Concord Consulting Aims to Make Russian Bots Legal

Remember when they used to say, “they hate us for our freedoms” in the wake of 9/11? The company of Putin’s buddy Yevgeniy Prigozhin is doing the opposite — having a field day with the due process rights his company, Concord Consulting, gets under US law after being charged in the Internet Research Agency indictment.

As I noted, Concord unexpectedly decided to contest its indictment for using Prigozhin’s troll factory to interfere in the 2016 election. Last week it pled not guilty.

In that post, I suggested that the risk posed by the Concord not guilty plea could be deferred, for now, by arguing over a protection order and ensuring that sensitive data be shared under CIA.

[N]either will happen immediately — Mueller’s team will push for a protection order and CIPA process before turning over the requested discovery and defendants almost never get a Bill of Particulars — effectively, Concord signaled its intention to impose real costs on the US government’s use of our criminal justice system to embarrass Russia. They made it clear that one of Putin’s closes allies will be demanding the intelligence behind an indictment naming him and two of his companies. Which is going to pose real discomfort for Mueller’s team (which might explain a bit of their delay here).

Let me clear: Concord is entirely within its right to begin demanding such evidence. That’s the risk of using our criminal justice system, affording due process, in charging a Russian corporate person who can challenge any charges without risking their freedom. I imagine Mueller’s team didn’t sufficiently account for this possibility when charging it this way. And if there are any other known Russian corporations involved in this operation (or fronts, such as the one Joseph Mifsud worked behind), I would imagine Mueller’s team is rethinking their approach to including those fronts. This could be problematic to the extent that proving any “collusion” between Trump’s people and Russians would most easily be demonstrated via conspiracy charges involving Russian entities.

If and when Mueller dismisses the indictment against Concord (but not its 13 paid trolls), it would be an embarrassing PR moment. But the contest thus far only posed a legal risk to any further indictments that relied on corporate entities, which the rest of the Internet Research Agency one does not.

Concord’s latest challenge may pose a greater threat. It requests the judge in the case (which here would be Magistrate Michael Harvey, though Trump appointee Dabney Friedrich is the District judge on the case) to review the grand jury instructions to make sure the prosecutors explained the mens rea required behind the conspiracy to defraud the US charge in the case. It is, as the motion argues, a fairly modest request (the government will argue, rightly, that it asks for grand jury information it is not entitled to, but Concord is asking just for the judge to review it). It’s basically asking the judge to make sure prosecutors explained to the grand jury that they had to find that IRA knew that it was violating US law.

As I noted here, ConFraudUs provides Mueller’s team with a way to argue the abuse of weak parts in our electoral system violates the law, and charging a conspiracy sets up a way to drop in American defendants at a later date. And, as Lawfare laid out in this good legal review of ConFraudUs, ConFraudUs has been used in the electoral context in the past.

Notably for present purposes, §371 has been deployed in the context of election law specifically. The Justice Department’s manual on federal prosecution of election offenses explicitly contemplates bringing charges of conspiracy to defraud based on campaign finance offenses. It explains the theory as follows:

To perform [its] duties, the FEC must receive accurate information from the candidates and political committees that are required to file reports under the Act. A scheme to infuse patently illegal funds into a federal campaign, such as by using conduits or other means calculated to conceal the illegal source of the contribution, thus disrupts and impedes the FEC in the performance of its statutory duties.

Several federal circuit courts have heard cases brought under §371 based on this theory and have not found fault with its application to behavior that may also violate the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA).

But Concord is arguing the use of ConFraudUs in this case departs from the approach DOJ has previously used to keep foreign influence out of elections (citing cases of Chinese influence peddling under Clinton).

The Court is well aware that heretofore investigations of alleged improper foreign involvement in American elections have been handled by the United States Department of Justice (“DOJ”); specifically the Campaign Finance Task Force created by former Attorney General Reno in 1997, and where the Court worked as a prosecutor from September 1997 to August 1998. Former Attorney General Reno refused to bow to massive political pressure to appoint a special counsel, and instead the Task Force methodically investigated and prosecuted cases through 2000.1 Throughout all of that activity, the DOJ never brought any case like the instant Indictment, that is, an alleged conspiracy by a foreign corporation to “interfere” in a Presidential election by allegedly funding free speech. The obvious reason for this is that no such crime exists in the federal criminal code.

It doesn’t actually prove that use of ConFraudUs in this case would be improper (indeed, after complaining that Janet Reno didn’t appoint a special counsel to investigate funding of Clinton, the motion spends a page complaining about a special counsel in this case). Rather, it argues that the indictment couldn’t charge ConFraudUs because none of the Russians involved knew they had to register with the government before engaging in online trolling (they note they’re going to make similar challenges with respect to other charges in the future).

But violations of the relevant federal campaign laws and foreign agent registration requirements administered by the DOJ and the FEC require the defendant to have acted “willfully,” a word that does not appear anywhere in Count One of the Indictment. See 52 U.S.C. § 30109(d) and 22 U.S.C. § 618(a).


Count One of the Indictment appears to be facially invalid because it fails to charge an essential element of the offense of conspiracy to defraud the United States by impairing, obstructing and defeating the functions of the FEC and the DOJ, that is, that the Defendant acted willfully, in this case meaning that Defendant was aware of the FEC and FARA requirements, agreed to violate those requirements, and ultimately acted with intent to violate those requirements.

There’s a two-fold risk here, if Concord is successful (and they could be).

First, there’s a risk that such a ruling would in effect provide foreign corporations more ability to engage in improper election speech than domestic ones. Particularly as social media companies move to require more transparency in online advertising, a foreign company could continue to violate those requirements simply by pleading dumb. Certainly Congress could mandate some kind of transparency on foreign companies and with that require private companies to administer such things. but it wouldn’t be a quick fix.

There’s a more immediate risk, however. The filing claims that this indictment is, “a case that has absolutely nothing to do with any links or coordination between any candidate and the Russian Government.” While it is true that Rod Rosenstein emphasized there was no allegation in the current indictment that any American knowingly conspired with these Russians, there are actually three Trump campaign staffers described in a way in the indictment that may reflect they’re still under investigation. And in its last filing, Concord demanded the communications behind one event — an American holding a sign in front of the White House — that leads me to believe Concord knows that the involvement of this US person is more complex than alleged in the indictment.

With respect to ¶ 12b, identify the “real U.S. person,” identify the specific Defendant or conspirator who communicated with the “real U.S. person,” provide the dates and times of any such communications, identify the Defendant or conspirator who stated “is a leader here and our boss . . . our funder,” and clarify whether it is alleged that any such communications were made on behalf of Defendant Concord.

That is, while Rosenstein said that thus far there are no Americans in this indictment, that doesn’t mean Mueller didn’t have plans to add some at a later date.

But if Concord can get this conspiracy charge thrown out before then, it’s going to undercut any effort to claim the conspiracy that will be critical to substantiating the collusion charge even if Mueller presents clear evidence of an agreement to carry out this trolling.

That doesn’t mean he won’t be able to prove a conspiracy involving a more obvious agreement — such as the Agalarovs offering dirt in exchange for sanction relief (though that would invoke the bribery rules that SCOTUS has significantly reined in).

But for now, the IRA indictment is a test case in a legal theory that will make it fairly easy to show that Republicans engaged in a conspiracy to tamper with the election. Because Mueller named a corporate person, he provided a way for the Russians to otherwise undercut a theory that seems central to the effort to hold Trump and the Russians accountable.

Again, Mueller can likely prove ConFraudUs with other players in the larger conspiracy. But this filing poses an immediate threat of undermining the logic of such an approach before he can charge it.

62 replies
  1. Roberto del Toro says:

    “Did mens rea exist?” is a question for trial, no? Concord is asking a very different question in their filing, which is “Was the grand jury correctly instructed as to the mens rea component of the charge?”

    I guess that the immediate relief requested in Concord’s filing (have the judge go back and look at the grand jury instructions) will be granted. I’m far more skeptical that a case for the proposed later relief (dismissal) will emerge pursuant to that, as that would require the OSC to have flubbed grand jury instructions as to the nature of the charges; I doubt this.

    I agree that Concord seems to be gearing up to wheel out “What we did wasn’t wrong because we didn’t know what we were doing was wrong,” but does your post confuse that (which is coming down the road) with what we have today? Also, does this indicate perhaps they will not dispute the actual behavior underlying the charge?

    I was unimpressed with the rest of their filing, which seemed like a lot of haranguing the OSC merely for existing, tried and failed in other forums.

    • bmaz says:

      Really? First off can you tell me how you have full information in light of Rule 6?

      Then, let us go to you explaining your position vis a vis Basurto and Mechanik. Especially Mechanik.

        • bmaz says:

          No. When Mr. del Toro says:

          I guess that the immediate relief requested in Concord’s filing (have the judge go back and look at the grand jury instructions) will be granted.

          I don’t buy this. It is a relief that almost never happens in state court, and practically never in federal court.

        • emptywheel says:

          Right: I suspect Mueller will buy time with a GJ argument and Concord will be required to submit their motion to dismiss without GJ relief, no?

        • bmaz says:

          What are they gonna get? Squashing and remand for a new GJ determination? That is going to go positive for the defense?

        • Roberto del Toro says:

          Isn’t Mechanik explicitly not about the question we have here? From Mechanik:

          We express no opinion as to what remedy may be appropriate for a violation of Rule 6(d) that has affected the grand jury’s charging decision and is brought to the attention of the trial court before the commencement of trial.

          This is immediately followed by fn. 2, where the court notes the government’s argument that, per Costello,

          [a]n indictment returned by a legally constituted and unbiased grand jury, like an information drawn by the prosecutor, if valid on its face, is enough to call for trial of the charge on the merits.

          The court writes that for the purposes of Mechanik the question does not arise. Concord is arguing in today’s filing that the indictment is facially invalid.

          But, okay, put this argument aside, because the passage you quote (by me) is too bold. I suppose what I really meant is something more like “Even if we suppose that the immediate relief requested in Concord’s filing (have the judge go back and look at the grand jury instructions) were to be granted…”

        • bmaz says:

          Okay. Fair enough. Your GJ remand motion is based on that? If the attorney of record submits such a motion, that is great, they protected the record. Is it viable? No.

        • Roberto del Toro says:

          I see you’ve written down below:

          In this instance, the court may well agree to conduct an in camera reading of the GJ transcript, but I seriously doubt that will result in a dismissal or remand.

          When I said yesterday that I thought they might get this, I only meant the inspection (which is all “the relief” sought in yesterday’s filing). If the above is your position then we’re in agreement and always were.

  2. greengiant says:

    The foreigners are confused.  Foreigners or foreigner’s corporations are illegal to participate in US politics. Manafort and Stone blurred the line between lobbying and political operations.  Everytime I see a Soros dog whistle advert I am thinking how much oligarch, Russian and Koch brothers money pays for same.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I’m confused.  What happened to ignorance of the law is no excuse?

    If I am a furriner and have no idea the speed zone in a school district during restricted hours is, say, 20 mph, and I go 45 mph, is it a valid defense to argue I had no idea what the limit was?  That’s a strict liability example.  I can see a difference where a specific mens rea is required as part of the definition of a crime.  Mueller might have to look for lesser crimes or to infer intent indirectly.

    This is another assault to establish that, at least under a compromised Trump, the US hasn’t the resources to protect itself.  That would lead to open season all year, which tends to denude the forest of its deer – and a few hunters.  It would make Putin – and Trump – and his Chinese counterpart very happy.

    This GOP has no interest in recognizing the issue, let alone trying to close the gaps.  One more thing for the Dems to fix.  That didn’t work so well when Obama rode into town; he fixed as little as possible, and the GOP made sure that wasn’t much.

    • bmaz says:

      This works for you, if you are a white man, and the cops are not otherwise pissed off and looking to let loose on somebody, anybody.

      If you are black or brown, you are dead.


      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Seems like a non sequitur.  I assume you are saying that a white man the police are not otherwise pissed might get the benefit of the doubt.  A person of any color is up shit creek.

        My question was about whether and how ignorance is a valid defense to a violation of the criminal law.

        Last I checked, these guys might be furriners, but they are white and connected, even if their corporation is not named after a fruit.

      • orionATL says:

        i dunno, bmaz.

        it didn’t work for me when i told the cop, in so many words, that he could check to see just how white my butt was.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Like Trump team saying, well, you didn’t warn us that we should vet people because we never would have ever thought they could be under investigation.

      The excuses of a young child.

    • Amherst89 says:

      On EoH’s “ignorance of the law point”:  Seems to me that Concord is relying on some sophistry about what the statutes really require in the way of willfulness.

      Yes, both of the statutes make it a crime to “willfully violate” their provisions.  But that doesn’t mean that the government has to show that the “Defendant was aware of the FEC and FARA requirements, agreed to violate those requirements, and ultimately acted with intent to violate those requirements.”  A defendant usually can’t say “I didn’t know about the law” as a way to defeat the willfulness requirement.  It’s usually enough to show that the defendant knew what he or she was doing, and intended to do it, without having to show that the defendant had a detailed knowledge of the statute.  There are plenty of cases upholding convictions (often involving firearms, drugs, or other contraband) even though the defendant argued that he/she didn’t know that the gun/drug/contraband was illegal, as long as the prosecution can show that the defendant knowingly possessed/sold the item.

      It gets a little more complicated when the crime charged involves a failure to register; there are cases that say that failure to register as a sex offender, for instance, isn’t a crime unless the government can show that the defendant was aware of the requirement to register, but even then it’s not necessary to show that the defendant “intended to violate the requirement.”

      And, of course, whether Concord knew of the requirement is a question of fact that can be established by circumstantial evidence.  Structuring payments to obscure their origin can be persuasive, if circumstantial, evidence of criminal intent.  I’d be surprised if there wasn’t at least some of that evidence here.


    • orionATL says:

      earl of h –

      “…I’m confused.  What happened to ignorance of the law is no excuse?…”

      that was my first thoght on reading thru.

      don’t tell me i am liable for fines, points on my license, a hike in my insurance, etc., while some damned furriners get away with speeding thru that 25 zone at 65.

      and what does kris kobach have to say about this sorry state of affairs?

  4. Rapier says:

    Off here in the weeds where I usually end up I will try to make a broader point.

    The nature of corporations makes it almost impossible to find them criminally liable for anything. It is in the very nature of their nebulous existence.

    Then throw in:

    Deep pockets to pay for deep wells of legal talent for their defense.
    Governments falling all over-themselves to make whatever corporations want to do legal.
    Governments, often via trade agreements and by other means, falling all over themselves to make corporations soverign.
    Judges who are preternaturally partial to corporations. ie. Samuel You Lie Alito.

  5. harpie says:

    From the recent Challenge [flagged by Adam Klasfeld]:
    [quote]p.2/9 Now, some twenty years later, the Deputy Attorney General acting for the recused Attorney General has rejected the history and integrity of the DOJ, and instead licensed a Special Counsel who for all practical political purposes cannot be fired, to indict a case that has absolutely nothing to do with any links or coordination between any candidate and the Russian Government.2 The reason is obvious, and is political: to justify his own existence the Special Counsel has to indict a Russian – any Russian.3 […] 
    Footnote 3: See Casablanca (1942) (Captain Renault states, “Major Strassor has been shot. Round up the usual suspects.” [end quote] 
    This sounds like a joke. 

    • emptywheel says:

      Yeah, Concord’s lawyer is having fun bc he’s being paid (handsomely, I’m sure), to be a giant asshole. Who wouldn’t have fun with that?

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        At least it keeps him busy and not defending healthcare fraudsters, which appears to be his main line of work.

        • Viget says:

          There should be  special circle of hell for folks like this….  Treachery is not enough

  6. Soldalinsky says:

    Harpie, check out this doozer from court proceedings on 5-9-18:

    THE COURT: As I understand it, looking through the papers filed by both parties, you and your firm represent Concord Management and Consulting, LLC is that correct?

    MR. DUBELIER: Correct.

    THE COURT: Not any other individual defendant in the case?

    THE DEFENDANT: We do not.

    THE COURT: What about Concord Catering? The government makes an allegation that there’s some association. I don’t mean for you to — do you represent them, or not, today? And are we arraigning them as well?

    MR. DUBELIER: We’re Not. And the reason for that, Your Honor, is I think we’re dealing with a situation of the government having indicted the proverbial ham sandwich. That company didn’t exist as a legal entity during the time period alleged by the government. If at some later time they show me that it did exist, we would probably represent them. But for purposes of today, no, we do not.

    Who else thinks this complaint is most likely flawed based on the fact that team Mueller didn’t even check to see if Concord Catering was properly formed / in good standing?

    • bmaz says:

      Who else actually practices law and thinks that Concord and Dubelier are playing fast and loose, even if in an amusing style. But, of course, you are here to take ANY side you can to support any argument, no matter how pathetic, against Mueller and accountability for Trump and Russians.

      At least have the intellectual courage to admit what you are doing.

    • bmaz says:

      By the way, since you are so fucking brilliant Soldalinsky, and the Mueller team is so lame, how would YOU have crafted the complaint to be perfect? I’ll be waiting for your legal pleading genius.

    • melior says:

      Did you even try to check this claim yourself before posting this? I did a google search for Concord Catering Consulting, and the 6th hit is: Кейтеринг, ресторан выездного … is tracked by us since April, 2011. … All this time it was owned by “Concord Management and Consulting” ltd., …

  7. Soldalinsky says:

    (RE: melior May 14, 2018 at 10:37 pm)
    First off, there are formal consequences if a lawyer lies in court or makes false representations.  Given the circumstances, I think it’s safe to give Dueblier’s word weight over your links.  Furthermore, it is a simple fact that isn’t often disputed and can be proven easily – at least in jurisdictions within the USA.  Corporate certificates are analogous to driver’s licences for individuals –  you’ve either got one and its valid or you don’t.  In general, I think it’s an embarrassing issue to surface in such a prominent hearing and reflects very very badly on the prosecution.
    In the USA, state databases maintain official corporate records and it is legally IMPOSSIBLE to draft a complaint without consulting the business registry FIRST and reviewing the articles of incorporation.   I can’t imagine that the Russian Federation is much different.  The articles of incorporation are a formal record of the corporate name, registered agent (person designated as official correspondent for legal purposes), stock issued, and the corporate officers.  State business registries also have other important information in them too.  To give you a better idea how this works, here’s a link you can play around with and search businesses registrants California:

  8. Rugger9 says:

    It seems as though these motions are all an exercise to create points for appealing later. Maybe I’m missing something, but how many of these does an attorney get before judges make them show cause before permitting more filings?

    • bmaz says:

      A criminal defendant can pretty much file as many motions as they want as long as there is some at least tenuous good faith basis for doing so. There is here. That said, it certainly does not mean the court will grant any of them. In this instance, the court may well agree to conduct an in camera reading of the GJ transcript, but I seriously doubt that will result in a dismissal or remand.

      • Rugger9 says:

        The silver lining is that it will eliminate an excuse once it is properly considered and denied.  Once rejected, it would be unable to be resurrected without some legal reason on appeal.  It is the same reason why Mueller has been strictly by the numbers in his investigation: to limit potential appeal points.

  9. Avattoir says:

    Concord doesn’t even get a foot in the door on its motion for the judge to review the GJ instructions, unless it can point to the particular charge bearing a facial defect, or IOW that the charge, considered (as it has to be) within the context of the Indictment, is ‘defective’ in some way.

    To this end, Concord points to the absence anywhere in the charge of the word “willfully”.
    But even without considering the overall context, the court will see that:
    1. the words “knowingly” and “intentionally” appear in the charge itself;
    2. those are the words in the statute itself; and
    3. there is nothing contained within the Indictment considered as a whole, although strictly outside of the precise framing of the charge, that suggests any diminution of the standard for mens rea as expressed in the statute.

    Notwithstanding how clear and obvious it is in law that Concord’s motion is bound to fail, as with any old buffalo who’s worked these pastures long enough, I’ve actually seen this sort of thing succeed – twice: once when I was prosecuting, and the again over a decade later when I was defending.

    But in both cases, success was fleeting.

    As to the first, another GJ under another prosecutor came along and remade the same freaking sandwich, with less not more ingredients than were put before the first GJ, and then secured a verdict of gillcup from a regular jury verdict on even less evidence (A not-infrequent reality in dealing with gangs is that witnesses have an atypically higher tendency to die and/or disappear from proceeding to proceeding.). The only truly unfortunate fall-out is that the succeeding prosecutor was a good friend who for the rest of his life whenever we ran into each other never failed to bring it up: ‘Hey, member when I told you about that case where I got a jury to convict on less evidence than this other shlub had and how he couldn’t even stop a judge overturning indictment by a Grand Jury; this is that shlub!’ (which is objectively a real thigh-slapper among prosecutors, especially after a few beverages).

    On the later one, where I was defending (Long story, I suspect you had to have been in it.), I managed to keep it up even through the first round of appeal, but then a full panel came down on me – okay, my client – like a centipede in lead boots (Ha! but at the trial, the prosecution case fell apart so fast & hard, they effectively abandoned it.).

    So, given the long odds of drawing some judge who then proceeds to go rogue, is it even theoretically worthwhile to make such an application in these facts? Uh…maybe; it depends. If I were to try it, I sure wouldn’t lard it up with these cheap shots at the prosecution and all the political crap that’s in Concord’s memorandum. But then maybe that’s because I’ve become very old-fashioned.

    • Soldalinsky says:

      Thanks.  This was very informative.  I just can’t find the time to review all of these pleadings!

      Is the statute sufficiently clear that a person of ordinary intelligence can understand its meaning?  I think Dueblier is attempting to plead ignorance or mistake as to a matter of fact or law.  See Model Penal Code 2.02-2.04. I think you’re right, it might be a long shot and I doubt Concord, a well funded entity, can successfully claim ignorance or lack of expertise.   I’m guessing they are going to present an attorney’s opinion.  Who knows.

  10. Rugger9 says:

    More from the palace, but not remotely close to surprising.  Cue the “troubled” Republicans with “concerns” but since they wouldn’t protect McCain from the palace even as he is dying from cancer, they won’t do anything about this one in the hopes of getting some “trickle down” (ahem).

    Of course there is always this slush fund to dig into:

  11. orionATL says:

    about the possible fate of those (expensive?) lawyerly monkeywrench gangs being deployed by manafort and concord consulting:

    “…. A federal judge ruled against Paul Manafort’s attempt to dismiss charges brought against him in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, writing that the charges fell “squarely” within special counsel Robert Mueller’s authority — which means Manafort is headed for trial this year.

    “The indictment will not be dismissed, and the matter will proceed to trial,” Judge Amy Berman Jackson wrote. You can read her full ruling here…”

    see VOX, prokop, may 15, 6:10pm.


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    ** why do i keep getting this message when i try to copy a media citation in html to emptywheel.

  12. Thomas R Jackson says:

    Am I the only person who thinks that it is possible that these lawyers were hired by Guiliani and/or Trump and that the actual defendant hasn’t been served?

    • bmaz says:

      No,  several people have suggested similar theories, but there is pretty much no chance of that. No quality attorney would put their bar cards on the line to make that kind of material misrepresentation to the court.

      • Thomas R Jackson says:

        One would THINK that was true….However, Guiliani recently said, on national television, that he engages in the kind of unethical practices under discussion with re: Michael Cohen, and the law firm Guiliani works for severed their relationship with Guiliani after that disclosure.

        I am also reminded of Van Der Zwan? Who is in jail?

        Guiliani and Trump are both crackpots with a lot of money and questionable morals. Some people have a price they are willing to accept…. even to cash in the law license! There might be some kind of intermediary vehicle that gives them deniability about the scheme… they have been known to use such LLC shell devices…

        Knowing the publicly available knowledge about Trump’s associations with organized crime, and his obsession with this Russia investigation…

        I just wonder if there is a way to check? That’s actually my question.

        How can it be checked out to see if these lawyers are actually retained by the defendant?

        • Rugger9 says:

          It’s on any filing.  At this point the discussions are with counsel and the court has to agree to any changes, and does not always grant them. If challenged by the other side, usually the judges here in CA do not permit changes.

  13. Thomas R Jackson says:

    There are requirements. There are specific documents when representing organizations, apparently. I assume these must be filed with the court?

    But still…could be faked? For example. Lawyers are retained by a third party, and then documents are filled out with info available in existing court filings, like the indictment?

    Yes, I know…I am assuming they are pretty devious….

    • bmaz says:

      I’ve heard these theories before. They are loony. Nobody, least of all with the participation of established attorneys, is pulling that kind of fraud on a federal court. Nobody.

      • Rugger9 says:

        I concur, it doesn’t fly at the county / state level either, especially if litigation has been filed because the court needs to know who to talk to as well.

      • Thomas R Jackson says:

        I beg your pardon. I’m not a loony. It’s not a theory. I don’t have the expertise to propose any kind of theory. I defer to the opinions of many here who are far more learned than I am.

        If I had a dollar for every time I have heard “That kind of thing has never happened before….” with regard to the ethics and practices of Trump…

        Given the unusual assertions of these “Concord” atttorneys with regard to the service of the summons…I would check their paperwork…

        • bmaz says:

          Well, here is the deal: I have practiced criminal law in federal and state courts for over thirty years. I understand service issues quite well and what it means when a licensed attorney appears on behalf of a defendant. Especially in federal court. The lawyer/law firm files a notice of appearance. It is a signed avowal that they indeed represent the defendant named, that they have permission from the client to do so, and is a waiver of service issues. And, by the way, the government, of all people, idiotically tried to raise this issue as a means of delaying the arraignment. The court effectively laughed at them. This is beyond a non-starter, and the court has already said so.

          So, yeah, this is just loony.

  14. Thomas R Jackson says:

    I didn’t say it wasn’t loony.

    I asked if there was a way to check it.

    Given the public crackpot statements by Guiliani and Trump, and how the unorthodox filings by these attorneys track some of Trump’s crackpot thinking (the upfront greymail, eg), I would check it. Are they being paid by the defendant? Show us a check, signed receipt, signed contract for legal services…something.

    Given the circumstances, I would not take anything for granted by these oily characters. And since when is it unusual to delay a court hearing when the defendant does not respond in an ordinary way to a summons? What is the urgency? The only party I can see that has an interest in urgency is Trump.
    If the real defendant was so keen to get on with this, then why didn’t they respond to the summons? Why wait until they could make a issue of the “rescheduling time frame” for them to file an appearance without answering the summons? They claimed, too, that the summons was defective without being specific and how likely is that for a federal prosecutor to get wrong?
    With your esteemed experience, you do not see anything fishy about this whole turn of events? If I’m wrong, then checking it will prove I’m wrong. If you are wrong, not checking it will create what kind of problems?


    • bmaz says:

      The answer is no, I do not see anything particularly “fishy” in a law firm entering a notice of appearance on behalf of a client. Do I think it is total gamesmanship by a client that may have no real attachability or exposure? Sure. But just blithely assuming that established lawyers are perpetrating a fraud on the court is not somewhere I am going to waste another second on

      If you want to “check”, knock yourself out. I have better things to do.

Comments are closed.