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.
Menachem Begin in December 1942 wearing the Polish Army uniform of Gen. Anders’ forces with his wife Aliza and David Yutan; (back row) Moshe Stein and Israel Epstein
(photo credit: JABOTINSKY ARCHIVES)
During the inauguration of a memorial to the victims of the Siege of Leningrad in Jerusalem’s Sacher Park on January 24, 2020, before the climax of Holocaust remembrance events at which Russian President Vladimir Putin was given a central platform, we were stunned to hear a rendition of The Blue Kerchief (Siniy
Giant figures are seen during the 87th carnival parade of Aalst February 15, 2015
The annual carnival in Aalst, Belgium, is expected to take place on Sunday with even more antisemitic elements than in previous years.
Aalst’s organizers have sold hundreds of “rabbi kits” for revelers to dress as hassidic Jews in the carnival’s parade. The kit includes oversized noses, sidelocks (peyot) and black hats. The organizers plan to bring back floats similar to the one displayed in 2019 featuring oversized dolls of Jews, with rats on their shoulders, holding banknotes.
Pope Francis waves as he arrives at the Basilica of Saint Nicholas in the southern Italian coastal city of Bari, Italy February 23, 2020. Photo: REUTERS/Remo Casilli.
Pope Francis on Sunday warned against “inequitable solutions” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying they would only be a prelude to new crises, in an apparent reference to US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace proposal.
Francis made his comments in the southern Italian port city of Bari, where he traveled to conclude a meeting of bishops from all countries in the Mediterranean basin.
Palestinians walk past a shop selling fruits in Ramallah, Feb. 20, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Mohamad Torokman.
Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have reached an agreement to end a five-month long trade dispute, officials said on Thursday.
The dispute, which opened a new front in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, began in September when the PA announced a boycott of Israel calves. The PA exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank under interim peace deals.
Antisemitic caricatures on display at the annual carnival in Aalst, Belgium. Photo: Raphael Ahren via Twitter.
Disturbing images emerged on Sunday of the annual carnival at Aalst, Belgium, showing an astounding number of antisemitic themes, costumes, displays and statements.
Israeli journalist Raphael Ahren documented people dressed as caricatures of Orthodox Jews, a fake “wailing wall” attacking critics of the parade, blatantly antisemitic characters and puppets wearing traditional Jewish clothes and sporting huge noses.
The stench of anti-Semitism always hovers over Switzerland’s Lake Geneva when the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is meeting there. The foul emanations reached a new nadir last week with UNHRC’s publication of a “database” of companies doing business in the disputed territories in Israel.
Following the publication of the list, Bruno Stagno Ugarte, deputy director for advocacy of NGO Human Rights Watch, stated, “The long-awaited release of the U.N. settlement business database should put all companies on notice: To do business with illegal settlements [sic] is to aid in the commission of war crimes.”
One of the many things that annoys me about politicians is how sure they are of themselves. Everything is black and white. Every idea is good or bad. Take globalism, for example. You either love it or hate it. It works or it doesn’t.
Another thing that annoys me is how so much of a politician’s life revolves around power: Do everything you can to get it, and everything you can to keep it.
Why am I ranting? Because, while our politicians have been consumed with power and the media with the fights over power, a threat to our nation has been virtually ignored.
Blue and White Party leaders Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid are establishing their diplomatic credentials in the immediate run-up to Israel’s March 2 election with an insult to a U.S. administration that has arguably provided Israel with more diplomatic gains than any previous administration.
The Times of Israel reported that at a campaign stop in front of English-speaking Israelis, Gantz accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “of neglecting bipartisan ties in favor of exclusive support from U.S. President Donald Trump’s Republican Party,” under the headline “Gantz pledges to mend ties with U.S. Democrats if elected.”
Bipartisanship was in short supply at the State of the Union address earlier this month—with one notable exception.
Nancy Pelosi had been looking dyspeptic, shuffling the papers she would later rip to shreds, when President Donald Trump reminded his audience that “the United States is leading a 59-nation diplomatic coalition against the socialist dictator of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro.”
Suddenly, the House Speaker applauded. Trump then introduced “the true and legitimate president of Venezuela: Juan Guaidó.”
The law professor Alan Dershowitz has thrown a legal hand-grenade into America’s political civil war by claiming to have evidence that former President Barack Obama “personally asked” the FBI to investigate someone “on behalf” of Obama’s “close ally,” billionaire financier George Soros.
He made his cryptic remark in an interview defending U.S. President Donald Trump against claims he interfered in the prosecution of his former adviser, Roger Stone.