Patterico's Pontifications

10/28/2017

What Does All This New Russia News Mean?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:30 pm

Two big stories out on Russia in the past day. Let’s recap and briefly analyze.

First, as Caleb Howe discussed here, Robert Mueller has filed his first charges. Behind Door #1: Paul Manafort. Behind Door #2: Michael Flynn. Behind Door #3: A goat. (Scapegoat?) If a door is opened and it does not contain the indicted person or animal, should you switch your guess? I don’t know, since Monty is no longer here to tell us. I do know that Adam Steinbaugh had the Tweet of the Day with this:

Second story: what many of us strongly suspected is now crystal clear: Natalia Veselnitskaya was acting as a Kremlin cutout when she met with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and The Man Behind Door Number 1. Susan Wright discussed this yesterday, and the article can be found in the #FAKENEWSNEWYORKTIMES!!1!:

Natalia V. Veselnitskaya arrived at a meeting at Trump Tower in June 2016 hoping to interest top Trump campaign officials in the contents of a memo she believed contained information damaging to the Democratic Party and, by extension, Hillary Clinton. The material was the fruit of her research as a private lawyer, she has repeatedly said, and any suggestion that she was acting at the Kremlin’s behest that day is anti-Russia “hysteria.”

But interviews and records show that in the months before the meeting, Ms. Veselnitskaya had discussed the allegations with one of Russia’s most powerful officials, the prosecutor general, Yuri Y. Chaika. And the memo she brought with her closely followed a document that Mr. Chaika’s office had given to an American congressman two months earlier, incorporating some paragraphs verbatim.

The coordination between the Trump Tower visitor and the Russian prosecutor general undercuts Ms. Veselnitskaya’s account that she was a purely independent actor when she sat down with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, and Paul J. Manafort, then the Trump campaign chairman.

It also suggests that emails from an intermediary to the younger Mr. Trump promising that Ms. Veselnitskaya would arrive with information from Russian prosecutors were rooted at least partly in fact — not mere “puffery,” as the president’s son later said.

If you didn’t care that Trump Jr. was going to the meeting explicitly to get dirt on Hillary that he believed to be sourced from a high-level Russian prosecutor, then you won’t care that the dirt was indeed coming from the Kremlin.

Also, you’re probably a partisan hack who would have screamed to high heaven if Hillary’s troops had done the same.

What does it all mean? That partisans are gonna partisan.

Have we gotten to coordination yet, as to Hillary or Trump? No. Do we have utterly nasty politics being played, by the Hillary side and the Trump side? Yes. Will Democrats care about only one half of this? Yes. Will Republicans care only about the other half? Yes.

Any other questions?

P.S. If you’re not a hack, and you’re interested in facts about the Magnitsky Act, Veselnitskaya, and her relationship to the Kremlin, check out my six-part series on that topic.

In Part One, I introduced the series. In Part Two, I began setting forth the background of the aggressive tax fraud scheme that Sergei Magnitsky discovered, as set out in Browder’s book Red Notice. In Part Three, I discussed what Magnitsky did when he uncovered the scheme — and the terrible price he paid as a result. In Part Four, I discussed the reaction of the Russian government to the Magnitsky Act, and why they hate it so much. In Part Five, I discussed the connections between Natalia Veselnitskaya and the thieves behind the tax fraud uncovered by Sergei Magnitsky. And in Part Six, I concluded by discussing Veselnitskaya’s relentless propaganda effort against Bill Browder, Sergei Magnitsky, and the Magnitsky Act.

Read that, and you’ll have a much better sense of why recent stories might matter.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

Spanish Government Signals Harsh Response to Catalan Independence Declaration

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:07 pm

Yesterday, after the regional parliament of Catalonia voted to declare independence, the Spanish government said: allow me to retort.

Basically, the Spanish government asked the regional government: does Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy look like a b*tch?

Madrid reacted to the Catalan parliament’s unilateral declaration of independence on Friday by firing the regional government and dismissing the head of the local police force.

Puigdemont and his cabinet were formally removed from their posts, and their powers and responsibilities taken over by central government in notices posted to the official state bulletin on Saturday morning.

It’s escalating further than that, with threats of rebellion charges:

Spain’s top prosecutor will seek rebellion charges for those responsible for a vote in favor of declaring an independent Catalan republic, an official spokesman said.

The spokesman said the prosecutor is looking to determine if the charges should be limited to the Catalan cabinet, including President Carles Puigdemont and Vice President Oriol Junqueras, or if they should also include members of the parliament’s governing board and lawmakers.

The official, who spoke under condition of anonymity in line with internal rules, said the charges could be brought as early as Monday.

Puigdemont is responding with a message of peaceful defiance:

The Catalan leader has issued a defiant response to Madrid’s decision to take direct control of Catalonia, calling for “democratic opposition” to the takeover.

In a brief video message issued on Saturday afternoon, Carles Puigdemont vowed to continue working to build “a free country”.

“We must do so resisting repression and threats, without ever abandoning, at any time, civic and peaceful conduct,” he said, adding that his government did not have or want “the argument of force”.

I don’t think that is going to work. Whoever commands the most men with guns is going to win this fight, at least in the near term. And right now, that looks like the Spanish government.

Complicating the way all good people should view all this is the fact that what the Catalan public wants is a lot more mixed than it might appear on the surface. The vote in the Catalan parliament yesterday was 70-10. But the 10 votes were a symbolic number left behind by a much larger group. More than 50 members of parliament who opposed secession had left in protest before the vote. They were going to lose, but not by much.

This provides a parallel to the referendum. While voters cast ballots overwhelmingly in favor of independence, virtually all voters who favored continuing the union stayed home, agreeing with the Spanish government that the vote itself was unconstitutional. Only 43% of eligible voters actually voted.

The EU rejects the Catalonian declaration of independence and refuses to recognize Catalonian independence. Scotland, which had held its own independence referendum, was a lonely voice stating a willingness to take the declaration at face value.

It’s all a thorny mess, and it’s likely to get resolved with violence.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]


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