Even Though Trump Tries to Deny or Camouflage those International Threats…We’ve put lots of info on our international threats towards the bottom, with Russia being front & center.  But first as an intro, welcome from northeast Ohio, where we’re in the deep freeze!  As usual, we start off with the latest on Trump & Mueller.  We collect all the most pertinent Russia probe news & place them here conveniently in one place on The VORACS.  Trump makes it so easy to criticize him, since he’s so off-the-charts clueless & incompetent.  Plus on a personal level, he’s conclusively proven to be a thoroughly despicable human being.  In my attempt to remain relatively objective, I’m actually going easier on him than some.  Check out the Palmer Report for some real hard-hitting opinions.
I’m supremely confident we’ll see our prez go down in 2019, since there’s overwhelming circumstantial evidence of crimes & it’s no longer just Mueller’s team pursuing the truth, but the Dem House committees (from which until today the GOP had been stalling making their committee assignments) & Southern District of New York are joining in to uncover Trump’s extensive criminal enterprise: chris-christie-explains-who-poses-the-biggest-threat-to-president-trump-and-its-not-robert-mueller.  And the more we learn, the uglier we can trust this will get.  From there, the public will keep hankering for more facts & GOP members of Congress will be increasingly pressured to do the right thing in protecting our constitutional rule of law.
What was Whitaker trying to say?
I’m not even sure he knows.  The other day he answered a question with off-the-cuff remarks about Mueller’s progress, as he stammered out the words “I think” his report is almost complete.  We’ve heard this type of speculation before that Mueller was close to completion.  Trump’s former lawyer Cobb more than a year ago predicted the probe was winding down, while PR/TV lawyer Rudy said last spring he anticipated the investigation wrapping up in a month or two.  Whitaker’s curious comment raises questions.  As acting AG he says he’s been fully briefed, but does he have a clue?  Maybe he’s just looking to appease the prez much like Cobb from a year ago?  Or could he be pulling strings behind the scenes in pressuring Mueller to wrap it up at the direction of the prez?  And why not, since Trump has been committing the crime of obstruction throughout this Russia investigation.  Also, will Whitaker answer questions honestly when questioned next week by a House committee?
Whatever is happening, the acting AG appears to be irresponsibly discussing the Mueller probe updates when he should be staying mum.  It’s likely Barr will be confirmed to replace Whitaker soon.  And it’s very possible Mueller might finish things up in the next month or so, but I suspect only Mueller knows for sure.  If you want to review the details from major news sources about those Whitaker comments, you could look these up:


Dumber than a Stone
I truly doubt there’s ever been a more slimy character in the history of politics than Roger Stone.  He’s the dirty trickster with the Nixon tattoo on his back.  It’s as though he revels in the nationwide attention of being arrested, since he loves having the public caricature from playing this role of a devious/calculating villain.  But the evidence of crimes against him is rock solid, so as Steve Martin said on SNL in playing Stone, he’s buttering up Trump while angling for a pardon me!  See the web Stone was weaving with WikiLeaks & the Trump campaign that Mueller is in the process of unraveling.  These excerpts from stone-indictment-doesnt-say-need-know-muellers-trump-russia-probe are just part of the connections made in this article pointing at collusion between the campaign & the Kremlin:

Finally! Confirmation of collusion! It’s right there! Speculation immediately focused on who “directed” the “senior Trump campaign official” to contact Stone. The top staff of the Trump campaign was famously small. Who could be more “senior” than the “senior campaign official? It was probably Trump himself, the punditocracy concluded nearly en masse. The rest of the indictment spells out in detail Stone’s contacts with WikiLeaks through his pals: Person 1, known conspiracy theorist and fabulist Jerome Corsi, and Person 2, sometime funnyman and radio host Randy Credico. The indictment outlines how Stone lied about those contacts to the Senate Intelligence Committee, how Stone counseled both Corsi and Credico to either lie to the committee or take the Fifth, and lists the threats from Stone to Credico about what would happen to him after he became a “rat” and a “stoolie” to the committee.

Mueller’s indictment is crafted like his previous indictments of both former Trump campaign officials and 25 Russians in the Russia investigation. It lays out details in an easily followed narrative that more or less amounts to a report on what he has discovered. Legal scholars have pointed out that even if Mueller is prevented from releasing an official report to the public at the conclusion of his investigation, what he has carefully revealed in his indictments already serves as an excellent substitute for an official report. But what Mueller leaves out of his indictments and other court filings is as interesting as what he includes. Some of the parts have been redacted and appear on the page as long sections of black bars. In the Stone indictment, he omits key details about the Trump campaign and hints at some of what he’s learned but is not choosing at this time to release. The first such hint is dropped at the very top of a section entitled “Background: STONE’S Communications About Organization 1 During the Campaign.”

“By in or around June and July 2016, STONE informed senior Trump campaign officials that he had information indicating Organization 1 had documents whose release would be damaging to the Clinton Campaign. The head of Organization 1 was located at all relevant times at the Ecuadoran Embassy in London, United Kingdom.” Let’s take a moment to deconstruct the first sentence in the context of the rest of the indictment. Most important is the reference to “June” of 2016 as the first time Stone was transmitting information about WikiLeaks to the Trump campaign. In fact, the month of June never appears again in the indictment, whereas various things Stone said and did in July, August, September and October of 2016 are listed throughout the indictment. The name of the person who told prosecutors that Stone had informed the Trump campaign in June about WikiLeaks having the Democrats’ emails has been omitted by Mueller. Who could this be? Well, Stone himself didn’t tell Mueller’s team, so it could be only Rick Gates, who has pled guilty to charges brought against him and is known to be cooperating with Mueller. In fact, it was only 10 days ago, on January 15, that Mueller and Gates’ lawyer filed a document in federal court in Washington D.C. asking a judge to delay Gates’ sentencing hearing, and requesting until March 15 to again “update” the court on the status of Gates’ sentencing. This was regarded at the time as evidence that Gates is continuing to cooperate with Mueller, and that his cooperation is considered important enough to delay his sentencing.

That the Trump campaign knew that WikiLeaks had the Democratic emails hacked by the Russians as early as June of 2016 is very important. It was on June 9 that the infamous meeting in Trump Tower took place between six Russians, including a Russian lawyer with close connections to the Kremlin and a former Russian intelligence agent, with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort. The subject of the meeting was promised in an email to Trump Jr. as information from the Russian government damaging to Hillary Clinton that the Russians wanted to share with the Trump campaign as part of the “support” of the Russian government of Trump’s campaign. Manafort and Stone were long time friends and associates, having had a lobbying and campaign consulting business together as far back as the 1980s. The Russians had already hacked the DNC emails and may have shared them with WikiLeaks by the time of the June 9 Trump Tower meeting. Donald Trump himself was later involved in crafting a statement lying about the nature of the Trump Tower meeting, saying it was about “adoption” and not dirt on Hillary Clinton. In fact, this is the first time Mueller has indicated that the Trump campaign had knowledge that WikiLeaks was in possession of the DNC emails in June, and that this information came from Roger Stone. It strongly indicates that Mueller knows more about what went on during the June 9 Trump Tower meeting than he has said so far. The rest of the contacts between Stone and WikiLeaks are significant in the context of what was happening during the campaign. Stone was told to contact WikiLeaks and find out what else they had on Hillary immediately after the first release of the DNC emails on July 22.

They Always Lied About Russia!
Why all these lies from Trump world?  And in particular the constant lying over Russia?  We can only surmise they all have something serious they’re hiding, as seen in these excerpts patched together from trump-advisers-lied-over-and-over-again-mueller-says-the-question-is-why:

They lied to the public for months before Donald Trump was elected — and then repeatedly after he took office. They lied to Congress as lawmakers sought to investigate Russia’s attack on American democracy in 2016. And they lied to the FBI, even when they knew lying was a crime. In indictments and plea agreements unveiled over the last 20 months, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has shown over and over again that some of President Trump’s closest friends and advisers have lied about Russia and related issues. On Friday, Mueller laid out a new allegation: that longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone lied to Congress and obstructed its probe of Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign.

They have documented various falsehoods by Trump advisers that masked efforts by people in his orbit to develop inroads with Russia and leverage that country’s hacking of Democratic emails. The remaining question — for both Mueller’s team, as it works on a final investigative report, and for the American people — is why. Did the president’s men lie to protect a still-hidden dark secret about the campaign’s interaction with Russia, engaging in a broad effort to obstruct the probe — one that included perhaps even Trump? Did they lie to avoid diminishing Trump’s victory by acknowledging Russia played a role in his election? Did they each lie for their own reasons, taking their cue from the president — who has told many whoppers of his own, including about Russia? Trump’s former campaign chairman, deputy campaign manager, former national security adviser, personal lawyer and a campaign foreign policy adviser have all been accused of lying to investigators exploring Russia activity. In their new indictment against Stone, prosecutors said he lied to Congress about his efforts to learn about WikiLeaks’s plans in 2016 as the group was publishing Democratic emails allegedly stolen by Russian operatives. Stone falsely told Congress that he never discussed his efforts with the Trump campaign and never asked intermediaries to communicate with WikiLeaks’ founder, Julian Assange, Mueller’s team alleges.

Steve Hall, who retired from the CIA in 2015 after 30 years of running and managing Russia operations, said that the substance of the lies and alleged false statements documented by Mueller paint a broad picture with serious implications. “In my view, those lies — what was lied about and under what condition the lies were told — contribute to a counterintelligence pattern that has begun to emerge pointing to senior members of the Trump team being involved with the Russians,” he said. Hall said the country needs to take step back from a narrow conversation about the political and even criminal ramifications of each Mueller indictment. “We’ve got to be looking beyond who gets a parking ticket or even a few years in prison,” he said. “What about the bigger picture? This was Russia, attacking the United States.” The deception by Trump advisers that has led to guilty pleas so far does have a common throughline: Much of it centers on their interactions about Russia. As they wait for Mueller to finish his investigation, Democrats in Congress are likely to focus on the president himself and what he knew of the lies. On Friday, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, tweeted: “Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen, Rick Gates, Michael Flynn . . . What did the President know and when did he know it?

What Conservatives Regard as Real are often Ground Up into Sawdust
Reality becomes such a fleeting thing whenever people actually believe anything Trump & the echo says.  Rubin points out many of the previous assumptions by Trump pundits in the GOP & echo are in the process of being blown to smithereens, which is seen in the last part to republicans-media-should-re-examine-their-assumptions:

Meanwhile, Trump’s “no collusion” refrain was eviscerated by the indictment charging Roger Stone with obstruction and witness tampering. How many Republicans have repeated ad nauseum that they see no evidence of collusion? They should look again. From the text of the indictment: “A senior Trump Campaign official was directed to contact STONE about any additional releases and what other damaging information [WikiLeaks] had regarding the [Hillary] Clinton campaign.” If Trump is anywhere in that chain of “A told B to find out C,” the president was conspiring with others after the campaign had been warned about Russian infiltration attempts — and after the hack of the Democratic National Committee was known. Trump, in late July 2016, publicly called on Russia to go find Clinton’s emails. That very day, Russians attempted to hack into Clinton’s emails. Soon after, a cache of DNC emails gets dumped.

Days after that, now-former Trump strategist Stephen K. Bannon (identified in a prior New York Times report) was told (by whom?) to reach out to Stone and find out what else WikiLeaks had. Within hours of the Access Hollywood recording’s release on Oct. 7, WikiLeaks began dumping Clinton’s emails. Bannon, that day, texted his praise to Stone for the WikiLeaks email release. If that isn’t collusion, the word has no meaning. The only question is how much Trump knew and what actions he specifically directed. In sum, the Republicans’ assumption that there was never really any collusion has now been undermined. The assumption that Trump had some clue how to govern and would not put the Senate at risk was blown up, as well. If so many assumptions about the Senate and the evidence in the Russia investigation turned out to be faulty, maybe we should rethink three other assumptions: 1. The Senate will never vote to remove Trump; 2. He’s so popular with the GOP base that any primary challenge would be fruitless; 3. His nomination in 2020 is certain.

If the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report is truly damning (and every filing has surprises, new facts and story lines previously unknown), maybe the Senate will be happy to run Trump out of town — especially if he is polling in the low 30s. If Trump’s presidency has been derailed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the wall never gets built, and Trump continues to make everyone look foolish, it’s not too far a leap to think donors, operatives and other pols will try to find a 2020 alternative. And if the Senate looks like it just might vote to remove him, and/or a credible challenger (or more than one) pops up, I could imagine Trump stomping off — with a pardon in hand from VP Mike Pence. Don’t get me wrong. None of that is a given. However, within just a week’s time, such developments seem as possible as the Senate will never turn/Mueller will never find collusion/challengers won’t step forward chain of assumptions. The only rule of thumb in this, the most mind-blowing and serious scandal in history — we’re talking working with the enemy to grab an election, in part by weaponizing stolen emails — is never assume anything. Mueller will be smarter and Trump will be dumber than you can possibly imagine.

Trumpeters are about to be Shocked!
I would concur with this Dem rep, we’re way past collusion as we head down the home stretch.  The jaw-dropping drama from the captivating final act is yet to come!  Check out this article taken from way-past-collusion-house-intel-dem-predicts-muellers-closing-act-may-implicate-trump:

A Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee said collusion has been proven between the Trump campaign and Russia — and he suggested evidence of conspiracy may be shown at the highest levels. Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) cautioned that no one knew what evidence special counsel Robert Mueller had about the possible conspiracy, but the lawmaker said enough had been shown to raise alarm. “We’re way past collusion, right,” Himes said. “If collusion is helping each other out, there was lots of helping each other out. The question is, was there coordination and quid pro quo? Is Michael Cohen or Roger Stone or anyone else, the president, on record as saying, ‘Hey, if we do this, we will get that?’ That’s when you move from collusion to criminal conspiracy. I think that’s the remaining shoe to drop out of the Mueller investigation.” Himes said he expected Mueller might eventually implicate the president himself. “Nobody knows what Bob Mueller has, but if, in fact, a conspiracy on the part of a presidential campaign to conspire to defraud the American people or defraud the government, that, believe me, is the closing act, the fourth movement in that symphony,” Himes said. “I don’t think it gets revealed around a character like Roger Stone or Michael Cohen, that, that is the closing act of this whole thing.”

Quick Hitters pulled from the Newsfeeds
These are very enlightening articles concerning the investigations, so for easy access you can click on these live links…
This falls under the category that a crime is not a crime, a legal strategy team-Trump has been resorting to a lot lately: trumps-fantasy-claim-that-michael-cohens-hush-money-payments-were-no-crime
Expect that Mueller has a strong hand & not yet ready to play his aces, which we see 3 possible reasons why he’s still holding back in excerpts from legal-experts-there-are-3-good-reasons-why-mueller-may-be-waiting-to-charge-roger-stone-with-conspiracy:

Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Mimi Rocah argued that there were three good reasons for Mueller to take this slow: 1) Start with the basic charges and see what you get after executing your search warrants; 2) Don’t trigger discovery on the most damning evidence; 3) If there are other conspirators, it would be wise to charge them all at once.

Corsi is about as slimy as Stone, known for his preposterous conspiracies posted to InfoWars: jerome-corsi-sells-out-roger-stone-after-access-hollywood-tape-he-tried-to-get-wikileaks-to-release-emails

The Trump/echo coordinated smear of Mueller is given a big assist from Russian propaganda: are-trumps-attacks-on-mueller-working
The Stone indictments hint at much more to come from Mueller: stone-indictment-hints-more-charges-mueller-russia-investigation
And those new indictments could happen at any time: mueller-may-indict-someone-else-soon-cnn-says
Check out the key players & their numerous lies about their Russian connections.  With that close-knit campaign staff & Trump’s micromanaging, it’s a virtual certainty he knew all about what was going down.  Also consider the oft-repeated phrase where there’s smoke there’s fire: lies-alleged-lies-trump-team-has-told-mueller-probe-dissected
Look for the next indictments to really raise the stakes: mueller-closes-the-circle-of-russian-collusion-on-trump
The public ultimately needs to know what actually happened: what-robert-mueller-and-william-barr-need-to-tell-us 
We knew of Cohen being scheduled to testify for the Senate Intel Committee in a couple weeks, but now we’re seeing he’s also going before the House Intel committee next week.  These will be behind closed doors, as his original public testimony got cancelled when Cohen’s family grew fearful of Trump’s threats.  While a highly-rated televised testimony could do enormous political damage to Trump as Cohen could explain years of shady dealings in his service to Trump, those private hearings could do the most legal damage.  Cohen could reveal what he knows of the campaign’s dealings with Russia to congressional committees, including confidential info from Mueller’s probe that cannot yet be revealed in public.  There’ll be plenty of time for lots of other witnesses to provide public testimony in Congress, so the people can soon hear details on some of Trump’s dirty laundry along with his key staff.  Do a search for any of these articles, or click on that last link for details on Cohen’s coming testimonies:
A Compromised President
There is no other explanation for lifting the sanctions on the businesses of a Russian oligarch tied to Putin.  Yes, this is undeniably another solid signal Trump has been compromised by the Russians, based on his insistence to remove these sanctions in keeping his Russian dictator buddy happy.  By all appearances removing sanctions was Trump’s part of the collusion deal, so he’s forced to follow through with Putin’s orders for fear the Russian dictator might blow the whistle on him.  Now we’ve also learned of another previously unknown Trump-Putin meeting recently with no Americans present, way outside the norms & signals some very secretive discussions were going on between the two.  It raises the same old question we’ve been asking for years, what does Putin have on Trump?  Obviously, he knows something Trump doesn’t want us to find out.  Click on these first few links or search for any of the others:
More Russian Propaganda
Mueller’s office says Russia was caught using his discovery materials in running a disinformation campaign to tarnish his investigation.  This was info not previously known to the public & wound up in a Russian Twitter account.  The Russians then doctored the details to discredit the Mueller probe. And how did the Russians access this info?  It was prior evidence Mueller had shared with defense attorneys.  Maybe team-Trump is still colluding with Russia!  Check out these first few live links or search for any of the rest:
International Threats
The enormous amount we spend on defense must be used to modernize our military capabilities, since we’re losing our edge: american-military-superiority-will-fade-without-bold-national-action.  As our clueless prez is fearmongering & pandering to his base with his ridiculous assertions we have an urgent crisis on our southern border, meanwhile we’ve learned Russia & China are collaborating together against American interests.  So outside a possible civil war igniting in Venezuela, the greatest dangers are all coming from overseas.  Our intelligence chiefs gave us some of those those eye-popping details yesterday.  They contradicted Trump about virtually all our foreign hot spots.  Among the concerning reports are Russia & other bad actors intend to disrupt our 2020 elections & amp up their cyberattacks against us.  Yet Trump continues to trust Putin’s view of the world over our own intelligence agencies.  That is either presidential stupidity, kompromat or both!
And with Trump distancing America from our strategic allies like the NATO community, those European nations are more inclined to engage in bilateral arrangements with our geopolitical foes like Russia & China.  Our president is shrinking America in the eyes of the world!  Included in other warnings of international threats laid out by our intel leaders, North Korea remains a nuclear threat, no matter what Trump said upon landing back from his Singapore photo-op summit last June.  Also ISIS remains a threat, regardless of Trump’s claims from last month.  And they also gave us a heads-up on the Iranian situation.  I was always as skeptical as anyone about the Obama-Kerry Iran deal, but I couldn’t see the wisdom of Trump pulling out of that deal without an alternative strategy or replacement deal designed to hold their nuclear program in check.  So overall, the assessment of the intelligence chiefs agree the threats on our southern border are practically nonexistent compared to the international threats we face with adversarial nation states & terrorist organizations.  That would certainly throw cold water on the idea Trump needs to declare a national emergency for his wall.
When our American president ignores the professional threat assessments from our own intelligence officials because it doesn’t fit in with his alternate-reality propaganda & fake utopia, that’s a serious problem.  We have many ominous international threats, but the biggest threat of all may be Trump himself.  There are many important articles below so we’re sorry we have a limit on outbound links.  But you could peruse the titles & do a copy/paste into a search engine to find any live article link you’d like in seconds: