Just saw this on my Facebook feed:
The Lawfare blog:
The timing of the indictment given the upcoming Helsinki summit is a powerful show of strength by federal law enforcement. Letâ€™s presume that Mueller did not time this indictment to precede the summit by way of embarrassing Trump on the international stage. It is enough to note that he also did not hold off on the indictment for a few days by way ofÂ sparingÂ Trump embarrassmentâ€”and that Rosenstein did not force him to. Indeed, Rosenstein said at hisÂ press conferenceÂ that it is â€œimportant for the president to know what information was uncovered because he has to make very important decisions for the countryâ€ and therefore â€œhe needs to know what evidence there is of foreign election interference.â€ But of course Rosenstein and Mueller did not just let Trump know. They also let the world know, which has the effectâ€”intended or notâ€”of boxing in the president as he meets with an adversary national leader.
Put less delicately: Rosenstein has informed the president, and the world, before Trump talks to Putin one-on-one that his own Justice Department is prepared to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, in public, using admissible evidence, that the president of the Russian Federation has been lying to Trump about Russian non-involvement in the 2016 election hacking.
Of course, a normal U.S. president probably would have called off the scheduled summit with the Russian president. You know, the summit in which only translators will be present so that nobody can know what Trump and Putin say to each other. That summit.Â Trump’s only response so far has been to blame the hacking on Barack Obama.
Among other details you might not have heard, Maryland learned this week that its voter registration platform belongs to a Russian oligarch.
Speaking of Russian oligarchs, don’t miss the New Yorker article by Adam Davidson on Trump’s Scottish golf course, which is losing him tons of money:
This property has not received the attention it deserves. It is, by far, the biggest investment the Trump Organization has made in years. It is so much bigger than his other recent projects that it would not be unreasonable to describe the Trump Organization as, at its core, a manager of a money-losing Scottish golf course that is kept afloat with funds from licensing fees and decades-old real-estate projects.Â …
…Â Using what appears to be more than half of the companyâ€™s available cash to purchase Trump Turnberry makes no obvious sense for any business person, but especially for Donald Trump. It is a bizarre, confounding move that raises questions about the central nature of his business during the years in which he prepared for and then executed his Presidential campaign.
The question about this and other Trump properties: “There simply isnâ€™t enough money coming into Trumpâ€™s known business to cover the massive outlay he spent on Turnberry,” Davidson writes. So where did this money come from? If you keep reading, you will notice the word laundering does turn up quite a bit. See also “Trump’s Mystery Money.”
By all appearances, Trump is Putin’s tool.
The nationâ€™s top intelligence officer said on Friday that the persistent danger of Russian cyberattacks today was akin to the warnings the United States had of stepped-up terror threats ahead of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
That note of alarm sounded by Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, came on the same day thatÂ 12 Russian agents were indictedon charges of hacking the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clintonâ€™s presidential campaign. Mr. Coats said those indictments illustrated Moscowâ€™s continuing strategy to undermine the United Statesâ€™ democracy and erode its institutions.
â€œThe warning lights are blinking red again,â€ Mr. Coats said as he cautioned of cyberthreats. â€œToday, the digital infrastructure that serves this country is literally under attack.â€
What’s the Trump Administration doing to protect the voting system? Nothing at all, that I’ve heard.
In total, Fridayâ€™s announcement brought the count for Special Counsel Robert Muellerâ€™s team to 191 criminal charges against 32 people and three Russian companies, including Trumpâ€™s former campaign head, Paul Manafort; Manafortâ€™s assistant, Rick Gates; his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn; a foreign policy advisor, George Papadopoulos; and 25 Russian nationals. (In an investigation delegated at least in part by Muellerâ€™s office to federal prosecutors in New York, FBI agents also raided the offices of Trumpâ€™s longtime attorney, Michael Cohen, who has not been charged with anything so far.)
The end game, of course, is to weaken the U.S. and the European alliances. And it’s all going according to plan so far. See Amy Zegart, “The Self-Inflicted Demise of American Power” at The Atlantic.
Many experts believe the chief challenge of managing President Trumpâ€™s foreign policy is keeping Trump on message. Theyâ€™re wrong. Trump isnâ€™t misspeaking when he ignores his talking points,Â insults allies, orÂ congratulates PutinÂ on winning a sham election. Heâ€™s not veering off script when he declares thatÂ North Korea is no longer a nuclear threatÂ just because Kim Jong Un posed for a photo in Singapore. Trump is actually on message nearly every day and in every tweet. Itâ€™s just not a message that most serious national-security experts want to hear. Deep in the recesses of our brains, we experts just cannot believe that an American president would pursue so many profoundly shortsighted policiesâ€”or that he would actually believe heâ€™s doing a good job.
Trump has a foreign-policy doctrine, all right. Heâ€™s been advancing it with remarkable speed, skill, and consistency. Its effect can be summed up in one neat slogan: Make America Weak Again.
He’s going a heck of a job, folks.