Developments and implications of Flynn’s guilty plea

A long thread from US attorney Seth Abramson on Twitter, as the news of Michael Flynn pleading guilty and helping the FBI investigation into Russia/Trump and it’s implications.

…is far and away the biggest development thus far in the Trump-Russia probe, and likely the biggest development in U.S. politics since President Nixon resigned from office during the Watergate scandal. This is historic.

And later as more was revealed:

This scandal not only has international implications but profound implications for the future of the Republican Party. I don’t write much about the “domino” effect this case involves—but we’ll be hearing about it more very soon.

So this is several times bigger than Watergate.

And later:

MSNBC just spoke to one of Trump’s close allies—who called this “very, very, very bad” for Trump.

It can’t be overstated how bad today’s news is for the president and his presidency.

1/ First, it’s important to understand that Mueller has entered into a plea deal with Flynn in which Flynn pleads guilty to far less than the available evidence suggests he could be charged with. This indicates that he has cut a deal with Mueller to cooperate in the Russia probe.

2/ We’ve already seen Mueller do this once before in the probe, with George Papadopoulos—who was charged with the same crime as Flynn, Making False Statements, to secure his cooperation with the Russia probe. The Papadopoulos plea affidavit emphasized facts were being left out.

3/ Flynn is widely regarded as dead-to-rights on more charges than Making False Statements—notably, FARA violations (failing to register as a foreign agent of Turkey under the Foreign Agent Registration Act). There’s recently been evidence he was part of a kidnapping plot, too.

4/ Getting charged with just one count of Making False Statements is a great deal for Mike Flynn—it doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll escape incarceration, but a) it makes that a possibility (depending on what the parties and judge say and do), and b) any time served may be minimal.

5/ What this suggests is Flynn brings substantial inculpatory info (info tending to incriminate others) to the table. Unlike Papadopoulos, Flynn was going to be—because of his position in the administration—a primary target of the probe. So he had to offer a lot to get this deal.

6/ Deals like this are offered *only* when a witness can incriminate someone “higher up the food-chain” than them. In the case of the nation’s former National Security Advisor, the *only* people above him in the executive-branch hierarchy are the President and the Vice President.

7/ There may be other targets in the Russia probe—such as Attorney General Sessions—at Flynn’s same level in the hierarchy, but unless he could incriminate two or more of them, a deal like this would not be offered to him. And there *aren’t* two or more at his level in this case.

8/ What this indicates—beyond any serious doubt—is the following: Special Counsel Bob Mueller, the former Director of the FBI, believes Mike Flynn’s testimony will *incriminate* the President of the United States, the Vice President of the United States, or both of these two men.

9/ For this reason, what’s about to happen in 50 minutes is far and away the biggest development thus far in the Trump-Russia probe, and likely the biggest development in U.S. politics since President Nixon resigned from office during the Watergate scandal. This is historic.

10/ The Papadopoulos plea paled in comparison to this because Papadopoulos was a top national security advisor to Mr. Trump, but still at nothing like Flynn’s level of access and authority. The Manafort indictment pales in comparison because it was just an indictment, not a plea.

11/ The range of crimes for which Flynn can incriminate the president is unknown, but we have *some* sense of what could be involved. The first thing to understand is that Flynn had access to—and influence with—Trump on national security issues beginning in the Summer of 2015.

12/ The last *known* contact between Trump and Mike Flynn was late April 2017—meaning the two men were in contact for approximately one year and nine months. Given that these twenty-one months make up almost the entirety of Trump’s political career, this is a huge swath of time.

13/ During their last known contact—April 2017—we know Trump told Flynn (at a minimum) to “stay strong,” after which Flynn stopped cooperating with investigators. So the first thing Flynn can tell Mueller is all Trump said—and if he obstructed justice—during that April 2017 call.

14/ But of course the “story to tell” that Flynn’s attorney bragged the ex-NSA had—back in late March of 2017—goes *well* beyond Obstruction allegations. Flynn was at the center of numerous contacts with Russia that he can report the president knew about and perhaps even ordered.

15/ Flynn met with the Russian ambassador and Jared Kushner in early December 2016 to discuss a “Kremlin back-channel” that some have argued would have constituted an act of espionage. Did Mr. Trump know about this? Did he direct Flynn and/or Kushner to pursue this back-channel?

16/ This December 2016 event underscores that Flynn’s a threat not just to Trump but to others. It’s easy to forget that, just because Flynn—it appears—can incriminate the president, doesn’t mean he can *only* incriminate the president. Many others are at risk, including Kushner.

17/ Indeed, today’s plea coming so close on the heels of Mueller asking Kushner to come in and talk about Flynn suggests Kushner is also a target of the Russia probe. Perhaps Mueller didn’t think Kushner would flip on family, so he set him up to Make False Statements about Flynn.

18/ This is critical: Flynn pleading guilty today means he was cooperating with Mueller *before* this. You don’t offer value to a prosecution *after* you plead, you offer it beforehand—via what’s called a “proffer” of info (that incriminates others). That’s what earns you a deal.

19/ So it’s entirely possible that when Mueller called Kushner in to talk about Flynn, he already had everything Flynn planned to give him—meaning he was *testing* Kushner to see if Kushner would lie about events Mueller was already fully informed about via Flynn’s prior proffer.

20/ That proffer may have incriminated not just Trump and Kushner and—perhaps—Pence, but any number of Trump NatSec (or simply “top”) aides: Manafort, Sessions, Clovis, Hicks, Lewandowski, Page, and Gordon, to name a few. We may not know, however, until someone else is indicted.

21/ Mueller isn’t obligated to tell the public what Flynn told him. We’ll first learn of it (for all but Trump) via future indictments of those Flynn incriminated. As for Trump, he can’t be criminally tried as POTUS, and probably can’t even be indicted, so it’ll work differently.

22/ What Flynn told Mueller about Trump will first appear in an indictment of a third party—quite possible, if the third party was/is close enough to Trump—or else in the final report Mueller is tasked with giving Rod Rosenstein at the DOJ (though that may take a while to come).

23/ How long it will take Mueller to issue indictments based on Flynn’s proffer? It’s hard to say: it depends on what evidence was given, what evidence Mueller already had, what additional investigation he wants to do on that person (perhaps to bring further charges), and so on.

24/ But Mueller may act on Flynn’s proffer at any time, which means—and here’s another critical point—the daily, harrowing watch to see if Trump will attempt to fire Special Counsel Bob Mueller begins in earnest *now*.

If Trump moves to fire Mueller, all hell will break loose.

25/ I’ve long said that Trump *will* move to fire Mueller—simply because doing so would quickly become one of his only options for self-preservation when/if Mike Flynn or another top associate entered into the cooperation deal with the Special Counsel. Well, we’re finally here.

26/ As I’ve said, we now have reason to believe—to a near-certainty—Flynn can incriminate Trump. And as noted, the range of potential crimes is vast. Did Flynn tell Trump and/or Pence the truth about his Russia contacts as they were happening—despite what the White House claimed?

27/ Remember, besides a long course of conduct involving both Obstruction of Justice and Witness Tampering—of Sally Yates, of Comey, of Jr., of Flynn himself, of Sessions, and of various Congressional investigators—Trump is being looked at for Aiding and Abetting Computer Crimes.

28/ In the Aiding and Abetting Computer Crimes probe, the question is a) when Trump knew Russia was committing crimes against the United States, and b) whether and how Trump offered Russia anything of financial or political value ostensibly for “free” after he had this knowledge.

29/ If Donald Trump learned Russia was committing crimes against America and subsequently offered—unilaterally—policy shifts of political or financial value directly to Russian agents either himself or through intermediaries, he’s guilty of a crime as great as the underlying one.

30/ We know Trump knew there was a “high likelihood” (the legal standard in this case) Russia was committing crimes against America as of August 17, 2016, when he received his first security briefing as a presidential candidate. A speech in late July suggests he knew it earlier.

31/ But given that Mike Flynn dined with Vladimir Putin in Moscow in December of 2015—after he’d been a key Trump campaign foreign policy and national security advisor for four months—it’s possible Trump had this knowledge as early as the fall of 2015 or the winter of 2015-2016.

32/ This is the key information Mike Flynn can offer: what Trump knew about Russian crimes, and when; and also, what actions he directed his national security advisory apparatus to take—possibly in response to this knowledge—and when. For instance, secret sanctions negotiations.

33/ We know Flynn was engaged in secret sanctions negotiations with Russia that Trump—rather oddly—said he “would have told him” to engage in throughout December of 2016. But we’ve *no* idea if this was the first time such negotiations occurred. Flynn will have this information.

34/ Flynn will also know exactly what occurred as the White House tried to cover up these illicit December 2016 sanctions negotiations—or any earlier ones—including what Trump and Pence knew of them, and when, and how and when they coordinated lying to American voters about them.

35/ Remember that Trump *not only* tried to get Comey to drop the case against Flynn—suggesting he was scared about what that case could uncover—he *also* tried to convince his aides to let him *re-hire* Flynn after his firing and *then* called Flynn to tell him to “stay strong.”

36/ While Trump also exhibited some fear about what Manafort could reveal to investigators—keeping him on as an unpaid advisor through February 2017 after “firing” him as an unpaid Campaign Manager in the summer of 2016—he’s shown much *more* concern about Mike Flynn’s situation.

37/ A quick pause while I read the court documents for today’s plea—they’re just coming out now.

38/ One thing is clear: Mueller charged Flynn with the most innocuous lies he could to shield from the public—and far more importantly, from President Trump and his allies (at least for now)—the extent of what Flynn has told him. A longer charging document would reveal too much.

39/ The first allegation in the single-count charging document is that Flynn lied about asking Russia to moderate its response to the US decision to level new sanctions in December 2016. Presumably, Flynn made this request on a representation Trump would undo those new sanctions.

40/ The second allegation, dating from 12/22/16—the first was from 12/29/16—involves Flynn asking Russia to take a particular stance on a UN resolution. While both these acts violate the Logan Act—private citizens can’t negotiate with foreign governments—they’re just appetizers.

41/ For Mueller to be *so guarded* in what information he’s willing to reveal in his single-count indictment—as we know Mike Flynn lied to the FBI about far more serious things than Mueller has disclosed—confirms, indirectly, that Flynn’s proffer to the FBI was *quite* explosive.

42/ That said, the UN resolution had to do with Israel—and we know Israel had reached out to Kushner about that same resolution, so there’s a possibility that the second allegation against Flynn will give the lie to things *Kushner* told the FBI about his contacts with Israel.

43/ But remember, when the FBI sat down to discuss Flynn’s Russia contacts with him, they would have asked him about *all* his recent Russia contacts—including, for instance, his December ’15 trip to Moscow to dine with Putin. So the topics Flynn lied about could date back years.

44/ (When I get a number of new readers—as today—people ask me to restate my bona fides: Harvard Law School, 2001; public defender for eight years in two jurisdictions; trained at Georgetown/Harvard as a criminal investigator; represented 2000+ defendants in cases up to homicide;

45/ have worked at 3 public defenders since 1996—one federal—and have testified in federal criminal cases as a defense investigator; current member in good standing of the New Hampshire bar and the federal bar for the District of New Hampshire; I now teach legal advocacy at UNH.)

46/ Another key point many will forget: Flynn was so scared about the extent of his criminal liability as Trump’s pre-election advisor and post-election NSA that in March 2017 his lawyer took the *extraordinary* step of *publicly* offering to cooperate with federal investigators.

47/ Usually, this sort of offer is made privately—and usually it’s made somewhat further along in a federal investigation than was the case with Flynn, who made the offer just a few weeks after he was fired by Trump. It was after that offer that Trump told him to “stay strong.”

48/ At the time, Flynn’s lawyer said he had “a story to tell.” It was clear Flynn and his attorney believed enough *other* potential witnesses had similarly inculpatory information about Trump that they needed to “race to the courthouse” (as we say) to get a deal *before* others.

49/ It can’t be overstated that Flynn had been assumed to be one of the primary targets of the Trump-Russia probe—so him being given a sweetheart deal by federal law enforcement means the “story to tell” that he had was a very, very good one in Special Counsel Bob Mueller’s view.

50/ UPDATE: CNN confirms Flynn has now plead guilty. Technically, he pled to *four* false statements, though they were paired—he lied about two statements he made to the Russians *and* their responses to those two statements, one about U.S. sanctions policy and one about Israel.

51/ It’s *very* telling that U.S. media has received *no official response* from the White House about this. Remember how quickly they came out with a party line about Papadopoulos’ plea, and even the Manafort and Gates indictments? This is so bad there’s nothing for them to say.

54/ *Don’t* listen to the White House if it claims the only thing Flynn is offering the Special Counsel is evidence that Trump ordered him to violate the Logan Act (which prohibits private citizens from negotiating with foreign governments) pre-inauguration. This is *far* bigger.

55/ I’ve been saying for many months now that the publicly available information we have *strongly* suggests that Trump ordered certain of his subordinates to make contact with Russia *pre-election*—which is an entirely different matter than making such contact *post-election*.

56/ With the plea Flynn just entered minutes ago, something significant has died in public discourse: *any possibility* that the Trump-Russia probe is, as Trump and his allies have long claimed, either a “witch hunt” or “sour grapes” or a “nothingburger.” This is all 100% real.

57/ Those of us in the “reality-based community” always knew this was real, and all the media reporting on it confirmed it was real, but it now becomes unthinkable that the White House—the world’s foremost bastion of “fake news” right now—could keep claiming this is all bollocks.

58/ Minutes ago, someone connected to the White House was, CNN reported, saying that Flynn was acting on his own. Even *fewer* minutes ago, ABC reported that Flynn was acting on Trump’s orders. *That’s* how quickly this administration’s network of implausible lies is unraveling.

59/ What Flynn pled to carries a maximum penalty of 1 to 5 years—very light for the federal system, again suggesting a “sweetheart” deal. He could’ve been charged with more; could’ve faced *more* counts of the same charge; and he could still be eligible for a “downward revision.”

60/ Mueller allowed argument on a downward revision for George Papadopoulos—due to his lack of a prior record—and it appears that could allow Papadopoulos to do six months in a federal prison or even no time at all. So we don’t know what Mueller and Flynn agreed to on that score.

61/ While Flynn is getting a substantial benefit by being deliberately *under*-charged, if his evidence is very strong Mueller may also have made an agreement regarding the amount of prison time the government will ask the judge for and how much time it’ll allow Flynn to ask for.

62/ Another reason the government *under*-charges a witness it intends to use at trial is to give a future defendant’s defense team less material to work with on cross-examination. Obviously Flynn is shown to be a liar—but you don’t want him weighted down with *many* convictions.

63/ The next move for the White House is this one: to try to convince the American media, and American voters, that the only thing Mueller has on Flynn is what Flynn just pled to. Don’t be deceived; that’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this (cooperation deals) work.

64/ UPDATE: Court documents show Flynn now says he was in contact with top officials on the transition team as he was discussing US sanctions and the UN Security Council resolution on Israel with Russia. All the information we have says one of those officials was *Jared Kushner*.

65/ Kushner was working with the Israelis on the Security Council resolution and—in early December—with multiple Kremlin agents on (it now appears) the sanctions issue. And Kushner was the one who brought Flynn onto the transition—so he’d have been Flynn’s critical contact there.

68/ Note that the events of today *further confirm* that Mueller brought Kushner in to talk about Flynn a couple weeks ago as a ploy to see if he (Kushner) would make (additional) false statements to federal investigators—a felony.

69/ So what we’ve learned today is (a) Donald Trump, the President of the United States, is a target of the Mueller probe (as I and many attorneys have long said); (b) Jared Kushner is almost certainly also a target; (c) Kushner needs a new lawyer; (d) Pence may also be a target.

70/ Pence was nominally the head of the transition, and Flynn is now saying he was in contact with members of the transition—high-level members—about his conversations with Russia. If Mike Pence was one of them—and he lied about it publicly—he could face Obstruction charges, too.

71/ It’s too early to know *all* the dominoes that will fall as a result of what just happened with Michael Flynn, but we know (a) there will be international effects and consequences, and (b) the Trump presidency (including *all* his policy initiatives) is now gravely imperiled.

72/ While we can’t know what they will do, to legal observers I think the idea that the Republicans would push forward with Trump’s political agenda as though he *isn’t* now the *known target of a federal criminal investigation* is almost unthinkable. But we’ll see what happens.

73/ But as I say this, understand something else—this is the beginning of the end for Trump, but it is *not* the end. The number of additional shoes that will be dropping in the days, weeks, and even months to come will cause substantial alarm to all Americans of good conscience.

74/ UPDATE: U.S. media has just televised the perp walk of the former National Security Advisor to the President of the United States.

75/ BRIEF MEDIA UPDATE: I’m expecting to be on BBC Newsnight, BBC Radio, and Sky News (UK) later on this evening to discuss today’s breaking news.I will post audio and/or video when or as available. I’ll update this list of appearances as things are added/changed during the day.

76/ Many will forget that Rep. Conaway (R-TX) yesterday said he expected to finish his probe of Trump-Russia ties in February—and implied the findings were already known: that there was no Trump-Russia collusion. Now Flynn (per ABC) says Trump secretly told him to talk to Russia.

80/ This scandal not only has international implications but profound implications for the future of the Republican Party. I don’t write much about the “domino” effect this case involves—but we’ll be hearing about it more very soon. So this is several times bigger than Watergate.

81/ Putin’s election interference, as Harding notes, was part of a years-long campaign to destroy the EU, NATO, and, yes, the United States. Complicity in that campaign is complicity in an attempt by Putin to reinstate the Cold War and demolish Western democracy. It’s that big.

82/ Trump, Flynn, and many others had—as late as August 17, 2016, but certainly much earlier than that—clear knowledge of what Putin’s ambitions were. And they not only played footsie with him after that but *actively conspired with him* and his agents in secret. It’s *that* big.

83/ Before this ends, the GOP will have no choice but to disavow Trump as one of the greatest traitors in our history—we’re getting only the first inkling of that eventuality today. But Trump won’t go quietly—he’ll take about half the GOP with him to form a new political party.

84/ So yes, the Roy Moore situation is very much about certain members of the GOP, Trump particularly, apologizing for and/or enabling a pedophile. But understand this: Roy Moore will also be a key leader in the political party Trump eventuality forms once the GOP kicks him out.

85/ I won’t go too far down this line of analysis now, but suffice to say that when I say today’s plea is the beginning of the end for Trump’s presidency—though we’ve a long way to go (well into ’18)—it’s also the beginning of the end for many other things. And the start of some.

86/ More immediately, we have to talk about Pence. If Flynn told Pence anything about his Russia contacts and Pence then lied to America to cover it up, I hope it goes without saying neither Congress nor America will stand for Pence assuming the presidency. This is *that* big.

87/ We know Pence ran the transition; we know he discussed Flynn’s Russia contacts with Flynn; we know Pence has lied about big things before; we know Flynn said he revealed his actions to a “top transition official”; we’ve no reason to think Trump or Flynn hid things from Pence.

88/ So we must consider that Flynn’s full proffer—the one we have barely an inkling of so far—imperils the political and possibly legal future of *both* the President of the United States *and* the Vice President of the United States. So we’ll eventually have to talk succession.

89/ I want to underscore: we should *not* get ahead of this story to that degree. But anyone reading this thread and understanding the full implications of today’s news has to *begin* thinking about (and preparing emotionally for) some possible (and quite historic) eventualities.

90/ These eventualities are *so* encompassing that for the moment we must say this: (a) many people in the White House appreciate them, and therefore (b) literally *nothing* that comes from the White House on Russia going forward can be credited *in the slightest*. And I mean it.

91/ The correct action for the White House to take—as a matter of *national security*—is to say absolutely nothing about what’s happened. Anything else a) threatens to destabilize the nation, and b) immediately becomes possible evidence in impeachment and/or criminal proceedings.

92/ The amount of disinformation coming from Fox News and Trump allies right now will be written about in history books for years to come as constituting an infamous domestic disinformation campaign. Americans of good conscience in the White House must *refuse* to participate.

93/ If you are in the media right now saying this isn’t a big deal, or at the White House or other political venues saying that, you are deliberately impeding the orderly administration of justice the nation will rely upon to expose this presidency for what it is and always was.

94/ Every attorney with experience in criminal law now presumes—and factors into their analyses—that Mueller has sufficient information to indict the POTUS. He wouldn’t have given Flynn this sort of deal otherwise. All of us should be acting carefully, with that thought in mind.

95/ None of us know for certain what will happen, but legal experts can certainly tell us what is *likely* to happen—and it’s likely *enough*, now, that those in positions of responsibility in the media and in government must think *very* seriously about what they do and say now.

96/ If you’re reading what people like Andrew McCarthy are saying now in National Review—people who have been *wrong* at *every stage* of this investigation as to the direction it was going in—you’re not preparing yourself or your family/friends for any future political upheaval.

97/ Sadly, we’re at a point at which those inclined to read National Review would do better to listen to anonymous Trump allies than read articles by named conservative columnists.

MSNBC just spoke to one of Trump’s close allies—who called this “very, very, very bad” for Trump.

98/ I don’t think people like McCarthy believe what they’re writing; I think they suspect this presidency is disintegrating. What I think they want is for as much of Trump’s radical political agenda to slip through Congress without debate as possible—and as *quickly* as possible.

99/ This, then, is the key *political*—rather than legal—debate of our moment and perhaps our time: conservatives trying to squeeze as much political value as possible out of a presidency that will end in not just disgrace but public acceptance as the worst America has ever seen.

PS2/ This means that—during a presidency legally established via national vote—Jared Kushner was working secretly with a hostile foreign nation to stop the proper operation of that duly-elected president and presidency. This on its own would be harrowing. But it’s just the start.

PS5/ No word on how Flynn Sr.’s deal affects potential charges against Flynn Jr., but I’d have to say—contra Star Wars—”this deal is getting better all the time” if Flynn gets 1 charge, a chance at no jailtime, and no charges for his son. That’d mean he had a *big* story to tell.

101/ The Statement of the Offense recently released on the Flynn case is astounding. Flynn made *multiple* phone calls to “senior” officials (“officials,” plural) on the transition team about his sanctions negotiations and he received clear marching orders from those “officials.”

102/ It’s already been reported that Kushner is one of the senior transition officials who secretly instructed Flynn to participate in clandestine sanctions negotiations with Russia and then never revealed those orders to anyone outside the campaign. The other could be Pence.

103/ Or, there could be more than two. Just as Trump Jr. met Kremlin agents in Trump Tower and says he never went upstairs to tell his dad, we now have transition officials *at Mar-a-Lago* while Trump was there who will presumably claim they didn’t inform Trump of their actions.

104/ Obviously no one will believe *multiple* transition officials who were with the president at Mar-a-Lago gave orders to Flynn on how to negotiate with the Russians on sanctions and *didn’t* tell Trump—that’s not at all consistent with what we know of Trump’s management style.

105/ But in any case, we can note that Mike Pence was the head of the transition, and that the Statement of the Offense says Flynn told *someone* at the top of the transition team *besides* Jared Kushner what he was doing. The list of people that could be is vanishingly small.

106/ Flynn and Kushner knew what they were doing was wrong—they would *not* have widely spread information about their secret (and illegal, under the Logan Act) negotiations with Russia. So the second (or third and additional) “senior” officials had to be *very* senior indeed.

107/ If you imagine for a moment that Kushner told his father-in-law what was going on—spoiler alert: everyone knows that we’ll discover he did—this means that, *at best*, Trump lied to the Vice President and to the nation about his (illegal) actions regarding Russian sanctions.

108/ It can’t be overstated how bad today’s news is for the president and his presidency. I was asked on Bloomberg TV what I would offer as Trump’s best defense and I said, “remain silent.” Which is the advice you give a guilty person who’s dead-to-rights and about to be charged.

109/ I’ll be taking a brief break to appear on BBC Newsnight (for those in the UK or those who have it on cable). I’ll return immediately thereafter to further analyze what’s going on right now.

Again, this is a *historic* day in the United States that will be long remembered.

110/ (I do want to briefly note that—as to the lies Flynn told about the Security Council resolution—the Statement of the Offense said he spoke to “very senior” rather than merely “senior” transition officials. And the Statement *does* reference lies Flynn told relating to FARA.)

‘Waitzen’ challenges Trotter on fairy stories versus reality

Following on from Trotter’s conspiracies – is something amiss with Chris? a commenter ‘waitzen’ at Bowalley has challenged Chris Trotter’s claims, suggesting he has “gone way over the top”.

Chris, I rarely agree with you but always enjoy your posts. However I do think you have gone way over the top with these recent anti-TPP posts. First you accused Helen Clark of being in league with the enemy, a saboteur and closet neo-liberal. Then you proclaimed the end-of-times with a forthcoming second wave of colonisation-apocalypse.

Now you have gone full tinfoil hat conspiracy-theorist and claim the SIS and GCSB will be deployed to monitor those that oppose the TPP. All without a shred of evidence and way too much rhetoric. The Left, if that is what you represent, need to present much more coherent arguments against the TPP if you are win the public debate. 

Lastly, using quotation marks around certain words to indicate ambiguity or irony is tiring after a while.

Trotter replied:

People like you, Waitzen, always remind me of the White House Press Corps under Nixon. They, too, had no clear notion of what the Deep State was, or how it operated, and when the Watergate break-in was reported they were happy to go along with the official line that it was nothing more than a “third-rate burglary”.

The activities of the Deep State are almost impossible to investigate without the help of a “Deep Throat”. Certainly, Woodward and Bernstein would never have gotten to the heart of the Watergate conspiracy without his help. [He was, you’ll recall, the Deputy Director of the FBI, W. Mark Felt.]

What is possible, however, is for people like myself to scrutinise the sequencing of related events. Helen Clark’s intervention in the TPP debate was one such event. (To suggest that she did not know exactly what she was doing is an insult to her undisputed political gifts!)

Another such event was Tim Groser’s publicly avowed intention to change Labour’s mind about the TPP. Yet another is the public revelation that the Government intends to spend millions of dollars on a “public information” campaign – explaining TPP.

What do you make of all these events, Waitzen? – No, don’t tell me, I can guess. “Nothing to see here, folks. Move along please.”

As for the SIS and the GCSB. What do we know about their behaviour? Well, we know that they were only too happy to make their services available to the FBI (acting for Hollywood and against Kim Dotcom) as well as to the PM’s Office (in order to embarrass Phil Goff).

But, according to you, they will take no interest in the TPP debate. Even though they are legally mandated to protect NZ’s “economic well-being”. (That two SIS agents were caught attempting to break into an anti-globalisation activist’s house is also, presumably, irrelevant to the probability that the building popular movement against the TPP is already under SIS/GCSB surveillance.)

You’ll have to forgive me, Waitzen, for becoming just a little testy with people who display zero knowledge of even their own country’s recent history. You may prefer the fairy-story version of NZ politics, in which nothing remotely like the activities predicted here ever take place, but, personally speaking, I prefer reality – no matter how grim.

There have certainly been issues with the way the SIS and GCSB have operated in the past. There have been significant changes made – but Trotter’s reality seems to be that that the worst will always happen.

And ‘waitzen’ responded back:

Chris, reflecting upon what you wrote I think what you are saying is that the organs of the state, including the intelligence agencies, will seek to spy on those who protest against the TPP, disseminate what they find to others in the so-called deep state, and thereby undermine the legitimate democratic process of opposing the TPP.

You point to recent examples of such activities and criticise those, such as me, who seem ignorant of what has actually gone on in New Zealand. There is, it seems to you, a vast web of interconnected people and agencies who are working together to advance the their cause, and that of their masters, at the expense of ordinary people. 

In reply I would say that bringing up Watergate is pure rhetorical flourish. That happened 40 years ago in another country in another time. It has, in my view, nothing to do with New Zealand in 2015. I understand you do think it does. I disagree and not from a position of ignorance either.

Secondly I profoundly disagree that there is a conspiracy of the deep state to undermine the democratic process and legitimate opposition to TPP. That the GSCB/SIS cooperated with the FBI over the Kim Dotcom affair does not make in an organ of repression. I do understand the history of my country, I just don’t see the things you see. 

You accuse me of preferring a so-called fairy-tale version of New Zealand politics. I assume this is a reference to so-called dirty politics. Well, yes, there is plenty of that around in all political parties but again, I simply do not see this as the massive conspiracy to fatally undermine democracy as you do.

Indeed you seem to delight in seeing the ‘grim reality’ as you describe it. The world is seemingly full of Machiavellian realpolitik players hell bent in advancing the interests of the ruling class at the expense of legitimate democracy. Maybe in the world inhabited by the conspiratorial Left, but I see New Zealand democracy at least as inhabited by people, from all parties, who genuinely want what is best for the country, and generally play by the rules. The organs of the state are inhabited by ordinary New Zealanders, just like you and me, who are generally decent, honest and law-abiding. A Fairy tale? I don’t think so.

I’ll add more responses if Trotter continues to engage.

Comments on Securing “Buy-In” For The TPP: The Deep State Takes Over.

UPDATE: the exchange has continued at some length from here.

It currently concludes with:

waitzen said…

Chris, you know of course that the quote by Disraeli was from his work of fiction, Coningsby published in 1844, before he was Prime Minister? That doesn’t necessarily mean he was wrong, but in mulling it over, I did take account of its fictional context.

Chris Trotter said…

Yes, I was aware of the quote’s origin, Waitzen. But, you know what they say: “if you want to tell the truth – write fiction.”

waitzen said…

Yes, I was aware of the quote’s origin, Waitzen. But, you know what they say: “if you want to tell the truth – write fiction.”

Does that mean your blog posts are fiction?

Chris Trotter said…

A little obvious, don’t you think?

It could be a case here of Trotter’s ‘facts’ being stranger than fiction.