Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical left and Islamic terrorism
Paul Manafort. Tony Podesta. Tad Devine. Greg Craig.
Manafort worked for Trump. Tony Podesta is the brother of Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager. Tad Devine was Bernie Sanders’ chief strategist. Greg Craig was Obama’s White House Counsel.
All four men also, directly or indirectly, allegedly did work for the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine. And the ECFMU was allegedly a front for Yanukovich’s Ukrainian pro-Russian faction. Manafort and the Podesta Group had failed to register as foreign agents. Tad Devine had worked for Manafort on the Ukraine project. Craig had written a report on Ukraine for one of Manafort’s lobbying efforts.
But only Manafort had the predawn raid, the solitary confinement and the high profile show trial. Mueller referred Podesta’s case to the Southern District of New York, which has been doing some of his dirty work, even though the Podesta Group was based out of Washington D.C. Tad Devine was called as the first witness at Manafort’s trial. (Next up was Daniel Rabin, a Democrat ad man who had worked with Manafort on Ukraine and who had worked on Martin O’Malley’s presidential campaign. O’Malley’s partner had been O’Malley’s campaign manager and was a former Obama senior advisor.)
Podesta, Devine and Craig are getting a pass because it’s not really about Manafort. It’s about Trump.
The Federal courthouse in Alexandria where the trial is taking place may be the final stop of a political hit job that makes the ECFMU look like amateurs. Its tentacles bind together the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, national security agencies, a former British intel agent, a firm of former journalists and a scandal bigger than Watergate. But in Alexandria, the hit job may have met its match.
Until now, the Mueller coup had gotten exactly the judges that it wanted.
Judge Amy Berman Jackson, an Obama appointee and Clinton donor, had been shepherding the Manafort case while giving the Mueller gang everything they wanted. And then there was Judge Beryl Howell, an Obama nominee and Dem donor who was friends with Andrew Weissmann, the most aggressive figure on Mueller’s team, who tore up Manafort’s attorney-client privilege.
But now Judge T. Ellis is presiding over the Manafort trial and the free ride is over. Ellis, as the media is fond of reminding us in every one of its feverish stories about the trial, is a Reagan appointee. But due to a Democrat congress, Reagan appointees were a mixed bag. Unlike Judge Jackson and Judge Howell, Judge Ellis hasn’t favored a side. Instead he he’s refused to put up with any nonsense from either side.
The Mueller gang realized that the free ride was over when back in May when Judge Ellis directly called out the prosecution over its real motives in bringing the case.
“You don’t really care about Mr. Manafort,” he snapped. “You really care about what information Mr. Manafort can give you to lead to Mr. Trump.”
Judge Ellis wasn’t happy at being used as a prop in a fake trial whose only purpose was to pressure Manafort into turning on Trump. Unlike the previous rubber stamp judges, Ellis showed little patience with Mueller’s nasty habit of treating everything involving the case as top secret. He demanded to know the limits of Mueller’s authority and a copy of the unredacted DOJ memo on which it was based.
And he got it.
The Manafort trial was not to mention Russian collusion, oligarchs and most of the staples of the media’s obsessive coverage of the case. While the media and the protesters howled outside, Judge Ellis kept order inside the courtroom. Even the reporters covering the case were not allowed to speak those words to each other. As the trial proceeded, the media wasn’t getting its money’s worth.
And Judge Ellis had his share of fun at their expense, at one point referring to reporters as having “scurried out of here like rats out of a sinking ship” after a particularly troubling development.
While Mueller and the media want to drag out their show trial for as long as possible, Judge Ellis has made it very clear that he wants to get the trial over and done with as quickly as possible. His favorite phrase in the case has been, “move along.” The Mueller gang had built much of its case around showcasing Manafort’s lavish lifestyle. And Ellis has been disdainful of the prosecution’s theatrics.
He’s refused to allow the prosecution to parade photos of Manafort’s expensive clothing before the jury and he dismissed efforts by the prosecution to play the class warfare card in the Alexandria courtroom.
The pointless tour of luxury clothing vendors through the courtroom was deflated by Ellis’ impatience and the only thing it established is that Manafort had bought expensive suits with international wire transfers. And that could have easily been established in a fraction of the time without dragging in witnesses to testify to Manafort’s shopping habits.
After wasting two days on showcasing luxury clothing store vendors and Democrat political pros like Tad Devine and Daniel Rabin, the prosecution went right back to talking up the size of Manafort’s pond and the price of his karaoke machine before shifting over to more serious testimony from financial pros. Some of these witnesses had received immunity in exchange for their testimony against Manafort.
And yet the obsession with Manafort’s suits, karaoke machine and pond reveal the hollowness of the case. If the prosecution really had Manafort down cold, it wouldn’t need to talk about his ostrich jacket. There are only two purposes to such theatrics, to bias the jury or to play to the cheap seats in the media.
As Judge Ellis had already pointed out, the trial really isn’t about Manafort. It’s about Trump. And Manafort is Mueller’s last and only hope. After all the pressure, Manafort still hasn’t given Mueller what he wants. And so the Mueller gang needs to score as hard as it can in either this trial or the next one. If Manafort walks or gets off with a slap on the wrist, the Mueller investigation is effectively over. It may drag on for another five years, as special counsel circuses have been known to do, but it will be over.
And everyone knows it.
Democrat judges had lent Mueller a hand until now. But the actual case is now in the hands of a judge who doesn’t like Mueller, doesn’t like his people’s tactics and doesn’t like being used as a pawn.
Unlike the Democrat judges with an axe to grind, Judge Ellis is following the law. And he hasn’t gone outside it to favor either side. Nor is there any reason to believe that he will. He has questioned and challenged the agenda behind the trial, but he will leave it up to a jury to come up with a verdict.
And yet the wind has gone out of the prosecution’s sails.
The friendly relationship that the gang enjoyed with its fellow Democrat collaborators on the bench has been replaced by an impatient judge who isn’t treating the show trial like a vital institution, but with the skeptical impatience that veterans of the system reserve for the table pounders wasting their time.
Judge Ellis isn’t interested in a show trial. He’s asked the prosecution whether it thinks George Soros is also an oligarch. He’s made it clear that while he knows the agenda behind the case, there won’t be a Russiagate circus in his courtroom, no paranoid hysteria or sinister speculation. Nor will the case be allowed to linger on endlessly attracting swarms of reporters, activists and deep staters.
Manafort may well be convicted, but it won’t be on the terms that Mueller wanted. Mueller may get Manafort, but lose Trump.
He may win the battle in Alexandria, but lose the war.
The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration — which seeks to criminalize criticism of migration — is nothing more or less than a dangerous effort to weaken national borders, to normalize mass migration, to blur the line between legal and illegal immigration, and to bolster the idea that people claiming to be refugees enjoy a panoply of rights in countries where they have never before set foot.
One thing about the agreement, in any event, is irrefutable: almost nobody in the Western world has been clamoring for this. It is, quite simply, a project of the globalist elites. It is a UN power-grab.
The waterfront in the Chilean city of Valdivia. Photo: Arvid Puschnig via Wikimedia Commons.
Top Jewish groups have welcomed a Chilean government decision made earlier this week to ban municipalities across the country from boycotting Israel.
The ruling — issued by the Comptroller General of Chile – stemmed from a complaint filed by the Chilean Jewish community over a move of the Valdivia municipality to ban the city from signing contracts with Israel-linked companies.
New immigrants to Israel arrive at Ben-Gurion International Airport, Aug. 17, 2016. Photo: Reuters / Baz Ratner.
A top Israeli minister called on the government on Sunday to craft a “comprehensive plan” to encourage the aliyah of French Jews.
In Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett’s view, there has been a “historic missed opportunity” in recent years to bring more French Jews to Israel as immigrants.
“There are 200,000 French Jews who want to come here, and the state bureaucracies simply aren’t prepared for it,” Bennett, who also serves as education minister and head of the right-wing HaBayit HaYehudi party, claimed at a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. “These are ethical people, Zionists, lovers of the Jewish people and the Land of Israel, and it is our moral obligation to help them.”
Israel has started uncovering and destroying Hezbollah’s attack tunnels under the Lebanese border, but destroying the group’s ambitious precision missile project will be much more difficult.
The Israel Defense Forces placed a camera into Hezbollah’s secret cross-border attack tunnel before sunrise on Dec. 4. They pushed it into the Lebanese side, under the Blue Line that separates the two countries. At dawn, two Hezbollah operatives reached the spot on their morning rounds. In the video disseminated by the IDF on Tuesday evening, one of the operatives is seen approaching the camera with suspicion. He stuck his nose in its direction and started to sniff around until something exploded in his face and he ran back the way he’d comVisibilitye.
The timing of Operation Northern Shield, to destroy Hezbollah tunnels leading from Lebanon into Israel, suggests that considerations other than security were behind the decision to launch it.
An Israeli commando from Yahalom, an engineering unit, takes part in a tunnel-hunting drill near Tel Aviv, March 7, 2012.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a speech to Likud activists on Dec. 2 that was both defensive and combative toward law enforcement authorities. He complained about the supposedly suspicious timing of the police announcement recommending his indictment for taking bribes in Case 4000, coming as it did one day before Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh concluded his term in office.
This week, for the first time, Israel made public its discovery of the tunnel constructed by Hezbollah and reaching into Israel’s sovereign territory. This brought to an end a long period during which a large number of Israelis living in communities adjacent to the Lebanese border reported hearing sounds of digging as well as feeling tremors in the walls of their homes.
Attack tunnels are intended to allow for significant numbers of armed infantry bearing weapons, artillery and supplies, to traverse them within a minimal time span, avoiding Israeli lookouts and thereby gaining the element of surprise.
Last Saturday, Iran’s “moderate” President Hassan Rouhani called Israel “a cancerous tumor” in a speech at the regime’s annual Islamic Unity Conference.
Rouhani’s fellow speakers included deputy Hezbollah chief Naim Qassem and Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh. Both terror bosses called for the destruction of the “cancerous tumor.”
With the predictability of a Swiss clock, the Europeans rushed to condemn Rouhani. The EU in Brussels condemned Rouhani. The German Foreign Ministry condemned Rouhani. And so on and so forth.
We could have done without their statements.
It was clear that with the onset of Operation Northern Shield—meant to neutralize terror tunnels Hezbollah has constructed along the Israel-Lebanon border—some would call it a public relations stunt by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Those who believe the timing of the police’s recommendations in Case 4000—announced on the last day of Roni Alsheikh’s tenure as the police commissioner—was reasonable, somehow complain about the timing of the operation.
On Sunday evening, December 2, the people of Sderot, Israel – a town located a mere kilometer from the Gaza border – gathered to light the first candle of the town’s menorah to commemorate the first day of Hanukkah. Jews around the world celebrate this holiday, which marks the time some two millennia ago when the Jews regained control of Jerusalem and rededicated the Second Temple.
What makes the candle lighting in Sderot worth mentioning is the fact that it is particularly symbolic of how the Jewish spirit looks for ways to turn tragedy into triumph.
This is obviously a short-lived honeymoon that will end the day after the UN General Assembly vote on the anti-Hamas resolution. The morning after the vote, Abbas will wake up to the realization that Hamas was a strange bedfellow indeed.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s hatred of Hamas is far from secret. But Abbas is now defending Hamas because he despises the Trump administration, which has sponsored a UN draft resolution that condemns Hamas. Pictured: Abbas (right) meets with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh on May 30, 2007 in the Gaza Strip. (Photo by Abu Askar/PPO via Getty Images)