The Cat Moves onto Pounce on its Paul Manafort Cat Toy

On November 17, I said this about Manafort’s efforts to make bail.

I feel like Mueller’s prosecutors are playing with these two men as cats play with balls, just patiently batting them around, waiting for the inevitable admission that they can’t make bail because they don’t have assets they can put up because everything they own has been laundered. At which point, after getting the judge rule over and over that they’re flight risks, I suppose the government will move to throw them in the pokey, which will finally get them to consider flipping.

On May 18, Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that Manafort had show sufficient liquidity that she would move towards granting him bail, pending certain interviews.

After that order, Manafort pledged the last properties he’d need to pledge to make bail (probably the last of his liquid possessions). Then Mueller’s team posted a cryptic filing asking to file something by June 4 — today — in response to Manafort’s last, finally successful!!!!, attempt to post bond.

Here’s that filing. Basically, Mueller’s team says that as soon as Rick Gates made a move to flip, Manafort tried to tamper with witnesses (largely Mercury Group, the Vin Weber lobbying firm) on new criminal evidence raised in the Gates plea — their efforts to use the “Hapsburg Group” to lobby in favor of pro-Russian views. Because Manafort broke the law while out on bail, Mueller argues, the whole process needs to be reevaluated.

Manafort may finally be headed to the pokey. Which may be why Trump was so worried about his poor corrupt campaign manager yesterday.

I’ll have more to say about the filing and the means they used to obtain the WhatsApp and Telegram evidence behind it — suffice it to say there has been parallel construction going on in the casino.

But for now, know that Mueller’s team has been sitting on this evidence since May 4 — probably since February 28.

They’ve just been waiting for Manafort to pledge the last little bits of his liquidity before they move to throw him in prison.

And somehow, it’s almost as if Donald Trump knew the guy he once suggested was his firewall might be in legal peril.

82 replies
  1. pseudonymous in nc says:

    How King Idiot got wind of this is its own question, though the docketry over the past couple of weeks — Ellis rescheduling stuff in EDVA, the May 25th filing in DC — suggested that something was going to drop. (I assume that witness tampering related to charges in one district affects bail conditions for charges in another district, because bail is granted on condition you Don’t Do More Crimes.)

    As bmaz noted in that November post, Mueller’s team had a motion for a Nebbia determination in their back pocket even as Paulie the Rug turned himself upside-down and shook out all the loose change for the benefit of the court. And they didn’t need it. But they did need something to keep him under pressure, and got something more damaging than saying all his assets are dirty. It’d now be weird for King Idiot to pardon him after throwing him under the bus, but it’s 2018 and everything’s weird. (See also: Mrs Papa making some very bad decisions.)

    Gonna be a week.

    • Peterr says:

      Gonna be a week.

      I think this has been said every Monday since November 14, 2016.

      Lather, rinse, repeat.

    • emptywheel says:

      Manafort’s subject to refiling in VA. A pardon at this point would be one of the stupidest things Trump could do, especially because Manafort is the least sympathetic potential pardonee.

      • Trip says:

        Arpaio wasn’t the beacon of ethics, either (nor Libby and D’souza). But, at least he wasn’t (and they weren’t) directly connected to the campaign conspiracy.

        If Trump was a selfless father, he’d pardon Jr first, since Junior was only doing his bidding to please him. But Trump, of course, isn’t concerned about the welfare of his kids as much as he cares about saving his own ass and maintaining Dick-tater status.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        The Don recognizes beauty and sympathy only when it reflects his own.

        Snark aside, I agree.  Trump is loyal only to himself.  He acts only to protect himself or to further his own interests.  He would be admitting guilty knowledge, through his conduct, if he issued the pardon to Manafort when he was most in jeopardy because that’s when Manafort would be putting Trump most in jeopardy.

        Writing that, though, seems to make it more likely that’s when Trump would issue a pardon.  The moth driven to the flame realizes its heat only when falling into it.

      • Bob Conyers says:

        What would a pardon mean besides more hand wringing from Jeff Flake and a stern opinion piece from David Brooks? I assume Mueller pushes to get Manafort before a grand jury, but what else can he do to take advantage of a pardon? Does more information on Manafort’s crime get released to the public, for example?

        • Trip says:

          So true. Jeff Flake will condemn the actions of the person he always supports through votes and always will. What a tough ass that one is.

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        Yeah, rocket docket or not, Judge Ellis seems comfortable having ABJ doing the heavy lifting on a lot of questions.

        As I’ve said before, I think Mueller and Weissman et al. want Manafort to go down, even if he flips. He represents a multi-decade career of mercenary impunity that isn’t much different from a) actual mercs like Erik Prince; b) a lot of NoVa lobbyists whose McMansions are built with dictator money. A pardon would look dirty no matter what, but a pardon after this weekend’s “how were we supposed to know he was a crook?” would look desperate as well as dirty.

        (And we still don’t know how his legal bills are being paid.)

        • Mark says:

          How are his legal bills being paid?  Not 100% certain but I bet it includes conversion from rubles to dollars.

      • bmaz says:

        Also the guy least desirous of being put in the chair with immunity and inability to take the 5th, but still on the hook for perjury going forward with angry as shit prosecutors crawling up his ass.

        A Manafort pardon would be insanely stupid.

  2. Rugger9 says:

    Which also might explain the Rudy shows on the teevee as well as the tweeting about the Iggles (as I understand the locals know them).  The trip to Canada (plus possibly Singapore, provided that today’s admission that the sanctions against the DPRK will continue under another name) and Melania speculation (which she really shouldn’t be a topic… Really) also help distract the press away from the ordure hitting the rotating air mover at high speed.   However, since the Kaiser has to be declared to be the best at everything, even his marriages (so much practice, eh, Rushbo?) we will continue to see this pile of stuff.

    Now, what will the OSC do?  Apparently the WashPo is demanding (anyway, pottymouth scourge Ruth Marcus is, h/t Charlie Pierce) subpeonas and indictments but I think Mueller is smarter than that while Caesar continues to tweet statements against interest into the public record.

    We should also note that Sarah Sanders is now getting openly challenged in the press briefings on her credibility, so something will change (Raj will fill in or the palace will just stop having them) going forward.

    All of this lays the foundation about whether a tightfisted Kaiser will help Paul out of his bind (I wonder whose money will be used, Vlad’s rubles perhaps?), because a pardon means an admission of guilt (Burdick) and the freedom from incriminating himself so he will be forced to sing.  If Paul still doesn’t cooperate I’m sure that could be an obstruction charge all by itself, post-pardon and therefore not covered by it (but the lawyers should weigh in on the options).

    Paulie needs to flip and do so soon before the deal gets much, much worse for him.  I’m also still wondering why there is so much loyalty by someone who hasn’t really displayed it before for anything,  could there be a message from Vlad to Paul to STFU, or else?


    • Peterr says:

      Sarah has also shifted to a “no followup questions today” mode in the last few days, although today the press started to follow up a bit on each other’s questions, by asking the logical next thing or rephrasing the ignored questions someone else asked.

      More like this, please.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        The WH press corps is not known for that conduct.  Perhaps it is noticing the fear and that something is about to happen.

        The re-upping of the Singapore meeting might relate to that, too.  Bolton and Pompeo seem to want more war, war, not jaw, jaw, and appeared relieved that the meeting had been put off.  But it would be the most persuasive activity available now that might deter a prosecutor or Congress from “interfering with the president’s schedule.”

        • Trip says:

          That’s why if the hammer is gonna drop, it should happen now. Not when Trump is playing his diplomatic game (which we know is a farce, to begin with).

          As far as the press corps, they should do as was done to the envoy in the Netherlands:

          Asking Huckster-b whether she can be trusted is wasted breath. She can’t be trusted. That is obvious. And if she can’t answer questions, then there should be a mass walk-out. She’s the communications point person for the WH, answering questions is her job, especially questions she has answered before. They are playing into her game by letting her get away with determining what she will answer.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            Sanders is a bigger liar than Trump.  The Dutch press demonstrated what it means to be a journalist rather than an access stenographer.  The US would be much healthier if it had more of that.

            The problem with access is that it can be turned on and off at will, particularly be a cruel, vindictive personality like Trump.  No amount of kowtowing will ever ensure its supply.

          • Tracy says:

            Not sure a walkout is a good idea–that way Ms. Smokey Eyes doesn’t have to answer any questions–which is prob’ly what WH would prefer.

            • Trip says:

              I see your point. On the other hand, they have a ridiculous amount of these briefings, which are meaningless, and only serve as propaganda. The most important info seems to be leaked.

              She is the equivalent of a Trump tweet.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              What Trump and Sanders would like less is no coverage at all.  If you cannot tell whether Sanders’s statements are lies, the default should be to categorize them as lies, no matter how often Rudy 9-11 swears to God that they are mistakes. The consequence should be to not publish them.

              Orwellian euphemisms aside, Trump’s career has been built on lies, including the White House portion of it. He is owed no benefit of the doubt. 

              Orwellian euphemisms are not a substitute for facts or the truth, they are lies on lies.  Knowing publication of them is a lie, arguably not covered by the NYT Co. v. Sullivan defense. Don’t publish them or describe them as unreliable. That that’s what the WH is saying is the story, not the lies themselves.

              • Trip says:

                Why does CNN still have Rudy on?  And they, or MSNBC, interviewed asswipe Bannon. Stop making it like they have a legitimate/valid point of view, and treat them as the radical nutters they are.

        • Peterr says:

          The WH Press Corps is also getting rather testy about the fact that Trump is unwilling to face them in a traditional back-and-forth open-ended press conference – something he hasn’t done since February 17, 2017.

          Yes, reporters shout questions at him along rope lines and sometimes get a response. Yes, Trump’s done a couple of mini-pressers with foreign leaders, where each leader calls on two reporters to ask a question of each of them. Yes, Trump answers questions from Fox & Friends, either when he calls in or when they speak on TV and he tweets back.

          You’d almost get the idea that Trump is scared to face them. And you’d be right.

          The fear that the WH Press Corps smells is coming from inside the WH.

    • Chetnolian says:

      Surely by reading the very filing that Marcy points to in her intro. They might not have known exactly what was in the intended 4th June filing but it was always going to be something nasty

  3. Peterr says:

    I’ll have more to say about the filing and the means they used to obtain the WhatsApp and Telegram evidence behind it — suffice it to say there has been parallel construction going on in the casino.

    Footnote 3 in the filing is very interesting:

    Persons D1 and D2 both preserved the messages they received from Manafort and Person A, which were sent on encrypted applications, and have provided them to the government. Domin Decl. ¶ 12 n.1

    Sounds like the government has been “provided” with a couple of cell phones, though I suspect that the provision of these phones were not entirely voluntary.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Yes.  It seems likely they were voluntarily provided only when the witness realized the government already had them.

        Presumably, the parallel construction is built on a warrant search, but one conducted after other information confirmed it was there to be obtained.

  4. pseudonymous in nc says:

    @nycsouthpaw notes that  communications between Paulie the Rug and Person A (presumably Kilimnik) are not part of the filing, even though the list of “open source” messages in Exhibit N makes it obvious that the two had communicated: “My friend P is trying to reach [Person D1]…” writes Person A on February 28, and “My friend P has asked me again” on April 4.

    I’m guessing that’s about the boundaries of parallel construction? You can get valid evidence of Manafort’s comms with a warrant/subpoena and sweep up Person A’s from the recipients, but that’s harder to do between Manafort and Person A.

  5. Trip says:

    With so many layers, I had already forgotten about the “Hapsburg Group”, and that was only a couple of months ago.

    Stanley doesn’t seem to know how to thread, so I put a few of his thoughts into a string, from most recent to oldest:

    Some of the emails and texts may have been provided by recipients but phone logs and contents typically require a court ordered intercept unless a one party consent jurisdiction and recipient was wired.

    The law of surveillance or subpoenas is very different for a defendant than it is for a subject or target as its runs a great chance of intercepting privileged communications with counsel.

    Jeez not one talking head has yet figured out that new wire taps or email intercepts on a defendant on bail is a big issue.

    Apparently mueller included encrypted discussions and recorded conversations. Rare for wiretaps to be permitted once a defendant is charged and released for any number of reasons. Exceptions include probable cause of new and on-going crimes. Witness said attempt 2 suborn perjury


    What is the likelihood of Manafort’s bail being revoked? He really has a dedication to his (criminal) craft, doesn’t he?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      To repeat a theme, I suspect Manafort is so far into his criminal ways, he has no choice but to go farther.  Getting out must not seem a survivable option.  If Trump issues him a pardon, he’s home free and the problem is Trump’s.  If not, prison might be preferable to a Sicilian necktie or its Russian equivalent.

      • Trip says:

        Is it fear, arrogance or a combination thereof? Manafort has been engaging in his dirty trade for so long, he may actually believe he should be above the law, and continues to operate that way (just like Trump). Psychopaths have low levels of fear or anxiety (altho I’m not a psych dr).

      • Buford says:

        “russian flying lessons”…usually off a fourth or fifth floor….may or may not be survivable….depending on the lesson being taught…

  6. sneft says:

    I’m sure Donald wishes he could pardon Manafort now. But — sadly! — a conviction’s needed. And that can be troublesome all in itself. Again: Sad!

      • bmaz says:

        Yes, there only needs to be identification of the conduct to be pardoned, trial and conviction is not necessary.

        • pseudonymous in nc says:

          And a date range. “All crimes against the United States committed between, um, let’s say 2000 and the exact point in time I sign this because he might have done some crimes this morning.”

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Sometimes the language is specific.  Sometimes, as with Nixon, the range of offenses is broad, as is the time frame, in an attempt to cover anything the pardonee did or could have done.

  7. SteveB says:

    Waaaay back in late November early December, Manafort tried to pull that op-ed stunt. The public reporting of that would have been a serious warning to all of Ms former associates,  including those involved in the Hapsburg caper, that Mueller was closely monitoring Ms activity for any hint or suspicion of interference with the investigation and prosecution of him.

    The big sign “Mueller probe: Manafort tip off line is waiting for your call” was well and truly lit up with fairy lights in good time for the holiday season.

  8. Trip says:

    Last thing this AM, but how soon until Pirro on Fox News, says that it’s perfectly normal ‘politics’ to tamper with witnesses?  And then Rudy tag-teams with a follow-up on how there really are no laws for anyone surrounding Trump, and so forth. Where is Roger Stone sticking up for his man, Manafort?

  9. Frank Probst says:

    How soon will a judge typically rule on something like this?  It seems like this is something that should happen ASAP, but the legal eagles on here should be able to tell us how fast “ASAP” is in a case like this.

    And I agree that Mueller has simply been waiting to drop this little bomb.  I think they’ve had Manafort under surveillance while under house arrest, and they’ve been waiting to see if he tries to bolt.  Or commit other crimes.  (And they may have more than this, but they’re just using what they need to get him thrown in prison.)

    So if he goes to prison, does he get to keep all of his assets?  I don’t think he ever technically made bail, did he?  Can any of his assets be forfeited as a result of this?

    • Peterr says:

      IANAL, but it will be quick. She’ll give Manafort’s lawyers time to reply to the government’s motion, but she won’t waste any time. Manafort’s lawyers had moved for a quick ruling to allow their client bail, and Mueller’s motion here puts a spike in that request. IOW, both sides had been asking for quick rulings on their requests, and I strongly suspect the judge will make that happen.

      Of course, one side — the Manafort side, IMHO — will be very disappointed with what she has to say when she makes that quick ruling.

      As for assets and bail, you don’t forfeit them unless you don’t show up in court. You can’t dispose of them, but they still technically are yours.

  10. jayedcoins says:

    This may be a stupid question… but given Footnote 3, is there a plausible explanation that D1 and/or D2 wanted to sell Paulie out?

    Totally different note — I’m looking forward to a post with more discussion of the parallel construction aspect of this. As yet, I’ve not been able to connect the dots on Marcy’s thinking as to why revealing the likelihood of PC would be the biggest mistake to come out of SCO. Looking to learn!

    As always, thanks for these posts, and also thanks to the generally enlightening conversation in the comments (hat tip bmaz for moderating like a boss).

    • Frank Probst says:

      I was thinking this, too.  D1 and D2 are both potentially in trouble for FARA violations, aren’t they?  And who know how much more.  I would cut a deal FAST if I were either of them.

  11. orionATL says:

    if manafort goes to jail he may decide to “turn state’s evidence” (that old-fashioned phrase). on the other hand he may decide to take the chance of a trial. both  manafort and trump are lifetime, high-stakes gamblers. what might freighten you or i may not phase either.

    anyone who thinks trump will stop protecting himself at some point on his own recognition of the danger of going further hasn’t paid attention to the man’s life history. trump will be stopped from whatever, including cover-up of campaign-russian conspiracy, when some outside force constrains him. what force might that be? now that’s an interesting question and gets right to the heart of the reality that ours is not a government of laws rather than men. we are at all times a goverment of men, as is every other, and we are discovering we have placed in power a cadre of ruthless, politically corrupt, intellectually dishonest politicians for whom acquiring and retaining power is their highest goal. 

    • Trip says:

      I don’t see Manafort flipping. Unless maybe people stop paying for his lawyers’ fees, he will go on like this forever.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      From your cited article:

      “As WhatsApp notes on its website, ‘Media and messages you back up aren’t protected by WhatsApp end-to-end encryption while in iCloud.’”

      As Marcy might say, the devil’s in the details.

      • Pete says:

        Isn’t iCloud data encrypted even if the app backup data is plain text? Pretty sure iCloud Drive is or can b.

    • jayedcoins says:

      I feel like most of the reporting on this is glossing over the detail Marcy is pointing out. It makes sense Gizmodo’s angle would be on the iCloud production, but entries in the spreadsheet show:

      “Person D1 Production”
      “Person D2 Production”
      “Person D1 Production; Manafort iCloud Production”

      I don’t know what is customary or expected in a situation like this, but it seems notable that in the case of Manafort they specifically note that it was from iCloud, while with D1/D2 they do not.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          I imagine this iCloud access is supplemental rather than inclusive, which would be consistent with Marcy’s point about the likelihood of parallel construction.

          • Bob Conyers says:

            For a non-lawyer, what does this mean? Does it mean Mueller has only the right to have specific messages regarding this specific issue pulled from the server?

            If that’s the case, what would he need to do to look for communications with, say, Kushner, Don Jr., etc.?

            • bmaz says:

              No, not at all. The “parallel construction” question is simply one of how did the OSC come to know to ask for said information.

              • Bob Conyers says:

                Thanks for the answer, although I’m sorry I still can’t get my head around what Mueller has the right to see. Can he now look through the iCloud account for anything related to any of the cases he is authorized to investigate? Or does he need new authorization to see if, for example, there is communication between Manafort and Kushner about Cambridge Analytica?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The money and the cause will live on.

      Did you say it was Miller time?  It must be somewhere.

    • bmaz says:

      Meh, this is ultra high profile and any ruling ABJ makes will be controversial. She wants it fully briefed and argued. That is okay.

        • bmaz says:

          Well, on white collar cases, I’d expect at least briefing and argument for one of my clients. 10 days start to finish on that is not too long. Normal briefing times and oral argument setting would be far longer out than that. So, this seems okay to me.

    • SteveB says:

      Also the deadline day for the Cohen privilege review.

      What distracting event/tweetstorm are the White House and FoxN going to generate to coincide with those events?

  12. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The White House – Eagles distraction is infuriating, but classic Trump.  Disagreements with him are existential threats that threaten to bring the sky down.

    Steve Cortes, a former and obviously current Trump spokesman, calling Trump’s football playing opponents “spoiled prima donnas” who are disrespecting the president, and “America’s [White] House” should make whole networks speechless.

    • Trip says:

      Adding: I’ve never seen the man act with grace, not even when he wins. He only needs to say nothing in response to some things.

      His parents must have simultaneously despised him, while making up for it by showering and spoiling him with material things. He knows that no one likes him. And he will punish the world for his bitterness.

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        The whiny victimhood is an infection on the republic. It’s notable that the two photos on display in the Oval Office are of his parents.

  13. Trip says:

    McConnell is sticking around so he can push more horrible judges through. I wish he’d get whatever David Koch has.

    I’m not sorry for saying that. He is a malignant cancer on society.

  14. Rusharuse says:

    So, hasa someone agotta to Mrs aPapa? (My Italian accent is no match for her Baltic lilt). On Fox, talking spygate, begging for a pardon, fretting about her old boss senor Mifsud . . Folk’s is dumb where i come from but sumpin stinks in Denmark and it aint Hans Christian Andersons clogs!

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      Josh Marshall’s “it’s an open secret she’s Russian” is quite something.

      It reminds me of the Russian who got an office job (and started an affair) with a British MP, and Brexiter Arron Banks’s wife, and their “X MI5 SPY” number plate.

      • Rusharuse says:

        1963, John Profumo, Christine Keeler, rusky spies, honey traps, when the perfume was cheap and girls were hairy(?). Scandal the movie, soundtrack by the Shadows. Just little bits of history repeating . . repeating


  15. Irate1 says:

    Seems like others have impliedly suggested this, but does anyone think Manafort has concluded he is safer in prison either with a conviction or even because of refusing to talk after a pardon, than other likely scenarios? I suppose his first choice would be an acquittal, but is that more probable than a conviction? I’m not a criminal lawyer, so how long can he be held for refusing to testify against Don Cheeto after a pardon?

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