Morning Report: The Fed catches up with the markets

Vital Statistics:

 

Last Change
S&P futures 2817 -10
Eurostoxx index 380.22 -0.62
Oil (WTI) 60.12 1.09
10 year government bond yield 2.51%
30 year fixed rate mortgage 4.22%

 

Stocks are lower after the Fed cut interest rates. Bonds and MBS are up.

 

As expected, the Fed maintained the Fed Funds rate at current levels and took down their forecast for the end of year. The December dot plot showed a central tendency in the 2.72% (using the lower bound of the range) and the March plot showed a central tendency of 2.37%. The forecast for 2019 GDP was lowered from 2.3% to 2.1%, while the unemployment rate was increased from 3.5% to 3.7%. PCE inflation was more or less unchanged at 2%.  The Fed Funds futures increased their probability of a 2019 rate cut from about 25% to about 40%.

 

dot plot

 

The Fed also tweaked their balance sheet runoff plan, increasing the amount they reinvest each month by $15 billion. This only affects Treasuries – MBS will continue to run off.

 

Stocks initially rallied on the Fed announcement, but then sold off on fears the Fed sees something the markets don’t. Bonds rallied on the Fed announcement, with the 10 year yield falling to 2.53%. MBS were slow to follow, but we did see some reprices towards the end of the day. With rates even lower this morning, expect to see a big move down in mortgage rates. FWIW, Fannie Mae has taken down their prediction for the 30 year fixed rate mortgage from 4.8% to 4.4%.

 

What does some of this mean for mortgage bankers? 2019 won’t necessarily be as bad as people feared for origination, and if you have been aggressively marking your servicing portfolio in order to paper over a price war, you might have a problem.

 

Banks that refocused their mortgage lending towards high-end buyers in the aftermath of the financial crisis are seeing the winds shift. Jumbo origination has been falling as prices at the high end have been peaking out and tax reform has limited the value of the mortgage interest deduction. Many non-banks focused on the first time and moderate income buyer. Many banks were offering amazing jumbo terms, presumably in an attempt to cross sell the more lucrative asset management business.

 

 

76 Responses

  1. https://www.politico.com/story/2019/03/21/trump-economy-election-1230495

    if you thought there was a freakout before ….

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  2. Interesting piece on the origins of audits of federal agencies.

    https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/pentagon-budget-mystery-807276/

    If Trump were a little less noisy on the wall, he could easily move some money around on the back end and get it done.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love how the cabal that tosses out “Nazi” and “racist” epithets like candy clutches their pearls when people call self-described socialists socialists.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-socialist-rhetoric-is-lazy-name-calling-from-a-lazy-thinker/2019/03/21/8a981252-4c14-11e9-9663-00ac73f49662_story.html?utm_term=.9d78caa732dc

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Good read if you haven’t seen this before:

    https://www.cjr.org/analysis/fake-news-media-election-trump.php

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    • No indictments. Sad Trombone for the Resistance.

      Liked by 1 person

      • “It’s official: Russiagate is this generation’s WMD

        The Iraq war faceplant damaged the reputation of the press. Russiagate just destroyed it”

        https://taibbi.substack.com/p/russiagate-is-wmd-times-a-million

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        • I think it is an inapt comparison. The mandate was to investigate Russian meddling in the election and any connection to the DJT campaign. The meddling on a large scale was known and described early on. The connections were found, and if the left is disappointed that they did not go beyond the campaign manager and his henchman, or the short time National Security Advisor, that is their problem, not a problem with the investigation. To be fair, you described a faceplant by the press. I suppose that is apt. I am only objecting to comparing a successful deep investigation that was necessary to a dubious casus belli.

          This was at its inception a counter-intel investigation and any criminal conduct found would have been ancillary. Some was close to the campaign: Manafort, Gates, the National Security Advisor, etc.; some was distanced from it and farmed out, like Cohen.

          The farmed out stuff continues. The counter-intel stuff that is not for various reasons prosecutable [frankly, I assume as always that intel gathering doesn’t meet Rules of Evidence admissibility standards] continues.

          So what will we know about it?

          Federal Rules prohibit sharing Grand Jury testimony [except with intel and law enforcement], so we won’t get any of that. Period. Custom dictates that FBI not share evidence leading to declinations although both Starr and Comey did, thinking they were serving the greater good. I suppose that could happen again but Mueller and Barr do not strike me as loose lipped.

          So I think the most we will ever hear of the core report is a summary, followed months down the road by whatever the intel committees leak about the non-prosecutable intel. A hypothetical here would be a finding from NSA/CIA eavesdropping that the Trumps were offering inducements to Putin by way of favorable policy in the hope they could get a Tower in Moscow. That, I repeat, is a hypothetical of an intel based finding that could not be the basis of a prosecution. If there is anything like that, FBI will not leak it, but once Congressional committees have it it would leak.

          I have always thought that Trump was taking a big chance exposing his private dealings to scrutiny by running for POTUS, and I am not predicting he walks away clean on them. But I am not predicting anything in particular. I am merely betting the field.

          Long shot possibility and one I think will not occur: Barr thinks Congress ought to have material he cannot give them directly. He has a legal path to that – He can have Mueller or any USA impanel a Grand Jury in DC, with a federal judge’s approval and parade all the witnesses before that GJ and let the GJ enter a report to share with the intel agencies, law enforcement, and the oversight committees. Gets around Rule 6. And Jaworski did that in Watergate, IIRC.

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        • Mark:

          The connections were found…

          What connections between the Trump campaign and Russian “meddling” in the election were found?

          The only connection between Russian election-meddling and a candidate/campaign that I am aware of is the one between the Hillary campaign, via Christopher Steele, and the Russian intelligence agents that fed Steele all the misinformation that ended up in his dossier. And that connection is known not because of the Mueller investigation.

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        • In Flynn’s case, court documents say Flynn called Kislyak suggesting Russia to not retaliate for sanctions imposed by the Obama administration. The Russian ambassador called back saying Russia would not retaliate, records say. I have to add that I assume the wiretapping on Kislyak was lawful as evidence or it would not have appeared in Flynn’s indictment.

          During the course of the investigation of Manafort which resulted in charges for money laundering and being an unregistered foreign agent prosecutors learned that Manafort owed Deripaska over $19M and the emails showed that he used his role as campaign chair to try to resolve his debt to Derispaka. Remember the “private briefing” stuff, offered through Kilimnik?

          The indictments concentrated on money laundering rather than to whom Manafort was selling out, but that does not mean they did not have the connection nailed, it only means those were intel matters, not criminal evidentiary ones. Probably the intel was from FISA warrants on Manafort, and inadmissible as evidence.

          Papadopoulos, former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, pleaded guilty in October 2018 to lying to FBI agents about his interactions with Russians who claimed to have political “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.

          I think there were more, but those were the guys I had in mind, when I said there were connections to the campaign.

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        • Mark:

          In Flynn’s case, court documents say Flynn called Kislyak suggesting Russia to not retaliate for sanctions imposed by the Obama administration….During the course of the investigation of Manafort which resulted in charges for money laundering and being an unregistered foreign agent prosecutors learned that Manafort owed Deripaska over $19M and the emails showed that he used his role as campaign chair to try to resolve his debt to Derispaka.

          Sorry, Mark, but you seem to have fallen for the bait and switch that has been the hallmark of virtually all coverage of this in the MSM. Begin with a discussion of Russian “meddling” in the election, then switch to how person X spoke to or had a relationship with a Russian, and pretend that the the latter is obvious evidence that implicates X in the former. It’s rubbish.

          Flynn spoke to Kislyak after the election had already occurred, and after he had already been named as Trump’s National Security Advisor. And even at that, there is no indication that the discussion related to Russian “meddling” in the election.

          As for Manafort, one doesn’t try to resolve a debt to someone by going deeper into debt to them. The emails you speak of suggest that Manafort was offering to give information about the Trump campaign to Depriska, not seeking to get information about the Clinton campaign from him (or any other Russian), which is what Russian “meddling” in the campaign was supposedly all about.

          Again, simply pointing out that various people had contact or involvement with Russians does not establish any “connection” to Russian election-meddling.

          Papadopoulos, former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, pleaded guilty in October 2018 to lying to FBI agents about his interactions with Russians who claimed to have political “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.

          If you find it troubling that someone would be receptive to an offer of Russian “dirt” on a political rival (for the record, I do not) and think that this represents a connection to “meddling” in the election, why aren’t you at least equally troubled by the fact that HRC’s campaign did exactly that only with much more success than Papadopoulos? Shouldn’t Mueller have been investigating HRC and her campaign’s connection to Russian “meddling”, too?

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        • I did not think investigating Russian “meddling” was limited to the election process itself.

          As for HRC, I thought she hired Fusion a year after Fusion had been hired by a conservative website The Free Beacon, that opposed DJT in the R primary, to dig dirt on him. So when he clinched the nomination as a practicality, Free Beacon told Fusion to stop digging, and all the Free Beacon history was detailed by Free Beacon to one of the Committees, I think Barr’s but I didn’t go back to check. Then HRC’s camp hired Fusion to keep digging. Fusion hired Steele, who is not a Russian. And while Steele’s dossier was presented by Steele not as fact, but as a list of unverified statements he had taken, and without any conclusion as to the accuracy of thte statements listed,the GRU indictments alleged that:

          3. Starting in at least March 2016, the Conspirators used a variety of means to hack the email accounts of volunteers and employees of the U.S. presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton (the “Clinton Campaign”), including the email account of the Clinton Campaign’s chairman.

          4. By in or around April 2016, the Conspirators also hacked into the computer networks of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (“DCCC”) and the Democratic National Committee (“DNC”). The Conspirators covertly monitored the computers of dozens of DCCC and DNC employees, implanted hundreds of files containing malicious computer code (“malware”), and stole emails and other documents from the DCCC and DNC.

          5. By in or around April 2016, the Conspirators began to plan the release of materials stolen from the Clinton Campaign, DCCC, and DNC.

          6. Beginning in or around June 2016, the Conspirators staged and released tens of thousands of the stolen emails and documents. They did so using fictitious online personas, including “DCLeaks” and “Guccifer 2.0.”

          7. The Conspirators also used the Guccifer 2.0 persona to release additional stolen documents through a website maintained by an organization ([Wikileaks]), that had previously posted documents stolen from U.S. persons, entities, and the U.S. government. The Conspirators continued their U.S. election-interference operations through in or around November 2016.

          The indictment further alleged that:

          On or about August 15, 2016, the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, wrote to a person who was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump, “thank u for writing back … do you find anyt[h]ing interesting in the docs I posted?” On or about August 17, 2016, the Conspirators added, “please tell me if I can help u anyhow … it would be a great pleasure to me.” On or about September 9, 2016, the Conspirators, again posing as Guccifer 2.0 referred to a stolen DCCC document posted online and asked the person, “what do u think of the info on the turnout model for the democrats entire presidential campaign.” The person responded, “[p]retty standard.”

          This is info that was alluded to in the Steele memos, which while admittedly unsubstantiated, had some apparent nuggets, in retrospect.

          I do think that even accepting info from a foreign power with its own axe to grind has previously been a big deal in American politics and both R and D candidates have quickly reported foreign contacts to the FBI. I think that is how it should be. I think that HRC should have turned the Steele dossier over to the FBI if she had it and never alluded to anything in it or let it go public [did she?]. I think McCain did the right thing turning it over to the FBI without ever leaking it. And am I correct that Steele actually gave his dossier to the FBI as he was compiling it and that was before McC saw it and that HRC’s campaign may never have even seen it? I do not consider turning foreign intel over to the FBI meddling.

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        • Mark:

          I did not think investigating Russian “meddling” was limited to the election process itself.

          Well, a special investigator’s investigation is not limited in any way at all, which is precisely one of the problems with a special investigator like Mueller. However, as you rightly stated at the very beginning:

          The mandate was to investigate Russian meddling in the election and any connection to the DJT campaign.

          A mandate to investigate Russian meddling in the election is indeed limited to, well, the election process itself. And discovering that a Trump campaign worker has some connection to a Russian oligarch, even a sordid and criminal connection, does not justify claiming a connection between the DJT campaign and Russian meddling in the election any more than, say, discovering that Alger Hiss was a Soviet spy does not justify a claim that the Truman administration was involved in Soviet espionage.

          Free Beacon told Fusion to stop digging…Then HRC’s camp hired Fusion to keep digging. Fusion hired Steele, who is not a Russian.

          Correct, although I don’t understand the relevance of Steele not being Russian, nor do I understand the relevance of the Free Beacon’s prior involvement with Fusion. First of all, the claims about Trump being “cultivated” by the Russians all arose from Steele’s involvement, which came after the Free Beacon stopped paying, and the DNC and Hillary started paying the bills. Second, the fact that Steele isn’t a Russian has no bearing on whether or not he was being used by the HRC campaign to dig up dirt on its political foe, nor that such dirt was being sought from the Russians.

          Again, if you think it is problematic that someone from Trump’s campaign was open to receiving dirt on Hillary from the Russians, why don’t you find it at least equally problematic that someone being paid by HRC’s campaign was not only open to receiving such dirt on Trump, but was in fact actively seeking it out from his own Russian contacts?

          And while Steele’s dossier was presented by Steele not as fact, but as a list of unverified statements he had taken and without any conclusion as to the accuracy of thte statements listed..

          If it was merely unverified statements (which is true), why was it presented as evidence to the FISA court in the FBI’s desire to wiretap Trump associates?

          I do think that even accepting info from a foreign power with its own axe to grind has previously been a big deal in American politics…

          And yet this is exactly where Christoper Steele got all of his dirt on Trump, from Russian contacts, and far from thinking it is a big deal, you think that it helps justify an investigation into Trump!

          I think that HRC should have turned the Steele dossier over to the FBI if she had it and never alluded to anything in it or let it go public [did she?]. I think McCain did the right thing turning it over to the FBI without ever leaking it.

          We need to be clear…do you think the Steele dossier should have been turned over to the FBI because the Steele Dossier contained info from a foreign power with an axe to grind, or because it contained info about a foreign power with an axe to grind? Your claim about getting info from foreign powers with an axe to grind would suggest the former, but I guarantee you that it was the latter that compelled McCain to turn it over to the FBI.

          And am I correct that Steele actually gave his dossier to the FBI as he was compiling it…

          Steele was acting as a paid source to the FBI for a time, but that came to an official end in October 2016 after he had repeatedly violated his confidentiality agreement with the FBI and lied to them about his media contacts. I say “official” because he continued to have contact and influence with certain FBI agents investigating Trump even after his official status was ended over violating his agreement with the FBI.

          I do not consider turning foreign intel over to the FBI meddling.

          What if it is a foreigner turning over the intel – and trying to get it into the media – for the precise purpose of defeating a particular presidential candidate?

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        • I am unclear as to what Steele did aside from turning over the info. If he leaked it, and especially if he did so on behalf of the Clinton campaign, that should have been investigated. Perhaps it was. I don’t know. I do recall that the FBI disavowed him at some point. Judging from the indictments against the Petrograd group the intel services and FBI had some corroboration to some of Steele’s points. It would not be unusual for such a pile of allegations that are unverified for some to be later corroborated as factual while others would not be.

          In any event, I am satisfied that Mueller did a thorough job and an honest one. Liberals will soon be calling for his scalp, most likely.

          Addendum: George, as I think we all thought, making an obstruction case on firing Comey when he could fire Comey for being cross-eyed made little sense, except theoretically. Further, anything he had the inherent power to do he could do, right? So obstruction would come down to false statements under oath or encouraging false statements under oath, for which Justice would not indict a POTUS. If Mueller thinks there is obstruction, he has to find a lawful way to get it to Congress, which is possible but probably takes Barr’s approval, unless he goes rogue like Ken Starr and Comey did.

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        • Mark:

          I am unclear as to what Steele did aside from turning over the info.

          If you remain unclear about where Steele got his “intel” and what else he did with it, I can only assume it is because you are uninterested in knowing, because it isn’t that difficult to find out. And it is precisely your lack of interest in it, despite finding characters like Papadopoulos to be so significant, that I find notable.

          If he leaked it…

          He did. That is precisely why the FBI ended its official relationship with him.

          …and especially if he did so on behalf of the Clinton campaign, that should have been investigated.

          On who else’s behalf might he have leaked it?

          In any event, I am satisfied that Mueller did a thorough job and an honest one.

          But you still have not answered my primary question. If you think the fact that someone from Trump’s campaign was open to receiving dirt on Hillary from the Russians is troubling and worthy of investigation, why don’t you find it at least equally troubling and worthy of investigation that someone being paid by HRC’s campaign was not only open to receiving Russian dirt on Trump, but was in fact actively seeking it out from his own Russian contacts?

          In the absence of any other explanation, isn’t it reasonable to conclude that you find the former but not the latter more troubling simply because of your dislike of Trump?

          You also didn’t answer this one:

          What if it is a foreigner turning over the intel – and trying to get it into the media – for the precise purpose of defeating a particular presidential candidate?

          Steele is a foreign national (British) who opposed the candidacy of Trump. We know that he obtained derogatory (albeit apparently false) information about Trump and Trump associates from Russian contacts which he subsequently used to prompt an FBI investigation of a presidential campaign, and then tried to make that investigation public, first in order to influence the election and later in order to damage the winner of that election. How is this not foreign “meddling” in the election?

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        • Scott, the important point you make is not that HRC hired someone who hired Steele, but that Steele went public. I assume your recollection is correct and that he did go public and FBI disaffiliated with him because of it. But there is no problem with giving the info to the FBI. His memo did not prompt the investigation. And I agree that it is worth investigating whether anyone in the HRC campaign urged the publication of the dossier. Or even if Steele asked for permission to publish it. Or if there was any contact about it. So I think I have answered you. And as for Steele himself, his publication of intel was surely trying to influence the election and since it was raw unverified stuff it should never have got beyond something to be investigated, anyway. So, yes, it troubles me.

          I also think if a D had surrounded himself with a Manafort and a Flynn Rs would be screaming. And I would be hoping for an independent investigation, as well.

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        • Mark:

          the important point you make is not that HRC hired someone who hired Steele…

          Indeed, that isn’t a point I made at all.

          My point is the following:

          Person A, working for candidate X, is receptive to an offer of dirt on a political opponent from Russian contacts. This is, in your own words, a “big deal” and an indication of potential collusion with Russian efforts to “meddle” in the election.

          Person B, working for candidate Y, is not only receptive to, but actually seeks out offers of dirt on a political opponent from Russian contacts. This is, apparently, entirely uninteresting and not worth commenting upon.

          The disparity in attitude towards the above two remarkably similar situations is something that you seem unable or unwilling to recognise.

          Focusing, as you are now doing, on whether or not person A or B went public with the information does not reconcile the above disparity because person A, ie Papadopoulos, never went public with anything.

          I also think if a D had surrounded himself with a Manafort and a Flynn Rs would be screaming.

          Perhaps, but the real question is whether or not it coud be used as a pretext to sic an independent investigator on the D himself. I’m highly skeptical.

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        • Andy McArthy at NR has been very consistent, and consistently good, on the Mueller probe. He continues that today.

          https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/03/trump-russia-investigation-mueller-report-full-disclosure-documents-testimony/

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        • In retrospect, I think McCarthy appears to have been vindicated. I was certainly willing to assume that a R Atty Gen would not open an investigation that required a special prosecutor without some evidence of a crime in which the POTUS had a hand. The fine question of course is whether there was some evidence of a crime, but not enough to indict on after an investigation, or whether there was no evidence of a crime to begin with. And I assume evidence includes anything FRE allows: circumstantial evidence, declarations against interest, the whole nine yards.

          I would always assume that within the same administration the AG doesn’t rashly appoint special counsel to go after their own.

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        • Mark:

          I would always assume that within the same administration the AG doesn’t rashly appoint special counsel to go after their own.

          I assume that the appointment of a special counsel is pretty much always the result of political, not legal, considerations. And there is no reason at all to think that political demands arise only, or even usually, from legitimate evidence. As the case at hand demonstrates.

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        • McCarthy made an interesting point in NRO’s podcast yesterday. Given that “collusion” isn’t actually a crime, the only crime that could have justified the appointment of a special investigator was the crime of obstruction of justice, and the timeline of Mueller’s appointment (right after the firing of Comey) suggests that it was the possibility of obstruction that was the purpose of his appointment.

          So, after two years and untold millions of dollars, Mueller punted on the single thing about which he was meant to draw a conclusion. Time and money well spent!

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        • It was always about protecting the DOJ and FBI. I’m not sure how successful Mueller actually was in that regard. I’m going to sound conspiratorial here but it’s hard not to look at this as an attempted coup.

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        • McCarthy has continuously assumed that he knew what generated the decision. I never knew what generated the decision. I don’t know how McCarthy came to his assumption, except from extrapolating from timing. I always read his stuff with the internal caveat that he was correct in his conclusion if his premise was correct. But I still don’t know that his premise was correct, although it is more likely now that it was.

          Did McCarthy ever claim inside information or was he going entirely on the published matters? I don’t recall his ever stating anything but a deduction from what was and wasn’t published, and “timing”.

          For me, the published matters included the fact that the DJT campaign manager at the time support for the Ukraine was taken out of the R platform was a suspected, if not known, tool of the Russo forces in the Ukraine. I am not saying that is anywhere sufficient to launch a special prosecutor, but I certainly could imagine that as an item in a laundry list of an evidence fueled chain of internal law enforcement and security suspicions about the campaign and even about DJT’s complicity. I am not offering this as proof McCarthy was wrong, but as an example of the sort of circumstantial evidence that might plausibly trigger the chain of events, and which I think McCarthy never addressed, because I think he had no inside information. Even McCarthy, according to you, relied on the suggestion of the possibility that obstruction was the purpose of the appointment.

          Be that as it may, it is a better thing that the POTUS is surely not a Russian agent than the alternative, liberals should be happy with that [of course I think many would rather he was one], and as KW suggests, their “investigative” work should focus elsewhere.

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        • For me, the published matters included the fact that the DJT campaign manager at the time support for the Ukraine was taken out of the R platform was a suspected, if not known, tool of the Russo forces in the Ukraine.

          Mark, you realize that the Ukraine/RNC platform “dispute” was bullshit, was so at the time and remains so?

          https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/byron-york-what-really-happened-with-the-gop-platform-and-russia

          There was never a legitimate predicate to open this investigation, it’s as bad as the worst conspiratorialists are making it.

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        • George, thanks. I trust York on this sort of reporting and now am pissed that I did not know this sooner.

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        • Mark:

          McCarthy has continuously assumed that he knew what generated the decision.

          Actually I think McCarthy’s point has very consistently been that the law requires, in appointing a special investgator, that the crime that necessitated the appointment must be explicitly identified, and that Rosenstein failed to identify any such crime. And so, far from assuming he knew what generated the decision, he has proclaimed that that no one knows, and it is that very fact which made Muellers investigation illegitimate.

          What McCarthy has gone on to say is that an investigation of obstruction is the only possible crime that could have been used to legitimise the appointment, because “collusion” is not, in fact, any kind of crime at all. And, that being the case, Mueller punted on the one question that might have legitimised his investigation.

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        • This is the circle we cannot seem to break. Look – Rosenstein’s public statement of appointment said

          (b) The Special Counsel is authorized to conduct the investigation confirmed by then-FBI Director James 8. Corney in testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on March 20, 2017, including: (i) any links and/or coordination bet ween the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and (ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and (iii) any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. § 600.4(a). (c) If the Special Counsel believes it is necessary and appropriate, the Special Counsel is authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising from the investigation of these matters. (d) Sections 600.4 through 600. l 0 of Title 28 of the Code of Federal Regulations are applicable to the Special Counsel.

          So McCarthy wrote that FBI could continue that investigation but Rosenstein thought that because it might involve the now sitting POTUS that a Special Counsel was required. The stated rationale was not obstruction but coordination between the Russian government and the Trump campaign. McCarthy says that does not state a crime under the Code, but there are many possible crimes that could come under that rubric.

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        • Mark:

          So McCarthy wrote that FBI could continue that investigation but Rosenstein thought that because it might involve the now sitting POTUS that a Special Counsel was required.

          But “that investigation” was not a criminal investigation. It was a counter-intelligence investigation. Special investigators are appointed to investigate crimes, not conduct counter-intelligence. So what exactly was the crime that presented a conflict of interest at the Justice Department, requiring a special investigator? Again, “collusion” or “coordination” is not a crime. You might argue that conspiracy is, but conspiracy to do what? Conspiring to make a political opponent look bad isn’t a crime, even if one is conspiring with foreign agents to do so (just ask Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele!). So what crime exactly was Trump and his campaign associates suspected of committing? And based on what evidence?

          The stated rationale was not obstruction but coordination between the Russian government and the Trump campaign. McCarthy says that does not state a crime under the Code, but there are many possible crimes that could come under that rubric.

          There are many “possible” crimes that could fall under the rubric of all kinds of things. There are many possible crimes that could fall under the rubric of coordination between the Obama administration and the New York Times. That mere possibility doesn’t create the need for a special investigator to look into that coordination in search of a crime. What crime, exactly, was Trump or his campaign suspected of committing, and what evidence existed to suggest this unidentified crime had indeed been committed?

          The truth is that the investigation into Trump and his campaign, and the subsequent appointment of a special investigator, did not arise out of legitimate suspicions that he or it had actually committed an identifiable crime. It arose out of a political need to create the suspicion that he or it had committed some vague and unidentifiable crime.

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        • There’s a supplemental authorization that Rosenstein wrote in August of ‘17 that I think outlines an obstruction investigation to cover his sss.

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        • You subtly change the facts, I think. The Fusion folks were hired by the campaign, not Steele. It might be worth investigating whether HRC knew or should have known that Fusion, which had been gathering dirt on DJT for months for a conservative website, was using foreigners to gather info from foreign sources. That does seem different to me as to the nature of the two campaigns. But what Joe posted reflects an annoyingly similar disregard for standards by HRC.

          A thorough investigation confirmed details of Russian meddling, found out that a National Security Advisor was essentially on a foreign payroll, and ended Manafort’s scamming. But I am also relieved that it determined the campaign apparently did not overtly act in conspiracy with Russia. That just is not the sort of news one could hope for if one is an American first. While I despise DJT and think his obsequious behavior to Putin was and is shameful, to know that he is merely the kind of asshole who cannot handle personal diplomacy is better for America than to learn that he is an actual cat’s paw.

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        • Mark:

          You subtly change the facts, I think.

          I can understand why it might be useful to obscure who was paying for Steele to dig up dirt on Trump, but that doesn’t change the fact. If I hire a contractor to build a house, and then he hires a bunch of laborers to do the actual work, it is both factually true and perfectly reasonable to say that the laborers are working for me. And if the laborers engage in objectionable practices from which I stand to benefit, it is also perfectly reasonable to look to me for an accounting of those practices.

          It might be worth investigating whether HRC knew or should have known that Fusion…was using foreigners to gather info from foreign sources.

          Might be? We just spent 2 years and millions of dollars investigating whether Trump knew that foreigners and foreign sources were trying to supply his campaign with dirt on Hillary, and you seem to be very sure that that was worth investigating. Why aren’t you equally sure that an investigation of exactly what and when the HRC campaign (and the DNC, which was also paying Fusion/Steele) knew about foreign purveyors of dirt intended to aid the HRC campaign? Dirt, it shouldn’t be forgotten, that they were actually paying for!

          It is precisely this incuriousness about both the provenance of HRC’s dirt on Trump and her campaign’s knowledge of it that highlights the double standard at play in an atmosphere in which quite literally a federal case has been made out of Trump’s possible knowledge of Russian dirt on Hillary. And the fact that the FBI was actually prevailed upon to use this same dirt against Trump as a legal matter hardly obviates the double standard. Indeed, the fact that it was precisely HRC’s Russian-obtained dirt on Trump that represents the very basis of the federal investigation against him is the real kicker. Surely Putin is laughing his ass off as he marvels over this two year American obsession with Russian “collusion”, even if he didn’t orchestrate the whole thing. I mean seriously…if Putin wanted to destabilize American institutions and sow doubt and confusion over American elections, could he have have done a better job of it than precipitating an investigation of a presidential candidate over “collusion” with Russia and a “stolen” election?

          A thorough investigation confirmed details of Russian meddling, found out that a National Security Advisor was essentially on a foreign payroll, and ended Manafort’s scamming.

          Not one of which required the appointment of a special investigator into Trump or the Trump campaign.

          Like

        • If I hire a contractor to build a house, and then he hires a bunch of laborers to do the actual work, it is both factually true and perfectly reasonable to say that the laborers are working for me.

          No.

          Like

        • Mark:

          No.

          For some reason I suspect that if Trump Associates hired a contractor to build a hotel and who used illegal aliens as workers in order to save money on wages, you’d have no problem with the suggestion that Trump used illegal aliens to build his hotel. But whatever. I think my point stands.

          Like

        • if Trump Associates hired a contractor to build a hotel and who used illegal aliens as workers in order to save money on wages, you’d have no problem with the suggestion that Trump used illegal aliens to build his hotel.

          That’s nuts. I spent twenty years representing contractors who hired subs who may or may not have used undocs. The whole point of the difference in the employment and the legit subcontractor relationship is that the sub’s employees are not your freaking employees. And my guys would seriously have subs state in writing they were not using illegals but there was no way to actually police that. In Texas, and I would bet elsewhere, subs carry the workers comp insurance on their employees and show the certificate to every contractor for whom they work. In Texas, the carrier may decline coverage for an injured illegal who was not reported to them by his employer in the application for WC coverage. Then the illegal who gets injured on the job sues the main contractor because comp won’t pay him. So, yeah, I am real familiar with the system and subcontracting is not an attempt to obfuscate, but the way the world does business because no one specializes in EVERYTHING.

          Scott, get real.

          Like

        • Mark:

          So, yeah, I am real familiar with the system and subcontracting is not an attempt to obfuscate…

          I never said it was, so I am not sure why you raise the issue of obfuscation.

          You just seem to think that whether or not Steele was a direct report to HRC’s campaign is relevant to whether or not we should care about 1) the provenance of Steele’s oppo research, 2) how it was used by the people who paid for it, ie the DNC/Clinton campaign, and 3) how it came to be the cornerstone of an FBI investigation, including FISA approved wiretapping, of a presidential candidate’s campaign. I don’t think Steele’s reporting line is relevant in the slightest, and I think anyone who really cared about Russian “meddling” and the uses to which Russian-provided oppo research was being put, rather than just in taking Trump down, would be very interested in those three things regardless of whether Steele was directly or just indirectly working for the DNC/HRC campaign.

          As for the analogy I drew that is the focus of your comment, I think you are being legalistically pedantic, and I suspect that it is a legalistic pedantry that you would not entertain with regard to a political critique of Trump’s business practices. If I am wrong about that, I apologize, but I still don’t think it has any bearing at all on my main point, reiterated above.

          Like

        • If I am wrong about that, I apologize

          Apology accepted.

          I imagine the Trump entities hire janitorial and logistic contractors who are not illegal aliens and I suppose the Trump entities don’t have a clue who is the greenskeeper on the golf course or the maid in the hotel. Really. There are plenty of shady Trump biz practices and deals but the “revelations” that the greenskeepers at his golf course or whatever are undocs is not worth a footnote and are not evidence of corruption or even of hypocrisy by any stretch.

          Note that if all the maids in the hotels were long legged, big boobed, and from eastern Europe I would be suspicious…

          Like

        • Mark:

          Note that if all the maids in the hotels were long legged, big boobed, and from eastern Europe I would be suspicious…

          If only you were equally suspicious about how Russian disinformation obtained in an political oppo research operation came to be the foundation of a government investigation of and spying on a presidential candidate’s campaign.

          Like

        • Everything is a face plant by the media. Especially with it comes to politics. Or anything that happens in foreign countries. Or involves anything they don’t know about, which is usually everything but the media. Like technology.

          Like

        • Trump is gonna shove this up the media’s keister so hard… There is so much material that lends itself to jokes… And the press isn’t going to even think about changing because Trump is Literally. Hitler. and there is nothing you wouldn’t do to stop Literally. Hitler.

          Like

        • Greg Sargent had a piece the other day, in it he quoted several leading Democrats claiming that Trump is Hitler and a dictator. Greg’s demand for these literally Hitler Democrats to deal with Trump’s existential threat on our republic? Get his tax returns.

          I tell ya, that would have stopped Hitler, Stalin or Pol Pot. All of these killers were vulnerable on the tax front, like Capone.

          If only there was an all powerful IRS across the globe, we’d never have another bad leader.

          Like

        • If only there was an all powerful IRS across the globe, we’d never have another bad leader.

          I’ll take “how to drive mass acceptance for cryptocurrencies” for $400

          Liked by 1 person

        • “I do think that even accepting info from a foreign power with its own axe to grind has previously been a big deal in American politics and both R and D candidates have quickly reported foreign contacts to the FBI.”

          Keep in mind this was going on at the same time as the meetings between Trump associates and the Russians about possible dirt on the Clintons:

          https://www.politico.com/story/2017/01/ukraine-sabotage-trump-backfire-233446

          To the best of my knowledge, the Ukrainian assistance wasn’t reported to the FBI.

          Like

        • Well, that definitely sucks. Two candidates who managed to lower the standards for an American campaign.

          I voted for neither of them.

          Maybe we will see the day when both candidates report foreign probes like GWB and Gore did, again.

          I am more concerned about Russia or China then Canada, of course, but all of it should be treated as inappropriate and reported to FBI.

          Like

        • @scottc1: “So, after two years and untold millions of dollars, Mueller punted on the single thing about which he was meant to draw a conclusion. Time and money well spent!”

          This seems to be the case almost any time a special prosecutor is appointed.

          I find it interesting how everybody in the media and the left was so cognizant of what was being spent and how big a waste of money it was when Ken Starr was conducting his investigation (and I agreed with them then and agree with them now, on that). But when it comes to this absurd search for boojums and jabberwockies, the media wasn’t reminding me every day how much was being spent on this garbage-search, or complaining about how tax payer dollars could be put to some better use: if the same money had added an exit to some rural road in Indiana, it would have been money better spent.

          Or, give it back to the tax payers, but that’s another discussion.

          Like

      • Which anyone paying attention pretty much knew would be the case.

        Like

  5. KosKidz not reacting well to counter-narratives.

    https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2019/3/24/1844642/-Matt-Taibbi-on-the-Conclusion-of-the-Mueller-Investigation?

    I agree though that Mueller will attempt to torpedo Trump via obstruction however. When the report comes out, he’ll claim that a POTUS, acting within their constitutional powers by hiring and firing people, by directing his subordinates to do and not do legal things is obstruction.

    Like

    • Astonishing!

      The Judge zed March 24 · 11:54:30 AM
      This country is full of morons. Both the left and the right are losing their collective minds because they assume the recommendation of no new indictments exhonerates trump, which it doesn’t. If the report exonerated trump, Barr would have released it already.

      Semblance March 24 · 08:13:06 AM
      No it is not a “sobering take”. LOL. He’s full of shit. We don’t even know what the report says yet.

      The predictive power of partisanship in action, there.

      This, said about Taibbi:

      Hinoema01 > Semblance March 24 · 08:17:48 AM
      People like that will use anything and everything to further their own narrative, and if that means making it up as they go and to hell with actual facts, they are happy to do so. The ones who support him are universally the ones with both the same preconceived narrative and willingness to disregard fact to support it.

      Ironic!

      This just flabbergasts me (quoting from a longer comment):

      Is CNN hostile to Trump? I don’t think so. They’ve done their usual both-sides coverage here.

      We clearly do live in entirely different universes, and do not share a common set of facts.

      Like

  6. This is the Twwet of the fucking year!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. On par with the top foreign policy types?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This should be a Trump campaign ad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Everything he has been saying about the Deep State and liberal media has been substantiated by this whole debacle.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Which is true, but I’ve never understood the “there’s no Deep State” argument. All you have to do is look at the federal buraucracy, from the DoD to the CIA to the FBI to the EPA to the frickin’ FCC and FDA. There’s obviously going to be a “deep state” in any country with the number of governmental bureaucracies we have.

        Like

  9. the PL won’t give up. reminds me of:

    [At Homer’s barbecue, Lisa steals the pig, using the riding lawnmower to push the grill out of the yard and up a steep slope, while Homer and Bart chase after her. When Lisa gets to the top of the slope, the grill starts rolling downhill, building up speed. Homer and Bart now chase after the grill, while it rolls into a street and through a hedge.]

    Homer: It’s just a little dirty. It’s still good, it’s still good!

    [Homer and Bart keep running after the grill. The grill rolls into traffic (miraculously missing every car) and crashes into a bridge railing. The pig keeps going and ends up splashing into the river.]

    Homer: It’s just a little slimy. It’s still good, it’s still good!

    [The pig floats downstream to a dam where it gets caught in the spillway, blocking it. Water builds up behind the pig until the pressure pushes the pig the rest of the way through the spillway, blasting it into the sky. Homer and Bart watch from on top of the dam.]

    Homer: It’s just a little airborne. It’s still good, it’s still good!

    Bart: [crestfallen] It’s gone.

    Homer: [even more crestfallen] I know.

    Like

    • “the PL won’t give up.”

      He’s going to get reelected, and they still won’t acknowledge their role in it even after it happens.

      Liked by 1 person

      • all she had to do was not fumble the snap.
        but they so wanted to run up the score and stick it to those nasty bitter clingers.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Winning wasn’t enough. It had to be a realignment to the coalition of the ascendant and the end of the White Male Patriarchy.

          Opps.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Or maybe she could have done a few more stops in flyover country. And avoided the whole amorphous “basket of deplorables” line, given that it’s too general and you don’t badmouth the voters. Not if you’re running for office.

          Like

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