will resolve suspicions like this."

Left unsaid was that the whole theme that Oswald was a "KGB -linked assassin"  hired to kill Kennedy was  a narrative  confected by the CIA using fake cables.. It was based on a supposed "Oswald" phone call to the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City with a KGB agent, Valeriy Kostikov.   While the "Oswald as KGB assassin"  ruse was never used  or published in its Report by the Warren Commission, "it almost certainly contributed to the Warren Commission's determination to close the case as the work of a lone assassin" (Scott, Deep Politics, 113)   This is actually validated and was foreseen when one examined a key paragraph in the Katzenbach memo which readers can see in full here:

Note in particular paragraph (2):

"Speculation about Oswald's motivation ought to be cut off, and we should have some basis of rebutting thought that this was a Communist conspiracy".

When this is interpreted in the context of the rest of the memo, and especially Part (1) pertaining to convicting Oswald, it is clear the Commission was driven to the lone assassin bunkum as the only alternative to the KGB assassin hypothesis.

The surge to do this was reinforced after the Commission was informed  by CIA head Richard Helms* of the Kostikov -Department Thirteen connection ("Department Thirteen" was that KGB Section assigned to assassinations) . Earl Warren evidently became so spooked that he felt the only alternative to a possible nuclear  confrontation  was to find for the lone assassin theory. From then, all evidence, documents and tests became devoted to nailing Oswald as the lone perp. It was either that or find him a KGB- hired contract killer, which many (including LBJ) felt would have led to war. 

Memo of 1/13/ 64 from Richard Helms to the Warren Commission Counsel J. Lee Rankin, CIA Document 509-803.

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