The Manafort Indictment: Not Much There, and a Boon for Trump Robert Mueller on Capitol Hill in 2013 (Reuters file photo: Larry Downing)

The Manafort Indictment: Not Much There, and a Boon for Trump Robert Mueller on Capitol Hill in 2013 (Reuters file photo: Larry Downing) SHARE ARTICLE ON FACEBOOKSHARE TWEET ARTICLETWEET PLUS ONE ARTICLE ON GOOGLE PLUS+1 PRINT ARTICLE ADJUST FONT SIZEAA by ANDREW C. MCCARTHY October 30, 2017 2:20 PM @ANDREWCMCCARTHY Do not be fooled by the “Conspiracy against the United States” heading. The Paul Manafort indictment is much ado about nothing . . . except as a vehicle to squeeze Manafort, which is special counsel Robert Mueller’s objective — as we have been arguing for three months (see here, here, and here). Do not be fooled by the “Conspiracy against the United States” heading on Count One (page 23 of the indictment). This case has nothing to do with what Democrats and the media call “the attack on our democracy” (i.e., the Kremlin’s meddling in the 2016 election, supposedly in “collusion” with the Trump campaign). Essentially, Manafort and his associate, Richard W. Gates, are charged with (a) conspiring to conceal from the U.S. government about $75 million they made as unregistered foreign agents for Ukraine, years before the 2016 election (mainly, from 2006 through 2014), and (b) a money-laundering conspiracy. There are twelve counts in all, but those are the two major allegations. The so-called conspiracy against the United States mainly involves Manafort’s and Gates’s alleged failure to file Treasury Department forms required by the Bank Secrecy Act. Specifically, Americans who hold a stake in foreign bank accounts must file what’s known as an “FBAR” (foreign bank account report) in any year in which, at any point, the balance in the account exceeds $10,000. Federal law also requires disclosure of foreign accounts on annual income-tax returns. Manafort and Gates are said to have controlled foreign accounts through which their Ukrainian political-consulting income sluiced, and to have failed to file accurate FBARs and tax returns. In addition, they allegedly failed to register as foreign agents from 2008 through 2014 and made false statements when they belatedly registered. UP NEXT UP NEXT UP NEXT UP NEXT UP NEXT UP NEXT UP NEXT UP NEXT UP NEXT UP NEXT UP NEXT UP NEXT UP NEXT UP NEXT UP NEXT UP NEXT UP NEXT Powered by In the money-laundering conspiracy, they are alleged to have moved money in and out of the United States with the intent to promote “specified unlawful activity.” That activity is said to have been their acting as unregistered foreign agents. On first glance, Mueller’s case, at least in part, seems shaky and overcharged. Even though the Ukrainian money goes back to 2006, the counts involving failure to file FBARs (Counts Three through Nine) go back only to 2012. This is likely because the five-year statute of limitations bars prosecution for anything before then. Obviously, one purpose of the conspiracy count (Count One) is to enable prosecutors, under the guise of establishing the full scope of the scheme, to prove law violations that would otherwise be time-barred. The offense of failing to register as a foreign agent (Count Ten) may be a slam-dunk, but it is a violation that the Justice Department rarely prosecutes criminally. There is often ambiguity about whether the person’s actions trigger the registration requirement, so the Justice Department’s practice is to encourage people to register, not indict them for failing to do so. It may well be that Manafort and Gates made false statements when they belatedly registered as foreign agents, but it appears that Mueller’s office has turned one offense into two, an abusive prosecutorial tactic that flouts congressional intent. Specifically, Congress considers false statements in the specific context of foreign-agent registration to be a misdemeanor calling for zero to six months’ imprisonment. (See Section 622(a)(2) of Title 22, U.S. Code.) That is the offense Mueller charges in Count Eleven. But then, for good measure, Mueller adds a second false-statement count (Count Twelve) for the same conduct — charged under the penal-code section (Section 1001 of Title 18, U.S. Code) that makes any falsity or material omission in a statement to government officials a felony punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment. Obviously, one cannot make a false statement on the foreign-agent registration form without also making a false statement to the government. Consequently, expect Manafort to argue that Mueller has violated double-jeopardy principles by charging the same exact offense in two separate counts, and that the special counsel is undermining Congress’s intent that the offense of providing false information on a foreign-agent registration form be considered merely a misdemeanor. Finally, the money-laundering conspiracy allegation (Count Two) seems far from slam-dunk. For someone to be guilty of laundering, the money involved has to be the proceeds of criminal activity before the accused starts concealing it by (a) moving it through accounts or changing its form by buying assets, etc., or (b) dodging a reporting requirement under federal law. Now, it is surely a terrible thing to take money, under the guise of “political consulting,” from an unsavory Ukranian political faction that is doing the Kremlin’s bidding. But it is not a violation of American law to do so. The violations occur when, as outlined above, there is a lack of compliance with various disclosure requirements. Mueller seems to acknowledge this: The money-laundering count does not allege that it was illegal for Manafort and Gates to be paid by the Ukrainian faction. It is alleged, rather, that they moved the money around to promote a scheme to function as unregistered foreign agents, and specifically to avoid the registration requirement. That seems like a stretch. To be sure, the relevant money-laundering statute includes in its definition of “specified unlawful activity” “any violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938.” (See Section 1956(c)(2)(7)(D) of Title 18, U.S. Code.) But the prosecution still has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the money was the proceeds of unlawful activity in the first place. Moreover, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Even from Paul Manafort’s perspective, there may be less to this indictment than meets the eye. Manafort and Gates (a) knew the money was the proceeds of illegal activity and (b) transported the money the way they did with the specific intent of avoiding having to register as foreign agents. This count will thus fail if there is any doubt that the Ukrainian money was illegal under American law, that Manafort and Gates knew it was illegal, that they knew the work they were doing required them to register as foreign agents, or that it was their intention to promote a failure-to-register violation. Even from Paul Manafort’s perspective, there may be less to this indictment than meets the eye — it’s not so much a serious allegation of “conspiracy against the United States” as a dubious case of disclosure violations and money movement that would never have been brought had he not drawn attention to himself by temporarily joining the Trump campaign. From President Trump’s perspective, the indictment is a boon from which he can claim that the special counsel has no actionable collusion case. It appears to reaffirm former FBI director James Comey’s multiple assurances that Trump is not a suspect. And, to the extent it looks like an attempt to play prosecutorial hardball with Manafort, the president can continue to portray himself as the victim of a witch hunt. READ MORE: A Guide to Understanding the Manafort Indictment What the Paul Manafort Indictment Means Trump Advisor Pleads Guilty to Lying about Seeking Hillary Emails from Russia — Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and a contributing editor of National Review.

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The collapse of Russiagate; the shift to Maidan-style coup in Charlottesville; and the successful diplomacy of Trump, with China and Russia – Harley Schlanger –

In a desperate attempt to defend its collapsing “Russiagate” narrative, the Washington Post launched an attack on The Nation magazine for its August 9 article by Patrick Lawrence, “A New Report Raises Big Questions About Last Year’s DNC Hack.”  Lawrence’s article, in the most prestigious left/progressive magazine in the U.S., broke the attempted media blackout of the memo sent by the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) on July 24 to President Trump, which effectively refutes the claims of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, allegedly through “hacking” Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails and releasing them to Wikileaks.  Despite more than twelve months of non-stop charges against the Russians, and claims of Trump’s collusion with Russia, not a shred of hard evidence has yet been presented to back these allegations, which are at the heart of the coup plot being run against the President.
The Nation article was followed by a prominent story in Bloomberg News and one in Salon magazine, which both reported on the Nation article, and the VIPS memo, and how it challenges the narrative that Trump owes his election victory to Putin and Russia.  That story was concocted by leading figures in British intelligence, and leaked to the U.S. media by corrupt elements of Obama’s intelligence team, led by the trio of Brennan, Clapper and Comey, as part of the “regime change” against Trump they launched after his November 2016 election victory.  Brennan set up a task force to look into the Russian meddling charges after a former British Ambassador to Moscow, Sir Andrew Wood, delivered a fraudulent dossier, prepared by an “ex”-MI6 operative, to Brennan, through anti-Trump Senator John McCain.
The attack on The Nation was posted on the Post’s “Eric Wemple Blog” on August 15, and is a blatant attempt to force The Nation’s editors to not merely repudiate the Lawrence article, but to join the campaign against Trump’s desire for cooperation with Russia.  Wemple’s attempt to dismiss the authoritative report of the VIPS has no substance, and is written to bludgeon the magazine’s editors to adopt the talking points of the coup plotters.  As such, it presents the same weak, sophistical argument presented by the DNC, which released a statement on the VIPS memo which simply reasserted the conclusion reached by “U.S. intelligence agencies” of Russian interference, adding, “Any suggestion otherwise is false, and is just another conspiracy theory like those pushed by Trump and his administration.”
Such dangerous silliness was countered by Salon’s Danielle Ryan, who wrote on August 15, “For the media and mainstream liberals to dismiss information presented in The Nation as lacking in evidence would be breathtakingly ironic, given how little evidence they required to build a narrative” against Trump and Putin.  She concluded that if the VIPS memo is right, “those who pushed the Russia hacking narrative with little evidence have a lot to answer for.”
It is the inability of those pushing this narrative to provide any answer, except for obsessive repetition of the charges, which explains why the whole “Russiagate” scandal is collapsing, and has gained no traction from the American people.  Adding to their troubles is the report of a discussion between U.S. Representative Dana Rohrabacher, and Wikileaks’ founder Julian Assange, on August 16. Rohrabacher, who has been openly critical of Russiagate, and has defended Putin against charges that he was directly involved in the “meddling”, said that Assange will soon present his evidence that it was not the Russians who leaked the DNC emails to him, which confirms the conclusion reached by the VIPS.
This is the context for the present hysteria being whipped up following last weekend’s violent confrontation in Charlottesville, Virginia, between right-wing, “white nationalist” demonstrators and a club-wielding “antifa” mob.  This was a staged confrontation, designed to smear Trump as a “racist”, for not adequately — in the eyes of the pro-regime change media — placing blame on the right-wing extremists for the confrontation.  In his comments on the riot, Trump correctly noted that there were armed thugs on both sides.  Others have noted that the police did nothing to separate the two gangs, as one would expect from law enforcement officials.
Executive Intelligence Review has documented how the FBI has a long history of launching racial confrontations, through infiltrating professional provocateurs into both “right” and “left” gangs, in a classic gang-countergang operation, which was developed by British intelligence to control colonial populations.  These are the “color revolution” methods, deployed by Anglo-American networks around the world, for regime change against targeted governments.  These methods are now being deployed against a U.S. President, whose election upset the plans for permanent war between East and West.  The antifa thugs and their “liberal” defenders are funded by the same City of London operative George Soros, who prominently collaborated with U.S. neocons, operating under Hillary Clinton’s State Department cover, to overthrow the elected Yanukovic government of Ukraine (See EIR Special Report, “Obama and Soros: Nazis in Ukraine 2014 — U.S. in 2017?”, February 24, 2017).
It is another irony that the same media which is today explicitly defending the “leftist” antifa thugs against “right-wing” neo-Nazis, offered full support for the murderous neo-Nazi gangs which precipitated the Maidan coup against Yanukovic.  There are even some making the outrageous claim that America’s “white nationalists” are receiving support from Russia’s President Putin, despite the major sacrifice of the Russian people in fighting the Nazis in the Second World War, which has shaped Putin’s world view, and is behind his principled stand against the Nazi Banderistas who carried out murder in the Maidan, and are prominent in the defense and security ministries in Ukraine today.
There is another factor driving the desperate escalation by the war party to oust Trump, one not reported by the Goebbels-style propagandists among western media, but of enormous significance for humanity.  As the media was hyping the nuclear war threat from North Korea, the Trump administration ramped up its diplomatic efforts to avoid war.  On August 10, U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson stated that the U.S. does not seek regime change in North Korea.  “We are not your enemy,” he said, adding that the U.S. wishes to have a dialogue which could provide security and economic prosperity for North Korea.  The Associated Press reported that, unlike Obama, who refused to have contact with the Kim Jong-Un government, there is now a back channel opened for talks.
On August 12, Trump spoke by phone with Chinese President Xi Jinping.  According to a statement released by the White House, “the relationship between the two presidents is an extremely close one, and will hopefully lead to a peaceful resolution of the North Korea problem.”  At the same time, the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford has been touring Asia, with meetings in South Korea and China.  In Seoul, he emphasized that the U.S. seeks a diplomatic solution, saying he intends to do “everything we absolutely can to support Secretary Tillerson’s current path.”  South Korea’s President Moon agreed, adding that he would not accept a war on the Korean peninsula.
Dunford’s next stop was in China, where he engaged in extensive discussions with his Chinese counterpart, General Fang Fenghui.  Acknowledging that there are “difficult issues” between the two countries, Dunford said, “I know we share one thing: We share a commitment to work through these difficult issues.”  General Fang said that these meetings will expand the dialogue begun by Trump and Xi at their Mar-e-Lago summit last April, and he wishes to help Dunford “know more about our military, (boost) our cooperation and build up our friendship.”  The two signed a joint strategic dialogue mechanism, to allow for direct communication which will “enable us to communicate to reduce the risk of miscalculation.”  Prior to Dunford’s meetings, Tillerson noted that the U.S. does not blame China for the recent tensions around North Korea.
In large part due to this extensive dialogue, the war tensions in Asia have been reduced, and Kim Jong Un has stepped back from his threat to launch a strike aimed toward Guam.  It should also be noted that the Russians are also playing an important role in seeking a diplomatic solution with North Korea.  On August 6, at the ASEAN summit in Manila, Tillerson met with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov.  While much of their meeting involved the implications of the new sanctions against Russia passed by the Congress, and the Russian response, expelling some 755 U.S. diplomatic personnel from Russia, they also discussed continuing the cooperation in Syria, and joint efforts to resolve the problems with Ukraine and North Korea.  Before Gen. Dunford left for Asia, he spoke on August 8 with the Russian Chief of Staff Gerasimov, who said that they discussed military collaboration against ISIS and Al-Nusra in Syria and Iraq, and expanding the de-escalation zones, with the promise of a peaceful settlement of the bloody Syrian civil war, which had been extended by Obama’s support for regime change.
Instead of gaining support, or at least recognition, for these diplomatic initiatives, the media, and Trump’s political opponents in the U.S. and Europe, insist that war is inevitable if Trump is not removed.  Again, this drive comes from the British, with echoes in the U.S. Deep State.  In June, a book was released by a Guardian reporter, Jonathan Freedland, under a pseudonym, Sam Bourne, titled “To Kill the President.”  Freedland was the Guardian’s Washington correspondent during the 2016 election.  Favorably reviewed by a Guardian reporter as a “political thriller,” the story revolves around a decision, by the U.S. Secretary of Defense — a General — and the Chief of Staff, that the President — who is obviously modeled on Trump, who they conclude is deranged — must be removed, after he tries to launch a nuclear strike on North Korea.  Believing that neither impeachment, nor applying the 25th amendment, is possible, they decide he must be assassinated.
For Freedland, this is not fiction!  On August 9, he wrote in his Guardian column, “Trump has taken us to the bring of nuclear war.  Can he be stopped?”  He followed this two days later with another column, writing that, “Anyone hoping the Deep State will depose an unhinged American president before all-out war with North Korea needs to think again.”  Stopping short of advocating assassination in this column, he concludes that the only hope is Mueller, i.e., impeachment based on the investigation of the Special Counsel.
Another Brit, this one an ex-pat, John Cassidy, wrote an article for the New Yorker, titled “Who will put an end to Donald Trump’s warmongering?”  Cassidy is the former editor of the Sunday Times of London.  As with Freedland, he brings up the prospect of removing Trump under the 25th amendment, but concludes that the political will to do that does not exist.
And on U.S. television, on August 11, a former CIA and FBI counter-terrorism expert, Phil Mudd openly declared, “As a former government official, government’s going to kill this guy,” attacking Trump for, among other crimes, defending Putin and rejecting U.S. intelligence estimates.  Mudd served as the former Deputy Director of the CIA Counterterrorist Center.  In 2005, he was appointed by then-FBI Director Robert Mueller to serve as the Deputy Director of the FBI’s National Security Branch.