Saturday, December 2, 2017

By the horns of his own chastity

Young virgin auto-sodomized by the horns of her own chastity, Salvador Dalí, via Wikipedia.

Young Ben Shapiro wants to know, over the news of Michael Flynn's guilty plea:

Is The Mueller Special Investigation Going To Result In A Massive Political Explosion...Over Nearly Nothing?

Because Flynn has only pleaded guilty to the one crime, and not much of a crime at that! Lying to the FBI about something he did that wasn't even illegal! Well, probably not. I mean, is that all they got?
Supposedly, Flynn spoke with Kislyak about backing off of retaliation against Obama administration sanctions, and also about delaying a late-Obama administration United Nations resolution designed to condemn Israeli settlements. It’s completely unclear why Flynn would lie about such conversations; they weren’t illegal. In fact, most Americans would want the transition team to talk to foreign governments about the policy to be implemented in mere weeks.
Jesus Christ on a graham cracker crust, Ben! I realize you became Internet-famous for proclaiming your preserved virginity at 21, but I can't believe anybody who's been brought up near a television set is that naive.

Haven't you ever heard of plea bargains given to a relative underling to elicit testimony against the relevant overling? Like John Dean?

This sets off the distinct possibility of a bevy of legal charges based on untruth, but with no underlying crime. This wouldn’t be about collusion or election-rigging, but about ensnaring Trump administration officials in their own words. It would look less like Watergate, and much more like the political prosecution of Scooter Libby, the assistant to Vice President Dick Cheney, who was prosecuted by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald for supposedly lying about a phone call with Tim Russert — even though the underlying investigation centered on Richard Armitage leaking CIA agent Valerie Plame’s name to the media. President Bush ended up commuting Libby’s sentence.
I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby didn't cop a plea (on the charges of obstruction of justice and perjury, not of exposing Plame's identity)! I'm sure he was offered one; I'm also sure Dick Cheney personally orchestrated the outing of Valerie Plame's status as the undercover head of CIA Iran operations and Libby decided to take the 30 months and $250,000 fine rather than testify against the Sith lord, perhaps because he knew the sentence would be commuted—it was commuted, you know. Michael Flynn, like John Dean, has taken a plea, because as he said he "has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it, should the circumstances permit" and these are the best circumstances he can get.

Flynn has given a proffer to Mueller, outlining the kind of evidence he can provide against, say, Jared Kushner, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, Mike Pence, and Donald J. Trump, on the seriously illegal bargain between the Russian Federation and the Turmp campaign where the former would help the latter win the White House and then the latter would help the former get Putin access to his sanctions-tied billions; and Mueller has determined that the testimony Flynn is offering is good enough and agreed to limit his charges against Flynn in return. (Including, omitted by Shapiro, the charge of lying on his Foreign Agents Registration Act application of March 7 2017.) I can't imagine why Shapiro would think that's it.

BooMan has a shortlist of the other charges Flynn could easily have been convicted of, including lying on his security clearance forms for the DNI post, failing to register as a foreign agent in the Russian and Turkish relations, violating the Constitution's foreign emoluments clause in accepting those payments from RT in particular, and possibly engaging in an abortive conspiracy to kidnap Fethullah Gülen for a promised payment of $15 million. And there certainly could be more. Flynn's contacts with Ambassador Kislyak weren't just the two phone calls of December 22 and 28 mentioned in the charges, but went back to sometime well before the November 8 election, as the Washington Post noted as long ago as February 9.

And of course he wasn't the only one, as you know: chatting with Russians and then lying about it to the federal government was kind of the Trump campaign's favorite sport, starting with Sessions and Kushner meeting separately with Kislyak on April 27 2016; Sessions with Kislyak July 18 and Sessions, Gordon, and Page with Kislyak (at the Republican National Convention) July 20. And some or all of Flynn, Page, Gordon, Papadopoulos, Epshteyn, Cohn, Manafort, Kushner, and Trump Jr. with other suspicious Russians, etc.

Why did they lie about it? Shapiro offers a hypothesis about why Flynn should have been lying about those calls listed in the charge:
Speculation suggests that the top official was Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner. But so what? Kushner committed no crime in telling Flynn to reach out to the Russians in order to quash bad Obama policy, particularly on Israel.
Malpractice, maybe: what on earth could have made Kushner think he could persuade Putin to alter a stance the Russian government had unwaveringly held for decades? Unless he thought he'd made some kind of thug deal with the Russian president that made them blood brothers.
Unless Kushner fibbed to the FBI too, for some unspecified reason. One reason could be simple inexperience. It’s possible that Flynn and that unspecified upper-echelon official simply didn’t know it wasn’t a problem to speak with Kislyak. It’s possible that they did it without the permission of Trump. Incompetence is always a more obvious answer than malice when it comes to the administration.
Kushner could have been lying to the FBI too? Stop, you're killing me. Next thing you know you'll be telling me that Sessions, Page, Cohn, Manafort, Gordon, and Donald Trump Jr. lied about their contacts with the Russians as well! I mean you might as well say that Emperor Trump lied, and where would we be then?

It was their innocence that made them feel guilty, Ben thinks. All twelve of them, including a former Director of National Intelligence and a US Senator, separately or jointly decided to lie to the FBI or on their employment applications or security forms or in congressional hearings because they innocently failed to realize there was nothing wrong with what they had done. I love that. 

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