Search This Blog

Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Surrender Summit

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign.


From the transcript of the instantly-infamous Putin-Trump presser in Helsinki:
  • "As president, I cannot make decisions on foreign policy in a futile effort to appease partisan critics, or the media, or Democrats who want to do nothing but resist and obstruct."
  • "No, actually I called him a competitor and a good competitor he is. And I think the word competitor is a compliment.:
  • "I  hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we've all been foolish. We should have had this dialogue a long time ago, a long time frankly before I got to office. And I think we're all to blame."
  • :I think that the, the probe is a disaster for our country. I think it's kept us apart, it's kept us separated."
  • "My people came to me, Dan Coats, came to me and some others they said they think it's Russia. I have President Putin. He just said it's not Russia. I will say this: I don't see any reason why it would be. But I really do want to see the server but I have, I have confidence in both parties."
  • "I have great confidence in my intelligence people but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today and what he did is an incredible offer.He offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators, with respect to the 12 people. I think that's an incredible offer."
And Putin:
REPORTER: Did you want President Trump to win the election and did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?
PUTIN: Yes, I did. Yes, I did. Because he talked about bringing the U.S. Russia relationship back to normal.
A non-denial denial on kompromat:
Yeah, I did heard these rumors that we allegedly collected compromising material on Mr. Trump when he was visiting Moscow. Our distinguished colleague, let me tell you this. When President Trump visited Moscow back then I didn't even know that he was in Moscow. I treat President Trump with utmost respect. But back then, when he was a private individual, a businessman, nobody informed me that he was in Moscow.

But let's take St. Petersburg economic forum, for instance. There were over 500 American businessmen - the high ranking, the high level ones, I don't even remember the last names of each and every one of them. Do you think that we tried to collect compromising material on each and every single one of them? Well, it's difficult to imagine an utter nonsense of a bigger scale than this.

Well, please just disregard these issues and don't think about this anymore again.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Putin Wins

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign.

The Russian Foreign Ministry:

From Russia with Love

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign.

At The Guardian, Lloyd Green reviews Sean Spicer's book:
For three consecutive pages, The Briefing: Politics, the Press and the President graphically details how Manafort beat back the efforts of Never Trump Republicans to steal the presidential nomination. Spicer gushes: “How Manafort and company did this was a scene out of 1950s politics – alternating between carrot and stick and sometimes bat.”
Time flies. In March 2017, Spicer was spinning a whole other yarn. Back then, at the White House podium, he was channeling the president, telling the press there was nothing to see: “Obviously there’s been discussion of Paul Manafort, who played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time.”
Manafort now sits in prison, having violated the conditions of his bail, awaiting trial on money laundering and tax evasion charges.
Jonathan Swan at Axios:
President Trump no longer doubts the basic intelligence assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election — he just seems incapable of taking it seriously, and tells staff that is simply what nations do, several sources close to Trump tell me.
Between the lines: There is no evidence that could ever change Trump’s mind, the sources said.

Why it matters: To the extent that Trump does confront Putin over meddling at tomorrow's summit in Finland with Vladimir Putin — and the president has publicly promised to — it's not with any genuine seriousness or enthusiasm, the sources say. It'll be purely for domestic/media consumption. Trump has signaled as much in the sarcastic way he's talked about this with the press.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

The Conspirators

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign.

From the indictment of Russian agents:
On or about August 15, 2016, the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, received a request for stolen documents from a candidate for the U.S. Congress. The Conspirators responded using the Guccifer 2.0 persona and sent the candidate stolen documents related to the candidate’s opponent.
... 
The Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, also communicated with U.S. persons about the release of stolen documents. On or about August 15, 2016, the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, wrote to a person who was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump, “thank u for writing back . . . do u find anyt[h]ing interesting in the docs i posted?” On or about August 17, 2016, the  conspirators added, “please tell me if i can help u anyhow . . . it would be a great pleasure to me.” On or about September 9, 2016, the Conspirators, again posing as Guccifer 2.0, referred to a stolen DCCC document posted online and asked the person, “what do u think of the info on the turnout model for the democrats entire presidential
campaign.” The person responded, “[p]retty standard.”
From Lawfare:
Finally, the factual allegations in this document significantly improve the possibility of criminal conspiracy charges involving Americans. Until this action, there was little indication in the public record that the hacking operation persisted beyond the date the documents were released. While there were questions about whether the Trump campaign participated in some way in coordinating the release of these documents, the presumption based on public evidence was that the hacking scheme—that is, the violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which constituted the most obvious criminal offense—was complete. This left a bit of a puzzle for “collusion” purposes. If the crime was completed at the time the hacking and theft were done, what crime could constitute conspiracy? One year ago to the day, Helen Murillo and Susan Hennessey analyzed the possibility of conspiracy to violate the CFAA. At the time, they noted a stumbling block to the analysis even if individuals in the Trump campaign encouraged the release of documents or coordinated timing:
While the precedent isn’t entirely clear on the matter, it is possible prosecutors here would need to prove not just that a member of the Trump team was aware of the CFAA scheme when he or she took steps to support the tortious act or violation of another state or federal law, but also that the Russians had the intention of publishing the emails at the time they obtained the information in the first instance. It isn’t at all clear from the public record that the Russians initially obtained the emails for the purpose of publishing them. Indeed, there is some suspicion the original intrusion was just in furtherance or ordinary espionage and the plan to release the emails came later.
The Internet Research Agency indictment, in February, offered a potential legal solution to that puzzle.
This indictment, by contrast, offers a potential factual breakthrough. It tells us that the prior factual premise was wrong: the alleged conduct violating the CFAA continued to occur throughout the summer of 2016. That affects the earlier analysis in two ways. First, it makes clear that the Russians did intend to release the information at the time the hacking occured. Second, and perhaps more important, the indictment alleges that the criminal hacking conspiracy was ongoing at the time individuals in the Trump campaign were in contact with charged and uncharged Russian conspirators, raising the possibility of more straightforward aiding and abetting liability.
In other words, stay tuned. This indictment represents a tightening of the ring in the story of criminal prosecution for the 2016 election hacking. The government has now alleged that the social media manipulations by Russian actors constituted a criminal conspiracy. It has alleged as well that the hacking of Democratic Party and Clinton campaign emails were crimes conducted by officers of the Russian state. The question remains: Who, if anyone, helped?

Friday, July 13, 2018

The Dirty Russian Dozen

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign.

Ken Dilanian et al. at NBC:
Twelve Russian intelligence officers have been indicted in connection with the bitcoin-funded hacking of Democratic organizations and the Hillary Clinton campaign "with the intent to interfere" in the 2016 election, officials announced Friday.
The charges, brought by special counsel Robert Mueller and announced by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, come at a diplomatically sensitive time — just days before President Donald Trump meets formally for the first time with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.

Among the new details: the conspirators allegedly first tried to compromise email accounts used by Clinton's personal office on July 27, 2016, the same day that Trump appeared to urge Russia to go after her emails at a campaign press conference in Florida.

Prosecutors say that in August 2016, a U.S. congressional candidate requested and received from stolen documents related to an opponent from an online persona created by the Russian cabal. And a state lobbyist received stolen data on Democratic donors later that month, the indictment alleges.


Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Million-Dollar Club for Democratic House Challengers

In Defying the Odds, we discuss congressional elections as well as the presidential race. Campaign finance is a big part of the story.
Zach Montellaro and Scott Bland at Politico:
At least 13 Democratic House challengers have already announced they raised over $1 million in the second quarter of 2018, with a few more days to go until the FEC filing deadline: Josh Harder (CA-10), Andrew Janz (CA-22), Katie Hill (CA-25), Katie Porter (CA-45), Jason Crow (CO-06), Angie Craig (MN-02), Andy Kim (NJ-03), Lizzie Pannill Fletcher (TX-07), Gina Ortiz Jones (TX-23), MJ Hegar (TX-31), Colin Allred (TX-32), Jennifer Wexton (VA-10) and Randy Bryce (WI-01).

There is no historical parallel to this class of seven-figure fundraisers. In the second quarter of 2016, only 2 House challengers raised over $1 million without self-funding, according to a review of FEC records: Democratic challengers Zephyr Teachout in NY-19 and Tim Canova in FL-23, where he was waging a primary campaign against Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Bullock 2020?

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the early stages of the 2016 campaign, when many candidates were unknowns.  We are now in the early stages of the 2020 race.

At The Hill, Lloyd Green writes about Democratic reactions to the Kavanaugh SCOTUS nomination:
Where things got interesting is with Steve Bullock, Montana’s Democratic governor and another possible 2020 presidential candidate. Last night, Bullock was speaking in his deepest blue voice, and saying: “Our fundamental rights as Americans are at stake, from access to basic healthcare and a woman’s right to choose to voting rights, workers’ rights and marriage equality.” For the record, Bullock won reelection by five points, even amidst Trump’s 21 percent statewide blowout.
Paul Bedard at The Washington Examiner:
Montana Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock is edging closer to a 2020 presidential bid, according to associates.

Bullock, a rare mix of outdoorsman, tax cutter and Washington lawyer, is being encouraged to run by those who see the list of potential Trump challengers filling up with Washington liberals. 
At The Washington Post, Aaron Blake lists him among potential candidates "worth watching." 

FULL DISCLOSURE: GOVERNOR BULLOCK WAS MY STUDENT.