Dec 152017
 

Embassy of Russia in Washington D.C. Photo Credit Wikipedia (follow link)

by Thomas L. Knapp…….

On December 1, former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to two counts of lying to the FBI about conversations he had with  Sergey I. Kislyak, then Russia’s ambassador to the United States. The charges, and Flynn’s plea, were part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of “Russian meddling” in the 2016 US presidential election.

Finally! Hard evidence! The Trump campaign really did work with the Russians to fix the election and deprive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton of her pre-ordained return to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue!

But there are big problems with that narrative.

Americans cast their votes for president on November 8, 2016. The Electoral College voted on December 19.

The charges relate to discussions between Flynn and Kislyak on December 22 and December 29. If the two were conspiring to fix the presidential election, they must have been using a time machine. Surely we would have heard about that part if there was anything to it, right?

So, if the incoming National Security Advisor and the Russian ambassador weren’t conspiring to fix the election, what were they talking about? According to the charges and plea, two things (two things that Flynn lied about, anyway):

First, on December 22, Flynn apparently asked the Russian government to help delay or kill a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements in occupied Arab territory.

Secondly, on December 29, Flynn apparently asked the Russian government to refrain from retaliating in kind versus sanctions imposed by the Obama administration.

Flynn lobbied Russia  — after the election — on behalf of Israel, and Flynn lobbied Russia — after the election — on behalf of the United States. He pleaded guilty to lying about those two things. He was neither charged with, nor admitted to, colluding with the Russians prior to the election or with an eye toward affecting it.

So no, none of this is evidence of Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election. Rather, it is prosecutorial abuse and extortion. Mueller charged Flynn with “crimes” that shouldn’t be illegal and that are unrelated to the supposed point of the investigation — and probably threatened to also charge his son — in order to “flip” Flynn, get him on Mueller’s side instead of Trump’s side, and thereby possibly make progress toward taking down bigger game.

Nobody owes the FBI the truth. Subjects of investigation have no moral obligation to cooperate in their own prosecution. It’s law enforcement’s job to find evidence, not potential defendants’ job to assist them in doing so. Unless one is under oath in court, no law should compel truthfulness or punish falsehood in talking to the cops.

Did  the Russian government meddle in the 2016 presidential election, above and beyond a few weird and likely completely ineffectual social media campaigns? Your guess is as good as mine. So far, the evidence still hasn’t shown up.

But another government, Israel’s, didn’t even bother to hide its meddling. And it took its first installment of payback in having Michael Flynn lobby the Russians on its behalf. Don’t hold your breath waiting for a Special Counsel to investigate that.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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Thomas L. Knapp
Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.
 December 15, 2017  Posted by at 12:56 am Issue #247, Thomas L. Knapp  Add comments

  11 Responses to “Finally, Evidence of Russian Election Meddling … Oh, Wait”

  1.  

    ….and President Obama was the catalyst to pour a few hundred $thousand (or whatever number) of America’s money to help defeat Israel’s Netanyahu when he was running for re-election.

    •  

      Interesting claim. Any evidence for it?

      •  

        Often the help is kept secret for reasons. Yes we helped Trump but not about to tell you by how much. Being he won it was money well worth the result. And no never spent a penny on Obama so not taking the blame for that ugly 8 years of history.

        •  

          Not sure who the “we” is supposed to be. You? I personally don’t care which presidential candidate you contributed to, except to the extent that if it was to Trump or Clinton it was basically money spent for the purpose of destroying America.

  2.  

    ….and President Obama was the catalyst to pour a few hundred $thousand (or whatever number) of America’s money to help defeat Israel’s Netanyahu when he was running for re-election. – Ben Volpian

    Reply

    Thomas L. Knapp says:

    December 16, 2017 at 12:47 pm
    .
    Interesting claim. Any evidence for it?
    ___________________________________________

    Sorry, only empirical info used – thought it was common knowledge.

    •  

      “Empirical” means “based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic.”

      “I want it to be true, therefore it must be true” is not “empirical.”

      •  

        “….and President Obama was the catalyst to pour a few hundred $thousand (or whatever number) of America’s money to help defeat Israel’s Netanyahu when he was running for re-election.”

        I have heard it said several times on TV by people who I considered to be reputable, and that is how I formed what is an empirical opinion. Don’t remember specifically seeing it in print, but this is what I believe is correct. If you can prove without a shadow of doubt otherwise, by all means do.

        •  

          Why would it be my responsibility to disprove a claim that you made and then declined to prove? I don’t see that it is. All I did was ask for a reason to believe it. Your reason is that you think you remember hearing it said on TV by unnamed people.

          Netanyahu isn’t elected by Israeli voters. Israeli elections are to the Knesset, and they are done by party list in a single nationwide vote. Netanyahu is only elected internally to the leadership of his party. If that party does well enough in an election and either comes out with a majority in, or is able to form a coalition with other parties to secure a majority in, the Knesset, then the leader of that party becomes prime minister. So any attempt to influence an Israeli election would be an attempt to beat Likud generally, not an attempt to beat Netanyahu.

          As it turns out, the US State Department WAS criticized for, ending in late 2014, giving money (a total of $350k) to a group called OneVoice that claimed to be working on getting Israeli/Arab peace negotiations back in the works, but which was active in voter registration and other campaign activities.

          I wondered how big of a factor that might have been. It’s hard to determine. Most campaign funding is from the state, and the most recent spending number I could find was for 2013, in which state campaign finance for the Knesset election came to about $55 million US. $350k would be about 6/10ths of 1% of the total — but of course, the total does not include other non-government finance, so it’s presumably smaller than that. If Obama was behind that $350k, it looks like the US might have spent more trying to influence the Israeli election than anyone has so far demonstrated was spent by the Russians to influence the US election.

          •  

            “Your reason is that you think you remember hearing it said on TV by unnamed people.”

            I didn’t say that, I said: I have heard it said several times on TV by people I considered to be reputable, and that is how I formed what is an empirical opinion.”

            I didn’t say I think I heard it because I know I heard it. I heard it on Fox News, but too tired to look it up now – just came back from checking out some groups and sound, etc. at our new amphitheater. It’s going to work out great.

          •  

            Amphitheater? Cool!

  3.  

    I know this is continuing to be off topic, but someone wrote in to the Key West Citizen – ‘Citizens’ Voice’ stating that there were only around 100 people who showed up for the first “live music test” of the new amphitheater. One City official told me that around 1,000 people showed up. The event was 12-6PM and people were coming and going, plus, $37,000 was donated to KeysStrong.org, a Hurricane Irma relief fund for those severely impacted by the storm.

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