Re: The Bogus Manafort Challenge To Mueller’s Jurisdiction

I said from the outset that the Manafort challenges to Mueller’s authority, both in DC District and Eastern District of Virginia were bogus and ill taken. Not that his attorneys should be faulted for protecting that record for later appeal, that is simply what decent criminal defense lawyers do. But the siamesed motions were never the compelling “legitimate question” the press made them out to be. Even taking into account the cantankerous probing of Judge T.S. Ellis in EDVA at oral argument on May 4, 2018, the claims of Manafort, and later blithely parroted by Trump that same day, Manafort’s arguments were discredited by Dreeben’s argument. Even at that hearing, that Trump Parroted, Judge Ellis indicated there could well not exist a convincing argument in the long run.

Well, okay. We still don’t know how Judge Ellis will rule, but we do now know how Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled on pretty much the identical argument in DDC. Her decision was handed down yesterday.

This was a spanking of Manafort’s dismissal motion, from top to bottom. On every prong, and at every turn, Berman Jackson dismissed Manafort’s arguments. She even went so far as to opine that Mueller would have been effectively derelict not to have pursued these matters. The matter will proceed to trial in DDC, before Judge Berman Jackson, currently set for September 7, 2018.

So, that leaves the EDVA matter in front of the aforementioned cantankerous Judge Ellis. The decision by Berman Jackson will have to weigh heavily on Ellis as he drafts his decision on the parallel arguments in EDVA. Despite all the probing and disdain Ellis displayed at oral argument on May 4, Ellis is famous for just that. Over decades. Ellis could certainly find differently than Berman Jackson, that is his prerogative, but it is hard to see how he is going to. First off, the facts, pleadings and scope of authority demonstrated by Mueller, via Dreeben, simply do not warrant it. But, secondly, there is now a marker by Berman Jackson. Judge T.S. Ellis III may be commonly known as cantankerous, but he is not commonly known as a fool.

We shall see, but if I were Paul Manafort, I would not be sleeping easy. And Trump might want to stop cackling. So, enjoy the decision by Berman Jackson, it is worth the read if you are interested. And it is exactly why a few of us here were more than skeptical of Manafort’s motions.

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212 replies
  1. Trip says:

    With the transcripts released, here’s a refresher on Manafort’s notes in the Tower meeting:

    Paul Manafort’s notes
    We’ve known that then-campaign manager Manafort took notes during the meeting, and now we know what they said.
    Here they are:
    Bill browder
    Offshore – Cyprus
    133m shares
    Companies
    Not invest – loan
    Value in Cyprus as inter
    Illici
    Active sponsors of RNC
    Browder hired Joanna Glover
    Tied into Cheney
    Russian adoption by American families

    Exactly what any of it means is unclear, but there will be plenty of sleuthing to figure it out.
    A few notes, though: Browder is the U.S. businessman behind the Magnitsky Act, which the Russian government hates. “Joanna Glover” appears to be former aide to Vice President Richard B. Cheney and current GOP lobbyist Juleanna Glover, who worked on the Magnitsky Act. “Illici” is unclear but seems as though it may have been a typo for “illicit.”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2018/05/16/5-things-we-just-learned-from-the-trump-tower-meeting-transcripts/

    • Frank Probst says:

      So not one but two references to Papa-Dick.  Just when you think it can’t get any weirder.

    • Frank Probst says:

      Oh, and has anyone ever said that Cyprus was a topic discussed at the meeting, or is this new?  There are two direct references there, and three more references sandwiched between them that likely relate to Cyprus.

    • Avattoir says:

      “illici”

      You could well be right, but the romantic in me would like to think …

      Se si canta in un’opera di verismo in Italia, è possibile dire di un gruppo di persone che sono illegali, o sono illici.

      After all:

      1. The libretto to Puccini’s most famous opera, La bohème, was written by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi IllicaIllica being typically listed first, as the far more famous, very arguably Italy’s leading dramatist and story teller of his ear-a [sic: Illica lost an ear in dueling about a romance.]. Indeed, I’ve been told by a number my Italian ‘sources’ that it was common among immigrants who arrived in America around 1900-1915 to refer to Italian stories as “Illica” or “Illici” (and not even merely Italian stories, but, such being the power in Illica’s name, stories per se).

      2. Paul Manafort’s grandfather “James” is to have arrived in America having traveled here from ‘somewhere’ in Italy  – which could mean Calabria, even Sicily, both of which have lots of locals with names that show historical ties to Turkey, to the Arabian peninsula, or, as with “Manafort”, to Syria.

      3. Besides all their rat-fucking, even Manafort’s most famous (famously?) sordid late partner, Lee Atwater, had a romantic side.

      So I’d like to muse on the possibility that, as Manafort sat in this meeting, he occupied himself by musing on the nature of the things being discussed & those discussing them.

       

    • William Bennett says:

      Re Bill Browder: his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which was largely obliterated by the noise of I-don’t-even-remember-which-of-the-bazillion-outrages-was-erupting-at-the-time, really should be required reading for anyone who thinks this whole matter is just a lot of political grandstanding. Blood has been spilled to silence people trying to do the right thing and expose the corruption Putin wants to extend to the US through the vehicle of Trump. And the Magnitsky Act matter is central to it.

      https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/07/bill-browders-testimony-to-the-senate-judiciary-committee/534864/

       

    • harpie says:

      Natasha Bertrand: Thread[…] /  Here is what Glenn Simpson said about these notes when asked about them during his interview w/Senate Judiciary / […] / [Links to a Business Insider article from 1/12/18] 

      Speaking of Browder, he tweeted the following 8 hours ago:

      BREAKING: Elena Gremina, writer of play One Hour Eighteen Minutes about the murder of Sergei Magnitsky, found dead in Moscow at the age of 61. This is 6 weeks after her husband Mikhail Ugarov director of same play died. ‘Heart attacks’ in both cases

       

    • Bob Conyers says:

      In a somewhat related note, I found this hilarious.

      In the Senate Judiciary document dump, was an email to Ike Kaveladze by someone (name blacked out) commenting on Don Jr.’s release of his “I love it” emails announcing his interest in dirt in Clinton.

      The email to Kaveladze was a single line “Why did he release this e-mail admitting to collusion?”

      https://splinternews.com/how-to-not-do-collusion-1826079097

      • harpie says:

        Kyle D. Cheney:
         After Trump Tower meeting became public, an unknown person emailed Ike Kaveladze (one of the participants) asking why Trump Jr.’s statement was “admitting to collusion.” / Kaveladze expanded on this in his testimony — said he believes the sender was referring to something he saw on TV.
        Q: Do you know what [redaction FM2-possibly 6 letters] had in mind when he said, “why did he release this e-mail admitting to collusion?”
        A: [FM2] was watching television, and when the email was released, there were discussions about collusion. I guess that’s what he meant.

    • SteveB says:

      Re Value in Cyprus as Inter

      There is a theory as to the meaning of this posted by Scott M Stedman about 4 months ago.

      I have no idea who he is or what his credentials as an investigative journalist stack up to be.

      His hypothesis is that Inter refers to Inter Media group, which was owned by Ukranians Dymtro Firtash and Serhiy Lyovochkin both of whom have deep connections to Manafort.

      Inter Media Group is registered in Cyprus, and its address is the law offices of Christodolous Vassiliades. Vassiliades also happened to own 60% of Trump’s Moscow developer. He is also implcated in money laundering ventures.

      I thought this might be of some interest, but apologise if people with broader knowledge already have reason to dismiss the  speculation.

  2. bloopie2 says:

    When Russian eventually does take over America via The Collusion, Russian (the language) will need to be adopted by American families, no?

    • SteveB says:

      Bloopie2

      When English takes over as a fluent tongue for you,

      You will know not to refer to the country and language of your birth  this way

      “When Russian … does take over America….. Russian (the language) will…..” Yes?

        • SteveB says:

          Apologies to bloopie2 and friends for my misunderstanding.

          Not always easy to recognise the difference between a snark of a troll post and an actual troll post. But I should have better recalled bloopie2s other contributions. Thanks for correction.

  3. Frank Probst says:

    My recollection is that the second set of indictments had to be outside of DC because of legal rules that I’m not even going to try to understand.  But Manafort had the option to waive this requirement (which is what the prosecutors wanted) so that all of the charges could be handled by a single judge and a single trial, and he declined to do so.  So basically, Manafort decided to have trials on related charges in two different courts.  I know that the Virginia court is considered to be the “rocket docket”, so he and his legal team may have been trying to have a trial in Virginia–where the jury pool will probably have more Fox News viewers–before the trial in DC.  The hope would obviously be that a not guilty verdict in Virginia would be a huge PR win, and Trump could send out daily “WITCH HUNT!!!” tweets before the trial in DC (and maybe even throw in a pardon, on the premise that a jury has already said that Manafort is not guilty).

    His legal team obviously wouldn’t know in advance which judge the case would be assigned to, but Judge ABJ has clearly had little interest in Manafort’s legal crap.  Is it possible that Manafort’s team was hoping to get a ruling on this particular issue from a Virginia judge before Judge ABJ handed down her ruling on the same issue?  If Ellis had ruled first, and he ruled in favor of Manafort (which I don’t think was likely to happen, but it’s possible), Judge ABJ would be facing pressure to follow Judge Ellis’ ruling, right?

    • Avattoir says:

      On your question at the end, No.

      Not even judges within the same federal district or circuit court are ‘bound’ by each other’s opinions, let alone judges in different districts. Indeed, given the dueling reality of the national scene, it’s not uncommon for judges nom’d by presidents of differing parties to preserve not bury those differences.

        • Frank Probst says:

          @bmaz

          We have a trial date set for September in the DC case, I think.  Given that Virginia is the “rocket docket”, is there any way to guesstimate when the Virginia trial is likely to happen?

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      he and his legal team may have been trying to have a trial in Virginia–where the jury pool will probably have more Fox News viewers

      More to the point, will have more McLean-McMansion-dwelling types who are now nervous about their own FARA registrations.

      Ellis suggested he needed to see Rosenstein’s memo unredacted to assess the broad grant of authority, and gave the special counsel’s team two weeks to come up with a response. ABJ didn’t need that.

    • Rugger9 says:

      Perhaps what this will guarantee is if Ellis diverges from Berman Jackson on his ruling, this will become a SCOTUS case since they are in different appellate districts.  I’m not too pleased at that prospect with Gorsuch there now.

      Also in the news, and apparently the palace under-reported Stormy’s payment (or are there more of them?) when they updated their disclosures of liability.

      https://www.rawstory.com/2018/05/trump-just-filed-updated-paperwork-stormy-daniels-payoff-now-face-felony/

      I’m sure JeffBo will get right on it:
      https://www.rawstory.com/2018/05/ethics-office-essentially-reported-trump-justice-department-potential-criminal-prosecution/

    • NorskieFlamethrower says:

      He can’t free up any cashable assets can he? He sits where he is unless the Ruskies decide to screw ‘im for f***in’ up the Ukraine thingie and post cash for ‘im.

      • Palli says:

        Manafort with ankle bracelet in the comfort of his home while 1000s of poor Americans sit in jail when they can’t make bond. Sorry, do not approve. What is the legal reasoning?

        • bmaz says:

          It is really not that simple of an equation. The “1000s of poor Americans” you refer is a severe underestimate. My guess is, overall, there is at least half a million in pre-trial detention at any given moment in the US. Beyond that though, probably 95% of them are in state or local pre-trial custody. As much as you may want to equate that with federal, it is simply not the same. And each state has its own bail guidelines, and each county and municipality their own pattern of dealing with it.

          None of that has anything necessarily to do with federal release conditions such as Manafort and Gates are under.  To be honest, home arrest with electronic monitoring is not free. Not every defendant can afford to cover that if required. And it is fairly onerous. I had a client that was under such supervision and who played catch with his dog on the greenway on the other side of his patio. It was a distance of about 25-35 feet we are talking about. He got rolled up and arrested for doing so. Took me a week to get him released again.

          Long story short, not every pre-trial detainee can avail themselves of such a program. There is a lot more to this than you think.

          • Palli says:

            Thanks, bmaz. Right after I typed it, I knew you’d remind me these are federal charges but, once again, I left it stand, symbolic of my discomfort. Not happy to hear the vast number of people forced into our negative, if not injurious, jails & prisons. But regarding Manafort, I’m happy to learn there is a price to the privilege of the ankle bracelets.

            Had a friend with one after a DWI but never stopped to think he was charged for it-should have assumed it tho, considering how much phone calls, etc. cost in jails & prisons. While measuring distances was a constant worry, the burden of it was an effective pyschological teaching tool in his case and didn’t remove him for a supportive community.

            I’d like to assume Manafort will be in prison soon enough-even if it ends up being a “country club” iteration.

            Thought the other day about that insipid 19thC patriotic short story The Man Without A Country. These trump characters deserve that fate, not on a ship but thrust into space inside a golden BMW stretch limo together orbiting the planet endlessly.

             

            If any of these guys fall to the fictionalized

             

             

    • RWood says:

      I would think that the DOJ would want him at home. Both sides are waiting to see what his decision will be in regard to flipping, and at home he’s a bit safer from any random clouds of nerve agent.

  4. William Bennett says:

    Seem to recall someone here a week or so back trolling about how Judge “Berman” [sic], along with Ellis, was about to undermine the whole basis for Mueller’s prosecution, based solely on the questions the judges were asking in the hearings. How come you can never find those people when reality hands you a nice two-by-four to whack them upside their heads?

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Goldstone and others have described the June 9th Trump Tower meeting with eerie similarities, as if reading from the same script. But none of them have any more verisimilitude than Trump’s denial of knowing Stormy Daniels.

    The Don must be feeling nervous and isolated. He’s out bashing immigrant “drug dealers and murderers” again, as if the description were redundant rather than descriptive of the tiniest of tiny fraction of immigrants.

    He continues to have no sense of the ironic, as he describes merit as the preferred basis for immigration rather than family connections. Melania’s parents will be next on the ICE plane home then. And Ivanka will stop offering US visas to Trump condo buyers. Uh, huh.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      About working off the same script, the Guardian says the script, used by Don, Jr., came from the Trump Organization, which urged everyone else involved to stick to it.  Donald Trump Sr. is the Trump Organization, as he has said over and over for decades.

      I wonder how close to witness tampering and obstruction that gets.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Yep, he’s directly implicated in that cover story.  The “Trump Organization” was not at the meeting, but associates of it were.  Most of all, one perspective is not every perspective  To insist that witnesses use only the approved version of a story is a directive to omit material information or to lie about it.

    • orionATL says:

      what got my attention from one media story from the transripts teleased todday by senate intell comm was that the two june 9 meeting participants directly connected to aras agalarov (goldstone and ike kevaladze) recalled jared kushner as being at the entire meeting, while all others (3 amers and 2 russians) recalled him leaving at some point.

      goldstone said he sat next to kushner and that he and kushner were the only two on that side.

      i don’t know whose recall is accurate (seven witnesses to an auto accident can each have a different recollection), but goldstone over time sure has said some things that might give others involved in the meeting heartburn.

  6. harpie says:

    Hah! Roger Stone!

    Kyle Griffin:

    Mueller has issued two subpoenas to Jason Sullivan, a social media expert who worked for Roger Stone during the 2016 election, Reuters reports.

    • Trip says:

      From Reuters:

      “Welcome To The Age of Weaponized Social Media,” said a strategy document Sullivan prepared for Stone and seen by Reuters. He described a “system” he devised for creating Twitter “swarms” as “an army of sophisticated, hyper-targeted direct tweet automation systems driven by outcomes-based strategies derived from REAL-TIME actionable insights.”

      For example, at 6:43 a.m. local time on Election Day in 2016, Trump tweeted, “TODAY WE MAKE AMERICAN GREAT AGAIN”. Trump’s message soon was retweeted more than 343,000 times, and in an interview last year, Sullivan told Reuters that the swarm helped overcome a surge in pro-Clinton social media postings and boost voter turnout for Trump.

    • orionATL says:

      hmm. this is interesting. i wonder what a “social media expert” involves in this particular context.

      uh, oh. i read on down.

      trip was on the case. tx trip. reads like a gov’t contract, and sounds pretty digitally, ominously powerful.

  7. Trip says:

    “Not invest – loan” note:

    Isn’t that the entire relationship between Deripaska and Manafort? In reality, Deripaska was paying for a service, but if he didn’t get what he wanted, he could sue to collect the “loan”.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Just routine for this administration.  And the GOP is all in on it, demonstrating how hard it is to indict and prosecute an association or corporate body, because its actions are the collectives ones of its principal members and those who go along with them.

      • Trip says:

        There seems to be a semi-split, though, with the Senate Intelligence committee Repubs vs the House Repubs.  Not that it will amount to a hill of beans, but the House really looks like a chooch cabal now.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      The filing also offers a lens into the Trump Organization’s debts, beyond the money he owed, and then repaid, to Mr. Cohen. A large share of that debt stems from Deutsche Bank loans to Trump National Doral, a golf resort near Miami, which is Mr. Trump’s biggest cash flow generator

      [Funny how the money keeps coming *to* US. How do loans *FROM* Deutsche bank *TO* Trump National Doral end up resulting in positive cash flow? Hint: It does not. This is money laundering plain and simple, Money is going *out* of US and then back *in*]

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Money laundering is probably the alpha and omega of Trump’s business for the last two decades.  That and hiding it through creative accounting.  The money would pass through several legal entities – each needing to prepare financial statements – before the portion of it Trump would get to keep landed where he could use it.

        The Don is not given to restraint, but to gross overreach.  Combine that with a money launderer’s need to grow in order to survive.  Trump might have spent his portion before he “earned” it.  That would necessitate a check kite-like arrangement, requiring him to keep the cash moving at high velocity to avoid his house of cards tumbling down.

        Apart from revealing himself as a criminal, fraud and bankrupt, the demise of his operation would seriously piss off the people whose money he was laundering.  They would lose a channel for laundering and some of their money.   They would potentially expose part of their dealings to law enforcement.

        That they might respond to such losses and exposure with extreme prejudice would add to their ability to blackmail their launderer.  My guess is that Mueller has a few people working exclusively on those aspects of their investigation.

        • harpie says:

          This, from Garrett Graff at Wired on 5/11/18 is very informative:
          IF TRUMP IS LAUNDERING RUSSIAN MONEY, HERE’S HOW IT WORKS 
          […] But to Treasury officials and law enforcement who have long pursued money laundering and terrorist financing probes, it’s not what Donald Trump or Michael Cohen did in any single transaction that raises red flags—it’s how they conducted business day in and day out. The layers of shell companies, the contracts involving pseudonyms, the law firm cut-outs to make deals. […]

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            Good article.  Circulate widely. I suspect we’ll need to come back to it time and again.

            Interesting that Trump’s organization engages in such elaborate hiding of who owns what and who owes what.  It uses 15 tiered entities, for example, to own two airplanes and three helicopters. Imagine what complexities they use for more important assets and operations. Imagine the potential for tax and accounting fraud.

            Conversely, Trump’s supposed fixer used a single Delaware LLC, Essential Consultants, as the conduit for so many diverse payments.  Clearly, Trump does not employ him for his attention to detail or his legal smarts.  He must have other attributes he uses to fix kneecaps and other things.

            That complexity would take a long time even for Mueller’s experts to sort through.  One reason, I suppose, that the new Trump meme is that “this” has taken long enough and Mueller needs to wrap it up.  Uh, huh.

            • pseudonymous in nc says:

              Readers of Private Eye are well-versed in the Escher aqueduct of such companies. And the parallels to Robert Maxwell (sans yacht) have been obvious for a while.

            • harpie says:

              EoH: “I suspect we’ll need to come back to it time and again.”

              Yes, like about 1 hour after I posted that link. See:
              Ronan Farrow@RonanFarrow

              The whistleblower who leaked Michael Cohen’s financial records is stepping forward to say why: My @newyorker investigation:
              Missing Files Motivated the Leak of Michael Cohen’s Financial Records
              A law-enforcement official released the documents after finding that additional suspicious transactions did not appear in a government database. 6:17 PM 5/16/18 

              • harpie says:

                BUT, as Josh Barro says [Thread]

                […] / I find this story insane. If the law enforcement official was concerned about the missing reports, he could have gone to the Treasury IG, or to Robert Mueller, or the US Attorney for the SDNY. / […]

                • Bob Conyers says:

                  One thing that jumps out at me is if it was funny business by someone who was Trump-friendly, why leave a major one untouched?

                  I can’t rule out incompetence, but I would guess there is more to this story. It seems odd to me that a law enforcement official would be looking at Cohen’s reports like this – I assume it’s not easy for people to get authorization to go looking through them. And as Barro said, why not go to Mueller or someone else at DOJ?

                  At any rate, you would think making a report disappear involves easily traceable actions, so it ought to be possible to know who took them offline. I guess we’ll see.

                • orionATL says:

                  josh barro is full of crap right up to his brown eyes (ht bmaz).

                  ask former national security administration official thomas drake about how being a straight arrow and a good boy scout and following the rules about talking internally ends up for a whistlerblower:

                  … “Drake was a senior executive at the NSA — a “senior change leader” — who professed an ambition to change the agency’s insular culture. He became disillusioned with the agency’s handling of major technology programs and concerned that the NSA was needlessly violating Americans’ privacy through a massive surveillance program adopted after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He raised concerns with officials and the inspector general, and later with the reporter, before leaving the agency in 2008… ” wapo, nakashima, 6/11.

                  having raised concerns internally which were ignored, he took thenext step of going to the press. then the department of justice came down on him like a falling hod.

                  play by the rules and lose;

                  break the rules and lose.

                  tough odds requiring character in this case.

              • earlofhuntingdon says:

                Ronan Farrow is a reporter to watch.  A prodigy with a keen eye and stout heart.

          • orionATL says:

            what i learned from the wired article harpie cited:

            GOLF courses. who would have guessed?

            when it comes to money laundering, buying a golf course is apparently like buying an entire office building.

            hmm. now who bought two scots golf courses in around 2006?

            and then put lots of money into fixing them up?

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              Golf courses and resorts are favorite locations for money laundering.  Acreage, cash, real and virtual potential development, a tradition of being bought and sold.  You can make real money off them and make it look that way.  If your need is to generate losses, that can be readily done too.

              Another advantage is that they can increasingly be found in faraway jurisdictions, with varying levels of financial law enforcement. Faking a good set of books is an essential resource a good launderer needs.

              They involve less documentation and regulation than a downtown office building.  Most importantly, they cost a lot, making it easier to launder big chunks of cash, which seems to be a problem serious money launderers have.

  8. harpie says:

    Not O/T [!]
    Katelyn Polantz @kpolantz   “We knew before it was a contentious battle between the Special Counsel’s Office and Russian company Concord Management and Consulting. Today, minutes after the judge left the courtroom, the defense atty told Mueller’s team “bullshit”‘

  9. orionATL says:

    bmaz –

    you may not hear it often, but i got to say you are a damned good writer on these technical matters. if i am going to understand a legal matter (never a given), it is going to be from clear explanations like this. you should do this more often at emptywheel (in your spare time, of course).

    • Avattoir says:

      Is the OLC opinion from back in the last century quite that broad? I don’t think so.

      IAE, it does appear to extend to the clearly most visible goldmine of preznit behavior, obstruction of justice.

    • harpie says:

      Neal Katyal @neal_katyal Thread: ” […] / 5. The reporting is clearly incomplete. The Special Counsel regs, which I drafted, do NOT say DOJ policy must always be followed. They say that a Special Counsel can ask Acting AG (Rod Rosenstein) for permission to depart from DOJ policy and rules. / […] ”

      Ryan Goodman: “Would add to Giuliani’s credibility if he at least got date of Justice Dept memo right in follow up with @costareports. It was 1973—not “1979” Plus date gives sense of historical context: a self-serving opinion by Nixon admin, which Watergate special prosecutor rejected in 1974″
      Laura Rozen: “key bit seems mueller did not say what giuliani said he did.”

  10. Frank Probst says:

    Well, it looks like the Concord case isn’t going as well for the defense attorneys as they’d hoped.  They’re about to get several hundred million pages of documents, many of which are in Russian and haven’t been translated into English.  And something quirky seems to have happened with their phone call with the prosecutors last week.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/russian-firm-tied-to-putin-ally-charged-in-2016-trolling-campaign-clashes-with-mueller-probe/2018/05/16/1365ccc0-586c-11e8-b656-a5f8c2a9295d_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.77395bd48105

    • Avattoir says:

      Defending attorneys eventually become pretty familiar with being bombarded by government prosecutors with reams of useless incidental crap that costs enormous resources, time and money, to get thru.

      But that’s actually not what the OSC is at least saying it’s doing there. Instead, they’re saying, There’s your crime scene.

      Not sure how I’d react to that if I were acting on the defense side. ‘Too Much To Prosecute’ doesn’t seem plausible, at least superficially.

        • pseudonymous in nc says:

          The strategic decision from the special counsel’s office is apparently for Jeannie Rhee to out-dick Dubelier. “You’ve got a fat retainer to be as big of a dick as possible? We’re going to make you earn it and then have to spend most of it on paralegals.”

  11. Trip says:

    Interesting back and forth on Bharara, translated from Russian by native speaker, ellie mae:

    southpaw‏ @nycsouthpaw
    Ike Kaveladze and Natalya last-name-redacted text about Donald Trump meeting with @PreetBharara during the transition.
    https://twitter.com/nycsouthpaw/status/996785097587208192
    ellie mae‏ @RuningWildly
    Replying to @nycsouthpaw @PreetBharara
    Natalya (about Bharara): “He kept him. How is it possible? Maybe it’s a game? Maybe this is a way to control him?”
    ellie mae‏ @RuningWildly
    Natalya is surprised that Trump kept @PreetBharara. She then speculated that maybe it was done to control Bharara, allow him to go after some people, but not others. Ike’s reply is “Maybe”. She then asks if there is a back channel to understand what this means.

  12. harpie says:

    OK, I’m in good company thinking today is absolutely bonkers!
    Amy Suskind: [She wrote “The List; A Week-By-Week Reckoning of Trump’s First Year”] 

    [5:36 PM – 16 May] As the woman who uniquely tracks this, I can say this is the most active day of news since the election of 2016.  Flooding out and none of it for Trump.  He has it coming from all ends now.

     

  13. Mitch Neher says:

    When Judge Ellis raised the specter of a CIPA trial and reminded Dreeben and Downing that he had presided over the trial of John Walker Lindh, is it possible that Ellis was signaling his disposition toward denying Manafort’s motion to dimisss as well as possibly even ratcheting up the pressure on Manafort to reach a plea agreement with Mueller?

  14. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Rudy G. is a putz.  “No one would focus” on the minutiae of a top presidential candidate getting help from “a Russian or a German”, and “they didn’t use it“.  Bullshit.

    Of course it’s a problem.  Rudy is well aware of it, which is why he’s chosen to downplay it so crudely.  The greenest political consultant and campaign legal counsel would have been able to tell them that in no uncertain terms.  Rudy must know he’s playing only to the dumbest Trump supporter, and Trump.

    As for minutiae, the substance of the June 9th meeting couldn’t have been too small.  The top three people – supposedly other than Trump – in Trump’s campaign were there.  No campaign staffs a meeting like that if it is not a top priority, not ever and not that close to a nomination and election.

    Then there’s what the it is that Rudy refers to.  He doesn’t say, but he invites Mueller to ask.

    As for the Don’s supposed lack of interest in how much he paid Fixer Cohen, what a hoot.  Trump was once scammed by a celebrity magazine, which sent him a series of ever smaller checks, to see how low he would go.  Trump cashed them all, even the one for thirteen cents.

    The public does care about Trump’s extramarital life, as it should.  Every politician knows that it opens him or her to blackmail.  Ask John Edwards.  It distracts him, owing to the potential for embarrassment, for upping the cost he might need to pay a divorcing spouse, as well as the risks of losing custody over his latest son.  Those are expenses Trump would obsess about not paying, leading him to further excess.  It exposes the range of behavior – here, potentially crimes – he’s willing to engage in to hide his sins.  That’s an indicator of what he would do to hide other problems he creates – or which surface – when president.

    • Trip says:

      I actually don’t care so much about his private life. But it is the hypocrisy of aligning with the religious right who ARE all up in everyone’s business, wanting to legislate religious dogma, except for leadership, who are exempt.

       

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I don’t care about who or what he sleeps with.  I care about what he does or could be blackmailed into doing to cover it up.  I care about what it says about the behavior he will bring to the Oval Office and spread throughout the government.

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Rudy Giuliani is a poster child for increased funding for Alzheimer’s research. Self-awareness is the first thing that goes.

    Pity that won’t help the collective mind of the GOP. It’s all in on the Don, regardless of what he does, as long as it gets to dismember the federal government, denuding it of its ability to regulate or hold its patrons to account for the excesses that harm us all.

    • Trip says:

      Meh, the ageism thing bothers me a bit. Everyone is acting like Rudy just recently became this scattered or lying imbecile, but in fact, he has been spouting lies and ridiculous things for a while, riding on the nonsense “Amercia’s Mayor” cred or “Tough Organized Crime Prosecutor” moniker. He tried to push that Clinton was never at Ground Zero, he has said that he was at Ground Zero as much as, if not more than first responders (in re health consequences). He was responsible for the no-bid contract (after the first World Trade Center bombing) which left first responders unable to communicate which likely cost them their lives. He was tight buds with Bernard Kerick, who was ethically challenged, to put it lightly, who went to fed prison. Then there is his past with Trump (previously caught cooking the books to rip off the city during financially devastating times) where he provided a shield with the FBI against charges (in exchange)for campaign donations.  He cheated on his 2nd wife and made a nasty public display of that and went for the jugular in the divorce just as publicly, with no regard for his own children.

      This is just off the top of my head. I’m certain there is more that escapes me at the moment. So to recap, Rudy has always been a jerk. It’s just more obvious now, and maybe some of the past worshipers are finally woke.

       

      • bmaz says:

        Oh, Rudy has been an asshole for all of those reasons and more for a long time. No question. But he also does seem more volatile and scattershot than he used to.

        • BroD says:

          That’s the role Trump brought him on to perform.  I suspect he has a vested interest, in the form of dirty laundry, in assuming the task.

          • Rugger9 says:

            I for one would like to dig into the SDNY Feebs that insinuated the HRC emails were classified without even asking to look at them on Abedin’s computer.   RudyG appears to have been involved in some way either as a conduit to the campaign or to the press.

            In short, RudyG’s attacks on Mueller like many other GOP types appear to have self preservation as his true motive.

        • Trip says:

          He’s much more desperate. And don’t forget, he likely has his own exposure during the time of the campaign. But he definitely sucks as a lawyer. Probably  because for so long he didn’t practice law, and thought he was above it.

          Editing to add: The Fox News safety bubble is a double-edged sword. While catatonic brainwashed viewers nod along like zombies, to his every word, the rest of the people outside that bubble call all of it to question, including investigators.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Dementia is no respecter of youth or age.

        Rudy’s lawyering is below par, something the president’s lawyer can never afford to be.  Even if Rudy were to get a handicap, because he is simultaneously trying to act as Trump’s spokesperson as well as his lawyer, his lawyering is inadequate.  If he wanted to sell obfuscation and a false story to Trump’s base, for example, he should have done that through other spokespeople.  Doing it himself damages his and his client’s credibility.  That’s on Rudy.

        • Trip says:

          Fair enough. I just have really really old people in the family who could run intellectual and memory circles around people at 30.

    • orionATL says:

      giuliani –

      a fading candle whose wick has burned waaay down gets a final flare of light from a blast of wind.

      • orionATL says:

        on the other hand, think of giuliani as an ancient political medicine man who knows how to exorcise demons.

        he has exorcised the trump-plays-with prostitute demon by acknowledging payment.

        now he is attempting to exorcise the russian-investigation demon by saying, “of course the trump campaign would have liked to receive harmful info on clinton – no matter where it came from, even another country.” (which is just like the media feels, isn’t it :) ) this makes any trump campaign/russian gov’t cooperation appear to be normal.

        we probably should not discount the old medicine man’s skill.

        but that still leaves money laundering, campaign illegalities, e.g., inaugural contributions as bribery, foreign policy shakedowns, emmoluments, and confraudus to work with. trump, however, has had a lifetime of experience skirting the law, using others to get closest to the fire, e.g., m.cohen, esq, and using threats successfully – so don’t count your chickens just yet.

        the most important matter of all, however, is that we all know what trump and his henchmen, including family, have done. the knowledge, the transcripts, the depositions, the congressional investigations, the indictments, the confessions, in short the collectivity of detailed knowledge of the trump campaign, the transition and inauguration, and the first two years of governing that will come out of this investigation are, i believe, what will count the most.

        whatever the specific outcome, we will have remaining a big job to do as a nation and that is to place strict limits on the presidency, especially on the president’s ability to use his current powers to prevent an investigation of improper political behavior or of possible criminal behavior on his part or thst of his administration.

  16. Frank Probst says:

    @bmaz
    Sorry, but I can’t seem to reply directly to your comment. My Mac is glitchy.
    If you read the article about the Concord case, what’s your take on the bizarre interaction between the defense attorney and the prosecutor at the end of the hearing? The whole phone call thing is bizarre to me. If you’re on a conference call, and the call drops (which has happened to almost anyone who deals with conference calls), you hit redial and try to get the other group back on the line. Neither side seems to have done that, and the fact that it’s the defense who seems pissed off about it, I’d guess they heard something they didn’t like. There was reference to the topic being discussed at the time, but it made no sense to me.
    P.S. Add me to the list of people who appreciate all that you do. I couldn’t reply to that one, either.

    • bmaz says:

      I don’t really know what to make of that.

      And thanks folks, but we would like to thank you for participating and making this the place it has been for well over a decade now.

  17. jon says:

    these missing SARS reports are a  very troubling situation. Is there any explanation involving SCO that would make  it not so disturbing, what are the other possibilities?

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      FinCEN released a statement saying that they limit access to SARs when requested by law enforcement in connection to an ongoing investigation. This is one of those situations where obstructing justice and actively preventing obstruction of justice look the same, and we’ll only know which it is after the fact.

        • Bob Conyers says:

          I’d be stunned if a Treasury politico tried funny business. Wiping database records generally leaves a trail, you’d have to wipe the backups, which is generally hard, and if you’re trying to foil FBI forensic experts, that’s really hard. Fed IT types tend to be rules and process people, especially when there are serious consequences for screwups. I’d be surprised if they did all this without full documentation.

          Furthermore, you’d have to wipe the records referring to the reports, which is a challenge of itself. Add to that the requirement that the financial institution filing the report has its own retention and record keeping requirements. It would be very hard to convince a financial institution to delete their copies and take that kind of risk. And you also somehow have to keep the people who worked on the reports quiet and not cooperate to show the relevant data that triggered filing the reports.

          It is odd to me, however, that only two of three reports were pulled, and I can’t rule out some further wrinkles.

        • pseudonymous in nc says:

          Yeah, my first thought was that there’d be some kind of equivalent to the flagging system that stops random IRS employees from looking up famous people’s tax returns. And the SARs presumably remain on file at the submitting banks.

      • greengiant says:

        Theory, law enforcement someone(s) got the SARs before FinCen firewalled them,  someone(s) noticed the SARs went missing.  Farrow’s source, concerned citizen or Trump operative or? Earlier Avenatti called for Congressional help to release the SARs. Seems the SARs have been in play for awhile. Eliot Spitzer went down a lot faster.

  18. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Corporate justice in America, the Walmart way: 12 years for shoplifting $39.57?

    How to upcharge a low-grade misdemeanor into felony burglary – as a way to inhibit what retailers’ trade associations label, “organized retail crime”. Protecting corporate property, ueber alles.

  19. Trip says:

    Did anyone mention the estranged son-in-law turning on Manafort?

    Also some guy on Ari Melber was opining that “clearly” there was no “collusion” because Mueller’s charges would have demonstrated/reflected this in others’ indictments. I didn’t catch his name.

    • bmaz says:

      Saw that, but didn’t catch the name. Total bullshit. Prosecutors hide the ball on cooperation pleas all the time. It was a ludicrous statement.

  20. Rugger9 says:

    Manafort’s former (a key detail) son in law flips.  Another secret indictment and plea deal, and the noose is a little tighter.  I would guess Manafort’s team would point out the divorce from Paul’s daughter might have sullied the relationship to where he’s unreliable, but I also think they should be smart enough to understand that the first to flip between Manafort and Cohen get the best deal.

     

    https://www.rawstory.com/2018/05/manaforts-former-son-law-cuts-plea-deal-mueller-will-cooperate-government-report/

  21. Trip says:

    Uggh, Rudy again. And he uses the “Failed NYTimes” as proof that Trump is innocent and a victim.

  22. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Giuliani may have a law degree, but he’s acting as another Trump spokesperson.  He sells the daily line of obfuscation, confusion and red-meat appeals for the Trump base.  He is as disconnected from facts and policy as his boss.

    Giuliani has drawn the obvious conclusion: Trump would lose in any court on the facts and the law.  He is appealing to the Trump base to protect their Dear Leader from those mean courts and meaner federal prosecutors – the ones from the president’s party, chosen by the president.

    Change the names and Giuliani’s script could be used to indict Revenuers for huntin’ and shuttin’ down all them stills in the hills.  Ironic that a purported billionaire, intensely uncomfortable anywhere but his own private clubs, surrounded by gold and fresh linen, is able to portray himself as a populist opponent of moneyed interests. It’s a theme perfected by Philippine and Latin American dictators.

    Giuliani is attempting to intimidate congresscritters, should they be called on to deal with impeachment and trial.  His messages: the people are agin’ ya, facts are what we say they are, follow the people and not the law.  An adolescent version of the attitudes birthed during the Bush/Cheney presidency.  And an excellent way to assure that the law dies, leaving people to the whims blown by Congress’s corporate patrons.

    • Trip says:

      Non-sequitur: Have you ever noticed that, over time, the appearance of Trump spokespeople becomes more and more extreme? It’s like a reverse Picture of Dorian Gray happening.  At some point, one of Huckster-b’s eyeballs will be set in her chin (or scalp) while the other is embedded in her cheek, and her lip will hit her forehead, as she contorts will each lie. Kellyanne Conway suffered some radical accelerated aging, Spicer got ruddier and redder, and Giuliani looks mad (not angry, but insane). https://www.rawstory.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/rudygiuliani-800×430.jpg I wonder what Raj Shah will look like in a few weeks.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Reverse Dorian Gray.  The Don is Dorian, he puts everyone around him in the role of the painting.

        Bob Mueller should add a few mirrors to his repertoire.  It might help in getting those close to Trump to flip, before someone brings the painting down from the attic and gives the Don a peek.

  23. earlofhuntingdon says:

    According to real billionaire Bill Gates, the man who wears no hat does not know the difference between HPV and HIV.

    Observing that the two were rarely confused with each other, Bill had to explain it to him twice.  He doesn’t think it registered.  One more reason for Melania to be afraid.  This is the man who nominates people to run the CDC and other federal public health agencies.

    Mr. Trump also frightened Bill and Melinda by how much he knows about the looks of their 22 year-old daughter.  He met her at a horse event in Florida.  Twenty minutes later, he made a second, grand entrance at the same event, this time arriving by helicopter.

    • Trip says:

      I’m not really a fan of Gates, but that video had me LMAO. I know it’s serious, but Gates was very funny, regaling the audience with the absurdities and idiocy.  “Gates thinks”, after Trump was speaking in the third person. How long until Trump has a baby-man hissy fit-twitter tantrum about it?

  24. Trip says:

    Here’s the tax break package the Kushners want from Jersey City

    Kushner Companies and partner KABR Group, which want to build twin 56-story towers on a long-vacant lot near the Journal Square PATH station, asked the city for the long-term tax break package in an April application obtained by The Jersey Journal after a public-records request.
    The document was submitted two weeks before the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency told the developers, in a letter obtained by Hudson County View, that they were in default of their 2015 redeveloper agreement with the agency, in part because construction on the $897 million project did not start by Jan. 1, 2017…In lieu of conventional taxes, the developer asked to pay a service charge of 5 percent of its annual gross revenue. City records indicate service charges for other abatements hover in the 10 percent range.

    http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/2018/05/here_is_the_tax_break_package_kushner_firm_wants_f.html

    Talk about corporate welfare. JC is a hot prospect and doesn’t need to give away the store. This is how developers screw the taxpayers. More infrastructure, more services required, and school budgets increase, and so additional costs fall on the residents for these mega-developments. It then has a way of making living less affordable (obvs), then more are pushed out, developers swoop up that property, lather, rinse, repeat. And these are the billionaires who already got a giant tax cut.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Indeed.  Among other problems is the Hollywood accounting one.  Basing any public income off the revenue or profits recognized by a private business is begging to be screwed.  Might as well give it all away to Amazon from the get go.

      Proverbially, no Hollywood accountant wanting to remain employed at a studio, when dealing with a film star whose income is a percentage of revenue or profits, would ever declare a film to be high-grossing or profitable.  Neighborhoods, horse farms, and beach front properties have been built on such lies.

      The ask from the Kushners illustrates the chutzpah.  They are already in default, but want more before they do what they have already promised to do.  Jersey City, of all places, should know how little any developer’s promise is worth.  The Trumps and now the Kushners have built their businesses by breaking their promises.

      Developers strive to use someone else’s money.  They also take out their investment and profits first and early, through various tricks of the trade, long before their developments ever or could make money. 

      Moreover, to the extent a property is also used to launder money, maximizing profits or gross revenue is sometimes not a goal, especially when it attracts income or special purpose taxes.

      Jersey City should remember the Bush motto: fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on…can’t get fooled agin’.

      • Trip says:

        Yep. A developer was considering purchasing property from an acquaintance of mine. Quote, “I need to show a loss”. If they aren’t using “creative” bookkeeping, then they can always intentionally leave units or commercial spaces open, un-leased, so that the profit on paper is lower, but they still make money with less costs. It’s such a gigantic scam.

         

    • orionATL says:

      if this is the kushner project i think it is, the developers took advantage of a state (or maybe federal) designation/program designed to help low income neighborhoods – and i do mean took advantage of, in a not-nice way – to carve out a bogus district a mile away from the low income area that gave them some advantage and allowed them to build a ritzy coop tower project with no obvious connection to the initial low income area.

      • orionATL says:

        well that was easy. i wasn’t going to spend time searching, but damned if the story didn’t pop right up:

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/jared-kushner-and-his-partners-used-a-program-meant-for-job-starved-areas-to-build-a-luxury-skyscraper/2017/05/31/9c81b52c-4225-11e7-9869-bac8b446820a_story.html?

        ” JERSEY CITY — Jared Kushner and his real estate partners wanted to take advantage of a federal program in 2015 that would save them millions of dollars as they built an opulent, 50-story residential tower in this city’s booming waterfront district, just across the Hudson River from Lower Manhattan.

        There was just one problem: The program was designed to benefit projects in poor, job-starved areas…

        They worked with state officials in New Jersey to come up with a map that defined the area around 65 Bay Street as a swath of land that stretched nearly four miles and included some of the city’s poorest and most crime-ridden neighborhoods. At the same time, they excluded some wealthy neighborhoods only blocks away.

        The tactic — critics liken it to the gerrymandering of legislative districts — made it appear that the luxury tower was in an area with extraordinarily high unemployment, allowing Kushner Companies and its partners to get $50 million in low-cost financing through the EB-5 visa program.

        On the south side of Jersey City, which has some of the most entrenched poverty in the New York City region, many people interviewed one day last week were surprised that their neighborhood’s troubles were part of the reason that 65 Bay Street got cheap financing.

        “That’s very sad,” said Pastor Shyrone Richardson of the World Outreach Christian Church in the struggling Bergen-Lafayette section of Jersey City. “Unfortunately, the people who are benefiting from this are not the people in this area.”

        Richardson’s church is in a five-block area where nearly 1 in 5 were jobless and three fatal shootings occurred in 2015, according to an analysis of crime and census data….”

          • Dev Null says:

            I sooooo want Javanka to benefit from Federal social welfare … you know, room and board paid for by the taxpayer, without a lot of distractions.

             

  25. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Santa Fe, Tx. Eight dead. Others injured.

    Twenty-first school shooting in America today. More then one per week.

    Guns are the problem. What Americans rely on them to do is the problem. How Donald Trump empowers people to act on their anger and to violently resolve daily conflicts is the problem.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Nine dead.

      Politicians already offering their “thoughts and prayers,” but not much else.

      • Trip says:

        It would be refreshing if they simply, honestly said, “I really don’t give a fuck, the NRA pays me too much money. There’s a certain amount of expendables in human cost”.

      • Rusharuse says:

        “Thoughts and prayers” about what? to whom? Just more magic thinking!

        If only Trump had been there to rush the shooter, save the day . . but I guess he can’t be everywhere!

         

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The twenty-second school shooting.  This time, ten dead, ten wounded.  Lots more thoughts and prayers from politicians.  Donald Trump read out his as if he were reading a recipe for food he would never eat.

      The environment – access to guns, why and how people use them – is off limits.  So their proposal is to lock down the schools, managing access to them the way the TSA manages airport passengers.

      That’s not a culture, a priority, or a way of problem solving we should bequeath our kids.

  26. Trip says:

    Russian investigators charge two American journalists with propagating terrorism
    Meduza
    07:31, 18 may 2018
    Russian federal investigators have charged two staff members at The Washington Examiner with propagating an act of terrorism by publishing an article urging the Ukrainian military to bomb Russia’s new bridge to Crimea.
    … Also on Friday, investigators charged Rogan’s editor, Hugo Gurdon, with propagating terrorism.

    https://meduza.io/en/news/2018/05/18/russian-investigators-charge-two-american-journalists-with-propagating-terrorism

    I’m not angry about this, lol.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      This is the Washington Examiner article:

      https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/ukraine-should-blow-up-putins-crimea-bridge

      I had stupidly assumed the Examiner wouldn’t be so crazy as to run this kind of thing. I had guessed the Russians were overreacting to some halfway sober analysis listing a number of potential options with costs and benefits included.

      Nope, their guy Tom Rogan flat out called for the Ukranian air force to bomb the bridge with US military backing. It includes armchair general theorizing how their bombers could carry out the mission and escape unharmed.

      Every time I take a look at the rightwing miasma, I have to wonder why they get such credulous mileage in the normal media world. Now of course the Russians are ridiculous to file charges over this, and I’d hate to see Rogan get into any kind of genuine trouble, but wow is he piece of work.

      https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/i-got-played-by-russian-intelligence

      This is a piece he writes about getting tricked into talking to someone he blindly accepted was Ukraine’s foreign minister, only to have it dawn on him later that he was completely fooled and it was probably Russians. He tries to write it off to the cunning subterfuge of the Russians, but seriously, what kind of writer gives an interview without the most basic background check?

      • Dev Null says:

        I’m not generally a fan of Russian efforts to abuse the legal system …

        … but I’ll make an exception in this situation.

        Трамп facilitators taking heat from Трамп sponsors…

        … buy popcorn futures!

  27. Trip says:

    Sanctions-Hit Deripaska Quits Russia’s EN+ Board

    En+, which manages Deripaska’s aluminum and hydropower businesses, said it would propose that Philippe Mailfait, an independent director at the group, replace Deripaska on the board of directors of Rusal, Russia’s largest aluminum producer…The group’s chairman said this month it was working on a plan it hoped would lead the United States to lift the sanctions.
    Deripaska has tried to distance himself from the companies. He agreed last month to lower his stake in En+ Group to less than 50 percent after Washington said it could lift the sanctions against the company if he relinquished control. But Deripaska has yet to cede his stake in the group. The Russian government has pledged to assist Russian companies that experience financial troubles because of the U.S. sanctions.
    But on Monday, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said Russia was not considering buying stakes in En+ and Rusal.
    https://themoscowtimes.com/news/sanctions-hit-deripaska-quits-russias-en-board-61505

  28. Rugger9 says:

    It seems Avenatti is getting too dangerous for the palace.  This week we saw a couple of poo-flinging attempts by the howling monkeys of Faux News to trash his character, and now Cohen’s attorneys are trying to prevent Daniels from joining the OSC case against their client by alleging “knowingly false statements” which sounds mighty defamatory to me, but IANAL.

    Avenatti apparently knows a lot of things but not as much as Mueller or Cohen.

    https://www.rawstory.com/2018/05/trump-lawyer-cohen-demanding-avenatti-banned-case-violated-professional-rules-conduct/

    Also, we have some more sleaze….

    https://www.rawstory.com/2018/05/michael-cohen-flew-florida-meet-qatari-economic-minister-days-fbi-raid-report/

    and,

    https://www.rawstory.com/2018/05/trump-personally-ordered-postmaster-general-double-amazons-shipping-rates-report/

    noting that the USPS rates are set pretty much by Congress.

    As a last note, we have Ted Cruz doing the “NRA T&P shuffle” and getting called out for it.  GO Beto!

    https://www.rawstory.com/2018/05/sending-thoughts-prayers-dont-get-reelected-ted-cruz-slammed-response-another-mass-shooting-texas/

  29. Dev Null says:

    @Trip reference: https://www.emptywheel.net/2018/05/16/re-the-bogus-manafort-challenge-to-muellers-jurisdiction/#comment-736847

    (Reply button, how do I love thee? er, no reply button below your comment in my browser pane, so I’m freewheeling this trivial point in a dangling comment.)

    A medical resident joked about this to me; Either completely independent of your reference, or perhaps because of it.

    Guessing the latter. It’s an obvious PoV, but you have to be a bit ghoulish to come up with it on your own.

    OTOH, if med students are famous for anything, it’s ghoulishness. Apologies to any medicos here, but I remember a joke I first heard in the Bay Area circa 1975: seems some med students paid their toll by putting the toll $ in the hand of a cadaver (separated from the rest of the cadaver), handing off (so to speak) the toll, and speeding off, leaving the toll agent with the fare.

    er … and the hand.

  30. pseudonymous in nc says:

    Parallel pieces in the NYT and WaPo tonight on The Informant that fill in a few blanks that the other does not — the NYT notes that The Informant had been keeping tabs on Flynn ever since the meeting with Svetlana Lokhova at the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar in 2014; the WaPo says The Informant met with Sam Clovis in the DC area. Both Page and Papadopoulos appear to have directly confirmed encounters which seems awfully chatty of Papadopoulos in particular.

    The Informant is as good as outed now, so we’re in Bob Novak repeated-as-farce territory. But it’s interesting that the encounter with Papadopoulos in early September 2016 comes just a couple of weeks after the last date (August 15th) mentioned in the statement of offense.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      Apologies if I missed anything obvious, but did anyone grill Haspel on what she thought and would do about Nunes and company trying to blow up an active investigation and reveal sources and methods?

  31. orionATL says:

    squeeze the dept of justice, as trump and the devin nunes “our party uber alles” republican congressionals have done for the entirety of his presidency, and lady justice will leak, no matter what the “serious” consequences:

    nytimes,goldman,mazzetti, rosenberg,5/18/18.

     

    given the details in this article, many in the d.c./british foreign policy or spy network will easily identify the fbi “informant” (who appeared not so compent in his interactions with papadopoulis).

    what is there to be proud of – a calculated political attackof the ofc investigation on the republican side and uninformative informancy on the fbi side.

    now i’m sure we are all wondering, so what was the big deal about secrecy, and what were the other critical informancies our spy was invokved in?

    nonetheless, the legitimacy, if not the competence, of the informancy seems legally solid on counterintelligence grounds.

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      At least there’s some bleak amusement in Chuck Ross being caught with his ass hanging out at the behest of his sources: he’s simultaneously calling the waahmbulance about not getting credit from NYT/WaPo for his reporting while taking the blame for disclosing the Informant’s name.

      • orionATL says:

        aggggghh – can the nation survive such idiocy in so many high places?

        didn’t ross realize the doj/fbi left it up to others to identify their special guy, and that a media guy would not be the chosen one to out an fbi informer? why not just wait and report what others are gossiping about tommorrow?

    • orionATL says:

      1. doj/fbi strategy is clear – get the info out ahead of the “republican party uber alles” gang and explain to the media/public that no spying inside the trump campaign was involved, and that the informancy – of specific individuals which the trump campaign had previously loudly and publicly disowned – was warranted given what the fbi had learned to that point about popadoupolis.

      2. trump&co. strategy is not clear, was probably chaotic, but did have the value of putting avenatti, cohen, inaugural money, missing treasury docs out of media interest and hence public view – at least temporarily.

      jeez, what a smash up. this president is surely, hands down, the most ignorant, cunning, malign, and widely destructive we have ever had in our history.

      at the moment he is paving the wspay to a political custom we may end up adopting of never seriously investigating the legally questionable behaviors of a president – a terrible precedent to set.

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        This gang would burn every source and dump every secret to save its asses for a day. The republic is entirely dispensable to them.

  32. greengiant says:

    EW was on top of this a week ago, you folks commented at the time. https://www.emptywheel.net/2018/05/11/stefan-halper-wasnt-downstream-from-the-steele-dossier/ even slamming Patel as the source. As it was the local troll invasion was pushing the story as well. My two cents were
    May 13, 2018 at 3:31 am
    So this is the gist of the dust up? Patel was somehow a source for Strassels WSJ story of an informant in/of the Trump Campaign, and has named Halper as that person? https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/12/us/politics/devin-nunes-justice-department-documents-special-counsel.html Apologies if EW’s two posts don’t connect this way.

    Probably there is a more refined analysis but this is what I came up with little effort. This has been long simmering going back to at least March 10 and Chuck Ross and pseudonymous Jason Beale @jabeale and release of Strozk texts https://twitter.com/jabeale/status/972628822754545664 ( person who tweets “there was no torture” i.e. an alternate reality generator tweetstick ) and most verbose trump troll nexus @myplace4u All stuck in a feedback loop because one can guess Russian intelligence knows all this about Halper anyway and may well have induced Nunes and Patel to go leaking.

    • orionATL says:

      the issue of interest here is the conflict between the fbi, which claims damage to lives, and present and future nat’l security investigations, on the one hand, and some congressional republicans and the whitehouse (off and on) which claims an fbi spy/informant was placed in the trump campaign.

      the informant/professor has apparently been revealed by name now by some media, but was revealed in all else but name in the nytimes story i cited above forcwhich fbi must have been a source.

      the,issue here seems to be:

      credibilty of fbi claims
      vs
      credibility of party uber alles republican (and whitehouse) claims

      and more generally a president and his allies trying to derail what appears to be a well-warranted investigation into his political and business conduct.

      • greengiant says:

        Not in my opinion. This is propaganda warfare managed by a corrupt conspiracy. The alternate reality deserves minimum reaction. The origins and mechanisms of the warfare are what can be used to network the conspiracy. Why follow the WaPo or NYTimes framings? More than half the time they could have been written by the WH. Those are distractions from the corruption network. The “issue” you write of is just the garbage the WH wants you to think is the issue.

        • yogarhythms says:

          gg distractions in MSM supply ready made issues. Thomas Mann’s issues for democracy paraphrased: MAGA exceptionalism leads to “segregation threatens to supersede exchange” (Travel Ban) and JCPOA unilateral withdrawal “confrontation supplants compromise” (Which Hunt).

  33. Trip says:

    *”Normally”, this would make big news, but according to Raw Story, Melania remains in the hospital for a DX and treatment that typically would require a one day stay, according to physicians familiar with the condition. What gives?

    *(WTF is normal anymore?)

    • Frank Probst says:

      MD here.  Have you seen anyone say what “the condition” is?  I think most docs are speculating on what it COULD be based on the descriptions in the media, which is something along the lines of “benign kidney condition that requires minor surgery, specifically embolization”.  I’m not convinced that that’s an accurate description of what she really has, and “benign” in plain English means something completely different than “benign” in medicalese.

      Also, keep in mind that Melania is an intensely private woman whose primary concern has always been the well-being of her child.  So we may be getting misleading information because either (a) Melania just doesn’t want you to know why she’s in the hospital, or (b) her condition is much more serious than what’s been described, and she’s doing her best to keep her son in the dark about it until she has a more accurate idea of how bad it really is.

      • orionATL says:

        this is a decent yet informative comment.
        tx.
        personally, i think the lady is entitled to all privacy she wishes. i have always had a severe aversion to the attention to presidential family as media exploitation where no explicit connection to presidential activity is involved, e.g., presidential brothers :)).

      • bmaz says:

        Am no doctor, but kind of been wondering what the deal really is. That said, Orion is right, it’s her privacy and she is entitled to it.

        • orionATL says:

          i think we all wonder, and worry a bit, given how much time has passed – i know my wife and i certainly talk about this –

          but the big media can butt out as far as i am concerned on any but basic info.

      • Trip says:

        I figured it was any one of those things.

        As to the privacy element, she’s an adult who took on a very public position as first lady. The glare of the spotlight is an obvious pitfall of same.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          As is, um, modeling.  Melania is entitled to privacy, but does not seem in a position to bemoan its loss.  But I wouldn’t wish Donald Trump on anyone.

          • Trip says:

            I vacillate between feeling sorry for her and thinking she’s a pea in a pod.

            My wider point was that (without crazy news every 2 minutes) in the past if any other first lady was hospitalized but remained longer, the press would be interested; good, bad or indifferent. If Michele Obama had been hospitalized and in longer than the norm, everyone would be concerned because she was beloved.

        • orionATL says:

          i didn’t intend to be censorius, trip. mine was just a reaction to a long personal memory of president’s family members, either party, being roasted alive by the media on matters which involved personal behavior, clothing choice, children.

          the obama and trump children have been spared this, a definite improvement.

            • orionATL says:

              trip –
              i did not know this, but am not surprised to hear it.

              if the rightwing propaganda machine savaged the girls’ father with the likes of being a closet muslim and the birther dross, there is no reason to expect such media thugs would be kinder to the children.

              i think it is fair to say that the civilized media left the obama children pretty much alone, as they seem to have done with trump’s child.

    • greengiant says:

      Hmm, what has bothered me is what was Ford doing in Paris London the first week of 1979 regards to timing the Shah left Iran January 16th.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Halper appears to have been a long time CIA man.  His impressive resume gives the appearance of an academic who never left its embrace, moving seamlessly from the Agency to Nixon’s administration, the Hill. Papa Bush’s campaign, Reagan’s White House, to G’town academic.  For some reason, with a doctorate from Oxford in-hand for thirty years, he went to Cambridge for a second doctorate at the start of the Shrub administration.

      Halper’s resume makes the latter part of his career look like that of Smiley’s Oxford tutor, Jebedee.  A watch and recruit post.

      As for his reported interactions with Trump campaign staff, they are limited.  A handful of meet and greets with Page, Papadopoulos and Clovis, and a brief interaction with Flynn. Hardly spying.  More in the nature of keeping tabs on who’s who, providing thumbnail evaluations rather than actively eliciting information from them.

      Anyone near the business inside the Beltway would expect and appreciate that involvement and its limits.  Unless there are swathes of information not yet published, this is the proverbial tempest in a teapot, manufactured by Trump as yet one more attempt to obscure and keep at bay what increasingly looks like a criminal past.

      The NYT provides some of that context, especially in the headline chosen by the authors’ editor.  But both it and the WaPo are remiss in not providing more.

      And as Greenwald says, the FBI and intel community’s defense of Halper’s involvement seems overblown, particularly Mark Warner’s. Perhaps Warner was trying to distract from his devoted efforts to assure the nomination of Gina Haspel. Or perhaps they were trying to deter future forays from this White House.

      • bmaz says:

        My take is that is proper to be outraged at what Nunes et. al are, and have been, doing, but that Glenn is right that there is a fair amount of hyperbole from the like of Warner and the IC.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          I agree that Nunes is a cringing toady.  In a heartbeat, he would send on to Trump any information he comes across, and Trump would just as quickly send it on to Putin. 

          But you have to pick your battles.  Defending Halper’s apparent role here with such vehemence, only to have it come across as so routine, is an own goal.

        • Trip says:

          Not a fan of Warner, for several reasons, for several positions he has taken and supported, that I think are flat out wrong. Nunes is a twit, I have zero regard for him, he deserves no respect. Wittes is completely devoid of any critical ability towards LE, and it may be that his associations are too close to home for any neutral evaluation.

          That said, I couldn’t help but read into it the intent to apply a certain degree of sinister to the entire ordeal, based on Halper’s history (that is sketchy in re Carter), which GG went to great lengths to detail. There’s nothing wrong with doing that, except that it leads his most ardent followers, as noted in the comments, to believe that Trump was an innocent victim of conspiracy, rather than being part of one. In fact, if there is more than meets the eye with Halper, the Bushes, et al, those two things need not be mutually exclusive.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            The latest Trump attack, claiming he was “spied” on by a Deep State, seems designed to deceive the base and to make Trump look like the victim that most of his base really are.  A false narrative, and a standard one for the GOP, but it seems to have legs.

            There is a deep state, but not the kind Trump pretends there is.  It is a shifting loose coalition of the wealthiest and their courtiers.  In an earlier era, this would have included the Rockefeller brothers and lawyers like the Dulles brothers and John J. McCoy.

            They are not tightly knit, but have much in common (protecting capital through low inflation policies, anti-labor and anti-regulatory agendas).  They have more in common with each other and less in common with most other people.

            They are anti-democratic and heavily influence state action through, for example, lobbyists, kept members of the legislatures, and inhabitants of the revolving door world.  I think the group is shifting and becoming more diverse, while the capital that gives them power becomes more global and less state-bound.

            • Trip says:

              @earl, I have always thought that those people were the “shadow government”.  Although they have come out from behind the curtain, more and more, where now, they are blatantly obvious, and not in any shadows. The “deep state”, at least as I understood it, was the military industrial complex in a joint effort with the spook agencies. I have always thought that if there is the deep state, however, it is not running its own game, but is under the general direction of the wealthy shadow government’s interests.

              • earlofhuntingdon says:

                As I understand it, what is called the deep state refers to a loose grouping that exhibits continuity beyond a particular administration or party.  The power elite described by Mills and later by Domhoff comprise its heart.  They focused on wealth as an expression of power, on its social and political implications, and its ability, as Bourdieu would say, to self-replicate.  By extension, that includes the elite’s ability to include new entrants at the margin, to exclude the many, and to keep much of what it does from the public.

                Other elements are the military, intel agencies and their top suppliers, notably Booz Allen and SAIC; the largest law firms (J.F. Dulles’s firm) and corporations, prominently oil and banking companies; and their associated trade associations and think tanks.  Their interests tend to drive the state – and the transglobal wealth and corporations we now contend with – rather than the reverse.

                Every palace has shifting coalitions, concurrent and conflicting interests, intrigues over personalities, policies and expressions of power.  There are members who involve themselves on some issues and sit out others, and changes of personality and priorities as generations turn over.  I think that’s true of what’s called the deep state.

                It’s a large tableau.  What Trump calls the deep state is a caricature based on borrowed and misused jargon.  He feeds his perennially resentful base with it, as he feeds his own permanent resentment at being condemned to brag his way into a club that will never have him for a member.

                His aim is to distract from and to delegitimize the investigations of the many crimes that he and his closest associates might have committed.

                • Trip says:

                  Effective propaganda recipe:

                  1 part truth

                  4 parts bullshit

                  10 parts fearmongering and paranoia.

                  Blend, distribute evenly, and consistently.

        • Frank Probst says:

          I see two possibilities:

          1.  He’s not really involved in anything potentially life-threatening NOW, but he may have been in the past, and the FBI/CIA are making sure those people are protected.

          2.  Much more likely, Nunes et al are trying to burn an FBI/CIA asset, and the IC needs to vigorously oppose something like this, because it’s going to scare off other current or future assets.  Some of these people definitely ARE risking their lives, and they depend on the IC to keep their identities safe.  If a jackass like Nunes can expose an asset, would anyone really want to risk their lives to work with the US IC?

          • Trip says:

            Maybe there is someone else beyond Halper that they are concerned about? I don’t mean in general, but in this case.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Greenwald does a nice take down of Benjamin Wittes.  Seems well-deserved.  Too much distraction all around. There’s already plenty to look at without being distracted from the more important.

    • greengiant says:

      Greenwald misses that EW was responding to Halper being in play 8 days ago, while discussing WaPo and NYTimes antics of 2 days ago. Does not mention Strassel at all. Of unwritten interest is when the Trump bubblesphere started to weaponize Halper. Certainly by the April 2108 release of Strozk texts with the Strozk London visit. As with Guccifer 2.0 and Downer it is Trump bubblesphere and Russian news media writing the drama scripts.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Maybe Greenwald had other issues to cover than EW’s comment.

        That Trump tried to “weaponize” his campaign staff’s limited exposure to such an obvious agency asset as Halper, who was already “out”, says a lot about Trump’s limited information and his desperation.

    • orionATL says:

      this is a very interesting story by greenwald. i had not heard these details of the republican party’s iran caper before.

      nothing surprises me about these republican scoundrels, after all i think i wrote sometime back that a republican campaign that would cooperate with russians to defeat a political opponent is no different from a republican campaign that would talk covertly with iranians or with vietnamese.

      i also identified a characteristic of republican charges by trump&co that is based on the psychological concept of projection. the particular details of this greenwald story of iran further suggests that the current rightwing fascination with and propaganda about a “deep state” opposition to trump is founded in their knowledge of their own behavior in the post-1978 to 1980 period. this is not the first time i have observed that characteristic of projection from this group.

      but greenwald himself seems a little hyper, as is his want these days – i don’t know that wittes deserves the star billing greenwald assigns him, nor do i know that greenwald has shown that stefan halper is a bush family loyalist or operative, as he implies but does not say. more relevant details would be helpful.

      more than any other consideration, though, of the trump attack on the office of special counsel, the dep’t of justice, and the fbi is that the attack is presented by implication as an attack by trump’s democratic foes. but the individuals involved in almost all positions of authority have been republicans, save attorney general lorreta lynch (throw in mccabe however irrelevant if you choose) – attny gen sessions, deputy attny gen rosenstein, comey, wray, mueller.
      are we to believe the deep state is clapper, brennan, rogers, obama, rice, et al? or the republicans just previously named?

      or is this ofc invedtigation merely a covert dem-republican gang up on the people’s choice, president trump?

      if you can believe the latter, given trump’s behavior in the campaign and as a governing president, in my view you do not have the interest of the united states first in mind.

      is it ignorance or paranoia orbpropaganda reverbs thatb seems everywhere?

      • orionATL says:

        it does not help in trying to sort out what’s what in the “attack on a legitimate investigation of potential inappropriate or even criminal conduct by president&co” vs “plot by his political opposition plot to hamstring a popularly elected president once he’s has taken office” vs “covert efforts by surveillance agencies (the deep state) and opponents within his own political party to destroy the presidency of donald trump” storytellings

        that the dept of justice and the fbi have a long history of bungling, dishonesty, and incompetence.

        consider for example:

        – the prosecution and trial of senator stevens of alaska

        – the prosecution and trial of former governor of alabama don seilgelman

        – investigation and prosecution cum informers of various fringe groups like extreme environmentalists, animal rights groups, together with the entrapment of young muslim men in the u.s. in the period 2002-2012.

        – the assasination of a black muslim cleric in detroit and the killing of a black muslim activist in (boston?)

        – the investigation and prosecution of a number of chinese scientists in the u.s., beginning with wen ho lee.

        – the failed investigation of responsibility for the anthrax letters of ~2002.

        – the questionable prosecution of national security whistleblowers like thomas drake and jeffrey sterling.

        – the notoriously inaccurate fbi laboratory results involving hair, fibre, tracks, teeth marks, inaccuracy that was known inside the agency for years not least because a whistleblower loudly called attention to some it (and was punished).

        what did i forget?

        but these serious deficiences do not necessarily (“automatically” in the vernacular) rule out the possibility that special counsel mueller and his team have conducted and will continue to conduct a fair examination of candidate and president donald trump.

        we will be best able to evaluate their effort by the consensus that develops over time around their efforts based on media reporting (especially regarding documents and depositions) and judicial decisions. the objections and criticisms of president trump and his allies, together with philosophical objections to this kind of investigation from those who nonetheless may disapprove of trump’s politics, have a place and deserve hearing, but in my view they do not merit extra credibility or weighting (in the polling sense).

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