On today's BradCast: Donald Trump tries to walk back Helsinki, and Robert Mueller has more shoes to drop, according to a former federal prosecutor's analysis of recent indictments. [Audio link to show follows below.]
The fallout from President Trump's stunning comments in Helsinki on Monday continued on Tuesday, in response to the President of the United States taking sides against his own intelligence agencies and in favor of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who stood beside him at a joint press conference following their one-on-one summit. After more than 24 hours of unrelenting backlash from media, Democrats, former intelligence officials --- and even a number of largely gentle public critiques from some Republicans --- Trump attempted to clean up his overseas comments.
Working from written remarks at the White House today, he now claims he "accepts" the U.S. Intelligence Community assessments of various alleged Russian cyber-attacks on the 2016 election, and that he simply misspoke --- just one word --- when claiming during Monday's joint presser with Putin that he saw "no reason why it would be Russia" behind the 2016 attacks. He meant to say "wouldn't", rather than "would", he now says. Trump is hoping to dig out from under his denial just days after Special Counsel Robert Mueller filed new felony charges against 11 Russian military intelligence officials said to have been working on behalf of Putin, according to the indictment, when they infiltrated DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign computers to steal emails, release them to the public before the election, plant malware on state and local election official computers and steal voter registration data in 2016.
Mueller's Friday indictment preceded yet another one announced on Monday by the Dept. of Justice, concerning the Sunday arrest of a Russian national who allegedly infiltrated the National Rifle Association along with a Putin-connected oligarch.
We're joined today by former federal prosecutor MICHAEL J. STERN who explains how Mueller's Friday indictment of Russian military operatives was filed and written in a way that suggests there are more such indictments to come, particularly of Americans. Stern describes, from a prosecutorial perspective, how and why investigators working on sprawling conspiracy cases tend to work their way up from lower-level aspects of the case, toward their main targets, while trying not to prematurely tip their hand or reveal evidence they hope to keep under wraps before the later indictments.
He details how Mueller's Friday charges of the Russian military officials (and a number of Russian social-media scam artists earlier this year), serve to buy time for the Special Counsel probe, while establishing an understanding among the public for the larger crimes being investigated --- before other "shoes" are ultimately dropped.
"He was essentially allowed to have his cake and eat it, too. He was able to set forth the indictment and charge the Russian members of the conspiracy. But, because they're not in the United States and the likelihood of them being extradited at all is slim, he's able to continue his investigation without the pressure of having to deal with those defendants making appearances in court, etc," Stern tells me. "It's my sense of things that there was a calculation, a strategy on his part in doing that."
"There's a process, I think, that Mueller is going through to get, not only members of Congress, but more importantly, the public, to understand that what has been alleged --- the Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election --- has actually occurred," he argues. "Mueller knows exactly where he is going, and that what he's doing is dropping bread crumbs until he gets to the loaf of bread, which, I believe, will include Americans."
Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as summer heat, exacerbated by global warming, continues to take its toll in several different ways that folks don't often consider. That, at the same time as many who have been longtime science deniers now seem to be coming around in several different interesting ways as well...
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