Roger Stone, Rick Gates, and Michael Caputo Met Right Around DNC/Podesta Hack

Michael Caputo, a former Trump communications official with close ties to Russia who was mentored by Paul Manafort and Roger Stone, was interviewed by Mueller’s team last week. He described how the Mueller team knows more about the Trump campaign than he does, and that they are precisely accurate in targeting what they’re looking for.

“It’s clear they are still really focused on Russia collusion,” Caputo said, adding, “They know more about the Trump campaign than anyone who ever worked there.”


“The Senate and the House are net fishing,” Caputo said. “The special counsel is spearfishing. They know what they are aiming at and are deadly accurate.”

In spite of that and his admission that Mueller would only ever interview him for evidence on “collusion,” Caputo, who was bragging last week that his defense fund has twice as much as he claims he has spent in it, insists he did not provide any evidence of such.

Since his initial statements, Caputo has gotten more specific about what he was asked: About meetings between Rick Gates and Stone.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is focusing intensely on alleged interactions between former top Trump campaign official Rick Gates and political operative Roger Stone, one of President Donald Trump’s closest confidants, according to sources with direct knowledge of the matter.


The questions have been largely about what was discussed at meetings, including dinners, between Stone and Gates, before and during the campaign, said the sources, who have knowledge of the substance of the recent interviews.

Roger Stone, who continues to offer shifting stories to the press in lieu of actually being interviewed by Mueller (he now claims he meant to say it would soon be the Podestas’, plural, time in the barrel to disclaim knowing Podesta’s emails had been stolen, though he didn’t offer that when his excuse for the Podesta comment was first aired), claims there was only one such meeting.

Still, the timing and claimed explanation for it is still fairly interesting. It occurred just after the NY State Primary that was held on April 19, 2016.

“I only have a record of one dinner with Rick Gates,” he said, adding that the guest list included two other political operatives: Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign aide who was recently interviewed by Mr. Mueller’s investigators, and Paul Manafort, who soon after took over as chairman of Mr. Trump’s campaign. But Mr. Manafort canceled at the last minute, and Mr. Gates, his deputy, attended in his place.

Mr. Stone said the conversation during the dinner, which fell soon after the New York primary in April 2016, was about the New York State delegate selection for the Republican National Convention. The operatives expressed concern about whether delegates, at a time of deep division among Republicans, would be loyal to Mr. Trump’s vision for the party, Mr. Stone said.

While I find it logical that Caputo was doing delegate counts with Gates, who was the Deputy of the guy doing the Convention counting at that point, I’m less sure Stone stays that close to actual party politics.

Moreover, the three together — Stone, Gates, and Caputo — at such a time (especially if it happened just a week or so later, after the campaign likely learned of emails on offer from George Papadopoulos) might have been remarkably wired in to the outreach from Russia.

We might have more clarity on that if Stone, in his denials, provided the date of the one dinner he admits to. But he chose not to do that.

124 replies
  1. earlofhuntingdon says:

    i like it when a witness claims to know exactly what crimes a prosecutor wants to talk to him about. A sign, perhaps, of nervousness about not knowing that, and more nervousness about telegraphing to his patrons that he didn’t knowingly give up anything. I’ll bet David Addington thought he was protecting both Cheney and Libby when he talked to Fitzgerald.

    It’s just as interesting when a prospective witness, subject or target talks not in terms of what he did, but about what evidence there might be about it. An invitation, Shirley, to a prosecutor to inquire further.

  2. Yogarhythms says:

    Let’s be Frank. No Shirley we can both be Frank. Wait did you expect an honest answer? Time in the barrel with SC who new was so much fun for Caputo. Happy Tuesday got to go to work.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Nice “appearance” today on that election blog radio show.  You were head and shoulders above your interviewers, but you managed their questions with aplomb and considerate command of your material.  And you sidestepped their quip about being in Grand Rapids, at the height of the A*way “pyramid”.  Well done.

    Things are going to get darker before we see light again, are they?  I’ll have to pray to Pence to help me get through it.  Or lay in a little craft beer and much coffee and keep reading your work.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Samuel Smith’s porter and nut brown ale.  Since Margaret closed the mines, not much else on in Tadcaster.  Anchor Steam is a good alternative, and they give such nice tours.

        • Webstir says:

          Wow earl — Nice taste. I’ve been sober for about 12yrs but those were my go to’s back then. I’d have to add Sierra Nevada & Moose Drool (I’m old buddies with the Big Sky Brewing folks, so I had to give a shout out).

  4. wikihuman says:

    It’s a hack because…. you say it’s a hack? Is this a required assumption on this site? Does evidence matter here? What if it’s not a hack, and instead was an especially damaging leak… because the authenticity of the material is uncontested? Is your little story here even relevant?

    • bmaz says:

      And YOU are who? And YOUR evidence is what?

      Yeah, thanks for stopping by. Yet another troll we have collected up.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        This one looks fully automated, with a low-quality AI engine.

        As things heat up, might be more to come.  Thanks for all the monitoring.

        • SpaceLifeForm says:

          I responded because I thought it was real person that is wondering about stuff but has been bamboozled a bit from other sources.

          i also pondered the thought it was JA and he got his internet back.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      For now, until more facts come out, go with ‘hack’ instead of ‘leak’. Yes evidence matters.

      Is an inside hack really a leak?

      Depends on motive.

      This ‘little story’ is just about connecting dots.
      Weeks from now it likely will tie into something else.

  5. orionATL says:

    caputo is quoted as saying:

    “…“It’s clear they are still really focused on Russia collusion,” Caputo said, adding, “They know more about the Trump campaign than anyone who ever worked there.”
    “The Senate and the House are net fishing,” Caputo said. “The special counsel is spearfishing. They know what they are aiming at and are deadly accurate.”…”

    for those defending the osc effort, this seems like an eminently politically usuful public comment from trump loyalist michael caputo – former reagan foreign policy propagandist, yeltsin-for-president russia media maven, and long-time republican media guy.

    aside from being a unmistakable public warning for trump&co., it can serve to counter one of the critical undecurrents from the prosecution of manafort, gates, and especially lawyer-in-name, michael cohen, that the office of special counsel has come to ignore or has improperly extended his original mandate from the attorney general.

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Why does Donald Trump sound breathless, drugged and dour, and look like he’s reading for the first time when giving his speech about breaking the US’s commitment to the Iran-Nuclear agreement? (He looks like glue and tape are keeping his eyelids open. Too much time watching Faux News on the big screen?)

    A bit of fun, really, to have a neoliberal grifter conman of a president of the United States, and six-time bankrupt, denigrate the Iranian leadership for maintaining its rule by stealing the resources of its population.  Who says irony is dead?

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Iran’s the United States’ bloody, brazen ambitions, Mr. President?

    “When I make promises, I keep them.” The list of people who might contest that, Mr. President, standing toe-to-heel, circles Manhattan island a dozen times.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Which Donald Trump are the North Koreans meant to believe?  The Donald Trump who says “When I make promises, I keep them?”

      Or, the Donald Trump who just pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal.  The Trump who went bankrupt six times.  The Donald who divorced three times and who allegedly bedded nubile young women while his latest wife, whom he also pledged to love, honor and obey, was nursing their newborn son?  The one who swore an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, but who has devoted himself to helping Russia and to frustrating the DoJ and FBI while they investigate him and his closest aides.

      I don’t much care for Mike Pompeo, but I don’t envy him the task of trying to explain to the North Koreans in a few hours why they should believe the first Donald Trump and not the second.  Like any half competent government, the North Koreans will believe their lying eyes rather than whatever Pompeo or Trump promises.  So if there’s a breakthrough there, it will be in spite of Donald Trump, not because of him.  Nobel Committee, please note.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Divorced twice, married three times.

        No count of his sexual partners, a fact of which he is absurdly proud, like an Errol Flynn, who could be found crying at the bar because there were more women than he could possibly bed, despite their throwing themselves at him, before he drank and drugged himself to death at age 50.

    • Trip says:

      Based on NuttyYahoo’s contrived presentation, with images from years ago.  Two con men.

    • harpie says:

      Trump: I am announcing today that This POTUS advocates The Withdrawal Method. My Promises are the Best Promises!
      Pompeo: As we exit a real, comprehensive, and lasting solution to the Iranian threat working with our allies, we build the diplomatic and economic isolation that results from reckless and malign activity.
      Bolton: The deal is DEAD! The wicked deal is DEAD!

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Or, as Rumpole put it, premature adjudication.

        In this case, of Iran’s compliance with the nuke deal. The USG, apart from the Don, Bolton and a few hard right Iranian haters in the House, thinks the Iranians were in full compliance. I guess nobody said that on Faux News, though, so its not a fact in TrumpWorld.

        Not a reliable method to conduct international negotiations, especially when one insists on not wearing a hat, despite the many unctuous options available.

          • posaune says:

            ok, guys,  I can’t read this at work anymore b/c I’m laughing too much. (I’m supposed to be creating conversion factors for dwellings:parcel size for zoning * it will never be this funny.)

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          On the reliability of premature adjudication, read Paul Campos’s analysis of the $1.6 million payment supposedly made by Elliot Broidy to Shera Bechard.  Bechard is the November 2010 Playmate who was apparently paid to keep quiet over an affair and pregnancy.  Campos nicely parses the MSM’s version of events.  But he hypothesizes a different set of facts more consistent with the parties’ histories.

          His theory is that Bechard had an affair and got pregnant with Donald Trump, not Broidy.  Trump has a history of having unprotected sex with Playmates, models and porn stars, many of whom look like Ivanka (as does Bechard), and then paying them off.  Pregnancy would explain a payoff ten times the amount paid to Stormy.

          Campos hypothesizes that Davidson-Cohen did their usual schtick with Davidson’s client, Bechard.  The higher payoff amount required a donor.  Broidy has a history of bribing public officials, is close with the Don, and many of his businesses depend on government approval and support.  He can also find that much cash on short notice, unlike Mickey Medallions.

          There’s a garden slug in this fairy tale’s Jello.  It is that the payment to Bechard occurred when Donald Trump was president.  Campos theorizes that Broidy would rather cop to paying off Bechard over an unlikely affair than admit to paying a sitting president a bribe of over a million and a half dollars.  That tale would not have a happy ending.  And the Don’s Base of blinkered evangelicals might object to the adultery-pregnancy-abortion bits.  Read the whole story.

          • Rusharuse says:


            Add 1.6 paid from inauguration coffers and instead of six more miles to Tucumcari you is entering the Town limits

          • harpie says:

            Thanks. This was just [I think the time is west coast] tweeted by Michael Avenatti...I haven’t read it yet:
            [quote] 2:06 PM – 8 May 2018 The Executive Summary from our first Preliminary Report on Findings may be accessed via the link below.  Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen have a lot of explaining to do [end quote]

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            h/t Digby, who flagged and commented on this story.  If the direction Campos is going is correct, we do indeed have dark days ahead.  Because this GOP is all in for the Don, it has forced itself to defend him even unto hell.

            If the Don was this blatant in his corruption, and alienates his minority base in the bargain, the GOP hasn’t much left.  Would the Dems be able to argue that they have a better positive program and thus take the House, Senate and White House?

              • harpie says:

                Marcy retweets Christina Wilkie : “BREAKING: @ATT confirms payments to Cohen LLC >>Full Stmt: “Essential Consulting was one of several firms we engaged in early 2017 to provide insights into understanding the new administration. They did no legal or lobbying work for us, and the contract ended in December 2017”
                Marcy: “Thanks for clarifying that this was not an atty-client relationship, in advance of the special Master work.”
                And then she retweets Ryan Singel, who says:
                “Huh, AT&T paid $200k to Michael Cohen for “consulting”. Contract ended the same month the FCC repealed #NetNeutrality”

                • Bob Conyers says:

                  AT&T was also hoping to fight off interference in the Time Warner merger, and the end of the contract in December 2017 fits with the collapse of AT&T’s lobbying effort to get on DOJ and Trump’s good side.

                  It would be very interesting to see if there was any shakedown over the merger going on.

              • harpie says:

                Also: Chris Hayes@chrislhayes 

                So lemme put a little bit of a sharper point on all this. Novartis pays Cohen 400k in carefully sturctured transactions & gets a meeting w Trump. Cohen gets all the money and Trump does the work of taking the meeting. Knowing what you know about the president how likely is that ?


                • earlofhuntingdon says:

                  As Hayes implies, Mickey is the Don’s bag man.  Any money he receives would have been recycled to pay for something the Don needed to have taken care of.  Mickey is not a Manafort kinda guy, who would keep the access fee.  He would be lucky to keep 10%.

                  Trump’s corruption might be so blatant that Mueller will be busy for some time.  Being that blatant, the Don is likely to bring down all his counterparties, too, whether AT&T, Novartis or a Russian oligarch.

                  For these and greater amounts, nobody relies on Mickey to suggest structures designed aggressively to skirt the legal side of the criminal law.  Those would have come from somebody besides Cohen, even if in the form of hypotheticals illustrating the kinds of things this Supreme Court outrageously deems not to be bribery.

                  • Bob Conyers says:

                    In March the Wall Street Journal reported that Cohen had complained to friends about Trump not repaying him the $130K for the Daniels hush money.

                    It’s sounding to me more like the report must be mistaken. Cohen must have been complaining about failure to repay a whole lot more shady business on top of the Daniels $130K — maybe the Broidy case, maybe others. Either his friends or the reporter assumed he was talking about just the Daniels payoff and missed the larger implication.

                    It always seemed odd that Cohen would be loose lipped about $130K — he may have cashflow issues but that’s not such a big figure for him. If it’s more like a million or more, I can see why he would be complaining to a bunch of people.

          • orionATL says:

            earl of h 5/8@ 5:18

            “…His theory is that Bechard had an affair and got pregnant with Donald Trump, not Broidy.  Trump has a history of having unprotected sex with Playmates, models and porn stars…”

            oh, NO!!, i can nOT take any more!!!

            you mean the germophobe defense for certain 2013 hotel-wise boyish pranks has been destroyed (hypothetically speaking) ?

            SAY IT AIN’T SO, EARL.

            aside: nice to see unproven but informative reporting described as “hypotheses”.

  8. Bob Conyers says:

    Has anyone spoken out about a Mueller team interview as much as Caputo has?

    Can anyone who knows how these things work explain what would be the reasons for almost everyone being far more quiet? Are there legal restrictions put down by the court about speaking in public? Is it something lawyers warn interviewees to be careful about in order to avoid risking contradicting something they said in the interview? Is it some kind of tactic to help out your side, such as lowering the media profile? Anything else that is happening?

    For that matter, are there issues with interviewees speaking to each other in private? I don’t have a sense if lawyers routinely tell people not to even talk in private due to risks of helping someone turn on you, or if it’s common for attorneys to encourage information sharing in a case like this.

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      Has anyone spoken out about a Mueller team interview as much as Caputo has?

      Nunberg, to some degree. Another of Stone’s protègés. Take that as you will. Stone presumably fears that his time in the barrel is coming, given that the special counsel has not wanted to hear from him.

      Here’s the relevant rule on secrecy:

      The rule does not impose any obligation of secrecy on witnesses. The existing practice on this point varies among the districts. The seal of secrecy on witnesses seems an unnecessary hardship and may lead to injustice if a witness is not permitted to make a disclosure to counsel or to an associate.

      • Bob Conyers says:

        Thanks for the info. After months of hearing how Trump forces his cabinet to fawn over him and all of the lengths he went to get Comey to openly say he wasn’t under investigation, it finally dawned on me that it was odd that his people weren’t leaving interviews loudly declaring how loyal they had been to the totally innocent President. I realize lawyers have reasons to shut that stuff down, I’m just wondering what specifically they’re thinking about.

        • SpaceLifeForm says:

          They don’t say much because they probably realize that they are not just in the ‘witness’ category.

  9. Rusharuse says:

    some easy listening for the “earl” above

    oh Errol
    I would give everything
    just to be like him

    Australian crawl
    Album Sirroco
    (early 80’s?)

  10. harpie says:

    Well, Mueller is still finding Gates useful.
    Zoe Tillman @ZoeTillman 

    NEW: Mueller’s office says Rick Gates “continues to meet with the Special Counsel’s Office as required by his Plea Agreement.” They’ve asked for 90 days until the next update to the court — he agreed to delay sentencing while he cooperates / Getting into the weeds here, but: In the May 1 status update in Michael Flynn’s case, the parties asked for 60 days until the next update. In Gates’ case, they’ve asked for 90 days. Does this mean they expect to finish sooner with Flynn? Who knows!

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Or that something will change and need to be dealt with sooner in the Flynn case than in the Gates case.  Gates appears to be working diligently to provide what he knows to team Mueller when asked.  Flynn’s “cooperation” may be more problematic.  He seems unable even to fake contrition for his crimes; he is also out campaigning for the hard right.

      • Frank Probst says:

        Well, he recently canceled an appearance for a “family emergency”.  That could be legit.  Or it could be that he’s still having to work to keep his son from being indicted.

      • Willis Warren says:

        why would he need to change his political ideology to rat on tRUmp?  They can always claim tRUmp wasn’t a real conservative

        It seems to me that Flynn is useful on a limited scale, basically confirming Papadop and testfying that tRUmp ordered him to promise sanctions.  I’m not sure if tRUmp remembers any of that, or if he thinks he can he said/she said his way out of Flynn’s testimony.

        But, tRUmp’s legal strategy seems to be “smear as much shit on the walls as you can and pretend we’re monkeys” at this point

  11. Frank Probst says:

    I’m assuming you’ve seen the clip of Stone with Andrea Mitchell.  He seemed addled, and he looked like he was just going to close his eyes and slump into a nap.  My guess is that either the guy’s got narcolepsy, or he’s not getting much sleep these days.

    As for the exact date of the meeting (and I’m assuming Stone didn’t forget entire meetings here), we don’t know it, but Mueller almost certainly does.  He’s got Gates, so he knows when and where the meeting took place, and more or less what was said.  Caputo knew Gates had already flipped when he talked, so presumably he was either truthful or “forgot” key details from the meeting.

    Stone is now the odd man out in terms of talking to Mueller’s team.  That’s not a place I’d like to be.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Well, some of the players are looking at the Prisoners Dilemma.

      Some think it is best to cooperate.

      Some think that is better to go on Fox News.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      He’s gonna need the cash, but he’ll have to account for it all in the event the Feds argue that his houses are fruits of criminal conduct.  He’s not in a good place just now, and he’s almost too radioactive to help,

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      From the Mother Jones article:

      The Trump Organization is embroiled in a legal fight with a Saudi prince over another condo in the [Trump Park Avenue] building. One penthouse unit is on the market for $29.5 million. (It was once listed for $48 million.) Last year, Trump sold another penthouse unit for $15.8 million to a businesswoman with ties to Chinese military intelligence.

      I’m sure it’s just coincidence that such worldly people are drawn to Mr. Trump’s properties.  Then again, they might want something from him, now that’s he’s in a position to return the favors.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Cohen needs money for legal fees.

      Somehow money keeps coming in for Manafort legal fees.

  12. orionATL says:

    sort of O.T.

    just a personal impression from reading digital newspapers.

    of all the lawyers speaking publicly about trump issues, none, not one, impresses me like michael avenatti.

     (special counsel mueller and his team do not speak publicly at all, which merits its own high praise in this extraordinary poker game we are watching play out).

    most importantly to me, avenatti avoids any political back-and-forth.

    he represents his client in a quietly ferocious way, as indicated to me by his “preliminary report”. i don’t watch teevee (except for sports). and never political teevee – why watch grown men and women, uh, how shall i put it politely, engage in various forms of public lying?

    but avenatti does not engage in this b.s. he simply creates a document, from court records, suggestive of an exceptionally powerful, corrupt, and aggressive political leader, a document in the interest of his client and in the public interest, and then he puts his head back down and lets it fly.

    man, i admire that guy’s adamantine courage –  not to mention his representation of his client :) .

    • Frank Probst says:

      It’s not just that he’s a zealous advocate for his client that keeps getting him on television.  It’s that he goes on and frequently drops a bombshell, and the station spends several hours or days saying they can’t confirm it, and then it turns out that Avenatti was dead-on target with what he said.

    • Trip says:

      Sometimes he is simply on a troll-roll when commenting on the stupidity. As I’ve said before, watching him and Daniels, and their in your face trolling, is my guilty pleasure. Even if they aren’t always dropping bombshells. But he seems to be doing more truth telling and fact uncovering than most of the press. He doesn’t sugarcoat, soften or hypothesize that the Trump Inc reactions are potentially part of some brilliant political strategy. Of course as an advocate for his client, he wouldn’t do bothsides-isms. But he has gone beyond the role of attorney for Daniels, IMO. He is brave because he is putting himself out there front and center against a corrupt collection of big money conspirators, and that’s a dangerous place to be. I wish him success and safety.

      I’m guessing he is doing most of this legwork on his own dime too. I can’t imagine that Daniels could fund the deep dive he is engaged in.

      • bmaz says:

        The last paragraph is a great question, and one i have wondered to. Is Avenatti getting paid? and if so how much and by whom? My guess is Daniels has some decent money, but not necessarily enough to have Avenati working 24/7 as he appears to be. He has plenty of dough to do most of it pro bono if he wants. But, still……

        • Bob Conyers says:

          He seems to have taken at least one high profile case for very little compensation in the past. He went to a lot of lengths to sue the Dallas Cowboys for a $76K settlement. Would his cut even cover his expenses for handling a multi-week trial?

          So it’s possible he sees cases like these as business building exercises, or fun, or both. His investment in this case is going to pay off huge rewards down the line in additional business. Not that this is any kind of proof either way whether anyone else is involved.

          • Webstir says:

            Most plaintiff’s lawyers maintain a sizable slush fund for contingency cases. I’m not saying he took it contingent — because I don’t know. But that would be my guess.

            • bmaz says:

              In my office, that’s called the general fund! Seriously though, Avanatti has some huge verdicts, including one for $454 million against Kimberly Clark that he stands to net over $100 million on in fees. And the notoriety he has accumulated on this is beyond priceless in terms of acquiring future clients. He is doing fine.

        • posaune says:

          Stormy still has the go-fund-me site — almost to $400K now.   (how many weeks of Avenatti work is that?).  the comments are a hoot.

  13. Frank Probst says:

    Whoa.  If you’re the head of Public Relations at AT&T right now, you either need to be cleaning out your desk, or you need to be calling for the scalp of whoever didn’t loop you in on the payments to Michael Cohen.  AT&T now looks like they had something to hide, most likely because, well, they had something to hide.  But they had to know that this would come out eventually.  Why not get ahead of it while when they had the chance?

    • Trip says:

      We are in a post-ethics era of monopolies. There is no real choice for internet providers, or any genuine cellphone competition. Prices are essentially fixed and there really is no recourse for the consumer.
      They can decide to charge more fees, not for any legitimate reason, but for greed alone. How do you boycott AT&T if it’s the only functional provider in your area? I’d love to dump Verizon by the side of the road, for that matter. They are outrageously expensive and all of their money goes toward advertising, not good consumer experience, or customer service.

    • aubrey mcfate says:

      Incredible times that this was a beneath-the-fold story this morning in the Post (it had to yield to the Iran news). It’s a gangster-state, with the Russian mafia as intermediaries for foreign powers (not least of all regarding Iran). Relatedly. New York Magazine has a good primer this week on the theory that Elliott Broidy was just a front for Trump in paying the other playboy model, Shera Bechard. I hadn’t realized that Avenatti had hinted at that possibility (he is quoted in the piece).

    • Bob Conyers says:

      They’re in the middle of the fight over the Time Warner merger, so I can see them not wanting to reveal this information before they had to.

      You have to wonder, though, if they threw a tiny (for them) sum to Cohen in order to see whether they could get an angle on Trump they could use later. If they know he’s a sloppy crooked guy prone to making threats, it might be worth $200,000 to them to try to get something they could use in upcoming lawsuits. He is potentially a great gift in arguing that any antitrust moves by Trump are tainted by Cohen’s actions, if not legally then in the court of public opinion.

  14. orionATL says:

    you could call them “flow diagrams”:

    washington post, phillip bump, may 9, 9:47pm.

  15. orionATL says:

    i have another question about avenatti, actually about avenatti and trump.

    has trump ever attacked avenatti in public, as he has so many others?

    if the answer is “no” that would be highly unusual for trump and it would confirm what i suspect is the case which is that trump only goes after those that can’t do him harm – political opponents, bureaucrats, media figures.

    • aubrey mcfate says:

      He will be attacking Avenatti soon enough. Avenatti has already just done him lethal harm. I can’t believe Avenatti has brought them all down.

    • aubrey mcfate says:

      Right on cue, see troll “jill” below. Not quite Trump attacking, but getting closer.

      • greengiant says:

        Black Cube, Kock brothers and their investigators, Erik Prince, CA or whatever their new name is,  attack and blackmail anyone who sticks their head up. On most players they have their whole life history and the life history of the players’ families. As Clifford can attest they usually make threats before the murders that look like suicides.

    • Trip says:

      The butt sniffing minions or advisors (however you see it) at Fox News do that work for Trump.

  16. earlofhuntingdon says:

    With the uptick in oil prises immediately following the president’s surprise, days early announcement that he was violating the Iran nuclear deal, I suppose that means Mr. Mueller’s team as well as the SEC will have to do the usual checks for insider trading. The Don so rarely misses an opportunity to help someone make money.

    • bmaz says:

      Thanks for trolling by on behalf of Trump! At least you half explained your links this time. Kind of. I guess that is progress for a troll like you. Also, let us note that you are lying out of your trolly ass to say this is on Avenatti as he is no longer owner of Tully’s, per such an authority as, wait for it, Tully’s. Trump has failed business enterprises all over the world. Yet you waltz in here with some right wing nut bullshit twitter link to falsely impugn Avenatti. You are a total piece of dishonest work. The next time you wander in with this kind of right wing nutbaggery, you will be bounced.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Nice rejoinder to a Trumpbot.  That’s the question, along with how much is he worth and how did he get it.  I hope Mr. Mueller has needed to obtain and review Trump’s tax returns.  They would provide answers to those questions and leads to follow up what was not answered.  Mr. Trump would give those returns up about as willingly as he would remain celibate.

          • Bob Conyers says:

            It’s been widely reported that Mueller is working closely with the IRS criminal division. I got the sense that there may well be some compartmentalization, so that Mueller may have to make requests to pull certain records or details instead of getting direct access. But he is almost certainly getting what he needs.

            It certainly would be interesting to know if this spins off any new IRS investigations once Mueller has gone over everything. It’s hard to imagine there aren’t some claims that fall apart under scrutiny.

  17. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Marcy referred to her 2013, Pulling Weeds for Think Tank Employees, a refutation of an earlier Benjamin Wittes critique in favor of torture apologists.  (In monarchical circles, that must make Wittes a first cousin, once removed, which puts him in the line of succession, but avoids him being a target for disposal by a usurper, hungry for the crown.)

    Marcy’s post is worth rereading, in light of Trump’s advocacy of torture and war, his appointment of Bolton to be head of the NSC, and Wittes’ recent endorsement of Gina Haspel as Director of the CIA.

    I do not share the belief, held today by many observers, that involvement with the agency’s post-9/11 detention, rendition and interrogation (RDI) program makes a person morally untouchable or unfit for subsequent public service.

    By “involvement”, Wittes must mean supervising and defending the torture of prisoners and obstructing justice by destroying evidence of it to protect her agency and the White House.  Nothing to see, move along, says Ben.  He thinks it would be “totally unfair” for the Senate to vote her down just because she mussed the hair of a few detainees.

    Wittes thinks that having Trump nominate her instead of Obama makes a world of difference, but not, claims Wittes, because Trump is an advocate of torture and wants to be “the iron fist in the iron glove”.  (Even though the germaphobe refuses to wear a hat.)  Haspel is the same person regardless, so Wittes must think that the Senate should simply defer to the president’s discretion.

    Torture apologies aside, Wittes’ support for Haspel rests on the claims that she has the rousing support of her colleagues, she’s a dynamite bureaucrat, and she would defend the Agency against unreasonable, Cheney-like demands that Mr. Trump might make of it.  Most of all, she would stiffen Mr. Trump’s back when it comes to resisting Russian threats to US security.

    Ms. Haspel presumably has the support of anyone at her agency who performed illegal acts in the course of or beyond the performance of her duties.  If that’s a majority of her colleagues, I’ll take Mr. Wittes at his word.  She would probably have the support of those who think the Agency should continue to be beyond oversight.  None of them wants to return to the 1970s, when the Agency’s director, William Colby, cooperated with congressional investigators and gave up the Family Jewels, a set of reports that details the CIA’s most infamous illegal and inappropriate acts to date.  (Colby was retired shortly thereafter and died mysteriously some years later.)

    Haspel rose to become the Agency’s No. 2, which attests to her survival instincts as much as her bureaucratic skill.  That she was a stout defender of torture – encouraged with orgasmic energy by the Bush/Cheney White House – should be a sign that she will go far to please a rabid executive rather than defend her agency, should the two loyalties conflict.  That she would be more effective than any of a string of former Trump officials at encouraging the Don to resist Mr. Putin’s charms is magical thinking.

    None of these are reasons to support Ms. Haspel’s nomination.  They are reasons to oppose it.

    • harpie says:

      Steve Vladeck responds to Wittes in:

      Gina Haspel and the Elusive Shadow of CIA Torture: A Response to Ben Wittes 

      […] Ben writes that there are “good arguments for what the CIA did,” even if there are no good arguments in support of re-instituting a similar program today. […] Just to say this as clearly as possible, there are no good legal arguments for what the CIA did, and the moral arguments are perhaps even worse. […] Let’s put it this way, if she takes the same line as Ben with respect to how the country should view this episode in our history, she ought to be defeated.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Some good arguments from Vladek, but he is still sitting on the fence.  Now that her first appearance is over, let’s see whether he votes yea or nay.

        • harpie says:

          This is what he’s had to say, so far:

           #GinaHaspel’s hearing this morning seemed to reinforce the point of departure between @benjaminwittes & me:
          If it’s about the future, she’s willing and able to make the right promises. If it’s about the past, well… lots of ducks, dodges, and evasions.
          That’s deeply alarming.


          • orionATL says:

            i think everyone understands, at least everyone in government, that anytime, any administration, that a gov’t official is asked to do something by a predident or a powerful congressional leader, that official with either do what is requested then and now, or will demur for for cover and then do what is requested. no matter what his public claims, i believe then fbi director james comey did this twice in 2016,both times acting out of fear of congressional republican retaliation against the fbi.

            lyndon johnson as senate majority leader got a lot of “respect” from high-level government ofgicials if he made a request. request ignored = tgreat of budget cut or actual cut.

            • orionATL says:

              thus gina haspel’s claims she will act on her on conscience on any future illegal presidential order are not at all credible. haspel has already faced that test once under before, under v-p chaney and she failed it badly.

    • Trip says:

      Hear! Hear! to both of you.

      We are embarking on the most sadistic US administration in our lifetime. I don’t know how people make excuses for torture. There is no excuse.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Wittes has prejudged his argument when he writes,

      In short, assuming that one doesn’t start with a principled opposition to confirming people who played a role in the RDI [torture] program,

      A throwaway line that ranks with the quip, “Apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?”  One ought to have a principled opposition to torture, not just a utilitarian opposition to it because it yields no reliable information.  Wittes disagrees.  He stovepipes such worries and focuses instead on Haspel’s “professionalism.”  He can comfortably dissociate whatever that means from approving of torture and destroying evidence of it, because, as Haspel claimed, that evidence might reveal who did it – and that’s a national security problem.  (Left unsaid is that it is also a criminal problem.)

      Professionalism for Wittes boils down to vague promises of the sort manufactured by the corporate apology industry, “I’ll never do it again, daddy.  Now can I have my bonus, a promotion and stay out of jail, please?”  He goes on (emphasis mine),

      [T]he question becomes how to weigh the value of rejecting Trump’s [pro-torture] message in nominating Haspel against the value of having professional CIA leadership that can serve as both a bureaucratic and substantive bulwark for the agency in doing its work and who has a clear-eyed understanding of the activities and intentions of a major foreign adversary [Putin’s Russia]. For me, at least, the call of professionalism and analytical seriousness and the desire to insulate a major intelligence component against the predations of the president takes precedence over optimizing senatorial moral and policy messaging on interrogation.

      David Brooks should fear for his job. Quaint notions of professionalism aside, Mr. Wittes has confidence in the supernatural ability of a nominee to not do what her president nominated her to do and to keep her job.  So take a pass on moral or legal standards, Senators, approve Gina Haspel because everyone in her sorority likes her.

      • Jaag says:

        Wittes is establishment schmaltz. When  he writes something original I hope the posters here send a link.


        Hes is just a hagiographer for the establishment.  Every argument he runs goes like – person a is doing x or y in policy or governance – I know person a to be a good person and a fine intellect – so policy coming from  that department is eminently reasonable.

        Lame and overrated beyond belief.

    • orionATL says:

      wittes is one of these washington thinkers who can’t walk straight and think at the same time. it is not that having participated as a close administrator on the torture program makes haspel unhireable, rather it is that haspel and others involved in the torture program need to be punished for their willing participation in that illegal program for the benefit of the agency and the nation, just as we punish white collar criminals and gun-massacre shooters.

      the unambiguous response of any succeeding presidency to a torture regime like the one that v-p cheney personally pushed on the cia is that there should always be destruction of the officer’s career, plus incarceration where warranted. what’s the point of this type of response? just this: know that if you are an american gov’t employee (cia, fbi,dea, dhs), contractor, or soldier and you are asked to participate in torturture, which is illegal by domestic and international law, then you had best refuse and resign at that time because you will be called to account later and punished, at a minimum, with loss of job and career.

      practically since it was founded, the cia’s get out of jail card has always been:
      it is not fair to punish a cia eemployee who is following the illegal orders of a political or administrative superior. that is a weak respponse in terms of enforcing a code of conduct both american society and a preponderance of nations have agreed upon.

      of course talking directly of punishment in this society, where it concerns gov’t officials and, say, high-level banking officers is anathma to our power structure.

      • orionATL says:

        i can think of three reasons that torture should be, and is, an illegal activity:

        1. torture is emotionally disturbing and repugnant to a wide range of individuals when they act as observers (as a crowd/audience).

        2. torture is emotionally damaging to those who perform it.

        3. torture is ineffective in obtaining accurate information or reliable confessions.

        4.torture is the type of human group activity that can quickly move out of social control and become a menace to many individuals on a society. in particular, it can defeat the rule of law foundation of a society like the american, e.g., the infamous homan’s square police torture site in chicago may have been responsible for thousands of improper confessions and plea deals.

        there is one type of torture that i am ambivalent about under certain circumstances- battkefield torture. if conducted as a systematic social program by an army, it isas illegal as any other systematic program of torture. the ambiguity comes if it is spontaneouly employed by individual soldiers for their benefit (safety). here avoidingca “billy budd” scenario would seem important.

        • SpaceLifeForm says:

          Well, 4 out of 3 is good work. :-)

          How about number 5?

          It does not really work. Just as likely to get false info as valid info.

  18. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Marco Rubio’s questioning of Gina Haspel is proof that Aer Lingus is more than an Irish airline.  His approval of her candidacy was so supine, it would make a good centerfold.  But it doesn’t do much to advance the cause of Senate oversight of presidential nominees.

  19. harpie says:

    People were asking about the last sentence in this paragraph from last night’s NBC News article about the Cohen news:

    […] According to public record filings [CEO of Columbus Nova, Andrew Intrater] he donated $29,600 to the Republican National Committee in June 2017, $35,000 to the Trump Victory PAC the same month, and then $250,000 to the Trump Inauguration Fund. Columbus Nova has also registered many alt-right internet domains, though the domains return an error message. 

    The author, Ben Collins, responded on Twitter:

    I can answer this question since I wrote that sentence. Here are some domains purchased by Columbus Nova: alt-right (dot) co; alternate-rt (dot) com; alt-rite (dot) com; (7 other variations on that theme); Plus these! 1-800getalife (dot) com; carlcuck (dot) com; cnnjournal (dot) com / They were purchased in Columbus Nova’s name by Frederick Intrater—the company’s design manager, brother of CEO Andrew Intrater and cousin of Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, who owns parent company Renova—using Columbus Nova’s NYC address. / It doesn’t appear any of these sites actually hosted any content, but the alt-right domains were purchased in 2016 and 2017.
    I feel bad for Carl! Doesn’t deserve to be called a cuck like that in a domain name. If you’re the Carl who’s an enemy of the Intrater family, DM me!


    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      That Novartis statement is a cover story, but the interesting nugget is that Mueller’s office contacted them in November 2017, which means that they knew about Essential Consultants LLC (and probably had access to the SARs) at least as early as then, two months before the WSJ broke the EC LLC / Stormy payoff story in public.

      Again, they know more a lot more than we know, and keeping that knowledge very quiet, and it’s probably worth retracing the timeline to see if there are hints of Cohen getting wind of the questions being asked to his “consulting clients” in late 2017.

      (As Atrios bleakly noticed, the DC way is to serve out your time on a public salary and then cash in for the rest of your life.)

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        And AT&T now also confirms that it was contacted by Mueller’s office in Nov/Dec.

        • pseudonymous in nc says:

          And as EW rightly notes, it was probably the calls from Mueller’s office that scared the shit out of those companies and led them to terminate the contracts, not a failure to deliver on whatever “consulting services” they say he was contracted to provide.

          • SpaceLifeForm says:

            It’s too late for any cover story they concoct.
            The Metadata has been collected.

  20. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Amazing in a Ripley’s Believe or Not sort of way is that Mickey Medallions, graduate of possibly the worst law school in the USA, used the same, easily set-up LLC (a few hundred bucks) to deposit the take from so many different sources.  He thus neatly tied them all together for Mr. Mueller.

    The take included big money from a Russian oligarch.  Bigger money, millions, from corporations wanting inside access to Trump.  Those companies were most likely directed to pay Cohen as a cut-out.  None of them would have expected to receive services from Cohen.  They already had real lobbyists and top lawyers for that.  They paid Cohen because he was Trump’s bagman.  Legit billionaire Elliot Broidy did the same.  He could have hired a dozen white shoe firms to deal with a highly sensitive payment of $1.6 million.  But he hired Cohen.  It was like a baseball triple play: Broidy to Cohen to Davidson to Bechar.  Cohen used Essential Consultants for that, too, and for McDougal.

    Don Corleon’s Tom Hagen, who Mickey models himself on, would have set up different firms for each class of payer, and possibly for each payer.  That’s routine.  Ship companies, for example, use a different corporation for each ship, supply it from a different company, staff from still another.  Mickey used just the one for everybody.

    • orionATL says:

      now add in the money that jared’s whitehouse-based foreign policy shakedown racket netted if any, AND i bet you’d come up with a chunk of change. where did that money land, if indeed it ever did?

      wapo had a recent story about how the trump family business spent $400 mill of their own internal cash to buy properties in the period ftom 2006 to, say, 2016. eric t’s explanation was that during that time the trump business had excellent cash flow from licensing, etc.

      not being familiar with this level of business activity, i keep wondering is this level of internal cash flow and expenditure in the ballpark for what is apparently a (bigtime to be sure) family business?

      then there is the matter of deutschbank loans which may fit in here someplace. bridging, short term only?

      its all very opaque.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Trump’s purchase of the golf clubs in Scotland for cash was not normal for Trump or for the property business.  Scottish golf courses were not then a popular investment, returns were low and costs high.  It is catechismic in the property business to use borrowed funds whenever possible and to limit recourse for repayment to the value of the property purchased.

        Trump paid cash – not normal in the property business – in larger amounts than was the norm for him, for unpopular properties that needed substantial renovation.  That fits a pattern common in money laundering, which would be of interest to Mr. Mueller.

        • pseudonymous in nc says:

          The requirement to file accounts at Companies House also created a rare window into the sluicing of money across various Family Business entities, and also exposed TFB to things like public hearings that it would normally scoot through in somewhat less democratic regimes like Azerbaijan or Florida. (Though UK entities aren’t immune to being used as money laundrettes, and Alex Salmond may have a squeaky bum right now.)

          My gut sense is that the Scottish properties were vanity purchases to some degree, though the seller of Turnberry was the entz wing of Dubai World, which raises the UAE connection again.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            Companies House is pathetic.  It is depressingly easy to avoid substantive disclosures by using an opaque offshore entity.  City firms are superb at doing it.  So kudos to you if you found anything useful.

            We’ll have to agree to disagree over whether Trump spending $400 million or so of money he apparently didn’t have is a vanity project, allowing him to own name clubs in the home of golf.  Money laundering seems more likely.

        • orionATL says:

          earl of h-

          earlier i was thinking “this is all so extraordinarily brazen. or were they just stupid?”

          then, reading thru earlier posts&comments, i ran across this may 5 comment from some guy :)

          “What made these people think that they could rise to national prominence in public office and not have decades of their history subjected to close scrutiny?”
          aha. ignorant f,kers.


    • harpie says:

      Here’s a comment from a few days ago [feels like a month!] with links to some of the information about the cash transactions.

    • harpie says:

      It could soon be Pence’s “time in the barrel”.
      George Will: Trump is no longer the worst person in government;  “Trump is what he is, a floundering, inarticulate jumble of gnawing insecurities and not-at-all compensating vanities, which is pathetic. Pence is what he has chosen to be, which is horrifying.”
      Melissa McEwan @Shakestweetz It’s possible Pence is about to be exposed on multiple fronts. I SURE HOPE SO. Accountability for the relentless indecency of my former governor is long overdue. […] It could be that something is about to come out about Pence in the trial of Missouri Governor Eric Greitens. […]
      Caroline Orr @RVAwonk: […] Sounds like #ComplicitPence is getting nervous… / In 2014, Renova [***11/3/14 Open Secrets article](the Russian firm tied to Columbus Nova, which reportedly funneled $500K to Cohen) poured $$ into a shady super PAC for an employee who ran for office. The PAC was linked to consultant Nick Ayers — who is now Mike Pence’s chief of staff. […] described as Pence’s “fixer” […]
      ***Above reference 2014 Open Secrets article: Lost Cause Candidate Against Lowey Gets A Shot of Mysterious Outside Spending
      […] this super PAC has a history of close relationships with the candidates with whom it is not supposed to be coordinating. In Federal Election Commission filings made in late October, the Citizens for a Working America super PAC disclosed that it had raised $20,000 on Oct. 15 from Renova US Management LLC. […]
      Sarah Kendzior @sarahkendzior 
      Pence lackey [Nick Ayers] who in addition to being implicated in the Russia case, was also heavily involved in the campaign of disgraced Missouri governor Eric Greitens.

      Greitens’ corruption trial may throw a lot of his backers into the spotlight, making them nervous. / * Pence was selected by one indictee (Manafort)
      * He lied to protect another indictee  (Flynn)
      * His chief of staff Ayers is hooked up with third indictee Gates, mobster multitasker Cohen, and Greitens, who’s about to go on trial
      Wow I wonder why Pence wants the probe stopped / Re-upping my May 2017 article on Pence: “Do not be fooled by a calm liar” […] 

      Kendzior, this morning: “Eric Greitens had at least six million in untraceable money

      Natasha Bertrand, this morning: “Our team” is now a dead link on Columbus Nova‘s website.

      • harpie says:

        This Kendzior link will get you to Caroline Orr [which links to Open Secrets] and Melissa McEwan. The others are easy to find by googling.

        I still think 2014 is central. [See my comment from earlier thread.]

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        So it matters a lot more who becomes Speaker of the House and President pro tempore of the Senate.  They are the next two in line to succeed to the presidency, after VP Pence.

        That ought to encourage more people to get out and vote come November.

      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        No time ATM, but I betcha the $6M was via NRA.

        Voir Dire started today in St. Louis.

        One juror was just dismissed after pronouncing Greitens “guilty,” and saying he was not in jail because he’s “got money.” His quick dismissal prompted a complaint by Harvard law Prof. Ronald Sullivan, a special prosecutor, who said that the judge is not using the correct legal standard. Sullivan says prosecutors should be able to follow up with a question about whether someone can lay their opinions aside. “The state has a right to a fair trial as well,” he said. Judge Rex Burlison, in a raised voice, repeated what the juror said, and questioned whether any lawyer would be able to “put that toothpaste back in the tube.”

        [Sullivan is correct by the way, but I will give Burlison the win via the toothpaste argument. A potential juror should have an open mind. Note that Defendant lawyers also have same right to ask if potential juror can lay their opinions aside]

        [Jury pool is large for this case, so maybe that potential juror just wanted to make sure he was dismissed. There will be a good jury in this case. Probably ready to start in 4-5 days]

  21. Jaag says:

    If Cohen and Russian contacts were under mueller watch on November then makes it more likely the nyc raid was because they were on to efforts to destroy evidence.

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