Trump Repeats the “Tapp” Story Line from Season One

Last March 4, as it became clear the FBI was investigating him, President Trump wrote a bunch of tweets that claimed, falsely, that he had been wiretapped.

He even called for a “good lawyer” to make a case out of the “fact” that Obama was tapping his phone.

Today, Day Two of the Don and Rudy show, NBC has an exclusive story reporting that Michael Cohen’s phones were tapped before he was raided by the FBI a few weeks ago.

It’s certainly possible that the story is true. After all, prosecutors already revealed that “the USAO-SDNY has already obtained search warrants – covert until this point – on multiple different email accounts maintained by Cohen.” They also referred to some [redacted] reason to be concerned that Cohen was destroying evidence. So it’s certainly feasible SDNY had probable cause and reason to want to wiretap mob lawyer Michael Cohen.

But within minutes of the story breaking, Rudy was on the phone with Robert Costa, making false claims that if the wiretap picked up a conversation between Trump and Cohen, as the NBC report claims based off a single source, the FBI would need to notify Trump.

Giuliani tells me he can’t confirm there were wiretaps, hasn’t been informed. But when read NBC report, he was furious. “If they picked up the president, they would have had to notify him.” Said if true, wld be a “mockery” of attorney-client privilege and “gov’t misconduct”

And Giuliani’s concerns echo advice he gave Trump as the Cohen story was breaking, to stay off the phones with Cohen because they might be tapped. something the story itself describes, attributed to “sources close to” Rudy.

After the raid, members of Trump’s legal team advised the president not to speak to Cohen, according to a person familiar with the discussion.

Two sources close to Trump’s newest attorney, Rudolph Giuliani, say he learned that days after the raid the president had made a call to Cohen, and told Trump never to call again out of concern the call was being recorded by prosecutors.

Why would this detail be included in this NBC story? It’s like a Chekhov suicide pill, unnecessary to the story in chief but useful for giving a story additional dramatic meaning [yes, I made that term up, but I’ve got a PhD in literature, so am taking license to do so].

Incidentally, Corey Lewandowski was dining with Rudy last night before he went on Hannity.

As to the report about the wiretap itself, the NBC story is sourced to:

” two people with knowledge of the legal proceedings involving Cohen” [a kind of code often used to describe defense lawyers, though there are so many involved in this wiretap that it could be any of many]

“one person with direct knowledge”

“the person ” [that is, with direct knowledge — this is the confirmation that a call to the White House got picked up]

Nowhere does the story explain why someone with knowledge of a wiretap would want to burn it.

Certainly, there are explanations that given the people involved might explain the story. Michael Avenatti has claimed to know quite a bit about the surveillance of Michael Cohen; certainly, he has had communications with prosecutors involved, not least about whether he can intervene in the case. Alternately, Rudy is still quite close to some of NY’s more unethical FBI Agents, and it’s certainly possible one of them leaked the news.

By all means, let’s entertain the distinct possibility that the President’s personal lawyer, with all his mob ties, got treated like a mob lawyer. But let’s remember that Rudy appears to have made promises he can end the investigations into the President in the short term. He’s a liar. And Trump has specifically lied about being wiretapped before. So even if Cohen was wiretapped, beware serial liars making claims about the impact of such wiretaps on the President himself.

The President who cried “wiretap” once too often should be treated with a great deal of skepticism, particularly given the way Rudy immediately used this story to attack the investigation into Cohen.

Update: And now Rudy is using the alleged wiretap to call for Sessions to investigate those who were investigating  Cohen.

Rudy Giuliani called for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to intervene in the Michael Cohen case and put the people behind the probe “under investigation” in a phone call with The Hill on Thursday.

“I am waiting for the Attorney General to step in, in his role as defender of justice, and put these people under investigation,” Giuliani said, reacting to an NBC News report that phones belonging to Cohen, President Trump’s longtime personal attorney, had been tapped by investigators.

He gives up the game when he complains that FBI didn’t inform “us” of the alleged wiretap.

But Giuliani said that a wiretapping of Cohen would amount to “gross misconduct” by the government. He further alleged that “this case has been surrounded by numerous acts” that fit that description.

Giuliani added sarcastically, “And they don’t even notify us? I mean, he’s only the president of the United States.”

Rudy wasn’t representing Trump when the raid occurred.

Update: Rudy again gives up the game when he suggests only the FBI, the independent counsel, or DOJ would know about this wiretap.

Giuliani said that he found out about the wiretap news from NBC News’ report, which cited “two people with knowledge of the legal proceedings,” and not from Cohen himself. He believed someone in the Justice Department was behind the leak.

“Nobody else would know about it,” Giuliani said. “Cohen didn’t know about it, so it has to be the FBI, the independent counsel, or the Justice Department.”

“Anybody who says that I’m exaggerating when I say that this is an out-of-control investigation and they’re acting like storm troopers––give me a break, baby! They prove it every day.”

As I’ve already suggested, Avenatti is one other outsider who might have a whiff of this, if true. But in any case, the raid, and therefore the wiretap, is understood to have involved an independent investigation conducted by SDNY, not Mueller’s team. If true, there’s no way Mueller would know about it either. And yet Rudy uses it to suggest the Mueller investigation is out of control.

Update: … and NBC has retracted the story. FBI had a pen register on Cohen, not a wiretap. Which of course they would, because that’s one thing they use to decide which emails — which we know they collected — to read.

144 replies
    • TGuerrant says:

      They were the original Tapp Family Dancers in Sound of Music, weren’t they? How do you solve a problem like the buck wing? How do you hop and drum your toes upon the boards…

        • Desider says:

          You’re saying it’s entrappment, and not just entappment? I’d figured it was all related to the PEN Tapp and Tase registration, but you’re welcome to differ – that’s interntainment.

  1. harpie says:

    The Con and Rudy show, con’t:

    McDeere @McDeereUSA 3m3 minutes ago 

    So per @woodruffbets, Giuliani’s new take is that Cohen wasn’t actually tapped because doing so would be illegal, and because Trump isn’t part of the Cohen investigation.


    • harpie says:

      Here’s the article: Giuliani: I Don’t Believe That Michael Cohen Was Wiretapped; The former New York City mayor said Thursday’s bombshell revelation makes a sit down with Robert Mueller less likely.  05.03.18 3:02 PM ET
      As NYCSouthpaw says: “So… *checking a couple pages of notes* … Giuliani advised the President not to call Michael Cohen because his phones weren’t tapped.”

      • Avattoir says:

        Same DB article:

        “Later on Thursday, NBC corrected its report to say that while the feds were able to monitor Cohen’s calls they were not listening in on them.”

        Rudi’s Reasons are, unsurprisingly, b.s. When Rudi said:

        “it would be totally illegal. You can’t wiretap a lawyer, you certainly can’t wiretap his client who’s not involved in the investigation”

        that’s just wrong. It’s a tricky (non-pejorative meaning) business applying for warrant that actually TARGETS a lawyer, but it’s been done (among many many others, for example by me).

        For starters, it’s pretty much impossible to get such a warrant from any judicial official below an actual full-blown active list judge. Then when you appear before such a judge, without fail any and all of them are going to sit up in ways you just don’t see for other types of comms warrants, and the entire category of comms warrants already gets them to triple espresso alert.

        Assuming you get such an order, there’s guaranteed to be an array of special conditions, aimed at protecting client-attorney privilege; one example is 100% live monitoring, i.e. no leaving the thing running overnight, etc. There’ll be a list of excepted persons, and if that list isn’t adhered to with a neo-religious fervor, God save your ass b/c no investigators will even try.

        But other than those, the standard live monitoring direction is, if you even THINK you’re about to hear a client, stop, don’t listen, segregate for possible future review by a taint team (which is extremely rare; mostly such calls get destroyed, and with extra assiduous care, such as multiple witnesses and a supervisor’s verification).

        But contra Rudi, it’s not “illegal” per se. Say the materials tendered in support of the application for the warrant support that with a certain supposed ‘client’, or category of them, there’s a solid basis for thinking the client-attorney privilege is being used as a ruse to cover up the attorney being used as an info mule. That can result in an exception specified in the warrant (tho still usually with at least some taint team involvement).

        I’ll further observe that, from everything I’ve ever heard or read attributed to Rudi on Wire, he doesn’t know beans about it. This is neither unusual nor surprising: MOST government prosecutors I worked with or against, especially the desk warriors, haven’t know wire from beans. There’s really no need, since there were always a few specialists in every office.

        FWIW the DB update tends to suggest this is some b.s. internal rumor from some FBI or DoJ contact person who really doesn’t know either sufficient details or have a sufficient underlying understanding. It wouldn’t shock me if, in the unlikely event we were to learn the source(s), it’s one of Rudi’s old buffalo herd trying to please or placate Rudi with ‘something, anything’, which Rudi then checked out with pros and has learned that even as rumor it’s just unsustainable.

        That old fucker isn’t to be trusted with getting coffee.

    • harpie says:

      Then, there’s this, from The Hill:
      EXCLUSIVE: Giuliani calls for Sessions to ‘step in’ on Cohen investigation; 05/03/18 03:09 PM EDT 
      [quote] Rudy Giuliani called for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to intervene in the Michael Cohen case and put the people behind the probe “under investigation” in a phone call with The Hill on Thursday. […] “I am waiting for the Attorney General to step in, in his role as defender of justice, and put these people under investigation,” Giuliani said, reacting to an NBC News report that phones belonging to Cohen, President Trump’s longtime personal attorney, had been tapped by investigators. […] [end quote]

      • Trip says:

        Investigated for doing their jobs? How cute. He just admitted on cult-teevee that Trump lied about Daniels, and that there was finagling of someone’s money to shut her up. Now, why, I wonder, would anyone investigate Cohen? It’s an outrage!!!

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Whose money and paid how still seem to be open questions.  I don’t think the “monthly retainer” to Cohen description passes muster.

          If it’s not Don’s personal money, it’s a probable illegal campaign contribution, among other things.  And we all know how much the Don dislikes using his own money.

          • Trip says:


            Also, since Marcy is questioning the ‘tapp’, do you think it’s team Trumputin or a complete psyche out by, let’s say, someone like Avenatti leaking this stuff?  He seems to know things. Or he’s a fantastic poker player.

            • Avattoir says:

              Avenatti’s not being fed by an insider. He is, as you say, good at poker (i.e. reads people well), including bluffing and educated somewhat experienced guessing.

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      I’m not sure that there’s a Rudy 911 strategy, but there seems to be a set of tactics that involve dumping dead cats on the table. Impunity’s a heckuva drug.

      • Bob Conyers says:

        Maybe it isn’t the plan, but this pattern fits what would be a strategy of firing Sessions, firing Rosenstein, firing anyone else who objects, filling DOJ with stooges and shutting everything down. Next, watching with glee as McConnell and Ryan shake their heads about doing anything. Any loose ends like the Daniels or Zervos cases will be dealt with by stonewalling and defiance, and then daring the courts to intervene.

        If Trump has decided he is screwed if Mueller keeps working, his natural tendency is to escalate, escalate, and escalate some more.

        • harpie says:

          …and, Mueller does seem like he IS working:

          Mueller Seeks 70 Blank Subpoenas in Manafort Case May 3, 2018  […] The two-page filing doesn’t offer much in the way of details, but each subpeona orders the recipient to appear at the federal courthouse in Alexandria on July 10 at 10 a.m. to testify in trial of Manafort on charges stemming from Mueller’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. […]

          • harpie says:

            According to Carrie Johnson: “This is normal order for prosecutors preparing for trial not a pressure tactic. Also I thought there were 35 subpoenas not 70.”

            and Marcy Tweets: “Is it unethical for a lawyer to provide subpoenas to 3X the people they expect to call to prevent Manafort’s mob buddies from knowing which witnesses to tamper with?”

    • harpie says:

      popehat!  [Ken White] comment on TDB story:  

      “There are limitations on intercepting attorney-client conversations and if you do intercept one, what they’re supposed to do is segregate that conversation and present it to the judge,” Ken White, a former federal prosecutor, told The Daily Beast. White said the same policy doesn’t strictly ban the wiretapping of lawyers. That sort of thing happens all the time if you’re doing mob wiretaps,” he said. “That would be the classic type of scenario, when they’re calling their lawyer or their fixer or whatever. But there’s not an absolute prohibition on wiretapping a lawyer.”

        • Avattoir says:

          Can be broader than that. The idea underlying the client-attorney privilege is candid consultation over rights, options, etc. If there’s an arrangement to use a lawyer as a message mule, even without fraud, that’s not what’s to be protected.

  2. pseudonymous in nc says:

    Is the assumption that the special master process for discovery has begun? (I saw somewhere that ‘King Idiot’s lawyers hired for the SDNY case aren’t being told what might be in the Cohen stash, which is going to make their job trickier. As is the wrecking-ball approach of Rudy 911.)

    Claiming a wiretap has the potential to gum up the privilege argument a bit more, and perhaps is designed to force SDNY to disclose which of Cohen’s many crimes are under active investigation.

  3. Trip says:

    Giuliani also said that Jared was disposable, but not Ivanka. Is that a message to Cohen? Surely, he can’t think that Mueller has any f-cks to give about what Rudy or Donald think about charges or focus.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Telegraphing what you want to protect is never a good strategy.  Rudy pretty much invited Mueller to take a long hard look at that nice lady, Ivanka.  But that wouldn’t detract from any interest Mueller has in Jared or anyone else.

      Like all his advisers, Rudy is playing to an audience of one.  He is also trying to play to a bigger audience.  But he doesn’t seem able any more, outside of the soft confines of Faux News.

  4. John says:

    “Chekhov suicide pill” – I don’t think Chekhov used many suicide pills to that effect.  I think you mean to use “a Tiresian prophesy,”

    Here it would suggest a prophesy designed to augment the great tragedy of Trump and burnish the reputation of soothsayer Rudy 911.  If only Rudy were on Fox, he would follow his Tiresian prophesy with “ALACK!  YE VILLAINS!  ALAS TRUMP!”

  5. Bobby Gladd says:


    Well, somebody’s gotta be the dumbest lawyer in the U.S. But ya gotta love the spaghetti straps, sensible pumps, and ea de East River cologne.

    This is getting way beyond crazy.

  6. John says:

    But with Tiresian prophesy, you also suggest this scene:  which is disturbing in so many ways.  Keep up the good work!

  7. Kim Kaufman says:

    What’s with Rudy saying DT paid Cohen the $130k Stormy $$?? Is Flood part of this, uh, grand strategy?

    • bmaz says:

      not so breaking. It is 35 sets, i.e for 35 witnesses. This is normal trial preparation.

  8. bmaz says:

    NBC now reporting that it was just a pen register, not a full tap. That is one hell of a big difference. And much less concerning.

    • Trip says:

      bmaz, I just looked it up. Does it only collect what was typed in, like numbers and texts, etc, but no voice? I don’t quite get it.

      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        Rudy is following the ‘plan’ to throw mud on DOJ/FBI. But he does not realize that FBI may have had *nothing* to do with what he alleges.

        G(pen register trap and trace nsa)

        • JD12 says:

          If it’s his strategy then he might not care. Just like the Nunes memo, they only care if that’s what their base believes. It’s just a way to discredit the investigation.

      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        SS7 will do that. Numbers, text, no voice.

        Who can *see* that ‘stuff’ is a great question.

        It’s not just LE.

        • Trip says:

          Thanks. An old article from EFF had explained anything typed in, like social security #s, etc. It was an op ed on the patriot act at the time. Is a Pen Register the same as Trap and Trace?

          • Avattoir says:

            They’re complementary: one picks up info outgoing, other picks up info incoming.

            Except, that distinction derives from Old School tech. These days, when a LEO says ‘pen register’, she’s pro’ly referring more broadly to metadata acquisition tech, i.e. everything except what’s in the (sound) waves, Moriarity, negative or whatever.

            • Trip says:

              Thank you.

              Avanetti said that there were also separate warrants for texts and emails. That’s a lot of data.

              • Avattoir says:

                said “were” or “would be”? First implies knowledge he could not have; second, tho, makes sense.

                • Trip says:

                  Yes. He said that (knowledge), plus he said that investigators have a slew of communication between Cohen and Davidson. He also said, “I can’t tell you how I know”.

                  SDNY is known as leaky, tho, right? Plus they have mutual interests in the cases.

    • harpie says:

      So, it was an “alleged wiretap” as Marcy surmised.

      Who benefited from this Act of the Con and Rudy Show?

      • JD12 says:

        The best I can think of is that when Cohen’s tapes come out they want people to think the recordings came from an “illegal” wiretap, like they did with the Carter Page FISA surveillance.

        • harpie says:

          Yes, because the fight is now political, not legal, according to Politico, Bash Mueller to Beat Impeachment. And Marcy [retweets McDeereUSA, who says: “So when Rudy makes bonkers legal arguments, he doesn’t care how it plays on law twitter. His only goal is to tip public opinion against Mueller.”] and tweets

          This is also a concession that neither the facts nor the law are on Trump’s side as he attempts to beat “collusion” charges.

          The Con and Rudy Show is their only game and all they care about is obtaining and holding power. Nothing else.

          • harpie says:

            EOH said better last night at 6:17pm:

            Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.  Coming out on top, regardless of who has to pay what price, is all that counts.  When you don’t have the facts, when the law is against you, burn it all down except your own back yard.  Blame the other guy. Nominate your guy for the Nobel.
            People who think that way belong in a banana republic or prison, not the White House.

          • Avattoir says:

            Opposing themes coalescing?

            We must hope

            ConFraudUS vs TuttiFrutti/ConRudy

            ends as well as Mothra vs Godzilla.

        • SpaceLifeForrm says:

          Seriously doubt any ‘tapes’ will ever come out.

          If they even exist, they will not come out in court.

          Note: Cohen says Rudy has no clue.

          • bmaz says:

            Baloney. If Cohen’s own recordings are relevant, they will certainly come out in a pretrial motion or at trial, if there is one.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      Is this grounds for NBC to out their sources? At some point NBC has an obligation to warn other journalists about people who peddle fake stories.

      If not, NBC at a minimum should explain how the sources screwed up, why their reporter took their words for it, and how NBC will be taking steps to avoid this kind of reporting in the future.

      The Trump camp is obviously in the middle of a leak and scream campaign, and the media needs to alert its readers and public what is happening here. I won’t hold my breath for any of this, though.

      • TGuerrant says:

        Could have been misunderstanding somewhere in the communications chain (inc. with editor/producer types at corporate). A lot of people know nothing about surveillance methods and make assumptions based on whatever they’ve seen on teevee. Source could have misunderstood original material, reporter could have misunderstood source, HQ could have misunderstood reporter. Swift correction indicates honest intention, IMHO.

      • JD12 says:

        The Trump camp is obviously in the middle of a leak and scream campaign, and the media needs to alert its readers and public what is happening here. 

        You’re right on. NBC got played and outing the liars is the right thing to do. Unfortunately the Washington media is afraid to set that standard because they fear losing their access.

        Great catch by EW too by the way

    • TGuerrant says:

      So 2nite!!! Hannity will instruct the Trumpies to set fire to their pens in protest.

    • harpie says:

      Julian Sanchez on pen registers:
      “Oh. Very different. / Puzzling in other respects though. DOJ has stopped using hybrid pen registers for location tracking, so you only really need one when it’s important to get telephony metadata realtime. Otherwise easier to just subpoena the records. /// [reader question]: what can be learned from telephony metadata? /// [Sanchez]: Time/date/durations of calls. Originating & terminating number.  Sometimes “post cut through dialed digits” (touchtone information input after the call is connected). Some location data (cell site/sector).”

      • Trip says:

        Thanks @harpie.

        Avenatti, last night, said that he knew that emails and texts were also collected. I believe, through separate warrants. He wouldn’t say how he knew this. But SDNY is known as the leaky ship, right?

  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Rudy is engaged in psychological warfare for the GOP, for the Base, for Donald Trump, against everyone and everything else.

    — Paraphrasing Malcolm Nance on MSNBC

    Facts, truth, reason, rationality, being tied to them is a weakness to exploit.  This is warfare, a necessary characterization because for its proponents, it excuses everything done in its name.

    Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.  Coming out on top, regardless of who has to pay what price, is all that counts.  When you don’t have the facts, when the law is against you, burn it all down except your own back yard.  Blame the other guy. Nominate your guy for the Nobel.

    People who think that way belong in a banana republic or prison, not the White House.

  10. greengiant says:

    Refresh my memory. When/do Trump’s lawyers resign after he lies to them? SHSanders maybe joining those who bet that Trump and Giuliani always lie.

    • Trip says:

      She’s a bald-faced liar too. I can’t feel the least bit of sympathy for her. In fact, it’s a nice tiny comeuppance on her bullshit.

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      I think the SDNY ones may walk away sooner than later. (It was Mike Schmidt of the NYT who told Maddow yesterday that they weren’t being told what was in the Cohen cache, which I’m going to say makes it credible.)

      Rudy’s doing agent-of-chaos. Toensing and DiGenova are saying from the outside looking in (with all their conflicts of interest) that the president is a king with sovereign immunity. Count Hackulow is doing the talk radio circuit. Is Emmett Flood really going to join the parade, when it’s no longer about legal strategy but about convincing The Base With Guns that this is a coup?

  11. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Meanwhile, Trump is engaged in a delicate balance of terror. He’s selling the Ukrainians Javelin anti-tank missiles and launchers to use against the Ruskies in their eastern border conflict. The Ukrainians are also dependent on $600 million a year in US aid.

    Coincidentally, the Ukrainian government is halting four of three thousand investigations into the prior regime’s corruption, the regime that was Paul Manafort’s client. Two of them involve Paul Manafort, two Konstantin Kilimnik, who has been allowed to travel to Russia, a country unlikely to cooperate with Mr. Mueller’s investigation.

    Given how much love the Don has for Vladimir Putin, if I were the Ukrainian government, I’d confirm that that missile software works and make sure the warheads aren’t loaded with marshmallows.

    • Trip says:

      They are not cooperating with the Mueller investigation since this development. Do the quid pro quos never end?

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Perhaps Bob Mueller would like to have a chat with the Ukrainian ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, or whomever negotiated that Javelin missile sale.  The US is the biggest arms merchant in the world.  There may be domestic specialists in foreign arms sales, so the deal might have circumvented embassy staff.

        Cut-outs would be possible, with each not knowing enough to put the whole together.  But I don’t think these guys are that smart.  And the clock was ticking.  I assume that the Don received Vlad’s pre-authorization before he agreed to the missile sale.  (Did he also tell him about the Javelin’s weaknesses?)

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      It’s the Chicago way.  They bring a knife, you bring a gun.  They put one of yours in the hospital, you bring a few sex workers and half a mil to shut everybody up.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Then there’s the GOP lobbyist who seems to have helped make all this in the Ukraine happen.  More detail from the Atlantic’s Natasha Bertrand.

      Why is it no surprise that the principal lobbyist was the infamous Haley Barbour.  Former governor of Mississippi, former RNC chairman, and co-founder of BGR Group, the K Street lobbying powerhouse, who seems never to have met a Katrina victim he did not allegedly try to fuck out of their home, livelihood and community, all to enrich a few upscale developers.  He “resigned” from BGR during his governorship, but frequently traveled back to DC on a private jet, reportedly to go over the monthly books.  Mr. Barbour seems to be a made man in TrumpWorld.

      As for my snark about Trump asking Vlad for permission to sell the Javelins to the Ukraine, he may have said, “Nyet.”  According to Bertrand, it seems that the shoulder-fired anti-tank missiles “sold” to the Ukraine will be stored in a facility in western Ukraine “monitored” by American soldiers.  That would suggest a continuing veto over their use.

      Is it possible that the Don is not as hard on Mr. Putin as he claims?  And has he helped orchestrate another difficulty for Mr. Mueller’s investigation, or is he a passive beneficiary of it?

      • posaune says:

        Haley Barbour, really?  How old is that guy now?

        How can such a lump-head good ol’ boy deal with the Ukrainians? Housing developers, of course; but Eastern Europeans?

        I’ll bet the only phrase he parrots is “wszystko jest w porządku,” which, in real life in EE, means “this is not going well at all.”

        What a rush the gates to get in on the graft while the getting’s good.    Geez.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Seventy-three.  He’ll be around longer than Donald.  He is a nasty piece of work, Paul Manafort with a brain and good ‘ole boy charm.  If there’s a pie inside the Beltway, he has a thumb in it.

      • harpie says:

        There’s a lot more about Barbour and his machinations in this Wendy Siegelman thread:

        […] Barbour/BGR were also lobbyists for Mikhail Fridman’s Alfa Bank for 10 years / his successor as governor of Mississippi, Phil Bryant, was the one who introduced Nigel Farage to Trump / […] / [Corey Lewandowski and a casino in Saipan…raided by US agents in 3/18 … Sam Patten who worked for Cambridge Analytica who set up a company with Manafort‘s business partner and ex-GRU agent Konstantin Kilimnik …] 

        THE SWAMP.

        • posaune says:

          My word!   where have I been these past years?   These guys just can’t retire from govt and take their healthcare and pension haul?   I know, I know . . .  It’s not the paradigm anymore.

    • harpie says:

      As reported in the Times article, the missiles were delivered on 4/30/18 [And as you say, we later find out, to western Ukraine]. We find out about on 5/2/18 in the morning edition. Then in the afternoon of the same day, we get treated to the Con and Rudy Show, State Department edition:

      [quote] 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. [end quote]

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        A shoulder-fired, short-range missile won’t be of much use – either as a threat or a field weapon – that far from the conflict.  I assume that was the idea.  Obstruct justice, give the Ukraine what it wanted, avoid threatening nice guy Putin.  Toughest guy in town is Donald.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Mind you, if the president of the United States wanted to encourage Ukrainian cooperation with the work of his Department of Justice, he would have made any sale of missiles contingent on the Ukraine continuing to cooperate with his DoJ.  Mr. Trump did the opposite.

  12. Trip says:

    ‘An MO For Other More Serious Crimes’

    What I find most significant about Rudy’s admission is what it says about the nature of the relationship between Trump and Cohen and how it suggests an M.O. for other more serious crimes…Trump is a major real estate developer in NY who has openly bragged about his ability to cut through red tape and get politicians in his pocket. We now have serious SDNY public corruption prosecutors and FBI agents in possession of a massive amount of electronic data from his bagman. They likely already have all of his financial records as well. And Rudy has now given them the roadmap for how Trump may have laundered bribes through Cohen as purported legal fees or retainer payments. Every invoice Cohen has ever issued to Trump is suspect. Every corrupt payment Cohen has ever made or facilitated to building inspectors, councilmen, pornstars, or whomever can potentially be tied back to Trump. In addition, I suspect Trump and his kids had a false sense of comfort that their communications with Cohen would be privileged
    The SDNY is sitting on the mother lode of evidence and Rudy has given them the connection between purported legal fees and payments by Cohen to third parties.

    • posaune says:

      In my wildest dreams, I’m imagining a dissertation looking at the NYC Buildings Dept, Trump’s (and others) machines and the outcome as to density, materials, design, & fire and safety code compliance.  Of course, such an academic enterprise would never ever come out of Columbia’s Real Estate Development Dept — more likely Queens College.

      For decades, NYC has used its own building code (they don’t use the UBC as others do) — wonder what the impact of that is?   I’ll bet there’s a million ways to get a “variance” if you know the right people and come up with the right cash.

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Per bmaz’s tweet, Michael Cohen goes on radio last night to say that Rudy doesn’t know what he’s talking about regarding “Trump’s” repayment of the Stormy money to Cohen.  (We have no evidence yet about whose money it was.) Who is Mickey Medallions trying to protect now, himself or the Don?

    As bmaz says, Cohen is as dumb as a post and as bad a client as the Don.  Regardless of the facts, he should STFU.  Let his lawyer do the talking.  He’s not setting the record straight, he’s pouring oil on the fire.  Unless that’s the plan – it seems to be Rudy’s – he should STFU.

      • earlofhuntingdin says:

        Check the tweet thread.  From two hours ago, Willie Geist note about Cohen, “in a conversation last night” with Donny Deutsch….  NY Daily News, so consume with caution.

        “I spoke with Michael Cohen yesterday and his quote about Giuliani doesn’t always know what he’s talking about,” Deutsch said Friday as a guest on MSNBC.

        Interesting quote, but it doesn’t mean Rudy was wrong or that he lied.  It’s more of a non-denial denial.

      • harpie says:

        Evidently, Donny Deutsch on Sirius [don’t know anything about him.]

        About this, Laura Rozen retweets Bill in DC, who says

        “Rudy’s attempt to change the story isn’t going over so well with Michael Cohen”
        Added: not sure if this is correct

    • bmaz says:

      Was it on the radio?? All I heard was Donnie Deutsch on Morning Joe saying he talked to Cohen last night. Maybe it was on the radio! But, if so, I don’t recall hearing Deutsch say that. If so, then Cohen ws even dumber than I noted.

    • Trip says:

      @earl, Giuliani was trying to make it sound like Cohen had an enormous amount of autonomy and did things without input from Trump. (So Cohen freaks out, since they buried the bodies together). But Giuliani also detailed how the money was ‘funneled’ and hidden, laundered if you will, and that’s not a good look on Trump (or Cohen for that matter).

      Also, as an aside, it’s fascinating that Giuliani is claiming that Trump has Affluenza (rich people have to pay other people off), while Trump fronts as populist man of the people. They can’t seem to stick to the script.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Not sticking to a single script is the script. It’s like Joe McCarthy’s inconsistent claims about how many “card-carrying” commies were in the State Dept.  In McCarthy’s case (his top assistant was Roy Cohn), it stopped people asking whether there were commies in the State Dept.

        In Giuliani’s case, it’s about muddying the water and telling the Base about the nasty swamp the Don has to swim through in order to do great things for the people.

        Rudy was working hard to convince the base that all rich people act this way, for good reason.  The Don is just defending himself from carrion feeders and layabouts wanting a discarded morsel from the Great Don.

        Mickey Medallions is just a sweeper behind the elephant.  Every rich guy needs one of ’em or the streets get messy.  Heck, even Rudy does that for his billionaire client(s).  Nobody asks a guy like Mickey how much shit he sweeps up, he’s just supposed to do it.  Nice theme – for Barnum & Bailey.

        Giulani didn’t really spell out how to launder the money.  He implied that it was proper and routine.  Interesting statement from a personal lawyer for the president of the United States.  Money laundering?  Just routine.  Good indicator of one of the items he’s afraid that Mr. Mueller is zeroing in on and now has better evidence for.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Now the Don is piling on Rudy, agreeing with the statement attributed to Michael Cohen that Rudy “doesn’t always know what he’s talking about.”  That’s not a denial of what Rudy said, it’s a non-denial denial.  Besides, facts are irrelevant in TrumpWorld.  What’s important is to have a stopwatch and to be immune from whiplash, because the goal is to give the Don what he wants moment by moment.

          Not sticking to a single script is the script for this White House.  It is useful in persuading the base to stay loyal.  It makes a virtue, a strategery even, of the Don’s inability to stay focused, to follow advice, or to STFU.

          The good news is that Mueller can ignore this caterwauling and keep looking for evidence of crimes.  Bad news is that this is a classic Trump legal tactic, so he feels in his element.  He is mounting his criminal legal defense through the media and defending against future impeachment and trial.  He must hope that everything else will be outside the statute of limitations.

          Apart from that Mrs. Lincoln, what was the American government doing today?

          • Peterr says:

            I think Rudy is laying the groundwork for the inevitable appeals, on the grounds of “ineffective assistance of counsel”.

            Given that both Cohen and Trump have publicly said he doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about, I’d say Rudy’s doing a good job with that appellate strategy.

            • Trip says:

              Has he actually performed any type of legal function? Shooting your mouth off on Fox News, as a crazed spokesperson, is part of the job requirement for anyone remotely close to Trump. We heard he was going to have a word with Mueller, but who really knows if he ever did?

              Rudy went on TV and then Donald tweeted essentially the same thing…. Then he changed his mind. Lather, rinse, repeat.

      • Bob Conyers says:

        If you run an organization that is vulnerable to Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigations, the last thing you want to do is say that the guy who does lots of business for you in corrupt countries is the same guy you pay lots of money to get rid of domestic problems with extremely loose oversight.

        Not that there is any coherent strategy here.

        • Trip says:

          Someone must have had a conversation or two about the Stormy Daniels saga being the truth. Then they found out that there was no “tapp”, so now they are backsliding. I guess they were hedging bets coming out in front of it. Or something much worse is on the horizon. Or it’s crazy-time, because it happened on a day that ended in “day”.  And also Trump is guilty.

  14. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Check the tweet thread.  From two hours ago, Willie Geist note about Cohen, “in a conversation last night” with Donny Deutsch….  NY Daily News, so consume with caution.

    “I spoke with Michael Cohen yesterday…Giuliani doesn’t always know what he’s talking about,” Deutsch said Friday as a guest on MSNBC.”

    Interesting statement, but it doesn’t mean Rudy was wrong or that he lied.  It’s a non-denial denial.

    • harpie says:

      This is the tweet from Willie Geist@WillieGeist 4:33 AM – 4 May 2018 [Host @NBC #SundayTODAY, Co-Host @Morning_Joe] [Hey, I don’t know these people…never watch these shows…]
      [quote] NEWS: In a conversation last night with @DonnyDeutsch, Trump attorney Michael Cohen says “Rudy Giuliani doesn’t know what he’s talking about” regarding the President’s repayment of the Stormy Daniels hush money. [end quote]
      When I googled Deutsch and Morning Joe, the following came up from The Cut, [whatever that is…]Marla Maples Is Dating Morning Joe Contributor Donny Deutsch; 1/18/18

      Trumpus Circus.

      • Avattoir says:

        Oh, Moriarity, so glad not be mean or nasty …

        America swooned as #MeTooThatWorkedOut  went full-on cocktails-to-diet-coke at Mar-A-Lago during The Road to the White House 2016 … Now Nation, time to get giggity again, as Morning Joe’s very own journalistic ace of the NY club scene for aging white folk takes a deep dive into Trump’s past!

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Speaking of not knowing what he’s talking about, Brendan Greeley on MSNBC is shocked, shocked that employers haven’t raised wages in response to Trump’s tax cut and a “booming” economy, with low unemployment figures.  Greeley must never have heard of Paul Krugman or anyone slightly to his centrist left.  He’s been saying wages will go up “for two years,” he admits he was wrong, but can’t figure out why.

    Tax cuts never result in wage hikes.  They yield what this one yielded: executive bonuses and massive stock buybacks.  It is basic American financial capitalism that increasing employment or wages in the US is as great a mortal sin as a plant manager agreeing that his workers can form a union.  Never.Gonna.Happen.

    • Trip says:

      Wages go up, more people hired, the stock market goes down. What do you think greedy people will choose? Higher value of their company, more money for themselves, or paying the actual slobs who do the work?

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Today, the holy grail of American financial capitalism is resource extraction.  For the first thirty-five years after WWII, it was more important for a business to be well-run and resilient, to have the resources to be a reliable partner and supplier, and to survive as a going concern amid economic boom and bust.

        Now, the model is the highwayman’s, “Stand and deliver.”  A business healthy enough to remain a going concern is considered to be insufficiently utilizing resources.  It must be vivisected and the resources given to private equity so that they can be properly re-allocated. As with 19th century railroad stock manipulations, the vivisection must be done in such a way that the public will buy lots of stock in the concern that has been vivisected, but before it keels over.

        The same argument was used to justify colonialism.  The conquistador experience in North and South America, Belgium’s rape of the Congo and the British conquest of India come to mind.  Native lands were deemed terra nullius – empty land – under-utilized and ripe for the plucking.

    • harpie says:

      Tax cuts never result in wage hikes.  They yield what this one yielded: executive bonuses…

      This is what I thought about driving around in my neck of the woods yesterday, when I noticed an unusual number of brand new, very fancy vehicles on the roads.


    • Peterr says:

      I didn’t hear this segment, but the head-scratching I’ve seen among economists isn’t about a link between higher wages and the tax cut (shorter: there is none, as you note), but between wages and unemployment. As unemployment goes down, companies have to compete more with one another to hire workers, thus driving up wages. Conversely, if unemployment is high, workers will accept lower wages just to get a job at all.

      So if unemployment is down, why aren’t wages rising faster? They *are* going up some, but not as much or as quickly as most economists have been expecting.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        A few possibilities for why wages remain stagnant. “Employment” is now a big umbrella for a wide variety of relationships, many of them tenuous.  Contract work is rampant, from professionals such as  college faculty or medical staff to contract labor for Amazon warehouses.

        In states that have adopted “right to fire work” laws, nearly all employment is employment at will.  Exceptions are the sacrosanct contracts used for top executives and members of strong unions, which can restrain management’s normal zeal to blame the employee for all manner of management failures.

        Employment is often with a variety of cutouts rather than the firm that actually directs and consumes the work.  Another example is the “temporary full-time” culture, where workers often work as “independent contractors” for their former employers, but for limited periods of time, interrupted by long forced breaks.

        Non-compete agreements are now rampant.  Once used only for key employees, they have metastasized to the rank and file, along with NDAs and forced private arbitration provisions.  Then there are the illegal restraints, such as physical intimidation of Ag and slaughterhouse workers to the no-poaching and wage restraints agreed to among Silicon Valley firms not long ago.

        Firms are resolutely opposed to domestic hiring and wage increases.  It’s a religious thing.  They will outsource and automate, even at high cost, to avoid committing the heresy of hiring in America.  The more tenuous the hold on employment, the less likely the demand that wages go up.

        • pseudonymous in nc says:

          Given a choice between wage/benefit increases and borrowing a million dollars for a machine, bosses will go with the machine. The “jarb createrr” line is telling because bosses are no longer in the business of creating jobs: they want robots or humans who will function as if they are robots with respect to pay and healthcare/retirement and sick/parental leave.

        • posaune says:

          Little local DC story here:   Capitol Hill used to be the affordable neighborhood back in the 1980’s-1990’s, i.e. govt workers, teachers, artists, non-profit workers, etc.    No more by a long shot;  it’s all lobbyists and former representatives.   Of course, housing prices have exploded 300-400%.   We’re constantly besieged by letters dropped in our mail slot with offers to “buy your house,” or “relieve you of debt burden.”  Mostly b/c we really need a paint job.    Capitol Hill is also “Nanny Town.”   They all have full-time, live-in nannies.    On the Mothers-on-the-Hill list serve, recently, was a post seeking specific language for a nanny non-compete clause.   This guy wanted to prohibit the prospective nanny from working in DC for up to five years if the arrangement didn’t pan out.    I’ll bet his kids are biters and runners.


  16. Trip says:

    Apropos of nothing, Kellyanne Conway (was just on TV and) is starting to look like Bill Clinton (in current form).

  17. Trip says:

    Last comment, this AM (unless something weird happens).

    Hey, is Sean Spicer still available for pressers on inauguration stats?

    Putin’s inauguration on Monday will be low-key, reportedly to avoid 2012’s awkward motorcade

    Vladimir Putin’s inauguration ceremony on May 7 will be a simpler, lower-key affair than his past inaugurations, sources tell the television station Dozhd. This time, there won’t be a presidential motorcade through Moscow, avoiding the awkward footage of 2012, when Putin drove through the capital’s almost totally empty streets.

    https://meduza .io /en/news/2018/05/04/putin-s-inauguration-on-monday-will-be-low-key-reportedly-to-avoid-2012-s-awkward-motorcade

    [Readers should use extra caution when opening Meduza links. / ~Rayne]

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      It sets up some interesting choices for Mueller’s team in the next two weeks in terms of showing their hand w/r/t Manafort’s 2016 activities, and/or whether they want to gently push back at the precedent Ellis might be setting in EVDA. (Activate the Dreeben.)

    • Rugger9 says:

      It seems our blind squirrel has found a nut.  The judge is questioning Mueller’s authority to pursue this line of questioning.

      Also, note that our “Faux-saintly” SHS also sat on her hands during all of the awards presentations to the news folk, which is actually rude (like Kaepernick’s kneeling is framed by the RWNM).  This comes from Michelle Wolf’s interview with NPR’s Terry Gross.


      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        Do not believe Judge Ellis has complete picture.

        Timing and nature of *various* investigations.

        IMHO, he should recuse *and* resign.


        “I don’t see what relation this indictment has with what the special counsel is authorized to investigate,” Ellis said during an hourlong hearing in Alexandria, Virginia. “You don’t really care about Mr. Manafort’s bank fraud. … What you really care about is what information Mr. Manafort could give you that would reflect on Mr. Trump or lead to his prosecution or impeachment.”

        [He does not see a ‘relationship’, and that may be because there is *not* a relationship. He is throwing mud. He should, at minimum, recuse. He is revealing bias]

        • SpaceLifeForm says:


          United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division.

          March 8, 2018.

          Attorney(s) appearing for the Case

          David Harris Miller, Defendant, represented by Steven T. Webster , Webster Book LLP.

          USA, Plaintiff, represented by Uzo Asonye , US Attorney’s Office, Karen Ledbetter Taylor , United States Attorney’s Office & Samantha Bateman , US Attorney’s Office.

          T.S. ELLIS, III, District Judge.

          At issue in this mail and wire fraud, money laundering conspiracy, and identity theft prosecution is whether the Government improperly seized defendant’s assets without probable cause to believe those assets will ultimately be proved at trial to be forfeitable as tainted, and not substitute assets. This issue has been fully briefed and argued and is ripe for disposition.

          [Yet, the same Judge is worried about Manafort?]

          [Whose money is doing the talking?]

          • bmaz says:

            You have cited a forfeiture presumption case that resulted in a resounding finding of probable cause and decision in favor of the government??

            And you allege that someone’s money is talking to the judge??

            Where do you get this shit you bring forth as legal argument, some crank ass Reddit subgroup?

    • harpie says:

      Trump lauds Ellis in speech at NRA, just now, according to Joyce White Vance:
      [quote] Trump, discussing Manafort prosecution during NRA speech, uses Judge Ellis’ (“he’s something special”) courtroom comments at today’s hearing as confirmation Special Counsel’s investigation is a witch hunt. Might have been better to wait until after the judge ruled. [end quote] 

      • Bob Conyers says:

        I do not have the background to judge this, but I thought it was an interesting take:

        They argue that Ellis is channelling the ghost of Scalia from a dissent he made in a 7-1 ruling 30 years ago when Scalia tried to claim that all prosecutions are solely under the power of the president, which ignores that Mueller is under  DOJ.

        They also argue the claim is bogus, but can still cause mischief the longer it lingers – which Trump’s remarks seem to support the potential for mischief.

      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        He thinks the ‘fix’ is in.

        Cohen is not main worry, it is Manafort.

        Ellis needs to go.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Let’s see how long that lasts when the case in chief gets going and the court makes a ruling the Don doesn’t like.

        • SpaceLifeForm says:

          Maybe this is why Ellis made his comments. To drag things out for years due to appeals.

          Ellis won’t care. In six years, before it can reach SCOTUS, Ellis may not even be around.

          Ellis is 77. If things can drag out enough, hell, Trump *and* Ellis may be both deceased.

          Delay, delay, delay.

          • bmaz says:

            This is just ridiculous. And stupid. You have no idea in the world what you re talking about. None. Absolute rambling mental garbage.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      EW commented on that yesterday.  The district court judge in the EDVA reminded the DoJ that it would be in their interest to have a locally admitted lawyer on their team. 

      A little nod to the local bar.  But it’s also true that there are local rules, practices and customs, even in federal court, that a locally admitted lawyer should know that others would not. He’s protecting his turf and reminding the DoJ that it’s his court.

      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        Yes, but note link above that Asonye is quite familiar with Ellis. (the one BMAZ thinks is not relevant)

        “be careful what you ask for”

        • bmaz says:

          Now you are just spewing dishonest bullshit. I used the word relevant in relation to the potential admissibility of Cohen’s private recordings. And, no, I did not think your baloney forfeiture case was particularly relevant either. Of course Asonye is “familiar” with Ellis. They work in the same courthouse. He is “familiar” with the other judges in the EDVA too. And your bleating about recusal by Ellis is inane.

  18. Trip says:

    Take 3: Rudy and Donald’s Wild Adventure

    Rudy Giuliani released a statement Friday afternoon to “clarify the views I expressed.”
    In the statement, he emphasized again that “there is no campaign violation” from the payment to buy Daniels’ silence, made in secret during the final days of the 2016 campaign.
    “The payment was made to resolve a personal and false allegation in order to protect the President’s family,” Giuliani wrote. “It would have been done in any event, whether he was a candidate or not.”

    Now I have a question for all of you sharp legal minds. How is it that a woman who never had sex with the soon to be president, EXTORTED him for cold hard cash, creating this major headache for a sitting president and his bud Michael, is getting away with it? We have Giuliani, an ex-fed prosecutor, Trump, with Sessions at the helm of the DOJ, (big LAW AND ORDER advocates), and they’re gonna just sit back, letting this crime of blackmail slide? WHere is the outrage? Where are the “lock her up” chants?

    Why aren’t they charging her? I mean, the cat’s out of the bag, Melania and Barron, no doubt, have heard this story, so there is no one left to “protect”, right? Trump could investigate and have Cohen as a witness to Daniels blackmailing the candidate, and now, President Trump. Trump could testify that he doesn’t know her.

    The story doesn’t hold water, and it never will

    • Bobby Gladd says:

      Yep. You nailed it.

      BTW, meanwhile, Trump is gently dog-whistling armed jury nullification at the NRA in Dallas at the moment while otherwise again congratulating himself for his Greatness.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        NRA, Dallas, Trump, dishing dirt on how bad immigrants are for ‘Murika.  That would include the German Trump family, the Irish Kennedy’s, the Dutch Roosevelts, oh, and a good chunk of those who built the railroads, bridges and cars, and dug the coal and ore in America, and the settlers who took the Dallas territory away from those living on it when they got there. And all those “settlers” who told Santa Anna to “Come and take” their small cannon? A lot of them were immigrants to ‘Murika, too

        As for “sanctuary cities” that the Don is lambasting, he should take a side trip while in Dallas.  He should visit any golf course, country club, construction site, Home Depot, landscaping company, paint store anywhere near Dallas.  If he asked for ID’s or green cards from those laboring to keep the lawns short, watered and green, the houses built and repaired, the diapers changed and the hospital urinals cleaned, he would start a stampede.  Welcome to “tough on immigration” Texas style.

        And guns, they’re not allowed at the NRA Convention. It would be unsafe.

    • Bobby Gladd says:

      From the New Yorker:

      “…Giuliani found himself on national television saying words that made sense in his head but were obviously absurd when said aloud. Trump’s tweets on Thursday notwithstanding, “people of wealth” do not go around paying six-figure sums to other people who make up accusations against them. Lawyers do not “take care of problems” without letting their clients know. Huge amounts of money paid by a Presidential candidate to prevent salacious information from becoming public in the last weeks of a Presidential campaign are not independent of that campaign. These assertions are so nonsensical that even the Fox News hosts saw through them. (During Thursday’s broadcast, the “Fox & Friends” co-host Ainsley Earhardt let out a seemingly heartfelt “I feel sorry for Melania in all of this. It’s humiliating.” Giuliani forgot to tell her that, per Trump’s own theory, there is no need to feel sorry for Melania because nothing happened, there was no affair, and her loving husband only paid the money to protect her from the embarrassment of false rumors.)”

  19. Frank Probst says:


    You don’t have to watch the morning shows to gets the gist of what happened each morning.  If you go to rawstory<dot>com and/or crooksandliars<dot>com, you’ll get the “highlights” clips.  You can also watch clips from other stations.  Fox & Friends is an absolute hoot.  You really need to watch about half an hour of it, so that you can at least understand the sketches they do are Saturday Night Live.  (You’ll know you’ve watched enough when you know which of the two men is considered “the smart one”.)

  20. Frank Probst says:


    Dumb and basic legal question:  What exactly does it mean to have a lawyer “on retainer”?  I had always thought of it as a sort of “reservation” fee, meaning you pay X amount of dollars to ensure that lawyer Y will be available to you if you need them.  But it sounds like the “retainer” money can be used as loan repayment system in case the lawyer needs to buy someone’s silence without telling the client.  That seems like a bizarre use of the money to me.

    • bmaz says:

      No, your understanding is correct. But retainer money has to be used for sanctioned purposes authorized and understood by the client. Not just as a general slush fund.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Yup. Funds received from a client are either payment for services and expenses, which are the lawyer’s funds when paid, or remain client funds.  These are often held in the lawyer’s client trust account.  (Interest on this is sometimes paid over as a mandatory fee to the state for named public services, which use also acts as an incentive to lawyer and client not to park excess funds in that manner.)

      Unless otherwise specified in writing, the funds remain the client’s.  A lawyer could only use them for purposes agreed in advance in writing by the client.  That usually means a named expense, not “payments to Steamy and anyone like her who asks for money.”  Mishandling client funds is an automatic ticket to a state bar disciplinary proceeding.

      The retainer or representation agreement sometimes specifies that the funds become the lawyer’s when paid.  It is a common arrangement when a client routinely and repeatedly uses the lawyer’s services.  Actual services are usually accounted for, but sometimes it is a simple, “fee for legal services”.  The key is that those are the lawyer’s funds.  They are subject to all the restrictions on client expenses a lawyer can advance on her behalf.

  21. Frank Probst says:

    Late to the party, but an observation about the reporter(s?) that broke this story.  One of them was on one of the networks yesterday (not sure which one, but the clip is on either crooksandliars or rawstory–I’ll look for it), and I can tell you that he knew exactly what a “wiretap” meant, and there is no way in hell that he would confuse it with a pen register.  So there was no confusion on his part.  And he would almost certainly have either expected his sources to know what it meant, or he would have asked questions to make sure his sources knew what they were talking about.  Mueller’s group doesn’t leak, and I would assume it wouldn’t have from Rosenstein’s office UNLESS it got kicked up to Sessions.  Is he considered to be recused on this investigation, since it’s separate from the Mueller investigation?  I can see his staffers getting confused.  But I think it’s most likely that this is coming from the SDNY office, though not from anyone who’s on the investigating team.  I think the sources were the one who were confused here.

    • Frank Probst says:

      Got it.  It’s Tom Winter.  Listen to this guy.  He’s going to know the difference between a wiretap and a pen register:

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