The Thinker: Rich Galen


The definition of the word mull.
Mullings by Rich Galen ®
An American Cyber-Column By Rich Galen
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Rich Galen

Thursday April 11, 2019

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  • The Attorney General of the United States is a guy named William Barr. General Barr (that's the correct form of address) testified this week before both the House Budget and the Senate Appropriations Committees.


    While we're at it, the collective noun for more than one Attorney General is not Attorney Generals, but Attorneys General.

    I don't know why that is, but neither do I know why more than one crow is collectively known as a "murder of crows."


  • As you might imagine, the questions from the Members - specifically the Democratic Members - had less to do with how many SUVs the Department of Justice would need to buy next year and more to do with how much black Magic Marker was on the shopping list for next week when a redacted version of the Mueller Report is schedule to be delivered to the Congress.

  • Of course Barr was smacked around about what might be, would be, can't be redacted in that report, but the big news came when he said he had opened an investigation, according to the New York Times:
    To review "both the genesis and the conduct of intelligence activities directed at the Trump campaign," including possible improper "spying" by American intelligence agencies.

  • Whoa! Check Please!

  • This is something Donald Trump has been fixated on since forever.

  • On March 14, 2017 - less than three months into his administration, Trump Tweeted (however awkwardly):
    "Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!"

  • That always sounded to me like an element of the Festivus celebration from "Seinfeld." The airing of grievances, the tapping of the wires …"

  • We will never know, but a close observer of the Trump hiring model might well have included a promise by Barr that he would "look into" whether or not Trump's wires were tapped in the runup to the 2016 election.

  • Sort of like Trump saying to James Comey about the National Security Advisor having lied about meetings with Russians:
    "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He's a good guy. I hope you can let this go."

  • It has to be shown, not so much that surveillance was being carried on - we're pretty sure it was and had been authorized by appropriate judicial review - but whether it was really a rogue operation to tie the Trump operation to the Russians.

  • If it happened and was done, say, at the suggestion of Barack Obama, then Trump gets his revenge on Obama, on Obama's last Attorney General Loretta Lynch, on fired FBI Director James Comey, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and former CIA Director John Brennan.

  • And those are just the department and bureau heads.

  • It is assumed by people like me whose total history of intelligence training includes most of the James Bond books and a goodly number of John le Carré books, that whatever surveillance might have occurred was not aimed at Trump, but was aimed at scooping up who the Russians were talking to and what they were talking about.

  • If a Russian was on the phone to a former three-star General - Michael Flynn - who happened to have also been the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency and that Russian was a subject of U.S. intelligence interest then Flynn's phone call was tapped. But only because he was on the phone with a Russian.

  • See what I mean?

    New Topic:

  • Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin was also up on Capitol Hill and was asked about whether he would order Donald Trump's tax returns to be released to the House Ways and Means Committee as has been requested by the Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass).

  • I'm like everyone else. I am interested in seeing Donald Trump's taxes.

  • But, mine is almost a prurient interest. I want to see them because I want to see how much a guy who makes what Trump says he makes has to pay.

  • I understand what the law says: (via Roll Call Newspaper) Section 6103 of the IRS code states that the IRS "shall furnish" any return requested by either the House Ways and Means or Senate Finance chairmen.

  • But, what information are those committees sitting on that requires them to see Trump's taxes? If they've got something, they ought to tell us.

  • And, while we're at it, why don't they demand that the IRS just package up a couple of years of Sen. Bernie Sanders' tax returns.

  • Bernie hasn't released his tax returns, either. He might not want us to know he may be the wealthiest Socialist in American history.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring today: A link to William Barr's bio, to Barr's investigation into the tapping of the wires, the USA Today report on Treasury's not sending Trump's taxes up to the Hill and to the Roll Call newspaper coverage of that non-event.

    The Mullfoto provides a teaching moment for each and every one of us.

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