Three Things: Mit Handelsblatther

Let’s get some more pressing business out of the way and then we’ll get down to this alleged subpoena.

~ 3 ~

Calls — make them. We should all simply get used to making calls or sending faxes to our members Congress and other government officials on a regular basis. Our democracy has now shown us the error of believing in the vote alone; voting is the very minimum democracy requires. We simply have to do more.

Today we need to do more to protect Net Neutrality. We have less than two weeks to make an impression on the Federal Communications Commission, leaving them with no doubt the public wants Net Neutrality.

Contact the FCC — need a script? See @Celeste_pewter.

Contact your Senators — need a script for that too? Here you go.
The odds may not be in our favor given the intransigence of FCC chair Ajit Pai and two of the commissioners, but we can’t curl up and give in.

~ 2 ~

NBC’s Today Show won morning ratings after firing accused sexual harasser and abuser Matt Lauer this past week. Good fucking riddance to bad baggage.

Ah, but NBC only terminated him because Lauer represented a threat to the corporation’s bottom line. They really don’t give a flying fig about women, proved with their donations.

No corporation that gives a campaign donation to pedophile and political hack Roy Moore really cares about women. NBC and its parent corporation Comcast care far more about ending Net Neutrality and being on the prospective GOP senator’s good side. What flexible ethics — get rid of an abuser because he violates policy then donate money to another abuser.

Polling shows the race between pedophile Roy Moore and Democratic Party candidate Doug Jones is far too tight to feel comfortable. It’s within margin of error which is too easily gamed by voter suppression or other tactics. But I hope Jones kicks Moore’s ass on election day.

Sen. Jeff Flake kicked in a $100 donation to Jones, writing “Country above party” on the description line. It’s chump change but he’ll take some crap from the GOP over this now that the RNC has lost whatever remained of its spine and returned to financing their pedo candidate.

~ 1 ~

Now for Handelsblathering —

The first report I read Tuesday morning was by Bloomberg, which offered very little detail about the subpoena allegedly served on Deutsche Bank. Where was the subpoena served? The article didn’t say; it only said,

Mueller issued a subpoena to Germany’s largest lender several weeks ago, forcing the bank to submit documents on its relationship with Trump and his family, according to a person briefed on the matter, who asked not to be identified because the action has not been announced.

Caveat: Bloomberg has a nasty habit of updating their articles without leaving adequate evidence of the changes made. The graf excerpted above may not be exactly the same as the one I read on Tuesday morning.

We’ll assume service was made on Deutsche Bank in Berlin. When was the subpoena served? “Several weeks ago” the article said, which is horribly non-specific. I would personally guess this was less than a month ago or the journalists would have said “more than a month” or offer some other framing to extend the time beyond a month. “Several weeks ago” might fit the period of roughly 20 weeks since Trump was asked about special prosecutor Robert Mueller looking into his family’s finance’s (July 9) — but that’s a big stretch at nearly five months.

What niggled at me was the sourcing of Bloomberg’s piece — it relied almost wholly on German financial news outlet Handelsblatt. Its editor Daniel Schaefer referred to the story as “our scoop” on Twitter. Every report after Handelsblatt’s relied on the same story — or at least it isn’t clear in much later stories whether secondary news outlets called Deutsche Bank in Berlin and confirmed there was a subpoena served on them, or if they contacted Handelsblatt to confirm what their source had told them.

The sourcing looked too damned thin.

It didn’t help matters that the article is partially behind a paywall and in English at their global site and in German at their domestic site; nor did it help that the German language article is difficult to find.

Looking at Handelsblatt’s article on the global site, the wording seems odd; it might be due to differences between German and English but this first graf doesn’t seem like it.

Deutsche Bank has been served. US investigators are demanding that it provide information on dealings linked to the Trumps, sources familiar with the matter told Handelsblatt. The subpoena is part of a probe by special counsel Robert Mueller and his team to determine whether the president’s campaign was involved in Russian efforts to influence the US election.

“…[Has] been served. When have you last seen a statement as bald as this yet as unclear? ‘Served’ what — pie? The word ‘subpoena’ appears in the third sentence, and even at that point its use is odd. “…[part] of a probe” suggests there has been more going on in Berlin than just the handing over of documents on request.

And then Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow came out later in the day and denied there had been any subpoena served.

Reporters contacted Handelsblatt but by then it was well after business hours in Germany.

A reader at TalkingPointsMemo speculates that Deutsche Bank may not have been able to disclose any subpoena to Trump or his lawyer if a grand jury orders them not to do so, and that Sekulow may not have been told there was a subpoena for this reason.

I don’t know; do German banks follow U.S. grand jury instructions to the letter? Maybe this one does since it has been in trouble with the U.S. for money laundering and it wants to improve its credibility while reducing its exposure.

I have a another theory, though, thanks to researching the Volkswagen dieselgate scandal. VW’s executives used some weaselly language to imply they were not involved in decision making; the language used relied on American’s limited grasp of German and the ways in German could be manipulated to misrepresent the truth.

What I want to know is whether Germans use the word “subpoena” in the same way we do, or if they rely on either an EU legal term, or a German word equivalent. In other words, if someone asked the bank if a subpoena had been served, they may say no — but if they were asked if document production had been ordered (Dokumentenproduktion, perhaps?), they might say something very different.

This entire story seems off kilter, as if it were intended for a very narrow audience. Why did the Deutsche Bank leaker talk with Handelsblatt, the fourth largest Germany daily subscription newspaper and the biggest business news paper, versus a Sun-like tabloid Bild or the weekly Der Spiegel? Why was there a specific indication that both Melania and Ivanka as well as Jared Kushner had accounts with Deutsche Bank?

Something isn’t quite right. But then nothing’s been quite right since January 21.

~ 0 ~

That’s a wrap. Treat this like an open thread.

30 replies
  1. Avattoir says:

    Uh …

    As a government prosecutor, from time to time I dealt with foreign legal jurisdictions, including obtaining documents from record-keeping institutions in more than one European county (tho not Germany).
    But starting in the 1990s, EU laws & regulations, & policy & protocols aimed to comply with those, have resulted in a general displacement of all but vestiges of those systems (mostly retained in cultural historical interests to preserve names & forms of long standing in some nation venues, NONE of which could conflict with the goal of substantial compliance with EU commitments).
    Regardless, as far as I’m aware, other than in the context of war & occupation (and even then only by straining argument), there’s never been a time when orders issued by U.S. courts have been directly enforceable within any other sovereign nation state.

    Also, the German legal system is not ‘adversarial’ like in the U.S., U.K. and throughout much of the former Brit Empire (see Aus, NZ, Canada, etc.). It’s inquisitorial, more like in France.
    And with inquisitorial systems, there’s a substantial, what I’ll call here ‘risk’, that the sort of – dunno what to call it, demand, request – thing we call a “subpoena” issued out of a U.S. court, will motivate some judge in an inquisitorial system to establish their own inquisitorial proceedings.

    Finally, in relation to FORMAL requests of evidence assistance through the overseeing authority of the interconnected EU members’ court systems, which has various sorts of jurisdiction over otherwise ‘discrete’ national systems (human rights, extradition & information disclosure), there’s a central registry that handles all the filing and records. And that registrry would be hard-pressed to deny a request for information directed to it from the head of state, or secretary of state, or chief law enforcement officer of a national polity such as the U.S. (PARTICULARLY the U.S.) as to whether or not this or that request for evidence assistance has been made.

      • Evangelista says:


        Your recognition:  “independent of the subject at hand,”… is excellent.

        Avattoir’s comment, while fun reading and apparently learnéd, is independent of the subject.  It might have some relevance in EU Rules for Procedure, at least in criminal context, where Inquiry by both sides is recognized obligation (as it should be in our U.S.  system, too, with only the reversal of responsibility imposed by our system [when operating correctly] recognizing the “English Law System’s” Presumption of Innocence, in lieu of Continental Law’s Napoleonic modification of the “Roman Law System’s” Presumption of guilt).  Avattoir’s comment has no relevance, however, in “Merchant Law”, also known as “Admiralty Law” and, in the United States, “Commercial Law”, which, having a base developed in the Roman Law era and so adhering to Roman Law forms in procedures, utilizes the “Imperial Law” (Roman) Presumption of guilt form, with imperial authority, which provides authority for permission of sanction on accusation (legally in the United States [Constitutionally] only Federal level courts have jurisdiction to receive cases in which guilt is presumed, when they convene in “Admiralty Jurisdiction” to hear “Between Nations Merchant Law” cases, cases in which an international merchant [which includes shippers] is in the court and the charges are international, or of the high seas -which are ‘between nations’).  Intra-United States Commercial Law has modified this, with an inter-state parochial to merchants law system having been created to allow presumption of guilt based Merchant Law forms to be used within the United States realm, where the Law of the Land is presumption of innocence based, wherefore presumption of guilt based law may not be used (legally) except within the parochial confines of the ‘commercial club’ of merchants (and among them only when they are engaged in merchant-purpose activities, when they are not buying for their own ‘end-use’ as members of the public would).

        Anyone engaged in International commerce is engaging under international merchant law rules.  Thus Any engagement by Trump or Trump entities in international activities would stand in international (Admiralty) jurisdiction.  A subpoena would be issued in Admiralty Jurisdiction, where, for that purpose an issuing court would be convened.  Mueller’s investigation being of international events, his Commission’s jurisdiction would be Admiralty by default.  And, subpoena (notice that it is a Latin term?) being a common legal form across all legal vocabularies, means the same (“the court issuing compels on its authority…”) in all jurisdictions.  To avoid a Mueller Commission subpoena DB would have to refuse to recognize  the Commission’s jurisdiction, or the reach of that jurisdiction to itself.  The response, today, would be sanction against DB properties and businesses within the legal reach of the court (Commission).  Today this kind of sanctioning is done on a theory that any transaction that involves United States Dollars, at any stage in a transfer, including inter-bank with no specific relevance to a particular transaction, since those are in Reserve Currency, U.S. Dollars.  Review the U.S. Justice Department sponsored actions against various FIFA (international Fútbol) entities entirely outside the U.S.

        DB has already demonstrated that it recognizes U.S. Commercial law based International jurisdiction.  Look for DB agreements to settlements and penalty payments for affirmation.

    • Rayne says:

      This is very informative, thank you. I had been thinking along this line when I read the Handelsblatt story; something didn’t quite make sense given the differences between U.S. and EU/German law.

      One other element might not be readily visible — were there any terms in the settlement agreement between the U.S. DOJ, Fed Reserve and Deutsche Bank with regard to the money laundering prosecution and violation of the Bank Secrecy Act which might have laid the groundwork for cooperation on document sharing? Was the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority — which also prosecuted Deutsche Bank for money laundering — involved in any way? These are questions I don’t think I can take the time to answer. But it might explain why Deutsche Bank acknowledged to Handelsblatt that it had received a subpoena from Mueller.

      Another question still up in the air: where was the subpoena served? If in the U.S., Deutsche Bank would have complied — and might have been prohibited from acknowledging the subpoena to targets if asked by the targets. But if served in Germany…

      Thanks again!

  2. matt says:

    The Russia investigation is so much bigger than Trump.  Its all tangled up at the deepest levels of State worldwide.  My hunch is that the broader global leadership supports the policy shifts allowed (unbeknownst to him) under his administration.  Trump is just the tool to get the job done, which is to unseat certain interests/power in the State Department/CIA.  At this point, what happens to Trump is not as important to me as knowing the truth about what agendas are vying for control of the “new,” new world order.



  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Leaking to a business paper seems the better way to go rather than a daily tabloid. It gives the leak more credibility than if you have to read it while being distracted by bare body parts on the same page.

    I think it’s important to bear in mind how tied in Deutsche Bank is to the government and establishment, another reason to leak to a top business paper. DB is the bank of record, rather like the NYT in American newspaper world.

    DB is caught between a rock and a hard place. It’s the biggest, most connected establishment bank. It reportedly has a long history of money laundering, much of it involving various Russian entities, meaning oligarchs and state-backed institutions. Putin’s decisions could severely impact DB’s profitability, an unwelcome vulnerability when major German corporations such as VW have been hit with bad news.

    That said, DB does a lot of business in the US. It has paid major fines for illegal conduct (usually not admitted). It can’t afford to be caught refusing to cooperate and then to run further afoul of US regulators, let alone to be implicated directly in a conspiracy of major proportions.

    There’s probably a lot of parsing to do with who was served and in connection with what legal persons: Trump or his family members individually, which among his hundreds of companies in his own business, which of many companies with which he and they may have done business. The only thing it’s safe to say now is that characterizations from Trump lawyers should be treated with the same credibility as a tweet from Trump.

    • Peterr says:

      Yes, to all of this.

      In the update by Handelsblatt, they say this:

      According to our information, the subpoena from Mr. Mueller, who is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 US elections, is in connection with Mr. Trump’s camp, requiring the bank to provide information on financial transactions and loans. It remains unclear whether the subpoena relates to the US president personally or a family member. Given that qualification, we are standing by our reporting. Other media that have since picked up on Handelsblatt’s original story, including the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times and Bloomberg, are sticking by their reporting, too. Neither Mr. Mueller’s spokesperson nor Deutsche Bank would comment on the report. The bank said in a statement that it cooperates with all investigations and wouldn’t reveal details of individual cases.

      Another piece to this is that European banks are *very* touchy about secrecy. Yes, the Swiss lead the way on that, but no one wants to be fast and loose with information and thus shove more banking business to the Swiss. Thus, being served with a subpoena protects DeutscheBank from accusations of improper handling of banking information.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        And avoids legal liability for just handing stuff over.  Tightrope walking time for DB, as it is for Trump and family.  As has been said, this is not just about the obvious illegality; it is about behavior that should not be acceptable in any high government official.  For that matter, the behavior would be unacceptable in a county clerk or local building inspector.

        Now, let’s hear what further fine mess Trump Jr has got himself into, eh Ollie.

    • Rayne says:

      I was surprised the subpoena news wasn’t leaked to a bigger outlet because of Deutsche Bank’s need to repair its image after so many losses to fines. Of course we don’t know if the leaker tried a different outlet and the story didn’t get picked up, perhaps because of ideology (ex. Bild is more conservative), or if they simply went to an outlet with which they felt comfortable.

      • Peterr says:

        Or it was leaked by someone at DB who is sympathetic to Mueller’s job, who has a contact/friend at Handelsblatt, and who (a) slipped in talking to that pal at Handelsblatt and mentioned it before thinking everything through, or (b) personally — not on behalf of DB — wanted word of the subpoena to get out and make Trump sweat. That is, the choice of Handelsblatt was because that’s who the source knew, not because of some grand plan for leaking through them.

  4. Ed Walker says:

    If the subpoena was served in the last few weeks, and production has  begun, I’m guessing there were negotiations beforehand to make sure that DB would comply, and that it would not raise any legal issues under EU privacy laws.

    As Marcy notes here Mueller has a number of international lawyers on his prosecutorial team. I’m sure they know their way around international subpoenas.

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    OMG. What mushrooms is Donald Trump on? His comments about Jerusalem and the “openness” of Israeli society are bonkers, unmoored from reality. It’s not just that Palestinians and others are discriminated against, it’s that there is discrimination even among Jews, Orthodox vs. liberal, for example. The “bloodshed, ignorance and terror” mentioned by Donald Trump will be of his making.

    The idea that Trump is “not taking a position” on final issues as between Israelis and Palestinians is as credible as his open support for Roy Moore is leaving the issue of who will be Alabama’s junior senator in the hands of the people of Alabama. But Trump is adopting the Putin notion that deliberate chaos is as good as a win.

    Is this how the elite redefine stacking the deck as creating a level playing field? Now that Tillerson/Trump have gutted State, Sec’y Mattis had better buy more ammunition. This is also a government subsidy for private mercenaries: their employment prospects everywhere just went up an order of magnitude.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The CNN reporting on this is curiously very pro-Trump.  How is saying the US is “not taking a position” on the status of parties and final borders, for example, after taking action to declare Jerusalem Israel’s capital?  The messages are inconsistent, but one is words (from Trump, not much to take to the bank) and the other is direct action.  Christiane Amanpour’s conclusion that this is reaffirming the status quo seems entirely incorrect.

      Trump (and Kushner) is also ensuring that there will be plenty of international news to distract from his growing troubles at home.

      • joejoejoe says:

        From 12/6/17: “Bill Clinton declared in February 1992, at the height of the Democratic primaries, that he supported recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a step that would alter U.S. policy.

        Later, during the general election campaign, Clinton attacked President George H.W. Bush for having “repeatedly challenged Israel’s sovereignty over a united Jerusalem.” He promised that he and running mate Al Gore would “support Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel.”

        Once Clinton got into the White House, pro-Israeli Jewish groups began lobbying him to move the embassy and recognize Jerusalem. But from inside the White House, fulfilling that promise turned out more complicated than saying it on the campaign trail.”

        Paul Tsongas calling Bill Clinton a “Pander Bear” was the most true thing ever.

    • greengiant says:

      When doing a deal one strategy is to rocket back and forth in craziness to try to stumble upon a good outcome or find some weak point in your opposition. When doing a sale when the customer agrees to buy or does not flinch then one approach is to stop selling while another is to say and the next option will be so much more. This is not an unthought provocation but more like determined to get some US embassies burned down and a prelude to more anti Iran action or whomever the KSA and Benjamin N wants us to fight next.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I’m not much of a believer in the idea that Trump has any strategery.  He’s too egocentric and egotistical, too lacking in discipline to think of a strategy and stick to it.  He’s too easily distracted and needs what he needs NOW, whether it’s a Big Mac, sex, money from a lender, or adoration.

      Nor do I think Trump gives much thought to anything except about how GREAT he is.  He’s always distracted by something else five minutes later.  Nor is fulfilling a campaign or any other promise high on his To Do list; his history of keeping promises would not get him a slice of bread at a soup kitchen.

      I mostly agree with Josh Marshall and Digby’s take that this is 90% domestic politics: Trump needed to be decisive today, something dramatic, to retake the spotlight.  What that would be was probably influenced by someone close by, here, Kushner, who is, as Marshall says, both a neophyte and an activist for further Israeli settlement in contested lands – to make them uncontestably Israeli.

      The other 10% might be international politics, but I think that’s generous.  This is Trump “imposing his will”, in part, because he’s scared shitless about what Mueller & Co., have or will find and what they’ll do about it.  If it turns out that Russian backing is the sine qua non for any loans from Deutsche Bank, shitless might be literally correct.

      • Peterr says:

        I think the media coverage you mention earlier is a desire for some in the media to find some reason — any reason — to think that this is part of a grand strategy, because the idea that this is all about Trump’s ego overriding the professional advice of the State Dept, the professional advice of the DOD, and the formal opinions of damn near every national leader around the world, as well as the pope, is too frightening to think about.

        But the Palestinians *are* thinking about it, and will be for a very long time.

        The only hope for the US in that regard is that if this is seen as Trump’s ego rather than the reasoned policy of the US, there may be some chance of repairing the US reputation once Trump is out of office, rather than 40 years from now.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Well said.  It might explain, say, CNN’s and Amanpour’s curious need to find a way to make this act of diplomatic arson look presidential.

          But if the MSM stick to the idea that Trump somehow must be like a normal president, if only they could find out how, then we’re all doomed.  The whole point is that he is not.  He’s not a little off the beaten path; he’s lost in the woods without a compass or snakebite kit and he’ll burn it down if he has to to find his way home.

          Trump’s need to face no contradictions, for example, might explain his desire to gut the State Dept.  Instead, we have the MSM doing deep dives into lean and mean organizations and so on.  Tillerson’s going along with it, then, would seem to be an expression of the standard CEO conceit that he can remake any operation in his own image and damn the costs or consequences.

          The most important takeaway from the president’s announcement, though, per Digby, seems to be that Donald Trump can’t afford to replace his tube of PoliGrip.  (I would have though he would have opted for implants, myself, but there you go.)

          • Rayne says:

            Slightly to the side of this topic, is it just me that wonders if PBS’ selection of Amanpour as temporary replacement for Charlie Rose isn’t a means to yank her out of international reporting?

  6. Condor says:

    On the Deutsche Bank subpoena process (and follow-up stories) — I’ll reiterate and amplify what I wrote last night (but left buried at the end of a thread), and suggest that I personally think it far more likely Team Mueller (or “Team Bobby Three Sticks, if you prefer) served the subpoena on the US operating entity of DB. Why? For simplicity. And for secrecy. Let us also recognize that (via Manafort — and now Flynn)  there are grand jury proceedings. And that makes these (highly likely) grand jury subpoenas subject to 18 USC § 1510(b).

    While it is possible the subpoenas were served in Germany, I don’t think it is likely. “Bobby Three Sticks” is far more likely to play by (and operate under) the US federal criminal law he knows best. And under that law, 45’s personal lawyer is almost certainly… a liar — thus:
    You see, 18 USC § 1510(b) makes a bank’s disclosure of such a subpoena, to someone like Jay Sekulow. . . . a felony [if intended to obstruct, see (b)(1)] — and a one year misdemeanor, without regard to intent — under §§ (b)(2)(B):

    . . . .(b)(1) Whoever, being an officer of a financial institution, with the intent to obstruct a judicial proceeding, directly or indirectly notifies any other person about the existence or contents of a subpoena for records of that financial institution, or information that has been furnished in response to that subpoena, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.
    (2) Whoever, being an officer of a financial institution, directly or indirectly notifies —
    (A) a customer of that financial institution whose records are sought by a subpoena for records; or
    (B) any other person named in that subpoena;
    about the existence or contents of that subpoena or information that has been furnished in response to that subpoena, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both. . . .

    Thus, it is highly unlikely that Deutsche Bank is unaware of this long-standing provision of federal criminal law. It is even more unlikely that the bank would risk felony prosecution — by talking to Mr. Sekulow — about Mr. Mueller’s subpoenas of Mr. Trump’s (or his companies’) financial records, given that 45 himself now very-likely a target of an obstruction investigation. Now you know.
    Jay is a “pants on fire” liar, in my opinion. And the meta-narrative is now unfolding: it is going to be about the money 45 (and his family of companies) have borrowed, from people in Russia — who now are able to squeeze him.


  7. brumel says:

    If Mueller as a US legal official had served a subpoena in the foreign state of Germany, that would have been a grave transgression of authority and caused an immediate diplomatic scandal, besides being without any legal effect whatsoever. So a DB branch or subsidiary in the USA is the only possibility, likely in New York.

  8. brumel says:

    This convention isn’t even remotely applicable. The Mueller investigation is not a “civil or commercial matter”. But even under the convention, a subpoena would have to be submitted to the German authority, not to DB. The US Justice Department would have to sign it, the State Department would have to transmit it, and the German Justice Ministry would have to order its execution. Hardly Mueller’s choice when he can simply subpoena DB Head Office at Wall Street…

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