Ok. We’re still unpacking some of the details nestled away within special counsel Robert Mueller’s mammoth report.
A lot will be said over the next few weeks, regarding what is shown to be breathtaking deception and how utterly unfit for office Donald Trump has proven to be.
Trump’s loyalists are calling this a victory, even though it was a victory gained by Trump firing Jeff Sessions and installing a grateful loyalist in William Barr.
Barr made it painfully clear on Thursday that his first loyalty is to protecting the president, not the laws of the United States.
You will not find an American patriot and a Trump loyalist embodied in the same person, because a Trump loyalist’s devotion will always be to Trump first. The urge to shortchange the American people and the foundations of our nation are baked in.
That’s the way Trump likes it. The flag is a marketing tool for his brand, at best.
With that said, let’s talk about some of the less obvious points of Mueller’s report, apt to get lost in the turmoil created by the more blatant episodes of attempted obstruction and uncomfortable closeness to Russians.
It’s time to take another look at Seth Rich, the young Democratic National Committee staffer who was murdered in 2016, shortly before the dump of the DNC’s stolen emails.
The police in Washington, D.C. determined that Rich’s murder was the result of a robbery gone wrong. To date, no one has been arrested.
To Russians and the disinformation campaign that was launched against the United States at that time, his murder presented a stellar opportunity to sow more discord during the 2016 election, as WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange pushed the question: Who killed Seth Rich?
Assange’s new bestie, Fox News personality Sean Hannity, took up the lead of a known Russian cutout and ran with it, nightly, beating it into the already dulled brainpans of the Trump-faithful.
Even after Rich’s parents pleaded with Fox to stop the character assassinations against their son’s memory, Hannity persisted.
The lie perpetuated by Russia and Hannity at that time was that Seth Rich was the source of the DNC leaked emails, therefore, was on the hit list of Hillary Clinton and her powerful friends.
Let’s not overlook that at the same time, Russian trolls were also pushing that Clinton was part of a satanic, pedophile cannibal ring, operated from the basement of a Washington, D.C. pizza parlor.
They made their lies so big, and so completely ludicrous, that no clear-headed person would see it as anything but parody.
The MAGA crowd ate it up, believing every word. In at least one instance, a faithful MAGAdook traveled to D.C. and shot into the pizza parlor (which doesn’t even have a basement), in an effort to save the children he believed were being held there.
It was only after his arrest that he admitted he didn’t really think things through and should have done more research.
Meanwhile, Assange and Hannity are promoting a lie against a deceased staffer and Hillary Clinton, knowing there was no truth to it.
Details included inside Robert Mueller’s final report suggest that not only did Assange know Seth Rich had nothing to do with the hacked DNC emails, but that he was in constant contact with his source in Russia’s GRU, long after Rich’s murder.
“After the U.S. intelligence community publicly announced its assessment that Russia was behind the hacking operation, Assange continued to deny that the Clinton materials released by WikiLeaks had come from Russian hacking,” the report reads. “According to media reports, Assange told a U.S. congressman that the DNC hack was an ‘inside job,’ and purported to have ‘physical proof’ that Russians did not give materials to Assange.”
It’s not like investigators at that time had not done their homework. They knew just how involved Russia was in pushing the Seth Rich hoax. Assange (and Sean Hannity) willingly pushed a lie.
As laid out by Mueller, Assange’s involvement in Russia’s election interference began with a June 14, 2016 direct message to WikiLeaks’ Twitter account from “DC Leaks,” one of the false fronts created by the Russians to launder their hacked material.“You announced your organization was preparing to publish more Hillary’s emails,” the message read, according to Mueller’s report. “We are ready to support you. We have some sensitive information too, in particular, her financial documents. Let’s do it together. What do you think about publishing our info at the same moment? Thank you.”
Within a week, WikiLeaks was in contact with Guccifer 2.0, promoting their platform as the best bet for disseminating any hacked materials.
That would be the same Russian hacker that Trump associate, Roger Stone, boasted of having contacts with.
On July 14, 2016, GRU officers used a Guccifer 2.0 email address to send WikiLeaks an encrypted one-gigabyte file named “wk dnc link I .txt.gpg.” Assange confirmed receipt, and on July 22 he published 20,000 DNC emails stolen during the GRU’s breach.
So while WikiLeaks (and Fox News) is pushing Russia’s propaganda line, a computer security firm called CrowdStrike had already done the actual work and made the connection from the hacked emails directly back to Moscow.
Analysts with ThreatConnect, independently, had likewise presented evidence that Guccifer 2.0 and DC Leaks were also connected to GRU.
Assange continued to push the lie, even offering a $20,000 reward in August 2016 for anyone with information that could lead to a conviction of the murderer of Seth Rich.
It’s a safe bet that if someone had offered information on a no-name, garden variety thug from the D.C. streets as Rich’s murderer, they would not have seen a dime of Assange’s fictitious “reward.”
Assange fanned the flames even higher on August 25, 2016, when he was asked in a television interview, “Why are you so interested in Seth Rich’s killer?”
“We’re very interested in anything that might be a threat to alleged Wikileaks sources,” Assange answered. “If there’s someone who’s potentially connected to our publication, and that person has been murdered in suspicious circumstances, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the two are connected. But it is a very serious matter .. that type of allegation is very serious, as it’s taken very seriously by us.”
Assange never came out and said it, but his “ statements about Rich implied falsely that he had been the source of the stolen DNC emails,” Mueller notes.
And the statements from Sean Hannity, who offered Assange a spot as a guest host on his radio show.
The Mueller report quotes from cryptic emails and messages exchanged between WikiLeaks and the GRU accounts in September 2016, and based on metadata, Mueller suspects the transfer occurred on September 19. But the actual transmittal of the massive Podesta haul evidently took place in a channel that Mueller couldn’t crack. The report notes the possibility that, this time, the files were simply carried into the Ecuadorian Embassy by one of Assange’s visitors.
“Both the GRU and WikiLeaks sought to hide their communications, which has limited the Office’s ability to collect all of the communications between them,” the report notes. “The Office cannot rule out that stolen documents were transferred to WikiLeaks through intermediaries who visited during the summer of 2016.”
Of course WikiLeaks is now claiming that Mueller’s report somehow vindicates them.
It does not. It simply adds weight to the assertion that they are a Russian cutout operation and no one should trust them, or promote them.
I’m looking at you, Sean Hannity.