Sunday, May 21, 2017

Annals of Derp: Believing Mensch

"Will-'o-the-Wisp", by ~robjenx/DeviantArt.

From Louise Mensch's Patribotics (can't decide whether that's a company that supplies orphans with android surrogate parents or a maker of red-blooded American yogurt) blog yesterday:
Multiple sources close to the intelligence, justice and law enforcement communities say that the House Judiciary Committee is considering Articles of Impeachment against the President of the United States.
That's seems like a kind of portentous way of describing a tweet from Ted Lieu, cheering as that might be—Lieu's one of the very best Congressional tweeters, and he certainly always gives me a lift.

But wait, there's more!
Sources further say that the Supreme Court notified Mr. Trump that the formal process of a case of impeachment against him was begun, before he departed the country on Air Force One. The notification was given, as part of the formal process of the matter, in order that Mr. Trump knew he was not able to use his powers of pardon against other suspects in Trump-Russia cases. Sources have confirmed that the Marshal of the Supreme Court spoke to Mr. Trump.
As the ancient tradition dictates, the Marshal of the Supreme Court, dressed in formal wig and silks, is ushered into the Presidential Receiving Room at dawn, cries "Oyez! Oyez! Any day now, any way now, you shall be impeached!" and presents him with the traditional silver hemlock branch on a brocaded cushion.

Or, putting it another way, this is the final evidence that Mensch and her collaborator Claude Taylor are full of shit.

The exception in Article II Section 2 of the Constitution—"Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment"—doesn't mean that he can't pardon anybody if he's being impeached, it means that he can't pardon anybody who has been impeached and convicted (including himself, of course, but mainly federal judges). And I don't see how you could place special restrictions on the pardon power based on who is and who isn't a suspect in a crime for which suspects haven't been named and charges haven't yet been written; you'd have to stop pardons altogether, and during Bill Clinton's impeachment, from the first Judiciary Committee vote of October 5 1998 to the final Senate vote of Feburary 12 1999, he issued 33 pardons (all on Christmas Eve).

The Supreme Court is not involved in any way with the beginning of impeachment proceedings, which start formally not with any kind of secret deliberations on which a reporter might get a scoop that all the newspapers miss, but with a public vote in the committee (there's undoubtedly discussion of impeachment behind closed doors, but that's the informal process, and everybody has understood that that has been going on for weeks). This report is not merely historical fiction, but it's very poorly researched.
It was reported this week that Mr. Trump had texted Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn the message ‘Stay strong’. This might be interpreted as an attempt to intimidate a witness, sources say.
Or it might be interpreted as an attempt to reassure the general that he'll have a White House job after this thing blows over, or it might be interpreted as advice as to how Flynn should handle himself in the unlikely event he gets a date with Pamela Anderson.

But nothing—nothing Louise Mensch reports can ever again be taken seriously, including the one "scoop" from last November on which her reputation has been based, 
Contrary to earlier reporting in the New York Times, which cited FBI sources as saying that the agency did not believe that the private server in Donald Trump’s Trump Tower which was connected to a Russian bank had any nefarious purpose, the FBI’s counter-intelligence arm, sources say, re-drew an earlier FISA court request around possible financial and banking offenses related to the server. The first request, which, sources say, named Trump, was denied back in June, but the second was drawn more narrowly and was granted in October after evidence was presented of a server, possibly related to the Trump campaign, and its alleged links to two banks; SVB Bank and Russia’s Alfa Bank. While the Times story speaks of metadata, sources suggest that a FISA warrant was granted to look at the full content of emails and other related documents that may concern US persons.
Although if there was any actual evidence of such a development it could not have referred to a server in Trump Tower because the server in question was in Philadelphia, and it's highly unlikely that FBI Counter-Intelligence wanted to monitor it in October, since it had been taken out of commission in late September, weeks before the FISA order was supposedly granted. And, keeping in mind that the Washington Post was unable to find any kind of corroboration of any of it after four months of effort, it's finally clear, thanks to the obvious idiocy of yesterday's impeachment report, that this story too wasn't a scoop of which Mensch got some of the details wrong, it was a fabrication.

Want paranoia? I think Mensch's employer, Rupert Murdoch, is using her to spread rumor and confusion, raise excitement and hopes just so they can be dampened and dashed, and keep us chasing after wills-o'-the wisp (that should be the plural, right?) while who knows what horrors are being committed by people like him just beyond the limits of our peripheral vision. Part of a program of gaslighting on the grand scale.

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