Daily Bread for 11.14.17

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of forty-three. Sunrise is 6:46 AM and sunset 4:31 PM, for 9h 45m 00s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 14.2% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the three hundred seventieth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1851, Moby-Dick is published in the United States.On this day in 1861, Frederick Jackson Turner is born in Portage.

Recommended for reading in full —

Julia Ioffe reports The Secret Correspondence Between Donald Trump Jr. and WikiLeaks (“The transparency organization asked the president’s son for his cooperation—in sharing its work, in contesting the results of the election, and in arranging for Julian Assange to be Australia’s ambassador to the United States”):

Just before the stroke of midnight on September 20, 2016, at the height of last year’s presidential election, the WikiLeaks Twitter account sent a private direct message to Donald Trump Jr., the Republican nominee’s oldest son and campaign surrogate. “A PAC run anti-Trump site putintrump.org is about to launch,” WikiLeaks wrote. “The PAC is a recycled pro-Iraq war PAC. We have guessed the password. It is ‘putintrump.’ See ‘About’ for who is behind it. Any comments?” (The site, which has since become a joint project with Mother Jones, was founded by Rob Glaser, a tech entrepreneur, and was funded by Progress for USA Political Action Committee.)

The next morning, about 12 hours later, Trump Jr. responded to WikiLeaks. “Off the record I don’t know who that is, but I’ll ask around,” he wrote on September 21, 2016. “Thanks.”

The messages, obtained by The Atlantic, were also turned over by Trump Jr.’s lawyers to congressional investigators. They are part of a long—and largely one-sided—correspondence between WikiLeaks and the president’s son that continued until at least July 2017. The messages show WikiLeaks, a radical transparency organization that the American intelligence community believes was chosen by the Russian government to disseminate the information it had hacked, actively soliciting Trump Jr.’s cooperation. WikiLeaks made a series of increasingly bold requests, including asking for Trump’s tax returns, urging the Trump campaign on Election Day to reject the results of the election as rigged, and requesting that the president-elect tell Australia to appoint Julian Assange ambassador to the United States….

(WikiLeaks: a tool of Putin in the service of Trump’s campaign.)

Matt Zapotosky reports Sessions considering second special counsel to investigate Republican concerns, letter shows:

The revelation came in a response by the Justice Department to an inquiry from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), who in July and again in September called for Sessions to appoint a second special counsel to investigate concerns he had related to the 2016 election and its aftermath.

The list of matters he wanted probed was wide ranging but included the FBI’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, various dealings of the Clinton Foundation and several matters connected to the purchase of the Canadian mining company Uranium One by Russia’s nuclear energy agency. Goodlatte took particular aim at former FBI director James B. Comey, asking for the second special counsel to evaluate the leaks he directed about his conversations with President Trump, among other things.

In response, Assistant Attorney General Stephen E. Boyd wrote that Sessions had “directed senior federal prosecutors to evaluate certain issues raised in your letters,” and that those prosecutors would “report directly to the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General, as appropriate, and will make recommendations as to whether any matters not currently under investigation should be opened, whether any matters currently under investigation require further resources, or whether any matters merit the appointment of a Special Counsel”….

(Benjamin Wittes of Lawfare ponders this news, and concludes it may portend either political prosections or simply a bureaucratic method of avoiding a political prosecution. See a Twitter thread where Wittes offers his analysis.)

Nicholas Fandos writes What to Watch For as Jeff Sessions Testifies About Russia Contacts:

….Mr. Sessions has twice told lawmakers under oath that as a foreign policy adviser to Mr. Trump’s campaign, he did not communicate with Russians to aid Mr. Trump’s candidacy, nor did he know of other members of the campaign who had.

His challenge on Tuesday will be to try to square those comments with recent revelations that at least one member of the campaign’s foreign policy council, which Mr. Sessions led, and another foreign policy adviser, had informed Mr. Sessions about their discussions with Russians at the time.

Mr. Sessions has already had his statements undercut once. After telling senators at his confirmation hearing in January that he had not had any contacts with Russians, it was revealed that Mr. Sessions held multiple meetings with a Russian ambassador during the campaign.

Now, Mr. Sessions must contend with comments he made last month, in another hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I did not, and I’m not aware of anyone else that did,” Mr. Sessions told senators when asked whether he believed members of the campaign had communicated with Russians.

Democrats on the committee put Mr. Sessions on alert in a letter last week, saying that they would want clarification on “inconsistencies” between those statements and those of the two campaign advisers, George Papadopoulos and Carter Page, who have acknowledged having contact with Russians….

Eliot Higgins reports The Russian Ministry of Defence Publishes Screenshots of Computer Games as Evidence of US Collusion with ISIS:

On the morning of November 14th 2017 the Russian Ministry of Defence published multiple posts in Russian, Arabic, and English on their Twitter and Facebook accounts, claiming to show “irrefutable evidence” of collusion between the US and ISIS combat units:

Unfortunately for the Russian MoD, eagle-eyed Twitter users immediately spotted some problems with the images. One image claimed to show an ISIS convoy leaving Abu Kamel on November 9th, 2017:

What this in fact showed was a cropped screenshot from the mobile phone game AC-130 Gunship Simulator, specifically a screenshot from a promo video for the game:

A side by side comparison of the Russian MoD image and the mobile phone game screenshot shows they are identical, with even part of the text from the promo video reading “DEVELOPMENT FOOTAGE. THIS IS A WORK IN PROGRESS. ALL CONTENT SUBJECT TO CHANGE.” visible in the cropped image used by the Russian MoD as their “irrefutable evidence”….

(If you’ve not had a chance to visit Higgins’s Bellingcat website – with some of the best online digital forensics available anywhere – there’s no better time than now.)

One has to be careful not to Get Lost in a Giant Bamboo Labyrinth: