Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Why Ron Johnson may be a key part of #TrumpRussia, and how SCOTUS plays in

You may have heard that our president nominated a stooge to fill the vacancy being caused by Anthony Kennedy's conveniently-timed (and suspicious) retirement ahead of November's midterms. In a pleasant rarity, Senate Democrats recognized the stakes and the sketchiness, and seem prepared to fight against the appointment on those grounds.
Democratic senators said on Tuesday that the Senate should oppose Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh if he doesn't agree to recuse himself from legal cases tied to special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe.

"I'm a 'no' on this nominee. My colleagues should be a 'no' on this nominee unless Judge Kavanaugh specifically commits that he will recuse himself on any issues that involve President Trump's personal financial dealings or the special counsel," Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said during a rally outside the Supreme Court….

Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.), who is considered a 2020 presidential contender, said he and his fellow Democratic colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee plan to ask Kavanaugh whether he’ll recuse himself from matters related to Mueller’s Russia probe if they come before the high court.

“If you just put this fact pattern down to any senator five years ago, just said the president of the United States is under investigation in which there have been over 70 charges filed, over 20-plus people and corporations have been charged, over five people already guilty pleas, one person already sentenced … I guarantee you you’d get senators [who would] say they would not let that president do what he’s doing right now, which is give himself immunity for any issues that come before the Supreme Court,” he said.
This is absolutely the right response – focus on the corruption and self-dealing aspect of this appointment. I would hope that Wisconsin’s Tammy Baldwin would say she isn’t voting on ANYTHING (SCOTUS appointments or otherwise) until we get an agreement that Kavanaugh would recuse in any and all cases involving the Mueller investigation.

The nomination of Brett ("A president is above the law") Kavanaugh is clearly part of a desperate attempt by President Trump to try to use SCOTUS as a line of defense from being taken down in the Mueller probe. The strategy seems to bear a lot of resemblance to Scott Walker using a bought-off Wisconsin Supreme Court to get off the hook in the John Doe money-laundering scheme.

And speaking of the Mueller probe and Wisconsin, get a load of these coments from over the weekend from Wisconsin’s other US Senator – the Dumb One.
President Trump and U.S. lawmakers should consider revising sanctions targeting Russia so they focus more on Russian oligarchs, a senior Republican lawmaker suggested after participating in a congressional delegation visit to Moscow.

“You do something and nobody ever sits back and analyzes, 'Well, is it working?’” Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., told the Washington Examiner. “And I think you'd be hard-pressed to say that sanctions against Russia are really working all that well.”

Johnson said he's worried that Congress over-reacted to Russia's election interference, which resulted in legislation that tied Trump’s hands with mandatory sanctions.

“I've been pretty upfront that the election interference — as serious as that was, and unacceptable — is not the greatest threat to our democracy,” he said. “We've blown it way out of proportion — [as if it's] the greatest threat to democracy ... We need to really honestly assess what actually happened, what effect did it have, and what effect are our sanctions actually having, positively and negatively.”
Oh, then if it’s not a big deal, then I imagine the Chair of the Senate’s Homeland Security Committee could do a hearing on the subject and clear the air on what was done with the intereference was and how it’s being fixed. That Chairman is…Ron Johnson. And he's not calling a hearing.

Johnson’s silence is especially odd since we now know that Russian interests targeted Wisconsin as a place to focus their propaganda efforts on Facebook and other social media. And few people knew more about these Russian propaganda efforts before the election than Ron Johnson. Let’s go back to Bruce Murphy’s excellent rundown from January 2017 in urban Milwaukee where he asked “Ron Johnson Asleep on Russian Hacking?”
As chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Johnson was one the so-called “Gang of 12,” the top 12 congressional leaders, who were invited to the meeting. (House Speaker Paul Ryanalso attended the meeting.) Johnson later confirmed to Politico that he participated in the briefing.

“In a secure room in the Capitol used for briefings involving classified information, administration officials broadly laid out the evidence U.S. spy agencies had collected, showing Russia’s role in cyber-intrusions in at least two states and in hacking the emails of the Democratic organizations and individuals,” the Post reported….

Johnson, in short, had an opportunity to be a patriot and condemn the fact that Russia was now engaged in such activities in the United States. But he issued no resolutions — in fact, not one word — on Russian’s cyber attacks on America.

Worse, he has engaged in his own pattern of misinformation on the subject. After the CIA publicly released a report in January concluding that Russia meddled in the presidential election to help Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump win the election, Johnson issued a statement to the Wisconsin State Journal saying he would “would need more definitive information before drawing further conclusions.” Johnson did not reveal that he had been informed back in September this was happening.

Johnson went on to complain to CNBC that the CIA refused to brief him on Russian hacking, saying “I have not seen the evidence that it actually was Russia,” while failing to note the CIA report’s echoed the briefing he’d received from other intelligence leaders in September.
So why did Ronnie agree with McConnell to bury this information before a 2016 election where neither he nor Trump were expected to win in Wisconsin, but both ended up winning after a boost from outside messages via the Russians and the NRA?

And yes, the Russians and the NRA seem to have been working together, as McClatchy told us last month.
[Legal experts] say it would be routine for Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators, who are looking at the NRA’s funding as part of a broader inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections, to secretly gain access to the NRA’s tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service.

On the returns, the group was required to identify its so-called “dark money” donors -- companies and wealthy individuals who financed $21 million of the group’s publicly disclosed pro-Trump spending, as well as its multimillion-dollar efforts to heighten voter turnout. The NRA’s nonprofit status allows it to shield those donors’ names from the public, but not the IRS.

A central question for Mueller’s office is whether any of the confidential donors’ names hold clues that could enable investigators to trace a donation camouflaged to hide its Russian origins – such as a shell company that might be the end point in a chain of offshore transactions.

It is illegal for foreign funds to be spent to influence U.S. elections
It sure puts Ron Johnson’s complaints about the Mueller investigation and his underplaying of the Russians’ role in a different light, doesn’t it? Almost like he doesn’t want people to know the full story about how he and other Republicans really won in 2016.

Or did Wisconsin elect him?

Now there’s an easy way for me to be proven wrong on this hypothesis, and to wrap up the Mueller investigation at a quicker pace at the same time. Just have Homeland Security Committee Chair Ron Johnson hold an open hearing frankly discussing what he and the rest of the Homeland Security people know, why the Russians had such an interest in getting involved in our elections, and why they seem to have been so successful in reaching persuadable voters in states like Wisconsin in 2016.

But Ron Johnson isn’t doing that, and you put that inaction together with Ron Johnson’s 4th of July trip to Russia, and it seems a lot like a “thank you” visit. Also note that Johnson was saying last night that he wants the Senate to “[move] expeditiously through the confirmation process” to put Kavanaugh on the bench before the November elections. I’m becoming pretty confident that Donald Trump isn’t the only Republican that would want GOP hack Brett Kavanaugh installed on the Supreme Court to cover up his crimes, and one of those compromised crooks might be Our Dumb Senator.


  1. How much did Walker and cronies get from the NRA-??? (rushkies) during the Recall?? I would venture to say that the Sealed documents from the JD would tell. Maybe that NY Investigation will enlighten us to Walkers dirty $$ as well.

    1. Don't forget that Walker's SuperPAC got more than $1 million from Putin crony/Ukranian Len Blavatnik in 2015.

      Also note that ex-Walker 2014 "data guy" Matt Oczkowski went on to work for Cambridge Analytics and the Trump campaign. Wonder what secrets he shared?