back to article America's anti-hacking laws are so loose, even Donald Trump Jr broke them. So, what do we do about it?

The President's son Donald Trump Jr broke the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a US federal law. That's not an opinion, incidentally, it's a fact, at least according to the Mueller Report, finally published earlier this month. However, that dossier makes it plain that federal prosecutors ultimately decided not to press charges …

  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    It's going to add some piquancy to prosecuting Assange for a similar offence if it ever gets that far.

  2. Wellyboot Silver badge
    WTF?

    >>>for Don Junior to be found guilty it would have to be proved that he knew he was breaking the law<<<

    Really? In the US Ignorance of the law can be a defence? wow, Does this apply to foreigners as well?

    1. Ole Juul

      Whatever works.

      1. GnuTzu Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Education

        This nation's students have just been sent a message that stupidity is rewarded. {shakes-head} And, how is anyone who has put forth the effort to learn anything ever going to feel that they're efforts have been adequately rewarded.

    2. Robert 22

      Gold's Law - those who have the gold make the law.

    3. mrobaer

      It's not a viable defense. It is something that would be taken into consideration in sentencing phase if it went that far, or in this case, in deciding to press charges at all.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Hmmm... Wonder what would have happened if Don Jr was black... And poor...

      1. VikiAi Silver badge

        Well, for a start, we wouldn't be reading about it!

      2. stiine Silver badge

        Well, for one thing, it would make all of the 'racist' claims against his father seem really obtuse.

    5. DougS Silver badge

      It is only sometimes a defense

      Some crimes require intent or malice be proven, others you are guilty from committing the act.

      1. Grease Monkey

        Re: It is only sometimes a defense

        "Some crimes require intent or malice be proven, others you are guilty from committing the act."

        I don't think anybody could doubt for a moment that Junior's actions have often been malicious, but make has no bearing here. The question raised by the OP was whether ignorance of the law could be a defence. It's perfectly possible and no doubt common to carry out actions with malicious intent while being ignorant of the law. Which is of course why it's so important that ignorance of the law should never be considered a defence.

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

          Re: It is only sometimes a defense

          "Which is of course why it's so important that ignorance of the law should never be considered a defence."

          I'll try to remember that when they outlaw walking on the cracks in the pavement having hidden the notice in a locked filing cabinet somewhere dark, with a purring creature ready to rip your throat out should you ever decide to go look.

          It should always be *considered*, just not necessarily with much weight attributed to it (unless circumstances decide that it should).

    6. JJKing Silver badge
      WTF?

      HUH?

      Don't know US Law but English (and their ex-colonies) Law was that ignorance was no excuse and you are prosecuted found guilty. Saying you had no idea that it was illegal to do something based on a law from 1642 do not help you one iota. So, how does a rich white idiot get away with it scott free?

      1. nematoad Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: HUH?

        "...how does a rich white idiot get away with it scott free?"

        The right choice of parent may be a factor here.

    7. BillG
      Devil

      View Source

      Are you looking at a U.S. website? Did you do a View-Source? Did you READ the source with the intention of understanding how the website works?

      Then Congratulations! You've violated a U.S. hacking law!

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: View Source

        What, again?

        No rest for the wicked...

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      El Reg is as usual , just a little "inaccurate". It is intent that is required.

      Rather like the famed Trump Tower meeting. The puff about "dirt" was an invention of the publicist, Rob Goldstone, who was engaged to set up the meeting. The "Russians" (clients/collaborators of Fusion GPS) wanted to talk about adoptions and the Magnitski Act and offered no "dirt". So the meeting was terminated. Because nothing was offered, the requirement in the Act that any offering had to have actual value (a minimum of $2K) couldn't be met and there could be no prosecution. Although prosecutors have a wide discretion, and with people such as Andrew Weissmann "creating" the evidence would be no bar, it would be quite tricky to make the case that a mere offering with no substance at all - demonstrably no substance - would qualify as having a value > $2K.

      However just to keep you all interested, the good part is about to start. The indictments and prosecutions for lying to the FISA court, lying to Congress, leaking classified information, and the biggies, sedition and treason, are about to start.I imagine that few amongst the Clapper, Brennan, Rhodes, Yates, Comey, McCabe, Strzok, Yates, Ohr, Powers, and even Obama set are sleeping that well right now.

      1. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

        Indeed, if the investigations proceed at about the speed of the Mueller investigation, then just in time for the 2020 election, there will be some juicy reports and a bunch of Republicans asking for these to be released unredacted.

    9. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

      "Really? In the US Ignorance of the law can be a defence?"

      It's why Clinton got off on her private server that breached the Espionage Act. But she didn't INTEND to break the Act, so she wasn't prosecuted.

      There's your precedent...

  3. bussdriver

    Most likely any move to touch Don Jr or get him speaking would create a crisis as Trump fires everybody related to it; not as much to protect his kid who he knows and even says (reportedly) is stupid but because worse than his father, he incriminates everybody without realizing it... He just hasn't learned to constantly speak in vague and contradictory terms like his father.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      No, Trump would just pardon him. They'd both look bad, but at least Trump wouldn't be guilty of obstructing justice.

      The gotcha is that then Trump Jr could be required to testify everything he knows about the crimes for which he was pardoned (so a blanket pardon would be a VERY bad idea) and failure to do so would be a new crime (for which Trump can pardon him again, ad nauseum)

  4. Sparks_
    Facepalm

    Spell-check

    Gotta wonder why Junior's spell-check defaulted to "bully" and not "fully". Something in his messaging history...perhaps his ex or daddy might have an answer?

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Spell-check

      I was wondering what a "bully built" page was!

      1. VikiAi Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: Bully-built

        That would be social media sites

  5. Long John Brass Silver badge
    Pirate

    Sony CD root-kit anyone?

    So when are the Sony execs responsible for that little farce going to face the music?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Whatever became of the Steele dossier?

    Whatever became of the Steele dossier as written by Christopher Steele (formerly of MI6?) at the request of elements of the US security apparatus. If the Russians actually had such “evidence” do you seriously think they would be so incompetent as to leak (sic) it to the Western establishment.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Whatever became of the Steele dossier?

      Well, if it was genuinely sourced from the Russians one would have to doubt the belief that they were focused on Trump winning. Because it is a weighty bit of anti-Trump "information". And it was a crucial part of obtaining the FISA warrant on Carter Page which (through the "two hops" rule) was used to actively spy on the Trump campaign, on the incoming Trump administration, and later on the administration itself.

      We don't really know the source. It could have been as presented - information gathered by Steele from various of his contacts that were able to visit Russia or contact people there. Steele himself is persona non grata in Russia. Or it could be an assembly of information gathered by one or more Russian ex-pats in the US (Bruce Ohr's notes suggest that he believed that to be the case) and passed onto Steele to add his name; or even an assembly of "stories" made up by Cody Shearer,Sidney Blumenthal, and Fusion GPS contractors possibly including Nellie Ohr, packaged and laundered under Steele's name because he had some positive form with the FBI from the FIFA investigation. If it is Russian sourced, it is most likely disinformation as it seems doubtful that any currently active Russian officials would risk selling off official secrets without permission.

      We may know more, but right now all we know is that despite a 2 year intensive investigation, none of the claims made have been shown to hold water. And that's not in question - the Dossier is at best, Russian disinformation that fooled a lot of people.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Whatever became of the Steele dossier?

        Well, if it was genuinely sourced from the Russians one would have to doubt the belief that they were focused on Trump winning. Because it is a weighty bit of anti-Trump "information".

        I have no opinion on the authenticity of the Steele Dossier, but this analysis is off. It's always advantageous for a foreign power to have leverage over the leader of a state. If you're trying to position someone as leader, then having negative information about that person is even more important.

        Also, it would have been rhetorically useful for Russia to arrange the release of the Steele Dossier (and for all I know they might well have done so), since it was clearly not particularly probative . Its release thus served to encourage both sides - the anti-Trump side saw it as further evidence of his unfitness, and the pro-Trump side saw it as further evidence of a conspiracy against their man.1 So it increased polarization and conflict, which is to Russia's advantage.

        And it was a crucial part of obtaining the FISA warrant on Carter Page which (through the "two hops" rule) was used to actively spy on the Trump campaign, on the incoming Trump administration, and later on the administration itself.

        Again, even if the Russian government were the source for the dossier, and even if they anticipated this result, I don't think it would have weighed heavily in their calculations. The campaign was already incompetent at concealing their bad acts (Don Jr a case in point), so the additional risk was small; and there was already good reason to believe that the authorities were reluctant to intervene without a very strong case, and that the pro-Trump and undecided portions of the electorate didn't care. And here again, sowing discord in general is to Russian advantage. Spoiling the election might well have been even more valuable to them than getting Trump elected.

        1And as I've noted in the past, counterarguments and contrasting evidence tend to increase people's support of a controversial cause. This is a well-documented psychological phenomenon. The only effective ways of changing people's minds on controversial subjects seem to be their personal experience, counter-narratives, and more intrusive forms of psychological manipulation ("brainwashing", use of certain psychotropic drugs, etc).

  7. jake Silver badge

    Looking at last fall's photos of my orchard ...

    ... I can confirm that it is true: Apples don't fall far from the tree.

    Perhaps the idiot in chief should have found something else to do with his tiny little hands 40-odd years ago.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Looking at last fall's photos of my orchard ...

      ".. I can confirm that it is true: Apples don't fall far from the tree."

      Have you accounted for them all? Perhaps one was picked up by a large bird, or a fox, and carried off somewhere further afield to take root.

      /logic

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Looking at last fall's photos of my orchard ...

        If it were picked up and carried off it would hardly be where it fell, now would it.

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Looking at last fall's photos of my orchard ...

          Damn, you got me there :)

        2. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
          Childcatcher

          Re: Looking at last fall's photos of my orchard ...

          If it were picked up and carried off it would hardly be where it fell, now would it.

          Falling once doesn't mean that it can't fall again. Too, I've always wondered why we use apples in this metaphor when nuts would be much more appropriate.

          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: Looking at last fall's photos of my orchard ...

            I've always wondered why we use apples in this metaphor when nuts would be much more appropriate.

            Because sir Isaac Newton was hit on the head by an apple, not by a nut.

            1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
              Paris Hilton

              Re: Looking at last fall's photos of my orchard ...

              Except I don't think Sir Isaac Newton had any children :)

  8. Teiwaz Silver badge

    Well, if lack of intelligence is a considered nn immunity to prosecution then being a psychopath should be too.

    But of course, it's stupid and money and connection.

    How the hell can anyone even pretend all are equal before the law, ever.

    We don't have the rule of law, we have anarchy that favours the well resourced.

    1. VikiAi Silver badge
      Meh

      To paraphrase the villain from Speed: "Poor people are psychopaths, rich people are board members."

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Strangely true. A lot of very successful people apparently exhibit psychopathic tendencies (not necessarily being full blown psychopaths however).

        1. Semtex451 Silver badge
          Holmes

          A lot of very successful people are psychopaths (not necessarily murdering people however)

          FTFY

    2. Franco Silver badge

      Billy Connolly used to do a piece on this in his standup.

      When he was a working class boy in Glasgow, he was just fucking daft. Now that he's wealthy and famous he's from a dysfunctional family and has abandonment issues.

      Did have a good laugh at "weapons-grade idiot" though.

  9. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    That domain name

    I need to hear Jr read that domain name out loud.

    "Put In Trump"

    "Putin Trump"

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why go to all the expense of prosecuting El Trumpo Jnr

    when Daddy would pardon him in a flash should by some freak of nature get convited?

    A total waste of time unless it can be used to bring down El Trumpo Snr?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    >> Mueller ultimately decided not to prosecute because for Don Junior to be found guilty it would have to be proved that he knew he was breaking the law.

    How many other laws do require that qualification? Do prosecutors generally have to prove that the defendant saw the speed limit sign, knew that pot was illegal, etc?

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      "Do prosecutors generally have to prove that the defendant saw the speed limit sign, knew that pot was illegal, etc?"

      I think it's rather more a case of: 'everyone knows he's an idiot, so it would be a plausible defense in the ears of any juror'.

      1. jake Silver badge

        In the case of the speed limit sign ...

        ... the answer is yes.

        When I were a nipper, with a freshly minted "farm" license, I was happily tooling along a 45 MPH road at 45 MPH. My destination was a feed store that we didn't usually frequent, so I was on a somewhat unfamiliar path. Unbeknownst to me, a car had taken out a 35 MPH sign the night before. I blew past a cop at 45 in a 35. He wrote me up. My father walked me through the steps to beat the rap based on the sign being missing.

        1. VikiAi Silver badge

          Re: In the case of the speed limit sign ...

          That's a good example of where you couldn't be reasonably expected to know and the final results, I feel, quite appropriate. I imagine, on the other hand, willful ignorance, where someone doesn't know the law because they haven't bothered to check the laws in the field they are operating in, might get a less generous result from a judge.

  12. Grease Monkey

    What concerns me most here is that Mueller was supposed to be investigating, but it seems that he was also the one b making decisions on prosecution. This is surely not a good idea.

    An investigator should present their findings to somebody else to decide whether prosecution is warranted. The rain for this is simple, if the investigator is making decisions on prosecution then this will surely influence the content of the report.

    1. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

      "An investigator should present their findings to somebody else to decide whether prosecution is warranted. "

      Well, he did on the question of obstruction, and look how that decision has been criticized.

  13. 45RPM

    The real tragedy is that so many Americans are either too partisan to consider that removing Trump is the right thing to do (even if it means supporting the ‘opposition’, albeit temporarily, in order to do so), or too stupid to realise that Trump and his cabal are a) acting criminally and b) would screw the voters faster than you can say ‘panties’.

    This isn’t a dig against Americans by the way. I’m painfully aware that a terrifying number of Brits support Brexit, and French support the Gilets Jeune. It’s an accurate analogy because guess who has his fingers in those pies, stirring things up to foment the weakening of the US and EU? That’s right. It’s our old pal Putin.

    1. jake Silver badge

      "removing Trump is the right thing to do"

      No. That would put Pence in power. I'd rather have the senile idiot in chief for a little longer than give that fucking nut job a crack at the oval office.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        That would put Pence in power.

        As I've said and posted before, I admire Trump's insurance policy against impeachment and even assassination, really nobody wants Pence as POTUS.

      2. oiseau Silver badge
        Stop

        That would put Pence in power.

        Quite so ...

        While at this point in time it is quite evident that Trump would have to be impeached, it is also evident that all those who insist on this being done have not thought of what it would entail even attempting to do so.

        1.

        If proceedings (a big if) actually go through and make it to the Senate, the partisan bloodbath Republicans will bring down on congress will take a terrible toll on the country and an already devalued institution.

        2.

        If Trump does get impeached or resigns (à la Nixon) to evade impechment, Michael Richard Pence immediately takes his place as the president of the US till the term is over.

        This Pence guy is much less stupid but much more (ie: exponentially) dangerous than Trump.

        And with a resentfull post impechment Republican senate who will undoubtedly back him 100%, absolutely anything could happen in the US.

        Think your worst nightmares come true.

        A.

        1. 45RPM

          Granted, that is a risk. But I think that sometimes it’s necessary to be brave and damn the consequences - after all, Pence might turn out to be even less popular than Trump (maybe even with the Republican base - so there could be an upside)

          Ultimately, it’s necessary to do the right think - or criminals (Trump, in this case) will be encouraged , safe in the knowledge that they won’t be punished.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            So what's his "crimes" ?

            1. jake Silver badge

              His crimes aren't against the English language, unlike his supporters.

            2. 45RPM

              Really? There are over 300 pages on the subject and you’re asking me to condense it into a forum comment?

              But if you really want a few you could start at sexual misconduct, work your way through incitement of violence, take in a little light fraud, and go on to collusion - taking in many others along the way.

              1. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

                It was condensed into 4 pages already: no evidence of collusion.

                1. 45RPM

                  Lacking the ability to think critically much?

                  If it could be condensed into 4 pages then Mueller would have done so to start with.

                  The précis was written by Trump shills. It can no more be trusted than if I wrote a one word précis “Guilty” (except that mine probably is closer to the truth)

                  1. holmegm Bronze badge

                    So, federal police who desperately wanted to find him to be guilty of something couldn't do so, but he's still guilty, er, somehow, because he just has to be, darn it! (stamps foot)

                    1. jake Silver badge

                      I believe, Mr. holmegm, that the jury hasn't actually been called yet. We'll see what happens when it is. You claiming someone innocent before a trial is just as daft as someone else proclaiming guilt ... UNLESS you are actually in possession of all the facts, are willing to share them, and can prove it.

                      But do continue your hero worship. It's quite entertaining.

                      1. holmegm Bronze badge

                        Oh, there's no hero worship - the actual fun is in seeing a common fellow best his supposed betters. If he were a hero, it wouldn't be nearly as much fun.

                        (And if a clownish lout was a better choice than his betters - which he was - that's hardly his fault, is it?)

                2. jake Silver badge

                  Hard of reading, Mr. Fist?

                  Again, the Mueller report didn't investigate collusion. Read it for yourself, this time for comprehension. Or just continue to parrot whoever it is that's doing your thinking for you, no skin off my teeth.

        2. holmegm Bronze badge

          Think your worst nightmares come true.

          Oh no! You mean like Handmaid Tale?? Yikes, that's so plausible too!

          And the horror! A nightmare indeed! We would never tolerate a country that covers its women for modesty and arranges marriages and stuff! (Oh, wait ...)

          1. John Savard Silver badge

            Wait a moment...

            It's true that we tolerate Sa'udi Arabia, but that doesn't mean we want to live there.

    2. Wellyboot Silver badge

      >>>too partisan to consider that removing Trump is the right thing to do<<< The removal of any elected official by any means other than election, incapacity or proven illegality is short circuiting the democratic process for political ends and just a less messy alternative to using knives, bullets & explosives (and possibly the first step down the slope).

      ( OTH, It could also be argued that the US 22nd amendment restricting presidents to two terms in office following FDRs 4 wins should be extended to any individual political office to keep the air clean)

      The only relevant fact here is that the official investigation shows Junior broke election laws. My opinion is that no politician (any colour) will be shouting for a prosecution because that would set a very high profile precedent for taking any future politicians infractions to a jury instead of a press conference apology (and pop would 'probably' just pardon him anyway after the next election).

      >>>terrifying number of Brits support Brexit <<< Interesting opinion on a public vote that didn't go the way most politicians would have preferred, personally a 52/48 split on the decision as to where the ultimate authority over the nation lies seems a low bar for being terrified. I'd wager that that far more than 52% would vote for implementing referendum results regardless of their opinion. (or for that matter, executing serial killers who target children. I know, ad extremum),

      >>>Gilet Jeune <<< This is what happens when the public (any country) feel they've been ignored, so far this has involved burning vehicles, riot police & tear gas - something to think about.

      1. Santa from Exeter

        @Wellyboot

        "I'd wager that that far more than 52% would vote for implementing referendum results regardless of their opinion."

        And that might well be part of the problem. Referenda should *never* be taken as binding and acted upon. Their whole purpose is to posit the question 'Should we write something detailed up to be voted upon',. This is the real problem with Brexit, nobody actually knew what they were voting for, as the terms of leaving were never discussed. Hence you get the hard-line "Brexit means Brexit" morons who don't even realise that "Brexit" means different things to different people.

        All the Drexiteers complaining that the Government is 'betraying the will of the poeple' need to wake up and realise that the Government is perfectly portraying the 'will of the people' i.e. a small majority of those who actually turned out squabbling over what they actually meant, whilst the small minority who turned out (and quite possibly othere who didn't) are united against all of the factions.

        1. Julz Silver badge

          Re: @Wellyboot

          "This is the real problem with Brexit, nobody actually knew what they were voting for, as the terms of leaving were never discussed."

          The 'real' problem with Brexit is people from both sides retconing the referendum debates.

          1. John Savard Silver badge

            Re: @Wellyboot

            My recollection from news coverage at the time was that the British public voted in favor of Brexit after being reassured that Britain would definitely be able to negotiate a deal with the EU that would mean almost no disruption in trade and so on, like what Denmark had. My perception of the current deal is that this is not, in fact, the case. Therefore, a "Final Say" vote, to determine the actual will of the people with respect to the alternatives actually on offer seems to be not only reasonable, but imperative, from my point of view.

            Frankly, though, I think all Europe should leave the EU and go back to just having a Common Market. That way, every country there would have control over its own immigration policies, since clearly the current situation has led to policies most of the people are unhappy with.

            Why the European Parliament has so badly failed to properly represent Europeans puzzles me, but I'm sure there's some explanation.

        2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: @Wellyboot

          Referenda should *never* be taken as binding and acted upon.

          I'd say the Swiss would disagree with you. Swiss referenda are always binding (as long as enough people show up, which always happens) and they have several national ones and more cantonal ones every year.

          1. DavCrav Silver badge

            Re: @Wellyboot

            "I'd say the Swiss would disagree with you. Swiss referenda are always binding (as long as enough people show up, which always happens) and they have several national ones and more cantonal ones every year."

            Really? How's that Swiss referendum to restrict immigration going? Implemented in full? And the quotas?

            1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

              Re: @Wellyboot

              That specific one ran into the wall of international treaty obligations. It is legally binding but trumped by other circumstances. It will be implemented once Switzerland leaves the EEA and Schengen treaties, which will require at least one more referendum. However, I don't see that one as passing (Swiss aren't quite as stupid as English).

              EDIT:

              By the way, you deserve (and get) an upvote for bringing it up.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      But why is it "the right thing to do" ?

      Trump was properly elected as President, and is doing a pretty good job as such. The economy is booming, employment is way up, he's started no wars. He hasn't spied on his opposition, bugged reporters, had the IRS illegally target opposition organizations unlike his predecessor. He's hewed pretty closely to the constitution. And despite all the absolute crap bandied about, did not collude or otherwise conspire with the Russians - it wasn't DJT who said that he would "have more flexibility after the election".

      I'm sure you can list a litany of "failings" that you thing should disqualify him, but if you had the wit to recognize that all you have is partisan bullshit....

      1. jake Silver badge

        The economy and employment were both improving before he took office. So basically, he pulled a Mussolini and took credit for the trains running again despite not having anything to do with it.

        He didn't have to start a war. The Bushes handled that little detail years ago.

        As for your assertion that "He hasn't spied on his opposition, bugged reporters, had the IRS illegally target opposition organizations", please post proof or retract.

        He hasn't "hewed pretty close to the constitution", he has repeatedly run aground on it. (Do you even know what the verb "hew" means?)

        Again, you make an assertion: "[he] did not collude or otherwise conspire with the Russians". And again, I invite you to post proof or retract.

        1. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

          "Again, you make an assertion: "[he] did not collude or otherwise conspire with the Russians". And again, I invite you to post proof or retract."

          Err, the Mueller Report? Everyone is talking about it...

          1. jake Silver badge

            Talking about it, but apparently not understanding it. The Mueller report didn't investigate collusion.

            Thanks for playing, Mr. Fist. Next?

            1. 45RPM

              And we don’t know all that it says since the pro-Trump Barr and co have redacted huge swathes of it. Which is pretty damning in itself.

        2. 45RPM

          Have a thumbs up. Have you noticed how the Trumpists and Brexitists usually post as AC - almost as if they realise that they’re on wrong side. Hmm.

  14. Grease Monkey

    The one thing that the whole sorry Trump saga has proved is that the US political system is a joke.

    The President has too much power, the famed system of checks and balances is inadequate and the idea of presidential pardons actually encourages corruption.

    1. jake Silver badge

      The President has too much power?

      Really? What has Trump done in the last two+ years, other than become the epitome of laughing stock? The first two years, the Republicans owned the House, the Senate and the executive branch ... and STILL the bumbling fool managed to do precisely sweet fuck all. Seems to me the checks and balances are working ... perhaps not as intended, but working nonetheless.

      However, your initial premise is correct. The US political system is indeed a joke. Just not for the reasons stated. And I'll take it over any of the world's alternatives.

      1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

        Re: The President has too much power?

        The idiot psychopath sets the precedents. The clever psychopath makes use of them.

      2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        Re: An Alternative

        Tedx talk on sortition.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In all fairness...

    I think Mueller may have gotten painted into a corner when DOJ decided against prosecuting Hillary Clinton for mishandling classified information. This law is so poorly written her team's subsequent server wipes may have been actionable.

    So if you prosecute Donnie Little for being a fscking idiot and let another slide it looks bad to half the population. On the other hand, if you let him have the full nine yards the other half will lose it.

    What SHOULD make the populace angry enough to change leadership across the board is realization that if any working stiff pulled any of the crap the Clinton or Trump people have done they'd be locked up. I don't understand why we are Putin up with this.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: In all fairness...

      I don't understand why we are Putin up with this.

      By the way you phrased it, it is eminently clear to me why you are Putin up with it.

    2. JJKing Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: In all fairness...

      But what about Bush Jr not turning over the 22 MILLION (missing?) emails that were asked for? Bush's lawyers being flown round by Haliburton jets when counting the votes. His brother declaring Thanksgiving Day could not be used as one of the 3 days to recount the Florida votes.

      Just think if that election had gone the other way, the USA would have $1 Trillion more than it does now and 4,500 extra citizens and 10,500 less injured (wounded) ones, not to mention there would not be hundreds of thousands of dead and injured from the invaded countries. Seems like your checks and balances failed then as they have now.

      Have to licence your cat or dog if you own one but if you are on a suspect terrorist no-fly list you can buy any military style you want without question.

      Great system you have.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: In all fairness...

        Post election analysis though has demonstrated that Bush won Florida that election fair and square. The only way he could lose was if the recount was allowed only in certain specific (Democrat Majority) areas but not in any GOP areas. That's what the Democrats were (of course) trying to pull off.

        Get over it.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: In all fairness...

        Good example with Bush, but I rather think it proves my point that suddenly enforcing the law when Trump's are on the line would be a strange result given the lack of introspection for politicos on both sides of the isle.

        You reference 9/11. Having lived through it and serving abroad on the pointy end of the stick, I think I will go ahead and comment... I've lost friends, blood, and years of my life. Bin Laden's planning for the attack was already well underway under Clinton. Does anyone seriously think Al Gore being elected would have made the slightest difference in outcome that day? The die had already been cast. Lesson going forward: if you kill thousands of Americans, we will (over)react and kill you. Full stop. Suspect UK would react similarly. Whether over the top reaction ultimately plays into the terrorists' hands then becomes an interesting question that we are not thinking about. But when the Taliban refused to turn over Bin Laden - and from their viewpoints for good reasons - AFG was going to get it, without lube. And so they did. I'm okay with that.

        Now Iraq... Yes, that's a total cluster f...k. Been there, seen that. Checks and balances? Well, ISTR Congress authorized force with an strong majority. Specifically including Biden, Feinstein, Lieberman, Reid, Schumer, Clinton... Whether this was due to bad Intel or cherry picking Intel to meet a neocon political objective? History will tell. But this is not a case of lack of checks and balances, it is a good old IT garbage in/garbage out problem.

        You break it, you buy it: I thought then and now that Iraq was a colossal mistake. But once everything went to crap and then some sort of order became established... We pulled all our troops out and pretty much ceded everything to ISIS/ISIL. This pullback seems to have been done largely to satisfy domestic political pressures. What's thousands of dead compared to a good "I brought 'em home!" Election cycle news conference, anyways?

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: ISIS/ISIL

          [OFF-TOPIC]

          Please don't give those Daesh infidels and apostates any name or abbreviation implying they are an Islamic State as they are neither Islamic nor a state.

          [/OFF-TOPIC]

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: ISIS/ISIL

            Besides, and on-topic here, the fine folks maintaining the Image and Scanner Interface Specification and the people involved with the International Society for Individual Liberty might get upset.

            Just call 'em "fucking daesh-bags", gets the point across with no collateral damage.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: ISIS/ISIL

            Roger that!

          3. John Savard Silver badge

            Re: ISIS/ISIL

            I'm sorry, but that name only started being used years after the group's activities recieved wide news media coverage. As a result, many people still won't know who you're talking about if you use the name Sa'udi Arabia has officially decided they should be called by.

            1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

              Re: ISIS/ISIL

              Blame the news media for that, several world leaders gave the proper example years ago already, including Barack Obama, starting in his first term.

  16. 0laf Silver badge
    Trollface

    Double bluff

    Is he dumb or has he built up a very carefully constructed images of being stupid which allows him to get away with just about everything because he is not only dumb but rich.

    Also I thought "Ignorance of the law is not an excuse" was pretty much a universal stance.

  17. tiggity Silver badge

    hire useful idiots

    Then you have great get out clause for their wrong doings...

    Place your bets law might be interpreted differently if the epsilon semi moron involved was not a presidential offspring

  18. Big_Boomer Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Duuuuuuuuhhhh

    Government by the stupid and selfish, for the stupid and selfish. I guess that fits.

    If you down-vote me you get to choose if you are stupid, selfish, or even both <LOL>

    NOMEX suit on! :-)

  19. JJKing Silver badge
    IT Angle

    Where's BoB?

    I haven't seen Bumbastic BOB for a WHILE. As must as I DISAGREE with him, I hope that he is All RIGHT.

    1. james_smith Silver badge

      Re: Where's BoB?

      His Caps Lock key broke and he can't post until he's saved up enough paper round money to buy a new keyboard.

    2. Alistair Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: Where's BoB?

      @JJK

      I'll agree, most of the way through commentary here and not one BB post. Or BigJ either.

      Awww, I'll bet they're on vacation together.....

  20. Daedalus Silver badge

    Mens sana in corpore sano

    OK, lots of the usual confusion here, particularly when it comes to the mythical beast known as "US law" or indeed the "US System of whatever".

    The concept of "mens rea", or guilty mind, is very real in most US jurisdictions. One wise old lady juror was pilloried and even accused of collusion with the defence for refusing to cast her vote for guilty, because the law called for the accused to have been aware that he/she was committing a crime in the particular case.

    Of course, that doesn't apply in certain cases, but indictments like "First degree murder", "Second degree manslaughter", hinge on what kind of intent the prosecution can prove (mileage varies from state to state, and from state law to federal law). Just because you see it on "Law & Order" doesn't mean that NY law extends to Texas, for instance.

    England and Scotland use the concept, depending on the crime.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Mens sana in corpore sano

      tranquillae per virtutem patet unica vitae

      1. Daedalus Silver badge

        Re: Mens sana in corpore sano

        I think it was "A Portrait Of Elmbury", in which two rival shops on the High Street started posting mottos, one of which read "Mens Sana in Corpore Sano", prompting the one-up response "Men's and Women's Sana in Corpore Sano".

        No jokes about "Cobblers to the Pope" please.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Mens sana in corpore sano

          I'd say something about "how Juvenal", but I doubt most of the commentards would get the joke.

          1. Daedalus Silver badge

            Re: Mens sana in corpore sano

            We should consider this an education. I didn't even know about the Juvenal connection until I googled Jake's contribution.

    2. John Savard Silver badge

      Re: Mens sana in corpore sano

      Mens rea is rightly required for criminal convictions. And yet ignorance of the law is no excuse. How to reconcile that? Criminal intent means intent to perform the act in question, not the intent to violate the law by performing the act.

      So logging on to somone else's computer, with a password you weren't given by an authorized party, is still a crime even if you don't know the nuances of the Computer Fraud and Misuse Act; unless you were doing it while sleepwalking.

  21. dshan

    Meanwhile, in Heaven

    Aaron Swartz looks down upon the Earth, specifically Washington DC, smiles wistfully and shakes his head.

    "Be dumber. If only I'd thought of that."

    His thoughts are interrupted by an incoming phone call. It's Gabriel. He picks up.

    "Aaron, sorry to bug you but it's Saint Peter, he's forgotten the Pearly Gates passcode again."

    "Oh for fucks sake... Okay, I'll be right there."

  22. Claverhouse Silver badge
    FAIL

    A Pointless Victim of a Pointless Law

    Loath to defend any of the Trumplings, but it is part of the general idiocy [ and surprisingly badly crafted considering congressthings are mostly lawyers ] of American Law that it should be a crime to accept foreign help during elections. Now actually the old Soviet Union was more inclined to solicit donations from true believers in other countries than help them out, but a whole lot of Americans could still be serving sentences in other countries where they interfered if those countries had this dumb law

    I can't actually see any rationale since the precious votes of the mob aren't going to be affected by any generous actions: the American Peeple are fully competent to make their own decisions.

    In this country, where elections were traditionally fought between the moneybags of business and the donations of trade unionists, some goof brought in a vaguely similar law in 2000 AD --- but only dealing with donations and gifts, not to merely conspiring with aliens. Oddly, Mr. Christopher Grayling, one of the very keenest minds in the Cabinet and possibly the most successful minister of state we have ever had, got this wrong, saying:

    "Gibbleddy gibbledy gok,there are strict laws on political donations in this country. They have to be given by British citizens, or British businesses … The simple reality, you can't accept money from people who are not UK citizens, or UK businesses. Higgledy Piggledy, my black hen, she lays eggs for gentlemen.”

    Actually, come one, come all ! British politicians will accept all manner of donors giving them stuff. Monies and gifts under £500 are not counted, giving scope to all those 'small donors' boasted of by Trump and Obama; and those above, which are accounted 'donations' are restricted to British, AND EU citizens, plus a few others. Companies, let us say a motor-racing business, have to have a presence here.

    Parties are able to get funding from other sources too, including loans (which follow the same rules as donations), membership fees and some public funds.

    https://fullfact.org/law/most-non-uk-citizens-cant-donate-uk-political-parties/

    How nice !

    1. Daedalus Silver badge

      Re: A Pointless Victim of a Pointless Law

      You left out the part where UK citizens cannot campaign independently of an official political party. Well, except for press barons, of course.

  23. Doctor Huh?
    Pint

    You are just calling Don Jr. a "weapons grade moron"...

    so that he can't be exported from the US...

    Well played!

  24. ForthIsNotDead Silver badge

    All sounds very fair...

    ...with just one exception: Privacy is still VERY much 'a thing'. If you think it isn't, you presumably won't mind if we tap your phone, internet connection, read your mail, analyse your garbage, and evaluate your sexual habits by enabling the camera on your phone and laptop, will you? You'll be fine with that, right? Afterall, privacy isn't 'a thing', is it?

  25. holmegm Bronze badge

    Um

    he was sent a direct message from Wikileaks during the election campaign about a new site that was about to go live at putintrump.org that purported to have evidence of misdoing between the Trump Campaign and Russian government. Wikileaks had correctly guessed the (terrible) admin password of putintrump.org - it was "putintrump" - and sent the password to Don Junior as a heads-up.

    OK, I'm normally a bit of a hard*** about even the mildest "hacking", but seriously?

    This is like glancing into an open cardboard box that has been left in a public commons.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Um

      It's more like reaching over a gate to unlatch it so you can get into a backyard. Which is technically breaking and entering, to say nothing of trespass, and quite illegal.

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