Mueller’s Entirely Redacted Three Bullets and a Theory of the Case

In this post, I showed how the list of crimes for which Paul Manafort was being investigated mushroomed between the time FBI searched an Alexandria storage locker on May 27, 2017 and the time they searched his home using a no-knock warrant on July 27, 2017.

As a threshold matter, between May and July 2017, the scope of crimes being investigated mushroomed, to include both the fraudulent loans obtained during the election and afterwards, as well as foreign national contributions to an election, with a broad conspiracy charge built in.

Compare the list of crimes in the storage unit affidavit:

  • 31 USC 5314, 5322 (failure to file a report of foreign bank and financial amounts)
  • 22 USC 618 (Violation of FARA)
  • 26 USC 7206(a) (filing a false tax return)

With the list in the residence affidavit:

  • 31 USC 5314, 5322
  • 22 USC 611 et seq (a broader invocation of FARA)
  • 26 USC 7206
  • 18 USC 1014 (fraud in connection with the extension of credit)
  • 18 USC 1341, 1343, 1349 (mail fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud)
  • 18 USC 1956 and 1957 (money laundering)
  • 52 USC 30121 (foreign national contributions to an election)
  • 18 USC 371 and 372 (conspiracy to defraud the US, aiding and abetting, and attempt to commit such offenses)

So this motion to suppress would suppress both evidence used to prosecute Manafort in the EDVA case, as well as the eventual hack-and-leak conspiracy.

And in addition to records on Manafort, Gates’, and (another addition from the storage unit warrant), the warrant permits the seizure of records tied to the June 9 meeting and Manafort’s state of mind during all the enumerated crimes (but that bullet appears right after the June 9 meeting one).

It also includes an authorization to take anything relating to Manafort’s work for the foreign governments, including but not limited to the Ukrainians that have already been charged, which would seem to be a catchall that would cover any broader conspiracies with Russia.

This makes sense. The June 9 story broke in July 2017 based off documents that Jared Kushner and Manafort had provided to Congress in June — though I do wonder whether there were any records relating to the meeting in the storage unit.

I also noted that Manafort seemed particularly worried about several things in the later search — such as that the government took stuff pertaining to his state of mind, that the FBI seized his iPods, and that they hadn’t given anything back.

In this post, I noted that Rod Rosenstein appeared to have included a third bullet in his description of the crimes that Robert Mueller could investigate Manafort for in his August 2, 2017 memo, written just after the later search.

Now consider this detail: the second bullet describing the extent of the investigation into Manafort has a semi-colon, not a period.

It’s possible Mueller used semi-colons after all these bullets (of which Manafort’s is the second or third entry). But that, plus the resumption of the redaction without a double space suggests there may be another bulleted allegation in the Manafort allegation.

There are two other (known) things that might merit a special bullet. First, while it would seem to fall under the general election collusion bullet, Rosenstein may have included a bullet describing collusion with Aras Agalarov and friends in the wake of learning about the June 9 Trump Tower meeting with his employees. More likely, Rosenstein may have included a bullet specifically authorizing an investigation of Manafort’s ties with Oleg Deripaska and Konstantin Kilimnik.

The Mueller memo actually includes a specific reference to that, which as I’ve noted I will return to.

Open-source reporting also has described business arrangements between Manafort and “a Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, a close ally of President Vladimir V. Putin.”

The latter might be of particular import, given that we know a bunch of fall 2017 interviews focused on Manafort’s ties to Deripaska and the ongoing cover-up with Kilimnik regarding the Skadden Arps report on the Yulia Tymoshenko prosecution.

At a recent court hearing, Manafort’s team confirmed there is a third bullet (which is unredacted to them), and the government seemed to confirm (with their insistent refusal to share) that there are other documents laying out Rosenstein’s authorizations for the investigation.

Last night, the government responded to the Manafort challenges (response to Bill of Particulars, response to search of storage locker, response to search of condo).

Aside from a bunch of subtle details showing that Mueller continues to work closely with FBI Agents on appropriate task forces and US Attorneys officers, it includes these three redacted bullets laying out the evidence supporting probable cause for the crimes for which FBI is investigating Manafort.

Now, there’s not necessarily a correlation between those three bullets and the three bullets we now know are in Rosenstein’s memo. I say that, most of all, because the first of Rosenstein’s bullets pertains to the general “collusion” investigation.

  • Committed a crime or crimes by colluding with Russian government officials with respect to the Russian government’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 election for President of the United States, in violation of United States law;
  • Committed a crime or crimes arising out of payments he received from the Ukrainian government before and during the tenure of President Viktor Yanukovych.

As I noted in my post speculating what the third might be, it might include either more details on the then-recently disclosed June 9 meeting, or it might provide more evidence of the way that Manafort worked with Oleg Deripaska, the former of which especially might fit under the election bullet. A likely third bullet is also the more recent money laundering Manafort allegedly conducted, as he tried to use mortgages to stave off financial ruin, which gets included in the expanded list of crimes for which Manafort was being investigated.

In any case, the affidavit (and therefore these three paragraphs) presumably lay out probable cause to support all three of Rosenstein’s bullets:

  • The Ukraine-based money laundering at issue in the existing DC indictment — showing a long-term hidden relationship with Russian-backed entities
  • Manafort’s recent attempts to remain liquid as reflected in the EDVA indictment — showing he had an incentive to do crazy things to make money
  • Efforts to “collude” with Russia, as reflected in the Trump Tower meeting

This is as much as what Amy Berman Jackson suggested in the most recent hearing (the one where Manafort confirmed there was a third bullet).

So perhaps, those three redacted bullets lay out the theory of the case: Paul Manafort had long-standing ties to Russian oligarchs and an urgent need to continue receiving their money when four Russians walked into Trump’s campaign proposing dirt on Hillary in exchange for sanctions relief.

71 replies
  1. Willis Warren says:

    I think that’s the most solid aspect of the case, the June 9th meeting. Mueller has witnesses on the plane that have testified about the adoption cover story. I think you’ve convinced me that tRUmp met with them in a second meeting

    If this weren’t a Republican/Koch congress, this would be over

  2. Trip says:

    These redactions are like a moiré pattern, and looking too long causes a kind of motion sickness. I don’t know how you do it all of the time, Marcy.

    • TheraP says:

      “Motion sickness” surely describes what we’ve all been going through – on a daily, weekly, monthly, now yearly basis.  It gets to the gut-wrenching, the mind-bending, the morality- rending, the sheer dizziness.

      All of it!

      My head aches. I want to throw up. To exit this “vehicle” – if only I could.

  3. Frank Probst says:

    He STILL hasn’t come up with enough clean assets to get out of house arrest, has he?  I think that’s pretty telling.  He knows that any asset he produces will be scrutinized, which could lead to more problems for him.  His nerves have got to be shot by now.  He’s woken up to FBI agents in his home, his partner has flipped on him, and he can’t get out of house arrest.  And he doesn’t seem to be making good legal moves.  Why have one set of charges in DC and another in Virginia?  It’s just twice as expensive for you, and the government has two chances to nail you instead of one.  Does anyone understand what he was thinking there?

    • bmaz says:

      In fairness, the jurisdiction and venue decision was made by the prosecutors, not Manafort or his lawyers. And there is at least an argument that it is helpful to be in EDVA first as that jury pool would be seen to be far more favorable than a DC jury, and the VA rocket docket insured that trial would be first.

  4. Avattoir says:

    I’m not about to claim that the Emptywheel Conjecture on the prosecution’s theory of the case is unreasonable or insensible. It’s certainly not either. And, owing to that, neither would I claim that the contents in the redacted sub-paragraphs don’t refer to at least some of the the hooks and pith needed to make out that case.

    But I think it’s unlikely that those 3 redacted paras effectively reduce necessarily to that case, or that any of the redacted material reduced that case to anything remotely so plain as Marcy captures it.

    By way of comparison: the government’s filed response to the motion for a bill of particulars can be reduced something like that drastically – say, in Footnote #2, page 8:

    “While Manafort focuses on its causation language, Paragraph 43 also alleges that Manafort is liable for his own acting as an unregistered “agent of a foreign principal,” and for aiding and abetting the listed Companies and others in doing so. … A motion for a bill of particulars cannot be used to force the government to choose among those duly indicted theories. See United States v. North … (“no authority” supported the proposition that such a motion could force the government to choose between principal and aiding-and-abetting liability, or between the two forms of liability in 18 U.S.C. § 2), …”

    If one where to  set this to Soprano (Tony), Footnote #2 asserts that the law does not support compelling the government to choose between, OTOH, You personally fired the kill shot, and, OTO, You ordered the kill shot be done. Either way it’s murder one.

    The REST of that government submission restates, as anyone who takes the not very long time to read it can discover for themselves, the OSC’s position that Manafort already has abundant, even a cornucopia of, particulars – just not set up in the way that he & his attorneys would prefer (i.e. in a way that even Das Überlegene Blutlinie couldn’t fail to get, such that he then either fires Mueller or pardons Manafort ASAP, IAE before all of it comes out graphically in an oh-so public trial live-tweeted by the best there is — IOW): in a way that lights a flame under Trump’s not insubstantial behind.

    Manafort’s motion for a bill of particulars is some combination of due diligence and a Hail Mary. It hopes to provoke the presiding judge into ordering something like a laying-down of the trail, breadcrumb by breadcrumb, from the steppes of Ukraine and the hotel & ballroom district in Moscow, all the way to Trump Tower & the White House . Or at the very least Manafort’s part in that.

    And, ideally, that trail would be revealed publicly, or else at a level where Fox & Friends, Hannity & other such president whisperers can have the best possibly shot at selling it to their audience of one.

    After all, if what’s redacted to us, is not redacted to Manafort & his legal team, and what is redacted basically lays out the theory of the case in a way that conforms substantially and in form to the Emptywheel Conjecture, I think it’s unlikely Manafort would feel at all truly constrained against communicating that to You-Know-Who.


      • bmaz says:

        Uh, no, neither AB Jackson nor TS Ellis is going to be “paid off”. That is absolutely ludicrous.

    • bmaz says:

      Those trails are what trials are for. it is not the province of a bill of particulars, nor has it ever been. I admire the pluckiness to make the argument, but it is bogus. The indictments are fine.

    • TheraP says:

      The “Emptywheel Conjecture” – will it one day achieve status as a journalistic or legal moniker?

      I’m betting it will! And it traces back, dear historians of the future, to this comment by Avattoir. (So far as I know.)

      The “Emptywheel Conjecture” – As a “type” of close reading, careful synthesis and brilliant hypothesis-building, referring back to this time and place and blogger.

      • posaune says:

        Agree completely.  It’s her close reading, exacting synthesis and brilliant insight toward hypotheses that call this out as the “Emptywheel Conjecture.”    Samizdat sleuth, indeed.  Whenever Marcy illustrates a theory by sleuthing semi-colons, spacing etc by her redaction analyses, a vision appears of her hovered over a partial, frayed document supported on a splintered table in the basement of some Czech (or Slovak) apparatchik’s archive.

        We’re so grateful, EW.   Thank you!

  5. yogarhythms says:

    LA times 5MAR18 “Manafort has pleaded not guilty to all charges and rejected an offer to have the two cases consolidated in one jurisdiction”. Divide and conquer is tried and true. Artistry is in the eyes of the beholder and reading EW is like being in the fine art museum and sitting in front of the Master’s work’s and scrutinizing a dimple or a mole or a feather comparing and contrasting motivations, expressions, possibilities. Works in progress, trails within trials, layer upon layer our collective anticipation grows. Thank you EW and Bmaz for all you do.

  6. SteveB says:

    Josh Gerstien piece at politico from last night regarding the Manafort warrant arguments seems to tentatively hint at two potential weaknesses in the Govt position which the Govt are sensitive about and pushing back on.


    1 Regarding authority of the agents to search if there is a question mark over Mueller appointment

    2 Regarding the lack of temporal limitation on the documents to be seized in the lock up warrant.

    In each case of course the Goverment responses include analyses of the “even if X, were the case (which it is not), then Y and Z which do not avail the defendant” variety:

    Re point 1:  As the warrant documents point out the agents had authourity independent of and additional to anything derived from the special counsel

    Re point 2: exclusion of some documents dated before 2006 is the maximal remedy if (contrary to our position as to the law) there was a defect by not putting a temporal limitation on the documents subject to seizue.

    My understanding of the arguments is that these points are made by the Government as matters of completeness rather than hints of nervousness. And though not qualified to judge, the Government arguments seem formidable, well marshalled and at times dismissive of Manaforts contentions.

    Consequently I am surprised at the tone of Gerstein’s piece. And if even astute objective commentators misread the runes on such matters, then “WitchHunt” believers are going to have a field day. But I suppose it was always going to be like this.

    • bmaz says:

      #1 is completely bogus. It may be “considered” by the trial court, but it won’t really fly.

      #2 may have some legs, but the time limitation argument is, shall we say, limited. If prosecution gets limited only to 2006 forward, I think they will laugh and say “Aw, jeez, okay”.

      • SteveB says:

        The authorities cited by govt re point 2 seem to provide a complete answer and permit the warrant’s formulation in the circumstances,  though of course I am not in a position to assess the legal substance, just attempting to understand it properly.

        I imagine that the”witchHunt” believers will crow about any piddling little victory Manafort may score, shrieking about overbroad warrants and trying to blow the whole thing up.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      I read the tone of that piece as being a reporter trying to make sure he had covered his bases, rather than hrowing doubt on anything.

      On the other hand, I found Gerstein’s piece today about the odds of Cohen flipping to be pretty poor. He starts off by quoting an attorney from the Starr investigation arguing for an impossibly broad coverage of attorney client privilege. He then notes that exceptions exist, but largely fumbles the main issue.  It will be harder to flip Cohen if he and Trump have a true attorney-client relationship, but early indications are that there are a lot of gaps in that relationship. Whatever is true, what will matter are the facts in the case, not what Cohen or Trump merely assert.

      Since others have covered the complications of the issue better and sooner, I’m puzzled how this article made it online.

      • Avattoir says:

        Well, compared to the multiple overt outrages on the facts and law committed at Fox News daily and repeated at the top and bottom of each hour, pretty much the worst Gerstein (or his editor at POLITICO?) can reasonably be accused of in that piece is Balzian center-right hedgiotic pomposity.

        The only thing being acknowledged in the “that’s a a good point” pat on the head is that Manafort’s legal team had cast out an accurate but way too amorphorous generalization on one of the starting points for judicial review of a delegated power.

        But it was said in passing, and the leap would have to be more Beamon than Berman to conclude anything pejorative on the actual exercise of delegation in this particular case.

  7. pseudonymous in nc says:

    or it might provide more evidence of the way that Manafort worked with Oleg Deripaska

    In the discovery letters, there’s mention of the 2015 EVDA depositions related to the Black Sea Cable suit — the ones that Deripaska’s NY state suit accuses of being untrue.

  8. TravisV says:

    Mrs. Wheeler,

    Apologies that this is off-topic, but were the top people at the DOJ really as awful as Andrew McCarthy says they were in his latest column (below)? Do you have any old posts on DOJ officials during the 2016 campaign?

    “Yup, the campaign stretch-run was upon us, and the oh-so-non-partisan Obama Justice Department was fretting that Mrs. Clinton could be toast if the public heard about yet another criminal investigation.

    In point of fact, the FBI was not openly pursuing the Clinton Foundation. In congressional hearings, Director Comey had been asked if there was such an investigation, but — consistent with Justice Department policy — he refused to confirm or deny its existence. Indeed, the reason McCabe’s leak caused such consternation was that, by acknowledging the investigation, he violated this policy. But on July 12, McCabe pointedly told Axelrod that the FBI was not using overt measures that require Justice Department approvals; it was being discreet. That is what DOJ policy requires — not that law-enforcement activity be suspended during campaign season, but that investigators avoid open and notorious tactics that could prejudice a candidate in the minds of voters.

    Discretion, however, was not good enough for the Obama Justice Department. As the Journal recounted, officials there considered the Clinton Foundation probe “dormant” and were angry that the Bureau was still “chasing” it.


    With the Clintons, though, enough is never enough. Obama Justice Department officials, figuring they were only a few days from succeeding in their quest to become Clinton Justice Department officials, decided to try to disappear the Clinton Foundation investigation, too.

    After nearly two years of digging, there is still no proof of Trump-campaign collusion in Russian election-meddling. But we have collusion all right: the executive branch’s law-enforcement and intelligence apparatus placed by the Obama administration in the service of the Clinton campaign. To find that, you don’t need to dig. You just need to open your eyes.”

    • bmaz says:

      Let’s put it this way, the DOJ in general, and SDNY in particular, have both been less “awful” since Andrew McCarthy left and took his “talents” to South Beach, er, strike that, right wing propaganda efforts.

      • TravisV says:

        bmaz, you might be right that McCarthy was bad. I really don’t know. But my question wasn’t about McCarthy’s past job performance. It was whether the top people at DOJ did the wrong thing in the example McCarthy cited during the 2016 campaign.

        • emptywheel says:

          The public facts show that Obama’s DOJ did the opposite. And no one mentions that CF folded during this period, so in point of fact, Obama’s DOJ may have done far, far more.

          But I’m not sure why McCarthy, who usually holds himself to DOj standards, is now suggesting Obama’s DOJ did something wrong for following the rules.

        • Avattoir says:

          I can’t tell what you’re “not sure” of.

          McCarthy posted what’s effectively an attempt to argue that McCabe’s engaging in pro-active leaking (to borrow from the late Iain Banks) does not qualify as Falling Outside The Normal Restraints.

          Trump & Trumpsters hold publicly to an incompetent nincompoop  of a cartoon that has McCabe trying to tip the scales against candidate Trump. That doesn’t dictate to someone in McCarthy’s position, who knows better, gleans the exact opposite, empathizes with McCabe, sympathizes with WSJ (also an important source of prestige and cash flow for McCarthy) and is employed by NRO, to cooperate in this throwing under what’s not even the right frickin’ bus.

          Andy McCarthy may be crazy but he’s not stupid.


    • harpie says:

      This is what Marcy had to say about McCabe five days ago:
      4/19/18 THE ANDREW MCCABE REFERRAL IS UNSURPRISING — AND PROBABLY JUSTIFIED […] Before I get into the report, let’s make it clear what McCabe is accused of (because the right wing gets this wrong seemingly every time). […] So for all that Republicans, starting with Donald Trump, want to make this into a real scandal hurting Republicans, it’s the opposite. McCabe is accused of screwing over Hillary to protect his own reputation. […] 

      • Avattoir says:

        That’s … right. That’s … that’s what … uhm … she posted. And … uh… that’s [hard swallow, tie to tight, eyes hurt] … that’s my pos … our, uh … my position [gulps for air] on, uh … why I don’t get how it’s really at all hard to make out where Andy McCarthy is coming from.

    • harpie says:

      UPDATE 3:20 pm: is reporting that a “Skadden employee who answered Craig’s phone Tuesday in Washington, D.C., confirmed his retirement from the firm.” A spokesperson for the firm confirmed Craig left the firm, but would not provide any additional details.

    • harpie says:

      Ten days ago, Marcy wrote:

      More recently, we’ve gotten hints — but only hints — of what must be extensive cooperation from Skadden Arps and its partner Greg Craig, describing how Manafort and Gates laundered money to pay the firm [Skadden] loads of money to write a report they hoped would exonerate Ukraine’s persecution of Yulia Tymoshenko. While the cooperation of Skadden itself was probably effusive in its voluntary nature (the firm seems determined to avoid the taint that Tony Podesta’s firm has acquired in this process), Mueller did subpoena Alex Van der Zwaan and it’s unclear what methods the FBI used to obtain some of the materials he tried to hide from prosecutors.

    • harpie says:

      Marcy discusses above “response to search of condo”.  WaPo published the document including “Exhibit A”  in “Manafort interviewed twice by FBI before joining Trump’s 2016 campaign, new documents show” 

      […]The new court filings indicate that prosecutors provided Manafort with copies of his past interviews to help him prepare for trial on charges including conspiracy, money laundering, and tax and bank fraud. […] 

      Dates from Exhibit A, page 3/15: […] 4. March 13, 2013 Interview of Paul J. Manafort, Jr.; 5. July 2, 2014 Interview of Richard w. Gates, III; 6. July 30, 2014 Interview of Paul J. Manafort, Jr.] […] 

    • harpie says:

      And, on Twitter, bringing in another story from today, Marcy says:
      emptywheel @emptywheel 16m16 minutes ago

      All: yes, I saw that Fitz is representing Comey. W/o more abt tie bt that and Craig’s departure from Skadden, or news that Comey newly needs a lawyer, it’s not huge news … yet.

      wrt: that story, there’s one of those awful circular songs that you can’t get out of your head in there somewhere:
      “Fitzgerald was appointed by Comey to investigate Libby, who was pardoned by Trump, who fired Comey [for investigating him], who has now hired Fitzgerald.”

  9. Trip says:

    So Sessions is not recusing and will oversee the M Cohen investigation. I guess his job will be secure going forward.

    • SteveB says:

      If Cohen investigation is hived of from Mueller probe, then surely for Sessions to be recused from Cohen investigation there would need to be something about either Cohen or the SDNY investigation into him above and beyond the matters prompting Sessions recusal from the Mueller probe?

      Or have I missed something?

      I appreciate that there are allegations that Sessions has been sketchy about whether he has violated/ encroached upon matters he had recused himself from. But unless I am mistaken, the actual DOJ documents pertaining to advice terms and bounds of the recusal are not in the public domain. Please correct me if I am wrong about that.

      I am no fan of Sessions. But he is a very canny operator. Putting aside for the moment his sketchy testimony re contact with Russians, he has otherwise made a great show of appearing to do things by the book. Regarding McCabe, whatever one thinks of the firing, getting the IG to investigate was the right thing to do. It is not clear to me (and I have probably missed something) why Sessions was or should have been recused from deciding the leak inquiry implicating McCabe should be a matter for investigation and investigation by the IG. This is discrete from the Russia matter or obstruction of it by the firing of Comey, albeit that McCabe was a corroborating witness to the Comey memos. Of course, Team Trump have an interest in undermining the witnesses to the Comey memos, but has Sessions actually done anything ethically dubious in this matter? I would wager that Sessions has covered his back with appropriate paperwork whenever he believed such safeguards were useful and/or necessary.

      • emptywheel says:

        Yeah, I’m not sure you can both claim the Cohen SDNY investigation is separate from MUeller and say Sessions has to recuse.

        • SpaceLifeForm says:

          “Yeah, I’m not sure you can both claim the Cohen SDNY investigation is separate from MUeller and say Sessions has to recuse.”

          Just to be clear for readers, I think you were basically saying the following: (correct me if I misinterpreted your point. Use of ‘both’ threw me off on first parse)

          “Yeah, I’m not sure you can *simultaneously* claim the Cohen SDNY investigation is separate from Mueller *and at the same time* say Sessions has to recuse.”

          [Aside: consider the possibility that the Mueller investigation is actually derived *from* SDNY investigation. Maybe the cart and horse are reversed?]

      • Trip says:

        I really didn’t say all that much.  But every legal pundit and his brother mentioned that it’s possible Kremlin-Trump-campaign-connected evidence might be uncovered in the course of the separate Cohen investigation. In which case, it would be handed back to Mueller, but in the meantime, Sessions would be privy.

        The issue I considered was that Trump wants Sessions to be a guard for him. That’s how Trump will perceive Sessions non-recusal. It also means that Sessions will be pressured to divulge information to Trump. What he might pass on? I don’t know. But I don’t have faith in him as some virtuous character.


        • SteveB says:

          I imagine that the SDNY Deputy US attorney Khuzami will have in mind any recusal issue affecting Sessions should evidence emerge in their investigation which has a bearing on Mueller probe. I further imagine that Rosenstein would be alerted to the matter before Sessions .

          Just guesses on my part,  but keeping a weather eye out for developing confilcts of interest is part of what leading prosecutors do.

          Obviously there is particular concern and interest in any Trump affiliated matter, and Trumps penchant for creating back channels (eg insisting on E Cohen-Watnik being embedded with Sessions) is somewhat alarming, however I am not sure we should assume that even if Sessions would want to play dirty with any revelations arising from the Cohen investigation, he would necessarily get the chance.

        • SpaceLifeForm says:

          Recall Berman recused.

          Sessions may not learn crap for a long time due to Grand Juries.

          Yes, that is *plural*. I’m certain there are at least two (likely more) Grand Jury investigations going on that I have never mentioned or hinted at. Those Grand Juries can take their sweet old time, and nothing will reach Rosenstein or Sessions until the appropriate time.

  10. x174 says:

    the persistence of sessions in re his non-recusal recusal reminds me of the tail of Goso’s buffalo: a very strange thing, indeed!

    “If the buffalo goes through, he will fall into the abyss,
    If he retreats into the enclosure, he will be butchered.
    This little bit of a tail,
    that is a strange thing indeed!”


  11. Avattoir says:

    I have this picture of Comey spending some of his abundant free time this last year going thru files-filled boxes in the attic & garage, stumbling across one packed with ornaments of those days past, thinking, Gee, wouldn’t it be great to bring back Fitzmas?

    Mister, we could use Jay

    Edgar Hoover again …

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      I did not know that Fitz is now at Skadden Arps. (Obviously, EW did, and now a lot of her tweets about Skadden and Greg Craig and cooperation make more sense.)

      • orionATL says:

        s,a&everybodyelse had a reputation as a white shoe firm that kept its shoes really, really white. something went badly wrong with their associate, herr van der zwaan.

        “… The 33-year-old lawyer had worked for the London office of law firm Skadden Arps Slate Meager & Flom. The firm had drafted a 2012 report on behalf of the Ukrainian government defending the imprisonment of Yulia Tymoshenko, the former Ukrainian prime minister…”

        maybe it would be a good idea if s&a,etal got out of the business of lying to the american or british publics about the behavior of foreign despots for a few shekels more.

  12. Trip says:

    This is bananas: The president’s physician was drunk on duty and handing out narcotics like candy to staffers. And this was happening in the last administration, too, but everyone was cool with it. First we’ve heard of it…Meanwhile, we have law and order types tossing lesser offenders in jails for years.  What a fucking country. Now, he’s about to get a promotion. Shit floats to the top, doesn’t it?

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      On the one hand, it’s naivety to think that lots of middle-class (white) Americans don’t have doctors who they patronize specifically because they hand out narcotics like candy. On the other hand, those doctors aren’t being asked to head the VA.

      The point is that he should never have been nominated. He should have just remained an American doctor writing scripts for Ambien and Xanax and whatever to people who wanted them.

      • Trip says:

        I know, @pseudonymous in nc, it’s just the hypocrisy. But it’s ALWAYS the hypocrisy. In a way, I feel sorry for this dude with the mud slinging. But in another, he kind of sealed his fate by coming out of the gate with nonsense about Trump’s weight (a YUGE lie) and eating habits as being completely copacetic, because “genes” (right from Trump’s mouth). A lot of people say he’s a nice guy, but if the stories are true about how badly he treated people who report/reported to him, then it plays like his niceness was directed only at those who could do things for him.

        Anyway, he kept getting military promotions, even after the 2012 report…sigh.

        • Trip says:

          Sorry, too late for edit: But as far as the appointment of an unqualified individual to head the VA (or a person whose ideology is contrary to the goals of any position); this is Koch/Mercer BS 101.  Kill the government institutions by any means possible (especially social safety nets and healthcare) even via incompetence; then you kill democracy while you’re at it.

        • Trip says:

          Look at this bastard, Mulvaney. Making the Consumer Financial Protection agency into a palm-greasing bribery/quid pro quo exchange for lobbyists and corporations. And I call BS on him listening to ACTUAL constituents, unless those constituents are bank and lender CEOs.

          “We had a hierarchy in my office in Congress,” Mr. Mulvaney, a former Republican lawmaker from South Carolina, told 1,300 bankers and lending industry officials at an American Bankers Association conference in Washington. “If you’re a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn’t talk to you. If you’re a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you.”…At the top of the hierarchy, he added, were his constituents. “If you came from back home and sat in my lobby, I talked to you without exception, regardless of the financial contributions,” said Mr. Mulvaney, who received nearly $63,000 from payday lenders for his congressional campaigns

          What a load of horseshit. How is this not asking for bribes? “I won’t talk to you until you hand me cash”.

          Economists and sociologists don’t tend to spend a lot of time arguing in favor of illegal activities like bribing bureaucrats, so their efforts tend to come down in defense of the K Street bandits. The common argument is that bribery happens in developing economies where the rule of law is questionable, while lobbying is a more civilized activity that brings economic benefits. Bard Harstad of the Kellogg School of Management and Jakob Svensson of Stockholm University have approached the problem as one between developing and developed economies. But let’s set aside the debate over third- and first-world corruption. Narco states, oligarchies, religious and secular dictatorships are ruled by graft because power and influence are traded in secret. What’s telling about the Harstad and Svensson paper is that in an open society like the U.S., our brightest minds are unable to draw meaningful distinctions between handing someone an envelope full of cash and flooding a senator’s campaign war chest, except to point out that lobbying is far more effective. A briber wants a to circumvent the law. A lobbyist wants to change it.

          In State v. Wallace, 214 A.2d 886, 889 (Del. Super. Ct. 1963), solicitation means the asking, enticing, or requesting of another to commit a crime of bribery.
          To constitute the crime of solicitation of a bribe, it is not necessary that the act be actually consummated or that the defendant profit by it.  It is sufficient if a bribe was actually solicited[iii].  If any person corruptly gives, offers, or promises to any executive, legislative, or judicial officer, or to any candidate for such office,  either before or after he shall have qualified or shall have taken his seat, any gift or gratuity with the intent to influence his act, vote, opinion, decision, or judgment on any matter, question, cause, or proceeding, which is or may be then pending, or may by law come or be brought before him in his official capacity, he shall upon conviction, be confined in the penitentiary not less than one or more than ten years.
          [i] Ford v. Commonwealth, 177 Va. 889 (Va. 1941), [ii] People v. Peters, 265 Ill. 122 (Ill. 1914), [iii] State v. Wallace, 214 A.2d 886, 889 (Del. Super. Ct. 1963)

          Does this apply, @bmaz? The guy is in office, asking for money to push policy. He isn’t out on a stump or running a campaign seeking donations.  Answer: Of course it doesn’t. We have legalized bribery for the wealthiest, directed at the highest reaches of government.

          Mulvaney turned this institution on its head. Destroying any pretense of protecting the consumer.

        • orionATL says:

          right on!

          mick is a contemporary republican elected/appointed official acting his role of the political corporate executive…

          “my ‘corporate executive’ job is to insure that my corporation/political party maximizes its acquisition and retention of power (income) by serving the needs of whoever gives it money for whatever purpose.”

          first and foremost, mick and his party brethern are equal opportunity bribery opportunities.

          so don’t ever accuse mick of being partial only to giant banks. mick is also very big on helping payday loan firms (see recent cfpb ruling).

        • orionATL says:

          do not feel sorry for dear old doc.

          people like him exist, hidden, in organizations and cause serious, hidden, trouble for the duration of their tenure.

          presidential doc is a great opportunity for gray mail that can allow doc to keep fucking up for years without being held to account.

        • orionATL says:

          like i said about employees like dear old doc jackson:

          “… What comes through clearly in the interviews is the level of animus that Jackson has attracted from current and past colleagues. Not clear, however, is how many of the 23 interview subjects contributed to that portrait.

          According to the document: “Jackson was described as ‘the most unethical person I have ever worked with,’ ‘flat-out unethical,’ ‘explosive,’ ‘100 percent bad temper,’ ‘toxic,’ ‘abusive,’ ‘volatile,’ ‘incapable of not losing his temper,’ ‘the worst officer I have ever served with,’ ‘despicable,’ ‘dishonest,’ as having ‘screaming tantrums’ and “screaming fits,’ as someone who would ‘lose his mind over small things,’ ‘vindictive,’ ‘belittling,’ ‘the worse leader I’ve ever worked for.’”

          It continued: “As Jackson gained power he became ‘intolerable.’ One physician said, ‘I have no faith in government that someone like Jackson could be end up at VA.’ A nurse stated, ‘this [working at WHMU] should have been the highlight of my military career but it was my worst assignment.’ Another stated that working at WHMU was the ‘worst experience of my life.’” …”

          of course the whitehouse of the most personally unethical president this nation has ever had views all this as an unfair, partisan attack on admiral jackson.

          tomorrow we will likely hear more lies told to the media about criticism of jackson from our unethical president’s dishonest spokeswoman, evangelical christian, sarah huckabee sanders.

        • Trip says:

          She is insufferable. Her voice, her expressions, HER LIES, her face. I don’t watch her performances, ever.  She will go down in history as the American female Joseph Goebbels. There is nothing good I can say about her, except that she is a most excellent liar, who must be devoid of a conscience. She sold her soul and for what?

          And yes, Dear Doc sounds like an absolute douche, so he’s perfect for the administration.

        • Trip says:

          And Imma just leave this here, for everyone who defends the routine use of Ambien and Provigil. (Never mind the Percocet.) Both substances have the potential to be abused and addictive.

          As he declared the opioid epidemic a national public health emergency, President Trump on Thursday called for “really tough, really big, really great advertising” to “teach young people not to take drugs,” and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions echoed that sentiment, stating, “People should say no to drug use.”

          “If we don’t get tough on the drug dealers, we are wasting our time,” Trump told the audience in Manchester, New Hampshire. “And that toughness includes the death penalty.”…“The best way to beat the drug crisis is to keep people from getting hooked in the first place,” the President said. “This has been something I have been strongly in favor of — spending a lot of money on great commercials showing how bad it is.”

          (unless of course you are the president, or in government, or happen to be in the press pool and traveling with the government, then it’s all cool like candy, and no big deal, no reason to “just say no”).

          Everyone else has NO EXCUSE.

  13. CD_454 says:

    Non-lawyer, smartass passerby here. Has anybody here, lawyer or otherwise, ever gamed out the possibility of OSC granting Michael Cohen qualified, blanket immunity? No pardon applies? Full corrupt core dump on the record (with documentation)? Kill shot????

  14. orionATL says:


    this is a curious story, not for its subject matter, but for the exquisite timing suggestive of close collaboration:

    “…On October 11, 2016, WikiLeaks released the Halpin-Palmieri emails. Within hours,Russia’s state-owned RT media outlet started highlighting the exchange in an array of articles on its website that quoted the emails extensively and said that they included “disparaging comments.”

    Trump, reeling from the release of the Access Hollywood tape only four days earlier, jumped at the chance to attack Clinton’s team.

    His first attack came on the evening of October 11, the same day WikiLeaks released the emails. At a campaign rally in Florida, Trump said the emails showed “the Clinton Team attacking Catholics.”

    He went further the next day, telling another rally that the emails “show members of the Clinton team viciously attacking Catholics and Evangelicals.” The messages, he added, “could be election changing.”…

    … the story of the leaked Halpin-Palmieri-Podesta emails about Catholicism is important all the same because it illustrates the sophistication with which WikiLeaks released the stolen emails for maximum political effect — and the speed with which the emails ricocheted through the conservative media ecosystem and then into Trump’s own remarks.

    Put another way, this specific case illustrates a broader point about WikiLeaks: The stolen emails had power, and Trump and his allies so badly wanted to use that power to win the White House that they tried to get early access to the stolen emails at least six times before WikiLeaks publicly released them. And that, in turn, is why special counsel Robert Mueller is focusing on the stolen emails as part of his investigation into Russia-Trump collusion…”

    • Bob Conyers says:

      On a related note, the major lack of traction of the Trump-Russia ties in 2016 hurt Clinton’s showing among many Catholic voters.

      Americans of Polish, Ukranian, Baltic, and other Eastern European Catholic countries are a significant voting group in Michigan, Ohio and PA. For many, Catholicism is a major part of ethnic identity. But also wrapped up in that identity is a powerful oposition to Russia.

      Being able to hammer Trump for his alliance with Putin the former KGB agent to break down Eastern European independence would have helped pull apart Trump’s appeal to many Catholics. But that opportunity was kept under wraps.

      • orionATL says:

        thanks for this interesting insight.

        the u.s. may have been in and of the New World since 1776, but we sure keep running into old world ethnic and religious problems.

        i do know chitown is a great place for eastern europeans :)

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      I seriously doubt that will go anywhere for some time due to related investigations.

      If it does, stock up on black ink.

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