by Alexander Mercouris, The Duran:
CNN article reveals Russiagate inquiry officials becoming increasingly demoralised and taking out private insurance against future legal action as its investigations draw a blank.
On Friday 4th August 2017 I wrote an article for The Duran in which I discussed the various lines of enquiry that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russiagate inquiry appears to be following.
I said that there appeared to be three main lines of enquiry. Here is what I wrote
What we therefore have is an inquiry that centres on three issues
(1) General Flynn’s interactions with ambassador Kislyak and his financial dealings with RT;
(2) the meeting between Veselnitskaya and Donald Trump Junior; and
(3) the money-laundering allegations against Paul Manafort.
Since virtually everything there is to know about General Flynn’s various dealings with Kislyak and the Russians is already known, and literally everything there is to know about the Veselnitskaya-Donald Trump Junior meeting is so also known, my guess is that the focus of Mueller’s investigation are the money-laundering allegations against Paul Manafort.
Simultaneously with my article a much longer article was published by CNN also on Friday 4th August 2017 which at inordinate length and in a very different says essentially the same thing.
Unsurprisingly coming from CNN – one of the news agencies which has being peddling the Russia-Trump campaign conspiracy thesis most enthusiastically – the article takes a radically different and far more lurid view of the present state of Special Counsel Mueller’s inquiry than I do. However the CNN article is useful because if read carefully it does provide further inside information not just about the state of Mueller’s inquiry but about the low morale of those conducting it.
Before discussing this further, I must however draw attention to one passage in the CNN article which I strongly feel tips over into outright misrepresentation
By last July when Russian intelligence began releasing troves of stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee, the FBI had been aware of the DNC intrusion about a year.
Until the stolen emails were weaponized in their release via WikiLeaks and the Russian intelligence’s own site DCLeaks, intelligence and law enforcement officials believed the cyber-intrusion was an intelligence-gathering effort, like many of those that occurred before past elections.
(bold italics added)
Russian intelligence has never ‘released’ any “troves of stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee”. The emails were ‘released’ not by Russian intelligence but by Wikileaks.
The January 2016 ODNI report ‘assesses’ that the emails were supplied to Wikileaks by Russian intelligence, but this has not been independently proved and is fiercely contested not just by Wikileaks and the Russians but also by numerous other independent specialists and commentators.
As for how the FBI is supposed to have become “aware of the DNC intrusion about a year” before, I do not understand how the FBI could have been aware of any such thing given that it has never examined the DNC’s computers to establish whether any such ‘intrusion’ ever took place.
Putting this aside, CNN essentially confirms that the focus of Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation is (1) Paul Manafort’s business affairs, (2) Flynn’s affairs and dealings with ambassador Kislyak; and (3) the meeting between Natalya Veselnitskaya and Donald Trump Junior.
It also confirms that the main work being undertaken by the inquiry is focused on unravelling Paul Manafort’s tangled business affairs.
Here however is what CNN tells us about the actual state of the enquiry into Manafort’s business affairs
CNN has learned that investigators became more suspicious when they turned up intercepted communications that US intelligence agencies collected among suspected Russian operatives discussing their efforts to work with Manafort, who served as campaign chairman for three months, to coordinate information that could damage Hillary Clinton’s election prospects, the US officials say. The suspected operatives relayed what they claimed were conversations with Manafort, encouraging help from the Russians.
Manafort faces potential real troubles in the probe, according to current and former officials. Decades of doing business with foreign regimes with reputations for corruption, from the Philippines to Ukraine, had led to messy finances.
The focus now for investigators is whether Manafort was involved in money laundering or tax violations in his business dealings with pro-Russia parties in Ukraine. He’s also been drawn into a related investigation of his son-in-law’s real estate business dealings, some of which he invested in.
Manafort has not been accused of any wrongdoing.
(bold italics added)
I am not going to waste time discussing the alleged intercepts of conversations by “suspected” Russian operatives discussing conversations they are supposed to have had with Paul Manafort. We have no idea who these “suspected” operatives are and the wording suggests uncertainty as to whether they were in fact officials of the Russian government. Another part of the CNN article admits that these people – whoever they were – might anyway have been “exaggerating or lying”. What people say to each other about someone else rarely counts for much, all the more so in this case when the timing and circumstances of these allegedly intercepted conversations have not been revealed.
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