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These crossover episodes are out of control! Why have acting DNI Ric Grenell and alt-right troll Cassandra Fairbanks wandered into the Julian Assange extradition trial subplot?

Because everything under Donald Trump is bloody ridiculous is why!

Okay, let's walk through this one slow. But to avoid confusion, let's just stipulate from the start that we're going to wind up with Grenell -- the ambassador to Germany -- possibly leaking classified information about Assange to right-wing media hitman Arthur Schwartz, who in turn leaked it to Fairbanks. And yes, this is on top of all the shadyass countries Grenell took money from without bothering with a FARA registration. ALLEGEDLY.

Ready?

Right now, Assange is in a London courtroom fighting extradition to the United States to face charges of conspiracy to receive, obtain, and disclose national security information, and to commit computer intrusion. Last week his legal team disclosed that then-GOP Congressman Dana Rohrabacher attempted to broker a pardon if Assange would submit proof that someone other than Russia (i.e. Seth Rich) hacked the DNC's emails.

Yesterday his lawyers argued that, since national security offenses are classified under the Espionage Act, and since espionage is a purely political crime, Assange should be shielded from extradition as a political prisoner. We couldn't possibly comment on the vagaries of the English legal system, except to note that keeping the defendant in a glass cage separate from his counsel and barred from addressing the court directly is ... bizarre.


Bloomberg reports:

Judge Vanessa Baraitser tried to quiet the 48-year-old Assange, saying it was unusual for defendants to speak when not giving testimony and that she couldn't make an exception for him. On Monday, she had also asked Assange to communicate through his lawyers when he complained that his supporters were making too much noise outside the courthouse.

"I am as much a participant at these proceedings as a spectator at Wimbledon," he said Wednesday. "There's already been enough spying on my lawyers as it is."

The request to leave the dock caused a dilemma for the judge, who said the unusual request might require granting Assange bail. Fitzgerald said he would consider making an application on Thursday.

England is really fucking weird. But America is weirder!

On this side of the Atlantic, Politico's Natasha Bertrand reports that "Representatives for Assange's defense team say they expect to introduce recordings and screenshots of communications of a close Grenell associate, including a secondhand claim that Grenell was acting on the president's orders."

The associate appears to be Arthur Schwartz, MAGA troll extraordinaire. The Daily Beast describes Schwartz as a Trumpland insider, especially close with Don, Jr., who routinely picks fights with anyone critical of the Trump administration.

Like so:

"Hey @Reince. Remember when people told you that it was me that was trashing you in the press? They were right. Happy to start again," Schwartz threatened in one now-deleted tweet from July 2017.

"Hey @Reince45. Oops; @Reince – you're unemployed now. Keep pushing this crap & I'll star dropping oppo on you. Mistress much?" he wrote in another tweet that has since been removed.

The act of aggression backfired immediately, and an embarrassed Schwartz apologized to Priebus, telling the New York Daily News the allegations were "just rumors that have been going around for a while."

Ain't he a peach?

Now, normally we don't mess with Cassandra Fairbanks, because, not to get too technical, but DA BITCH IS CRAY. She went from supporting Bernie Sanders and immigration reform to MAGA trolling, writing for Russian state-owned Sputnik, and suing writer Emma Roller for pointing out that she made the White Power sign at the White House. Don't worry, she lost.

But if this nutter wants to publish all her receipts on leaking in MAGAland in a doomed effort to protect Julian Assange, well ... we ain't mad about it.

According to Fairbanks, she was in a "DM group" that included Grenell, Fairbanks, and "a whole bunch of people from the campaign." On October 30, 2019, Fairbanks posted to the group an interview she'd conducted with Assange's mother advocating for a pardon from Trump, and almost immediately Schwartz called to her to inform her that Assange is BAD NOW.

He was saying that I needed to stop trying, that a deal had already been made to go into the embassy, that they were going to arrest Julian to get him. ... He was saying that I was involved with the Trump social world, that I worked for a pro-Trump outlet, and that people would understand that I supported Wikileaks before I knew that Julian was a bad guy. But that they wouldn't be very understanding when all these bad things came out about him. He was saying Julian got people killed, that people were tortured.

UNPOSSIBLE, insisted our Ms. Fairbanks! Must be EVIL HILLARY CLINTON PROPAGANDAS! So Fairbanks hightailed it to the Ecuadorian embassy in January 2019 and told Assange he was going to be arrested. She returned again in March, but the Ecuadorians prevented her from speaking privately with the crazy cat lady on that visit.

On March 29, Fairbanks recorded a call with Schwartz where he "told me that he knew that I had told Assange and that there was a State Department investigation into who leaked me that information." Which WHOA IF TRUE would be bad news for Schwartz, since he had no more right to know about the impending raid, the deal with the Ecuadorians to take the death penalty off the table, and the classified intel undergirding Assange's un-personing in MAGAland, than Fairbanks did.

In April, Fairbanks tweeted about this ABC story revealing the Ecuadorian embassy's negotiations with Grenell to get rid of the world's worst house guest without having his execution on their hands. A panicked Schwartz immediately called her demanding that they be taken down because, "I don't want to go to jail."

Here's the audio of the call, which she recorded.

Accusing her of "posting classified information on Twitter," a clearly freaked out Schwartz says, "Ric's role was classified, you can't do that." Fairbanks pointed out that Grenell's name clearly appeared in the ABC story (caveat: at least as it appears online today). But Schwartz persisted, shouting, "I don't want to go to jail!"

Which, he probably needn't have worried about, since it's usually the leaker of classified information, not the leakee who's in trouble.

"He took orders from the president! Okay? So you're gonna punish me because he took orders from the president?"

Yes, we know you're wondering why the damned ambassador to Germany is even involved in this. Why is "he" taking "orders from the president" about negotiations with the Ecuadorian government regarding StinkyLeaks McCatPee? Stop asking questions, nothing makes sense.

Anyhow, good to know this one goes all the way to the top! If Schwartz does wind up "punished," it won't be because Ric Grenell carried out "orders from the president." It'll be because Grenell revealed those orders to Schwartz, who then blabbed them to a third party, who relayed them to the target of the then-sealed indictment. And it will be under a future, Democratic Attorney General. Because, as we all know, Bill Barr isn't gonna do shit about it.

VOTE THEM OUT.

[Bloomberg / Politico / DB / ABC]

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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.

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