Victoria Toensing’s Story about Sam Clovis’ Grand Jury Appearance

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Sam Clovis is the person in the George Papadopoulos plea who told Papadopoulos, just as Paul Manafort’s pro-Russian Ukrainian corruption was becoming a scandal, “‘I would encourage you’ and another foreign policy advisor to ‘make the trip[] [to Russia], if it is feasible.'”

Victoria Toensing is a right wing nutjob lawyer whose chief skill is lying to the press to spin partisan scandals.

Clovis has decided that Toensing can best represent him in the Russia investigation, which means in the wake of yesterday’s surprise plea deal announcement, a person with “first-hand” knowledge of Clovis’ actions decided to tell his side of the story to NBC. Significantly, securing Clovis’ testimony is one of the last things Mueller did before springing the Manafort indictment and unsealing Papadopoulos’ plea, meaning that’s one of the things he was building up towards.

Sam Clovis, the former top Trump campaign official who supervised a man now cooperating with the FBI’s Russia investigation, was questioned last week by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team and testified before the investigating grand jury, a person with first-hand knowledge of the matter told NBC News.

Before I go further, let me note that there are few people who can claim first-hand knowledge of “the matter:” the grand jury, which thus far hasn’t leaked, Mueller’s team, which has shown a remarkable ability to keep secrets, or Clovis or Toensing.

Which is to say this story is likely Toensing and Toensing.

Much later in the article, a person with the same kind of knowledge also confirmed Clovis’ very helpful SSCI testimony.

Clovis was also interviewed recently by the Senate Intelligence Committee, according to a source with direct knowledge.

Thus far Clovis looks very cooperative, huh, per this person who knows what he has been doing?

Having placed Clovis at the grand jury last week, Toensing says she won’t comment on the one thing she can’t directly comment on — what went on there.

His lawyer, Victoria Toensing, would neither confirm nor deny his interactions with the Mueller team.

“I’m not going to get into that,” she said in an interview.

But Toensing does confirm that Clovis is the guy who supported Papadopoulos’ trip to Russia, which she would only know from having prepped his testimony or learned what he was asked in the grand jury.

Toensing confirmed that Clovis was the campaign supervisor in the emails.

She then presents what must be the story he told to explain why emails show him endorsing a trip to Russia even as it became clear why that was a bad idea.

In a statement, Toensing’s office said Clovis set up a “national security advisory committee” in the Trump campaign that included Papadopoulos, “who attended one meeting and was never otherwise approached by the campaign for consultation.”

[snip]

In the statement, Toensing said the Trump campaign had a strict rule prohibiting travel abroad on behalf of the campaign, and but that Clovis would have had no authority to stop Papadopoulos from traveling in his personal capacity.

To be fair, this story doesn’t directly conflict with Papadopoulos’ (though Toensing’s earlier story, that as a midwestern “gentleman,” Clovis would have been unable to tell Papadopoulos no, does conflict — this is probably an attempt, perhaps post-consultation with her client, to clean that up).

But it does adopt a line that permits the possibility Papadopolous did (make plans to) travel to Russia, but that it was all freelancing (remarkably like Carter Page’s trip to Russia was).

That is, this is the story (or close to it) that Clovis told the grand jury last week, before he learned that Papadopoulos had beat him to the punch and told a different (but still not fully public) story.

Now, I’m guessing that all the other people named in the Papadopoulos plea have also already had whatever shot they’ll get to tell the truth to the grand jury, but in case they haven’t, they can now coordinate with what Clovis said, which is surely part of the point.

But I’d also suggest that Mueller would be sure to get the testimony of everyone who might try to lie before he unsealed the Papadopoulos plea, so they have to start considering fixing their testimony.

Update: Apparently the White House is rethinking the wisdom of subjecting Clovis to a confirmation hearing next week.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

33 replies
  1. SpaceLifeForm says:

    “Before I go further, let me note that there are few people who can claim first-hand knowledge of “the matter:” the grand jury, which thus far hasn’t leaked, Mueller’s team, which has shown a remarkable ability to keep secrets, or Clovis or Toensing.”

    So, Sessions is impartial, right?
    Do you really believe Boente just resigned?
    No possibility that Boente knows ‘stuff’ was ‘leaked’ to Sessions, who told trump?
    And therefore no warning to Manafort last Friday?

    The machine is on spin, but there is a short.

    Sessions is mud.

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The Trump guys, a “strict rule” about conduct? LOL.

    Toensing’s not-so-casual framing does suggest an explicit attempt to give Trump plausible deniability concerning what he damn well expected his followers to do to get him in the White House. Absofuckinglutely anything.

    No one on Team Trump follows rules any better than does Mr. Trump. The number of own goals coming out of this must be giving Mr. Mueller’s team the odd bit of laughter amidst their sad work.

  3. bmaz says:

    “Toesuck and Toesuck”

    I had actually kind of hoped we were done with her and DiGenova at this here blog enterprise.

    Guess not.

  4. harpie says:

    OT about the truck attack in NYC
    Will we ever find out if suspect had been on law enforcement radar; subject to entrapment? This seems to me to be just too convenient for the Trump Administration to spin.

  5. pseudonymous in nc says:

    Josh Marshall offered a useful reset today: if you scrub the tape back to March, when the Island of Misfit Foreign-Policy Advisers was assembled, there wasn’t the same public focus on Russia relations. But apparently Clovis chose Papa and Page with an eye on Russia and energy stuff, and Flynn was of course in the inner circle. Slick Vic Toensing specifically disputes the Papa claim that he was brought on board to help improve relations with Russia, which is an interesting thing to dispute.

    • bmaz says:

      Has there even been an allegation Papa was brought on for that purpose?? If so, don’t think I have seen it. But Toesuck is completely duplicitous, so I am not biting on anything she says.

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Papa has no obvious credentials in international or foreign policy – or any other policy –  beyond a little play-acting about the UN.  If he was brought on because he had “connections”, it would suggest that the Trump team had none.  Papa seems to be more of a useful idiot, but one willing to go anywhere and do anything.

    Similarly, Karl Rove had a stable of them when he was working for Shrub, doing things ordinarily done by experienced senior people.  That’s a standard framing for a cut-out, a disposable one at that.  Rove, however, was extremely loyal to some of them.  There’s little evidence of that in Trump’s White House, a deficiency that may come back to haunt Trump himself.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        No, but you can be deputy chief of staff.

        The Karl Rove acolyte I had in mind was Tim Griffin, a junior voter suppression advocate who imagined himself as a gladiator in that role, promising to “Unleash hell.”  Rove’s influence seems to have made Griffin, successively, a US Attorney, a congresscritter and now Lt. Gov. of Arkansas.  Reciprocity in spades.

        Papa’s resume, on the other hand, does make him look like a coffee boy – except for the importance of what Trump’s team had him do.  This is beginning to look like a neighborhood pick-up team playing in the NBA finals.

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    OT on General Kelly.  OK, he’s a product of Boston public schools during forced busing, and probably believes the Shelby Foote version of unCivil War history.  But as a former four-star Marine general, his knowledge of American history should be a tad wider.  It should even include that Britain, formally at least, banned the slave trade two generations before the Civil War, and banned slavery a generation before it, albeit with a nudge, nudge, wink, wink to those who continued to profit from it.

    The abolitionist movement in Britain, and Wilberforce’s lifelong commitment to it, accomplished the unthinkable and without going to war to do it.

    The scions of the American South were not given to such compromise.  Their slaves made them:  They were valuable, they grew valuable crops and they thereby vastly increased the value of land, still the principal source of wealth, especially after new technologies such as the cotton gin made marginal crops extremely profitable.  That wealth created southern society and culture, and drove its economics and politics.

    International pressure for abolition, witness the UK successes, and American imperial expansion into North America’s western lands, put great pressure on slave owning.  Foreseeing the inevitable loss of its veto over national policy, and thus the loss of protection for its principal source of wealth, the South saw secession and war as their only salvation – a logic they violently deprived their slaves from pursuing.  (Just as neoliberals would deprive the left of social organizing and communal action to achieve their ends, even while using those same tools to maintain their own hegemony.)

    • orionATL says:

      there is a little-told history of abolitionism in appalachian america beginning in the early 1800’s. the message was carried by itinerant evangelical preachers – methodist presbyterian, baptist, and pentecostal.

      the social change began with “the great revival” in logan county, ky. the “word” had it’s greatest reach in western n. carolina, e. tenn, western va. (whch would become w. va.), and eastern and n. ky.

      i have spent well over an hour looking for a summary of this history to little avail. here is the best i could do:

      “… More important than the Great Awakening in changing the Anglican dominance of religion in the South was the movement of increasing numbers of settlers into backcountry areas of Virginia and the Carolinas after 1750. Attracted by inexpensive land, Scotch-Irish Presbyterians, Separate Baptists from the northern colonies, and German Protestants moved into the Piedmont, resulting in a surge of new Presbyterian and Baptist congregations, as well as a new presence of Quakers, Lutherans, German Reformed Methodists, and pietistic Protestant sects. All of these new religious influences appealed to the plain folk of the rural and backcountry areas and resulted in the growing marginalization of Anglicans, which was made complete with the overthrow of English authority during the American Revolution. By the 1790s, religious freedom and denominational competition for members represented a new religious sensibility in the South, as across the new nation…

      The Great Revival (1800-1805) launched the Second Great Awakening in the South, beginning on the frontier, in Logan County, Kentucky. The Cane Ridge Revivalwas the largest associated with this awakening, attracting 25,000 worshippers in the summer of 1801, to hear extended preaching. Plain folk in the Upcountry found a passionate new religion and Cane Ridge became a hearth for grassroots evangelical growth. The Second Great Awakening was national in scope, as Baptists and Methodists, especially effective at recruiting plain folk, rose to new prominence. They became the center of a more democratic religion complementary to the politics of the early nineteenth century that empowered plain folks in the South and elsewhere.

      Evangelicals, as historian Rhys Isaac notes, initiated a countercultural movement to gentry planter culture. They saw religious conversion as a transforming experience that led them to embrace an egalitarian fellowship with the redeemed, whether lowly in societal terms or not. Slaves, women, Indians, and the socially marginalized were welcomed as enthusiastic believers, who embraced individualistic conversion and proclaimed a rigorous moral austerity. The planter way of life with its indulgence and worldliness, became a target for criticism by young evangelical preachers, who were often itinerants and especially suspicious of the powers that be in a hierarchical society. Women prayed, prophesied, exhorted and in other ways exercised their spiritual gifts in unprecedented ways. Evangelicals insisted that converts take up the cross of Jesus, sometimes alienating not only planters but plain folk men with their radical vision that empowered all who put spiritual equality ahead of earthly values. This empowerment was perhaps especially significant in terms of African Americans in the South. Anglicans had been ineffective in efforts to convert slaves, but early evangelicals criticized slavery, sought black converts, and licensed black exhorters. The first black congregation in the southern colonies, founded in Silver Bluff, Georgia, in 1773, was Baptist, andMechal Sobel has documented dozens of black Baptist churches by 1830. Most slaves worshipped, though, as part of biracial churches that would become even more numerous after 1830… ”

      this excerpt is from:

      https://southernspaces.org/2004/overview-religion-and-us-south

      i have no idea of its provenance but the part i cited tells the story i read a decade or so ago.

      • orionATL says:

        when i wryte :)

        “…  had it’s greatest reach in western n. carolina, e. tenn, western va. (whch would become w. va.), and eastern and n. ky..”

        understand that the “western virginia” part refers to an area of virginia from the shenandoah valley all the way west to the western w. va. border.

        the shenandoah valley was a key pathway for some immigrants from europe, e. g., mennonites, to travel from philadelphia as far south as upland s. carolina (say greenville and environs).

    • Evangelista says:

      earlofhuntingdon,

      All of the flak being thrown at “General Kelly” re his remarks about the start of the U.S. Civil War is just flak:  A screen of shrapnel flung up in attempt to shoot down whatever Kelly ‘flew’ over:  ALL of the flakkers are, as you are, blowing bullshit about “slavery” (the quotes here to indicate the term referencing the romantic construction assigned to the term in the post-bellum United States, which does conforms to constructions dating to Civil War era Union propaganda and subsequent Reconstruction Era implementations and reactions, not to any reality in any slave-era that ever existed, including the present United States one [which you probably do not recognize as enslaving]).

      “General Kelly” was correct in his statement in regard to the United States Civil War because his statement was about the causes of the United States Civil War, not about the United States’ historical romance that “The United States Civil War was about Slavery”.

      Compare to someone addressing the topic of the Columbus initiated “discovery” of the Americas referring to European treatment of the lands and peoples as ‘free for the taking’ and as beasts, for burden or for slaughter as their adaptability to ‘harness’ in local situations showed them, and a lot of defensive fools leaping up to begin howling that the history of Columbus and those who followed him is about ‘discovery of New Worlds’ and ‘advance of ‘civilization”‘.

      Do you see the problem?  Myth trumping history, being asserted the history?

      The United States has generations now whose ‘education’ has been by shallow and superficial ‘popular’ indoctrination.  Generations incapable of in-depth consideration.

      To return your OT to T, this incapability is manifest in the topic in that there is no evidence of comprehension that interrelaions between Western Powers officials and business interests, and lobbyists and Russia and Ukraine did not spring full-grown as election-related from the Thigh of Zeus in 2015 or 2016, midwifed by launch of the Trump Campaign.  The specific history began with the separation of the Soviet Union, which created a national Ukraine, and carried through several stages, among the later of which were those Manafort et al were involved in, in which forces today associated hostilely with Russia, were associated to the EU and to ‘westernizing’.

      Everyone blathering needs to, before blowing their blather, go back and do some reading tor learn progression, whatever the subject.

      It might help if some might be able to figure out that Russia is not a monolith out from which comes some single and singular “party line”, too.  For instance, review the “Steele document” with recognition that there can be found in Russia people of all shades of reliability, among whom “information” can be shopped, and an be bought, to suit whatever purpose one may be being paid to shape to.

      Inability to comprehend this is the reason the United States is today a population of gasping matrons under hair-dryers seeking perpetual titillation reading tabloid-journalism outrages.

      • bmaz says:

        Ah yes, another instance of “Too Long; Don’t Read” horseshit.

        If you ever decide to contribute in a more competent fashion, check back in. Until then, you are just running up spare electrons and wasting the time of everybody here.

        • Evangelista says:

          bmaz,

          “another instance of “Too Long; Don’t Read””

          Exactly!

          I am delighted to see that you got it.  The problem is product of our 21st century U.S. culture’s “multi-tasking is the cool way to do” ‘meme’, which has the next generations training to shallow-thinking, sound-bites, no-depth, no-progression, no development, single-instance focus, capsulation isolation, and the current generations falling back to the same for easiest ‘comprehension’, self-induced autismization (tunnel-thinking) and Alzheimer’s preparation.  The result is what we have today, a chicken-little society rushing in wave from “crisis” to “crisis” and “solution” to “solution”, with, as is obvious, no comprehension of continuity or consequence, or even sequence.

          And to write about it, to attempt to draw attention to the “narrative” being only narrative, not history, is waste of time, used to be waste of paper, today waste of electrons.

          Fortunately, electrons are small and electronic record light (my words here add less than a kilobyte to the EW thread, since the format is already and would be with or without my ASCII addition), so we who want to waste our time repeating what no one wants to hear, Cassandra’s Conundrum, can leave record for future historians, to affirm that today the information was available, it was only the herd being uninterested…  The New Dark Ages, when they chose to veil their minds to live in intellectual ignorance and darkness…

        • Evangelista says:

          e of h,

          Might as well have:  No one cares about reality, or accuracy, in history, or analysis, it seems.

          But then, when false narrative is believed it becomes hisory, doesn’t it?  The false becomes component, part of what analysts will have to define to define cause.  Like the world being flat and the sun going around (or accros and shuttling back), which it is not, and does not, but which, for having been believed by those who determined to despite the obvious evidences, are components in pre-science history.

          For instance, to use the case in point for illustration, how will the question, “Why did American Negros, in the 21st century, when they had had full opportunities for education available to them, nay, even thrust upon them, would they have them or not, along with whites, who had equal opportunities, that they appear to have been equally unable ot utilize, advocate that the ‘corruption of blood’ clause in the U.S. Constitution be suspended so they might claim right to “reimbursement” for sufferings in labor (having to work) of their ancestors, from persons and entities descended from ones those ancestors labored for, or whose contracts to labor were sold by in previous generations (sold!  Just like as if they were Hollywood actors in the Studio days, when actors were owned properties of the Studios who held them in bondage!)?

          You are right, the question is ridiculous:  The absurdity of the idea:  To put the Constitution ahead of Capitalism!  The complainers just want to scam a little money, to sell their stories of their ancestors’ narratives of suffering, meaning of living under socialism in an era when others had to scrabble and starve in the off-seasons when they had no work and received no maintenance to tide them over, and had to die without doctoring, their lives being only their own and of no fiscal value to any having money.

  8. Michele says:

    China Moves Forces To Protect Critical Trump “Witness” From MI6 Assassination
    http://www.whatdoesitmean.com/index2423.htm

    Not known to Sergei Millian about George Papadopoulos, though, this report continues, was that he had served as a foreign policy advisor to US presidential candidate Ben Carson—whose foreign policy team was overseen by the infamous CIA rogue operative Duane “Dewey” Clarridge who was the key figure in the Iran-Contra Affair scandal that nearly destroyed the Ronald Reagan presidency—and after Carson dropped out of the presidential race, saw Papadopoulos volunteering for Trump’s foreign policy team as an advisor in March of 2016.

    Important to note about CIA operative Duane Clarridge, too, this report notes, is that he is one of them most vile and despicable CIA operatives ever known—who aside from nearly destroying President Reagan, authored the CIA’s notorious “Assassination Manual” and was criminally charged for lying to the US Congress, just to mention a few of his many crimes against humanity and the American people.

    • bmaz says:

      Oh. Hai, how you doing? Happy to oblige, especially when some asswipe like you trolls into out threads. Cheers!

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