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Russia investigation

Bank Robber Cornered By Police, Claims Robbery Is ‘Fake News’

by Kevin Kelton

Like most people, I turn on cable news every morning and am endlessly bemused to hear the same story reported the same way time after time after time, all the while reporting it like it’s some great mystery what’s going on. Here’s what the news sounds like to me every day:

Good morning. Breaking News overnight… a bank robber just sent a Tweet claiming that there was no robbery. The bank robber says that news reports of a bank robbery having happened are “fake news.” Breaking: The bank robber just hired a new criminal defense attorney who says there was no bank robbery and his client is 100% innocent of being involved in the bank robbery, and yet he refuses to let the police talk to the bank robber. I wonder why?

Whoops… more Breaking News… the bank robber just rubbed out two people who witnessed the bank heist and could testify about it. I can’t figure out why he did that. Hmm. And it’s now being reported that the bank robber is telling everyone there was no robbery and no bank and no money was stolen and that the FBI made up the whole bank robbery because they hate him. I wonder why he said that? Do you think the FBI is out to get the bank robber? Why would they do that? My, the bank robber sure seems to be acting a little suspicious, don’t you think? Or maybe he’s just tired of hearing about the “fake” bank robbery, and he’s fed up with it distracting from his getaway. Yeah, I can see how that would be very annoying to the bank robber. 

Channel Flip…

Breaking News… the bank robber just said the FBI is the one that robbed the bank. And that ‘Crooked Hillary’ was the real bank robber. But he still claims there was no bank robbery. Wow, I can’t figure out why the bank robber would say all that. Do you think somebody really robbed the bank? We know there is bank money missing, and we found lots of evidence pointing to the bank robber at the crime scene. And he announced on TV two years ago that he’d like some help robbing a bank… right before a big bank robbery. But he says he was just joking. Do you think he was?

Channel Flip…

Here’s video of the bank robber congratulating Vladimir Dillinger on his rigged re-election victory and saying how much he admires him for being a strong bank robber. Dillinger was caught by the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, and 14 other law enforcement agencies planning the bank robbery. But the bank robber still says he doesn’t believe it happened. I wonder why.

Channel Flip…

Breaking news… the bank robber just fired his new criminal defense lawyer and hired a *new* new criminal defense lawyer. And the new new criminal defense lawyer swears his client didn’t do it and insists the police stop investigating the bank robbery or else the bank robber may have to fire the police chief. And all the bank robbers’ friends are saying don’t fire the police chief or we may not believe you didn’t rob the bank.

Channel Flip…

Have you ever noticed that the bank robber never says anything bad about Vladimir Dillinger, the guy who helped him rob the bank and almost certainly has proof of that the bank robber is guilty… evidence that could get the bank robber in a lot of trouble. I wonder why the bank robber won’t say anything bad about him. And won’t condemn him for robbing the bank they both robbed. Isn’t that strange? I don’t get it.

Channel Flip…

Why don’t the police stop investigating this fake bank robbery? The bank robber said he didn’t do it. And I believe him over the police, the bank manager, all the tellers, and the bank video. Don’t you? Plus Vladimir Dillinger just said there was no bank robbery, and that corroborates what the bank robber said, so it must be true! Why does the FBI hate the bank robber so darn much?

Channel Flip…

Whoops… more Breaking News… the bank robber just bought something with the marked stolen money. So, was there a bank robbery or not? I’m so confused.

 

Kevin Kelton is a co-host of The More Perfect Union podcast and founder of the Facebook debate group, Open Fire Politics.

The Russia Show

by Kevin Kelton

The other day on MSNBC’s “The Beat with Ari Melber,” HuffPost Editorial Director Howard Fineman said that he doesn’t think Special Counsel Robert Mueller will be able to make a case for obstruction of justice against the president, but he does think Mueller has a strong case for collusion. One hour later on the same network, former RNC Chairman Michael Steele told Chris Matthews that he doesn’t think Mueller can make a case for collusion, but does have strong one for obstruction.

Two knowledgeable political experts, two opposite opinions.

The truth is that when it comes to the Trump-Russia investigation, no one but Mueller and his top deputies knows anything. Not you, not me, not the TV experts. Yet Facebookers on both sides of the partisan seesaw keep spouting nonsense about it with absolute certainty.

One of my favorite silly talking points is, “Collusion is not a crime.” This comment is laughable for its utter lack of legal context. It’s true, if you and I collude to get the best price on a used car, that is not a crime. But if we collude to steal the car, it is. Collusion to commit a crime is called “conspiracy,” and yes, it’s very much against the law. Don’t believe me? See here and here.

Another ludicrous argument is, “There isn’t one shred of evidence supporting collusion.” Actually, there’s a whole bunch. First, you have the Don Jr. June 9 Trump Tower meeting, which was shown in texts to be about meeting with Russian nationals to get and use stolen Hillary Clinton emails with the express goal of changing the outcome of a U.S. presidential election. Second, you have the candidate himself asking Russia on national television to hack (i.e., steal) and publish private citizens’ emails with the express intent of affecting the outcome of the election. He even promised a quid pro quo by saying, “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

Think of it this way: a man involved in a contentious divorce goes into a crowded restaurant and says for everyone to hear, “I’m urging someone to break my ex-wife’s legs. I think you’ll be rewarded mightily for it.” A few days later his wife turns up beaten with a broken leg and broken arm. Don’t you think that is evidence of his complicity in the act? It may not be enough to convict him by itself, but along with other evidence it creates a powerful argument for his guilt.

On the liberal side, my favorite gibberish is that Trump’s cabinet may soon invoke the 25th Amendment. Think about it. Let’s just say for a moment that someone, say Rex Tillerson, was secretly considering it. Who would he whisper it to? Ben Carson? Betsy DeVos? Steve Mnuchin? Sonny Perdue? Wilber Ross? Every one of them would run to the Oval Office to report the traitor in a heartbeat. Go find me four Trump Cabinet appointees you think would support this kind of unprecedented American coup d’état, let alone eight. It’s preposterous. Trump is ready to jail Hillary Clinton for her purported crimes against America. What do you think he’d do to a handful of treasonous ex-Cabinet plotters?

But I think my favorite argument is, “Who cares if Russia stole the DNC emails? Isn’t the content of what’s in them more important?” The simple answer is, no.

Because an election campaign should be based on relatively equal transparency, especially where private material is concerned. If I can see and review one candidate’s tax returns, I should be able to see and review the others’. If I can get my hands on one candidate’s medical records, I should get them for both. If I can view one candidate’s criminal conviction record, it’s only fair to make the other’s public as well. Judging one candidate on personal information that the other one doesn’t have to release is fundamentally unfair.

So to have the DNC emails purloined and published without releasing the RNC’s emails as well was an inequitable prejudice against Clinton. Had the RNC emails also been leaked, we most likely would have seen just as much dirt and ugliness in the Republican primary race as we saw in the Democrats’. (Which, frankly, wasn’t really all that bad.)

And by the way, for those who don’t know history, the Watergate break-in was about stealing the DNC’s private files. It doesn’t matter what’s in them; if you steal private campaign information and use it you are breaking the law. In the electronic age, it’s called Data Theft and it’s prohibited by several state and federal statues.

But maybe the most delicious irony of The Russia Show is that everyone who used to detest James Comey now adore him, and everyone who used to adore him now thinks he’s a conniving, lying enemy of the state.

What is true is that the Trump-Russia investigation has become catnip Facebook groups like Open Fire. Like any good TV soap opera, everyone has their favorite villain and plenty of theories as to how it will all end.

What’s your favorite talking point about Trump, Mueller, Comey, and Russia?

How The Trump Stole Christmas (Ep. 132)

This week’s “More Perfect Union” podcast covers the post-script on the Alabama senate race, the imminent passage of the Trump tax reform (“tax deform”) bill, the net neutrality debate, the latest in the Russia investigation, government revelations about UFO sightings, and Greg’s very strange “Dayton Conspiracy.” Plus lots of holiday cheer from your friends at The More Perfect Union.

Franken’s Fall: How It All Began (Ep. 130)

This special episode of The More Perfect Union podcast talks with KABC radio host Doug McIntyre, who first broke the Al Franken sexual misconduct scandal. Doug explains his role in breaking the story and the humorously strange path of how it came to light, a path that included SNL producer Lorne Michaels, the late comic Garry Shandling, Matt Drudge, and Roger Stone. Doug also talks about sanctuary cities, the Kate Steinle murder after the acquittal of the illegal immigrant who shot her, and his take on the Trump-Russia investigation and tax reform.

Like what you heard? Subscribe on iTunes and don’t miss a podcast. 

And if you like talking politics, join us in our Facebook political debate group, OPEN FIRE, where you can discuss news and politics with Kevin, D.J., Greg, Rebekah, and lots of other smart, fun people. 

Find us on Twitter at @MPUpodcast

Rand Paul Gets Punched (Ep. 125)

Episode 125 of The More Perfect Union podcast finds the gang mourning yet another mass shooting, looking at the upcoming off-year elections in New York, New Jersey and Virginia, expressing dismay at Senator Elizabeth Warren, and showing compassion for Senator Rand Paul.

Like what you heard? Subscribe on iTunes and don’t miss a podcast. 

And if you like talking politics, join us in our Facebook political debate group, OPEN FIRE, where you can discuss news and politics with Kevin, D.J., Greg, Rebekah, and lots of other smart, fun people. 

Find us on Twitter at @MPUpodcast

All About the Base…No Treble (Ep. 112)

Episode 112 of The More Perfect Union podcast touches on the final days of The Mooch and who might replace him, the Trump immigration bill and his battle with sanctuary cities, and the Russia probe’s new grand jury. Then the gang must make some faustian choices between hypothetical 2020 presidential opponents.

Like what you heard? Subscribe on iTunes and don’t miss a podcast! 

And if you like talking politics, join us in our Facebook political debate group, OPEN FIRE, where you can discuss news and politics with Kevin, D.J., Greg, Rebekah, Cliff, Molly, Helena, and lots of other smart, fun people.

A Grand Juror Makes His Case

By William Gleed

Let’s begin here. A federal grand jury is no witch hunt, and it’s not about indicting a ham sandwich. A grand jury does not insult voters, nor does it subvert the Constitution. I know this because I served on federal grand jury in Concord, New Hampshire, for eighteen months from 2011-2012. Here’s some of what I learned.

There are only three things the federal government can compel a citizen to do: make you serve in the military, pay your taxes, and serve on a grand jury. I was happy to serve once I realized that, like death and taxes, I couldn’t get out of it.

Unlike a regular jury, as a grand jury juror you can question witnesses yourself, and you are encouraged to do so. You can subpoena documents (like a tax return) and compel testimony. You can tell a federal prosecutor and all the federal enforcement agencies that, no, you can’t charge and try that person on those charges, and the jury on which I served would and did do exactly that more than once. I’ve never had power like that before, and it was sobering.

I’m still sworn to secrecy about the actual testimony I took, so I can’t tell you about the cases I worked on or the evidence I saw. But I am proud to know I helped make a very bad day for some very bad people who very much deserved it.

The thing I can do is tell you how a grand jury operates.

My jury was made up 23 ordinary, individually unremarkable Americans who’d never met each other until the day we showed up to serve on the panel. We were from all walks of life, all levels of education, and all kinds of life experiences. A couple were teachers, some were small business people, some had retired. A grand jury is meant to protect you from overzealous prosecution. It’s part of our great strength as a nation that ordinary, “unremarkable” people are the ones who fulfill this mission.

All a grand jury does is to listen to the evidence and the law. Their only task is to decide if the evidence is enough to bring a charge and proceed to trial. That’s it. A grand jury doesn’t decide if you’re guilty or not. It just applies the law as twenty-three ordinary citizens understand that law. A trial jury makes the call on guilt.

So if I would advise the current POTUS, I’d tell him to stop acting so guilty, and stop trying to cloud the issue if he and his minions hope to avoid indictments. The way Mr. Trump is disparaging the process is very dangerous to our democracy, and I’ll bet you dollars to donuts it’s not winning him the benefit of the doubt among the jurors.

People have asked me if you can dodge a grand jury.

You don’t dodge a grand jury.  A grand jury can come for you with the US Marshals, and will do just that, if you make them. There is no place you can hide, and that you try to run is evidence of guilt at your certain eventual trial. The jury can also jail you indefinitely for contempt if you ignore their subpoena. I think Mr. Trump would be safe from that, but where’s he going to run? Russia?

If POTUS, or anyone else, is not indicted in the Russia probe, what it means is that 12 out of 23 ordinary Americans didn’t think federal prosecutors have the evidence of a crime. They could have the evidence or more evidence in the future and bring it back to the same grand jury, who can then indict with the new evidence. But you should remember, a prosecutor doesn’t take a case to a grand jury unless and until they have the evidence. At least, that’s my experience.

Right now, I would guess – and it’s only a guess – that somebody is going to jail, or at least going to trial, though it remains to be seen who that will be.

People have asked me if POTUS could plead the Fifth amendment, were he called to testify. I tell them that he can plead the Fifth all he wants. He’s not at a trial or on trial. Nobody has been charged yet, so he might be premature.

But what would you think of someone who said he couldn’t answer your question because it might make him a criminal, and he was the president of the United States? Imagine YOU had the power to charge him for the crime if (and I stress “if”) the evidence is sufficient in your mind to substantiate your charge? How would you vote on that indictment?

I don’t remember anyone, in 18 months, and dozens of cases, who took the Fifth. And I sure don’t think it would have helped them if they had.

Finally, I want to tell you that If I were under investigation but knew myself to be innocent of those charges, I would want those accusations to go before a grand jury. Twenty-three ordinary people, doing their constitutional duty, the way the Founding Fathers meant it to work.

So what’s the Trump administration worried about?

William Gleed has taught writing and literature at Southern New Hampshire University, Franklin Pierce University, Middlesex Community College, and Northern Essex Community College in both New Hampshire and Massachusetts. He’s been a correspondent for the Portsmouth, NH Herald and Seacoast Newspapers. He received a graduate degree in  poetry writing from the University of New Hampshire in 1995.

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