Paul Manafort’s iPod (and Other Apple Product) Habit Rivals His Antique Rug Habit

In addition to a misleading motion to conduct an investigation into leaks about the investigation into him, Paul Manafort submitted similar (but not identical) motions to the motions he submitted to throw out the fruits of searches of his storage facility and condo in the DC case.

In addition to one or two different precedents (reflecting the different circuit), the biggest difference in the condo search motion is that Manafort lists all the devices the FBI took from his condo. The disorderly list of his devices includes at least 20 Apple devices:

  • 4 DVD discs
  • 7 external hard drives
  • 12 SD cards
  • 7 memory sticks
  • 1 micro SD card
  • 1 iPod
  • 3 compact flash cards
  • 1 MacBook Air hard drive
  • 2 iPads
  • 9 thumb drives
  • 1 iPhone
  • 1 micro vault pro
  • 1 DEWF_COMBO1: A 1TB (containing forensic images and device extractions from rooms: C, F, K, and Q)
  • 7 iPods
  • 1 iMac (including 1 Solid State Drive (SSD) and 1 Hard Disk Drive (HDD))
  • 4 iPhones
  • 1 SD card
  • 12 digital flash drives
  • 1 Macbook Air
  • 2 iPad Minis
  • 2 micro SD HC cards
  • 2 SD HC cards
  • 1 ultra-SD XC I card [my emphasis]

I raise this not just because Manafort appears to collect Apple devices like he also collects (er, launders) antique rugs. But also for another detail.

In the original filing, Manafort suggested that an Agent could not possibly have believed that an iPod would contain any evidence.

For example, the search warrant inventory of electronic devices seized or imaged includes things such as an Apple iPod music device and some Apple iPod Touch music and video devices. No agent could have reasonably believed that he was seizing electronic devices used in the commission of the subject offenses.

Not so, I argued.

Except that’s not right: you can use Signal on iPods, so these might have stored communication. Which would be precisely the kind of thing that would be of most interest: devices that could be used for encrypted comms that would not show up on cell records.

See this piece for how communicating using an iPod over WiFi is the most secure way to communicate.

The government was similarly unimpressed with Manafort’s focus on his iPods.

Manafort’s contention again rests on his mistaken reading of the warrant—that is, that it authorized only the seizure of computers and storage media that were instrumentalities of the Subject Offenses. As explained above, however, the warrant also authorized agents to search “storage media (such as hard disks or other media that can store data)” for the 11 categories of records enumerated in Attachment B. See Doc. 264-1 Attach. A. Devices such as the iPod and iPod Touch plainly qualify as “storage media,” since they can store files such as contact lists and can even be used as backup drives. See, e.g., See United States v. Ballard, 551 Fed. Appx. 33, 36 (3d Cir. 2014) (unpublished) (personal information relevant to identity-theft scheme found on iPod); United States v. Okeayainneh, No. 11-cr-87, 2011 WL 2457395, at *10 (D. Minn. May 13, 2011) (affidavit established probable cause to believe that an iPod was among the devices used to store and transmit information in a fraud and identity-theft scheme). Because those devices are capable of storing evidence that falls within the scope of the warrant, the agents properly imaged those devices or took them for offsite review under Attachment A to the warrant.

The government goes on to note that even if they shouldn’t have taken the iPods, the only recourse Manafort has is to suppression of evidence submitted at trial. And the government won’t be using evidence from the iPods at trial in this case.

In any event, Manafort would not be entitled to suppression even if he were correct. Absent evidence that the government flagrantly disregarded the terms of the warrant (which Manafort does not allege), the remedy for the seizure of materials outside the scope of a warrant is suppression of the improperly seized materials. See Maxwell, 920 F.2d at 1034 n.7. Here, Manafort identifies only the two iPod devices as supposedly falling outside the warrant’s terms, but the government will not be introducing any evidence obtained from those devices at the trial in this case. There is, in short, nothing to suppress. [my emphasis]

I’m a bit confused by the government reference to “two iPod devices,” because Manafort’s new list identifies eight. The discrepancy may arise from iPods that were taken versus those that were simply imaged.

In any case, Manafort cites the government in his EDVA motion, again focusing on a handful — whether a big or small handful — of iPods as proof that the search was improper. But he doesn’t cite the government motion directly.

In his opposition to Mr. Manafort’s motion to suppress evidence seized from his residence filed in the related matter pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the Special Counsel stated that he would not seek to introduce evidence from the iPods seized from the residence, see United States v. Manafort, Dkt. No. 17-cr-201 (D.D.C.) Doc. No. 284 at p. 18, further underscoring the unreasonableness of their seizure in the first place.

Rather than stating that “the government will not be introducing any evidence obtained from those devices at the trial in this case,” Manafort instead claims that “the Special Counsel stated that he would not seek to introduce evidence from the iPods seized from the residence.”

Mueller’s team only said they wouldn’t be introducing evidence from the iPods “in this case,” not that they wouldn’t introduce evidence from them “in some future case.”

Manafort is likely to face criminal charges in at least one more case (as indicated by the redacted — to us — bullet in several documents shared more broadly with Manafort). That case is presumably the hack-and-leak conspiracy — the one in which Manafort may have reached out “to Russia about potential assistance to the campaign.” As a reminder, unlike the storage unit warrant, the condo search warrant included evidence about the June 9, 2016 meeting.

Mueller’s team said nothing about introducing evidence from the iPods Manafort is so hung up about in some other trial.

Given how unlikely Manafort is to succeed with these suppression motions, they may pertain as much to evidence that will be used for the hack-and-leak conspiracy as they do to these cut-and-dry money laundering ones. (Michael Cohen’s concern about the FBI searches in NY may similarly reflect concerns about evidence that can be used in the larger conspiracy cases.)

And in both jurisdictions, Manafort seems awfully worried about his iPod devices.

40 replies
  1. obsessed says:

    Further evidence for my longstanding assertion that Apple is far more right-wing, diabolical and authoritarian than Microsoft. (And I hate Microsoft)

    >Manafort suggested that an Agent could not possibly have believed that an iPod would contain any evidence.

    Evidence bad taste in music and electronic devices. Plus, if it didn’t have something incriminating along the lines of your Signal theory, why would he even want it. And iPod, bad as it was to begin with, is utterly obsolete now.

    On another topic – do you think Manafort is just stalling? I mean, he must know he’s hopelessly on the hook for life in prison, right?

  2. Willis Warren says:

    The older iPods had a storage option (I haven’t had one since the 4) where you could put your shitty dissertation, er files and they wouldn’t be accessible on the main screens. You’d just plug them into your computer and go in through the storage link.

    So, he’s full of it. They’re pretty awesome at storing docs

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      Yep. Old-school clickwheel iPods were (expensive) portable hard drives before portable hard drives were really a thing. Nowadays the job is done by a thumb drive or a SD card or a WD Passport or whatever. But if you wanted to sneakernet files, especially across borders without attracting the attention of officials, they were certainly an option.

    • coral says:

      I have an older iPod with ability to store files–I have calendar, contacts, photos and notes on it–in addition to large music collection. Still works!

  3. Apel Mjausson says:

    The number of iPods doesn’t seem excessive to me, particularly if some are iPod Touchs. An iPod Touch is capable of anything that an iPhone can do, except only via wifi. In addition to Signal, you can have WhatsApp, Facebook messenger, Skype, Dropbox, Twitter of course and many other ways of communicating and storing information. That information may or may not also be available through Manafort’s Apple account.

    I agree that Manafort is likely grasping at straws and trying to file as many motions as possible in the hope that something will stick. OTOH, if you want to give him the benefit of the doubt, he just wants the iPod that he’s using as a remote for his TV and stereo back.

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      I’d be more sympathetic if he had younger kids, like Rick Gates, but he doesn’t, so fuck him. He can redownload his “Music To Do International Crimes By” playlist from iCloud.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      Absolutely. They can store all kinds of files.

      Many had microphones too, so they could be used for dictation, voice memos, etc.

      I have no idea why they would think any judge would agree they weren’t worth looking at.

      If you thought you were really clever, you’d splice your voice data onto the ends of songs, call the file HeyJude.aac or something, and hope no one listened all the way through, but I suspect that’s past the capacity of Manafort.

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        Apple makes a Voice Memos app for iOS that’s specifically for, um, voice memos. It’s harder on iOS to record, say, Skype calls on a mobile device, but as EW says, things like Signal/Telegraph/WhatsApp/Viber message history get stored locally.

  4. Rapier says:

    My WAG is he had a separate email/text messaging ID or ID’s for use with his iPods. Figuring among other things nobody would ever think to look at them.  Thus he could have them scattered everywhere and not have them on his person ever when out. Multiple devices all on the same account or accounts.  Less chance of losing them, and again he thought less chance of anyone even looking at them.

    I’m not up on the various generations of iPods but the latter ones are essentially in iPhone, without cellular capability, but wifi of course.  (I actually bought an Android version of this, a Galaxy Player, just so I could learn how these things worked and use their functions, without having a monthly bill, and kept my flip phone for a couple of years. Then again I am cheap. Not a vice Paul seems to share)

  5. LowdenF23c says:

    Maybe he just had a particularly good soundboard of the Barton Hall show that he’s sentimental about.  :)


  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Mr. Manafort traveled internationally, which means any electronic devices he was carrying would have been subject to search and seizure. The need to carry clean devices would account for his having multiple devices. Given the kind of clients he represented, I’m almost surprised the number wasn’t bigger.

    The number of them suggests they are used as storage devices. Given the character of most of his clients and the potential for self-incrimination, what would be important enough for Manafort to keep a record of it? He’s not the kind of guy who would over-document his business records for his tax return.

  7. Rugger9 says:

    I am reminded of the very old story of Wassmuss in (then) Persia who while trying to incite jihad against the British in WWI left his baggage behind while escaping and proceeded to complain loudly about getting it back. In it was a German code book that was later instrumental in decoding the Zimmermann Telegram.

    Two things leap out at me here:
    1. Paul’s got something in those iPods (and other devices) of immense value to his (ahem) clients of various legality and his posturing may make the Feebs look a little more closely now, and,
    2. Since this is an ongoing circus of filings with dubious merit, one wonders how many more he can do (excellent points above on financing) before the judge says enough or he uses up all of his legal mulligans with the judge. It’s never wise to annoy the ref in any arena.

    Also, could this mean that Paul is outing Michael to score his pardon? It seemed that the Feebs knew what to look for in the Cohen search, and I wonder whether Paul tipped them off.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    “Standard operating procedure,” is it Sarah Sanders?

    A politician’s lawyer and two thugs show up at his doctor’s office – apparently without written patient authorization – and steal his patient records, presumably illegally rifling through other records to make sure they took them all.

    Sarah must be hoping that will be deemed an opinion or characterization, rather than a fact, so she can pretend she didn’t lie. Bullshit.

    • Rugger9 says:

      HIPAA violation as well as a violation of NYS medical records law (must be kept at the doc’s office for six years).

      Not standard procedure at all, since it has never happened before and it sounds like a strong-arm robbery.  Perhaps the state AG would like to pursue this.

  9. burnt says:

    As other comments above it is likely he has so many iPods to carry files internationally with minimal scrutiny. Personally, I want that MacBook Air hard drive. That thing is old. Airs haven’t had hard drives since 2011. Yeah, all the sexy stuff involves the Trump campaign but it might prove interesting to see what Manafort was up to years before.

  10. Frank Probst says:

    As a physician, I’ve been following this story and reading various opinions about it. It’s obviously NOT “standard operating procedure” at all. For those of us who have had to sit through HIPAA training again and again and again, there are obvious problems here, but the bigger question is whether or not this was straight up robbery.

    But much more interesting to me is the timing. Why is this story breaking now, as opposed to back when it happened? My suspicion is that it’s because Dr Ronny Jackson is under investigation, and various stories about him are starting to leak out. He supposedly wrote the letter/order authorizing these guys to show up and take Trump’s medical records. My guess is that nobody really wanted to dig into this guy’s background, and they may have even been slow-walking any investigations that they were doing as a result of Jackson’s original nomination, but then Trump opened his big mouth last Saturday to bash a sitting US Senator. Once that happened, I think the Pentagon was obligated to deal a real investigation, and all sorts of weird stories about this guy are leaking out now. I don’t think things are going to end well for him.

    • Trip says:

      Excellent point, @Frank Probst.

      My comment in another article is in moderation (for HIPPA links). But since these guys were in the office upward of, or beyond, 25 minutes, it’s clear they were riffling through other patients’ info, (Unless this doctor is like Cohen and has no other patients), I think Donald’s physician should have made a breach notification:

      Breach Notification Rule
      The HIPAA Breach Notification Rule, 45 CFR §§ 164.400-414, requires HIPAA covered entities and their business associates to provide notification following a breach of unsecured protected health information. Similar breach notification provisions implemented and enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), apply to vendors of personal health records and their third party service providers, pursuant to section 13407 of the HITECH Act.

      Ronny Jackson asking for access to Donald’s medical charts doesn’t give them the rights to all patient medical records. And the Trump Inc lawyer with thug in tow, aren’t even government employees, did Jackson actually make them record stewards? Never mind that no prior notice was given.

      It’s all very slimy and mob-like.


      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Well put.  A note from mom Jackson is not authorization to move patient records.  It’s evidence of where to move them.  But moving them requires a signed authorization from the patient.

        I bet Trump refused that, following the Roy Cohn advice about not leaving too many bread crumbs.  As usual, it doesn’t apply here.  Most obviously, this relates to Trump, so the bread crumbs are loaves of bread.  And the absence of the authorization makes this robbery and probably assault, given the presence of the gumbas.

        Taking original records is a big problem.  Those are the physician’s property, which he is required to keep for a fixed period of time.  The patient is entitled to copies.  The physician could waive the robbery aspect, and the assault aspect [has he?].  He could not waive the HIPPA requirement or his obligation to keep the originals to document his own conduct.

        There’s also the bent process, typical of would be mob boss the Don.  There the two gumbas.  There’s no evidence the lawyer represented Trump.  He was apparently employed by a business the president no longer works for [sic].  The lawyer’s word that he represented Trump – even if he offered it – would be inadequate.  There would need to be evidence in existence at the time that Trump authorized him. If they rifled through other patient records searching for the Don’s, that’s a separate HIPPA violation. The excuse of a broken copier goes nowhere.

        Per Sarah Sanders, this might be standard procedure for obtaining medical records of a new president – but only in a banana republic.

        • Trip says:

          I hope all of the Huckster-b-Sanders apologistas are now enjoying their hearty meal of crow. Wolf was WAY too gentle on her.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          About the Don dictating his physician’s evaluation of Trump’s health.  That is Donald Trump lying to American voters about his health.  (The physician was also lying.)  That’s a misstatement of material facts. Was he vain and hiding his obesity or that he religiously takes a little blue pill. Did he have terminal cancer or dementia? Who would know?

          Is that an election law violation?  Should it be? Among other voids Trump’s presidency illuminates, medical as well as tax records of final candidates for the presidency should be required public disclosure no less than sixty days before the election.  Failure to release the records should disqualify the candidate.

          Using the analogy of SEC disclosure, annual updates should be mandatory, as should updates regarding material changes in health or wealth.  Both affect the president’s ability to do the job or the likelihood of material conflicts of interest.

          Most obviously, Congress needs to make mandatory the pre-swearing in separation of the new president from her businesses and wealth management.  Either that, or Congress should take a piece of the action.  Sitting on the fence will just give Congress a collective case of the piles.

          • Frank Probst says:

            The fact that Trump wrote it isn’t problematic for me.  The fact that his doctor signed it is the problem.  I don’t understand how “I signed the document without reading it.” or “I signed the document knowing it was false.” are considered valid defenses.  I don’t know if any election laws were broken, but from a medical standpoint, unfortunately, I don’t think he actually broke any laws.  He simply admitted that he has no ethics whatsoever, which we already knew.  I don’t think he’s obligated to tell us the truth about Trump’s health.  It might qualify as fraud against the American people, but I’ve never heard of a doctor being prosecuted for lying to the public about a patient.


            As for the robbery, I think the reason there isn’t an agreement about what laws were broken (if any) is because things like this just don’t happen.  I don’t think anyone I know has ever heard of three people barging into a physician’s office and stealing medical records.  Bornstein should have called the police, but given how bizarre the whole thing is, I can understand why he failed to do so.  But now that the whole thing is all over the news, I don’t think “No one filed a complaint.” is going to cut it for the NYPD.  They should be obligated to investigate this.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          And, of course, Keith Schiller was a White House official, a  public employee, at the time he accompanied the Trump Org. lawyer and an unnamed, very large man on a mission to get Trump’s health records.

        • posaune says:

          Gee, this thought just sprang:   the design/signing architect fully owns the drawings for a building project.  I wonder where all of those Trump Tower etc drawings are (with hundreds of intentional building violations, i.e. hand-lined change orders)?   I’ll bet the same thing happened — in fact, it was probably practice for the physician’s office.   Of course, there’s no HIPPA in architecture.

    • orionATL says:

      president trump went after senator tester (mont), saying tester should resign because the secret service had said admiral jackson never wrecked a gov’t vehicle while drunk. as an aside, trump was doubtless prompted to say this by a political aide as a political cheap shot against a dem senator up for election.

      my first thought on hearing that the secret service had “cleared” jackson was, “who does the white house think they are kidding?”

      this is our whore-hopping u.s. secret service. this is the secret service whose agents get drunk while on the job. this isvthe secret service that crashes cars into the whitehouse grounds. this is the secret servive with incompetent management. this is the secret service that is directly under this president’s control. and we are supposed to take their word about jackson? why in the world would i do that? leaving aside that our president is a compulsive liar.

    • Palli says:

      From what we know now, was Dr. Jackson an issue Pres Obama didn’t care to take on? I’m still curious, aside from the mandated annual medical report, who, when & how the president doctor’s services were used in those 10 years?

      • Frank Probst says:

        I doubt Obama knew that there was a problem.  This guy sounds like a “kiss up, kick down” kind of person.  He probably treated Obama exactly the way he should have.  And if the doc’s handing out drugs on Air Force One, that’s not something that I’d imagine people would report to the President.  The big problem that I see here in terms of how all of this was missed is that almost everyone involved has (or had) a vested interest in keeping it out of public view.  If he was handing out Ambien and ProVigil to the President’s aides, the White House Press Corps, and the Secret Service, I think most people involved would have been grateful for the “favor”.  Some may not have known it was even a problem.  If the top doc is freely handing out drugs to everyone on the plane, I think most people would assume that he has the authority to do so.

  11. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Morning Joe lays out again why he is in the wrong job.  According to him, Gen. Kelly remains Donald Trump’s chief of staff because he ‘s saving the country from a dismal president – and because he’s seen worse things in combat than a “jack-ass with orange hair”.  Um, bullshit.

    The argument might be applicable in answer to why you stay in the fox hole night after night, protecting your buds and the perimeter.  It does not apply inside the Beltway, where the fights are political, they are only figuratively lethal, and the consequences of aiding and abetting the presidency of an incompetent, cruel, liar have global implications.

    Kelly and Mornin’ Joe should listen to their own rhetoric.  If Donald Trump is so dangerous that they have to prostitute themselves to save the rest of us from the harm he can do on a whim, he should be removed from office.  Helping to keep him there furthers the harm.  That’s on them.

    • Trip says:

      Why does MSNBC have so many rightwinged dipshits?

      If they want to ‘balance’ coverage and perspective, how about at least ONE of center left?

  12. peacerme says:

    I can’t believe this is not being treated as a robbery.

    Sure makes it easy to believe Stormy Daniels story of being threatened. Obviously, the trump team uses these types of tactics, admittedly. No shame in a little forced file removal!

    If the Trump team helped themselves to his Docs cabinet, that’s a personal boundary violation. (Which it sounded as if they did rifle through his files). No doc would say “Help yourself!” (Because Hippa) I can’t imagine someone helping themselves to my files. (Although most of mine are stored electronically). He did not just call and ask for his files. He sent thugs to get them and make sure they had them all.

    A physician would never ever give up the originals because you as a physician are required to keep those originals on file for a certain number of years. You make copies. You don’t give away the whole file. I had a client take her files, years ago when I left the room to handle a crises. When I came back the woman was walking out of building with her file. We reported it as theft even though, they were her files. (Because Hippa). In my case, she dumped her file in a dumpster near our clinic but without reporting we could have been held accountable for the violation.)

    (I am not a doc, but mental health therapist, similar rules and ethics).

    He’s gone over almost every line. What will it take to make Americans see the peril we are in, with our democracy. It’s like watching a slow motion train wreck.

    Its easier to keep freedom than to fight to get it back.





      • orionATL says:

        thanks but no, it was probably considered tendentious and overly political for a website that is analytical and reflective. there’s no point in bringing fire and brimstone down on yourself for no good gain.

  13. harpie says:

    This morning in the NYT: Ukraine, Seeking U.S. Missiles, Halted Cooperation With Mueller Investigation [Missile delivery was announced on 4/30/18]

    […] But in Ukraine, where officials are wary of offending President Trump, four meandering cases that involve Mr. Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman, have been effectively frozen by Ukraine’s chief prosecutor.
    The cases are just too sensitive for a government deeply reliant on United States financial and military aid, and keenly aware of Mr. Trump’s distaste for the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, into possible collusion between Russia and his campaign, some lawmakers say. […]

    This afternoon, from the State Department Spox:  

    Today after meeting Pres. @Poroshenko, A/S Mitchell announced $5 million more in U.S. assistance to help Ukraine prevent, mitigate, and respond to cyberattacks, doubling the total since last year to $10mil. The threat from #Russia is real. Our commitment to #Ukraine is unbending.


  14. Jaag says:

    When the doctor stated that Trump was taking Propecia, was he acting with consent? It could end up being used to try to justify the retrieval of patient records.

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