On My Continuing Obsession with Paul Manafort’s iPod Habit

There are two interesting details in Zoe Tillman’s coverage of yesterday’s Paul Manafort hearing. First, she noted that Uzo Asonye — the local AUSA Mueller added to the team to placate TS Ellis — asked for an extra week for the trial, which Ellis pushed back against.

Ellis said he expected to keep the trial date in place, barring a personal need to reschedule. When Uzo Asonye, a federal prosecutor in Virginia who is working with Mueller’s office, told the judge that the government expected to need three weeks, instead of the two weeks they originally estimated, to put on their case, Ellis told them to reconsider.

Remember that Mueller originally asked for 70 blank subpoenas (35 sets) to call witnesses for the trial. But after the trial got moved, they asked for 150 subpoenas (75 sets). Now we learn they would like 50% more time for the trial. This shouldn’t be a difficult case, given how much paperwork there is. I wonder why the scope of it has expanded. We know, however, that Mueller neither wants nor will be permitted to raise issues related to Trump.

Because of my continuing obsession with Manafort’s iPod habit, I’m also really interested in this passage in Tillman’s report.

On the home search issue, Manafort is arguing that the search warrant was too broad and that investigators had failed to explain at the outset why they reason to believe there would be evidence on various electronic media devices that they seized.

As I’ve laid out, Manafort’s lawyers focused on his iPods from their first suppression motion, claiming, falsely, that the iPods might only be used for music.

For example, the search warrant inventory of electronic devices seized or imaged includes things such as an Apple iPod music device and some Apple iPod Touch music and video devices. No agent could have reasonably believed that he was seizing electronic devices used in the commission of the subject offenses.

We now know that most of the iPods seized would be suitable for secure texting, to say nothing of recording meetings.

In any case, Manafort’s focus on the iPods led to an exchange of filings where the government noted he could only suppress them if the government attempted to introduce evidence from them, which they didn’t plan to do in the cases in question (this argument started in DC and as noted got repurposed in EDVA). Manafort tried to use that language, however, to claim the government said they’d never use evidence from the iPods.

The government goes on to note that even if they shouldn’t have taken the iPods, the only recourse Manafort has is to suppression of evidence submitted at trial. And the government won’t be using evidence from the iPods at trial in this case.

In any event, Manafort would not be entitled to suppression even if he were correct. Absent evidence that the government flagrantly disregarded the terms of the warrant (which Manafort does not allege), the remedy for the seizure of materials outside the scope of a warrant is suppression of the improperly seized materials. See Maxwell, 920 F.2d at 1034 n.7. Here, Manafort identifies only the two iPod devices as supposedly falling outside the warrant’s terms, but the government will not be introducing any evidence obtained from those devices at the trial in this case. There is, in short, nothing to suppress. [my emphasis]

I’m a bit confused by the government reference to “two iPod devices,” because Manafort’s new list identifies eight. The discrepancy may arise from iPods that were taken versus those that were simply imaged. [ed: My supposition was correct. Manafort was focused on the two iPods that were physically seized more than the 6 that were imaged, though I only see one–a more recent model 64G one–mentioned in the list of seized devices (PDF 5).]

In any case, Manafort cites the government in his EDVA motion, again focusing on a handful — whether a big or small handful — of iPods as proof that the search was improper. But he doesn’t cite the government motion directly.

In his opposition to Mr. Manafort’s motion to suppress evidence seized from his residence filed in the related matter pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the Special Counsel stated that he would not seek to introduce evidence from the iPods seized from the residence, see United States v. Manafort, Dkt. No. 17-cr-201 (D.D.C.) Doc. No. 284 at p. 18, further underscoring the unreasonableness of their seizure in the first place.

Rather than stating that “the government will not be introducing any evidence obtained from those devices at the trial in this case,” Manafort instead claims that “the Special Counsel stated that he would not seek to introduce evidence from the iPods seized from the residence.”

Mueller’s team only said they wouldn’t be introducing evidence from the iPods “in this case,” not that they wouldn’t introduce evidence from them “in some future case.”

Here’s why I’m so obsessed with Manafort’s iPod habit, aside from mocking the way he stockpiles them the same way he stockpiles antique rugs.

As a number of people have recalled in the wake of the news from the same hearing that the FBI learned of Manafort’s storage facility from AP journalists, Mueller also reportedly learned of the June 9 meeting from the NYT. That’s because, at that early phase of his alleged witch hunt investigation, he was piggy backing on Congressional document requests. The Senate Judiciary Committee received its production from Manafort on the June 9 meeting on July 25, the day Manafort testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee. So Mueller probably received his version around the same time (in any case, no more than a few weeks earlier). That would mean they would have received it close to the same time they obtained the search warrant, also on July 25. Presumably as soon as they saw this, Manafort’s notes on the June 9 meeting taken on some kind of (surely Apple) device, especially the aborted description of something illicit, they would have wanted to obtain the device it was written on (especially if there was reason to believe his lawyers altered the files on the phone in producing it for the committees).

Perhaps, too, Mueller’s team has reason to believe that Manafort recorded the meeting, which would make the interest in iPods even more pressing.

The part of the warrant affidavit that pertains to probable cause to search for materials on the June 9 meeting remains entirely redacted — it’d be in the section starting on PDF 27. So we don’t know whether it mentions Manafort’s notes in that meeting, but if so, then the devices would clearly fall under the warrant’s inclusion of “communications, records, documents, and other files involving any of the attendees of the June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump tower.” All that said, Manafort knows what’s in the redacted passage; he received a completely unredacted copy on April 23 in the DC case, in response to his first motion to suppress where he initially complained about the iPods. So he would know if Mueller’s team mentioned his notes, taken on an Apple device, in the affidavit.

In reality, both of Manafort’s search suppression motions are garden variety, in no way very interesting and unlikely to succeed (indeed, the equivalent motion with respect to his storage unit already failed in DC). That’s why I find Tillman’s observation so interesing; she even told me that Ellis didn’t want to hear any more on the search of the residence, but Manafort’s lawyer nevertheless presented it anyway, effectively laying groundwork for appeal on the damned iPods.

There’s been a lot of talk about why Manafort doesn’t flip now, and I realized when I read Tillman’s piece that this is likely one reason why. Fourth Amendment protection is not associative: Manafort is the only person who can bitch endlessly that the FBI took his iPods. So if there’s anything on there that implicates other people as well as himself, the serial bids to undermine the condo search (which would be followed by another if Mueller ever charges the June 9 meeting) would be the only thing to keep that evidence out of any trial.

I sure do get the feeling there’s something damned incriminating on those iPods.

80 replies
  1. tryggth says:

    Definitely interesting.

    Hate to go off topic so early in the comments. But what do you think about the Flynn sentencing date? Might it be related to the Trump testimony negotiation?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Trump will never voluntarily sit for an interview with a federal prosecutor about crimes that he or his direct reports might be personally involved in.

      Talk about Trump doing so is misdirection. It is a lie intended to frame Trump’s non-compliance with the law he is meant to uphold for his Base – “See, the prosecutor was so meeeeean to me I couldn’t possibly give him what he wanted. SAD!”

      The alternative is a grand jury subpoena, which would force him to testify and without his lawyer being present.  (Lawyers for a witness are not allowed in the grand jury room.)  Trump will fight that to the Supreme Court and back again.  It is one of many reasons he’s worked so hard to have at least one more nominee to the Supremes.

      The reason is that his lawyers know their client.  Trump will lie the minute he opens his mouth.  He can’t help it.  It’s how he’s built.  For entirely self-serving reasons, he interprets all lies as if they are marketing puffery and not actionable.

      Soon enough, his lies will be material and amount to perjury.  Moreover, he will find it irresistible not to add new lies and to shoot his mouth off about too many things peripheral to the question asked, opening himself up to more jeopardy.  No lawyer worth retaining would volunteer him for an interview with a prosecutor.

  2. Bob Conyers says:

    I hadn’t realized that about the 4h Amendment. So if the police carry out a blatantly illegal search of my neighbor’s house, shoot him dead, and turn up evidence of my operation to rip tags off of mattresses and record baseball broadcasts without the written permission of MLB, I have no grounds for excluding the evidence?

    Or am I misunderstanding things?

    Anyway, I sure hope there are recordings.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Well, sort of the state of things.

      Ripping tags off of mattresses is legal if you are the final consumer. Recording a MLB broadcast is legal if you are just time-shifting.

      But, suppose you were recording a MLB broadcast for retransmission and your neighbor somehow recorded the fact that not only were you recording, but retransmitting say via USB key, for profit, then you may likely be in trouble.

      But, with Manafort, bigger deeper story.

      He *KNOWS* there is incriminating evidence on the devices. He wants to *HIDE* the evidence.

      And others know there is evidence that can implicate them.

      Say MLB came after you for the retransmission charge.

      But consider that your neighbor on the other side of you that is still alive knows that the dead neighbor had stuff on his/her devices that could implicate the live neighbor for some possible charge.

      The live neighbor has no 4th ammendment protection.

      The dead neighbor can not protect the live neighbor.

      You (the alledged copyright violator per MLB), can not protect the live neighbor even assuming you know that there could be bad stuff there.

      What is happening with Manafort, is that he *KNOWS* there is bad stuff on the devices, that involve his *neighbors* (all alive), and his *neighbors* know this also.

      He *was* under intense pressure to hide evidence, and now he has no control. Only the lawyers being paid from who knows where can fight on.

      Manafort is screwed, and should just flip.

  3. Drew says:

    Not only all that, but an iPod, in its original conception and all later editions functions very similarly to a hard drive. ANY sort of file can be saved on it. I would also imagine that there would be ways to misname and perhaps change the filename extensions (such as .jpg, .mp3, .doc etc) so that ordinary attempts to open them would lead to them being read as a corrupted file. One could imagine encrypted instructions from Vladimir Putin saved to look like a recording of the Beatles “All you need is Love”

    And there might well be evidence that would be lost if the physical ipods weren’t there.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Plus all the data related to the time and date for the original recording and any access to its, frequency of access, copies made, deletions or changes made in the data or log file, and so on.  The whole lot.

    • phaze says:

      that’s not how apple devices work, or manafort probably doesn’t know how to do that without external tools. but..

      they also use nand flash which uses a wear algorithm that distributes writes to new blocks and masks ‘deleted’ ones. writing zeros to deleted blocks uses up a write cycle and halves the lifetime of the device, so the old blocks remain unwritten. the fbi have tools that can reconstruct files deleted from the filesystem by scooping up all the masked blocks, a bit like an undelete on magnetic media.

      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        Exactly. You pull all of raw data which includes the ‘logically deleted’ data. Old stuff magically becomes visible.

      • JohnJ says:

        Side note:

        Last time I checked, magnetic drives actually use the same algorithm. LRU (Least Recently Used) I think it is.

        Any additional activity will overwrite the oldest, which is why they boot on a USB stick immediately start to image the drive without letting any programs run.

        • Dev Null says:

          Are you sure that’s true (about magnetics)?

          There’s the spare sector table, and the ability to remap bad sectors, but I would be willing to bet a dollar (hey, I’m living dangerously!) that for the most part writes are not strewn across the platters.

          Admittedly, there’s so much virtualization these days it’s possible that there’s a virtualization layer below the notional physical addressing layer, but …

          … I’d be curious what the justification would be. Magnetic sectors don’t wear out, not in the way that flash wears out.

        • Dev Null says:

          Putting the point more, uh, pointillistically: AFAIK, if I write to a sector with an LBA of (say) 123456, unless&until LBA#123456 has been remapped as a bad sector, the write will always target the same physical bits of oxide, in the same physical location on the physical platters.

          That’s for a single physical (rotating oxide) disc more-or-less directly connected to the CPU.

          More complicated in a cloud environment, but AFAIK the increased complexity has nothing to do with wear leveling.

          Also, too … “boot on a USB stick … image the drive” … could you restate your point? I don’t understand the sentence. (I think there’s a typo, but even fixing the typo doesn’t help me.)

        • SpaceLifeForm says:

          Yes, spinning rust drives are not managed with any wear-leveling or LRU (Least Recently Used) algorithms.

          The number one concern is minimizing seek time, and number two is minimizing latency.

          The head(s) must positioned over the correct track (seek time), and the proper block must spin under the head(s) (latency).

          As to your other question, I believe he was referring to forensic analysis, doing it in a safe manner.
          I did a fairly long writeup on that a month or so ago.

  4. Peterr says:

    I realized when I read Tillman’s piece that this is likely one reason why. Fourth Amendment protection is not associative: Manafort is the only person who can bitch endlessly that the FBI took his iPods. So if there’s anything on there that implicates other people as well as himself, the serial bids to undermine the condo search (which would be followed by another if Mueller ever charges the June 9 meeting) would be the only thing to keep that evidence out of any trial.

    I sure do get the feeling there’s something damned incriminating on those iPods.

    I have a feeling I’ve seen this movie before, almost 50 years ago.

    A conversation was recorded on June 23, 1972 that took two years and an 8-0 vote by SCOTUS to get released:

    Haldeman: Okay -that’s fine. Now, on the investigation, you know, the Democratic break-in thing, we’re back to the-in the, the problem area because the FBI is not under control, because Gray doesn’t exactly know how to control them, and they have, their investigation is now leading into some productive areas, because they’ve been able to trace the money, not through the money itself, but through the bank, you know, sources – the banker himself. And, and it goes in some directions we don’t want it to go. Ah, also there have been some things, like an informant came in off the street to the FBI in Miami, who was a photographer or has a friend who is a photographer who developed some films through this guy, Barker, and the films had pictures of Democratic National Committee letter head documents and things. So I guess, so it’s things like that that are gonna, that are filtering in. Mitchell came up with yesterday, and John Dean analyzed very carefully last night and concludes, concurs now with Mitchell’s recommendation that the only way to solve this, and we’re set up beautifully to do it, ah, in that and that…the only network that paid any attention to it last night was NBC…they did a massive story on the Cuban…

    Nixon:   That’s right.

    Haldeman:   thing.

    Nixon:  Right.

    Haldeman:   That the way to handle this now is for us to have Walters call Pat Gray and just say, “Stay the hell out of this…this is ah, business here we don’t want you to go any further on it.” That’s not an unusual development,…

    Nixon:  Um huh.

    Haldeman:   …and, uh, that would take care of it.

    Nixon:  What about Pat Gray, ah, you mean he doesn’t want to?

    Haldeman:  Pat does want to. He doesn’t know how to, and he doesn’t have, he doesn’t have any basis for doing it. Given this, he will then have the basis. He’ll call Mark Felt in, and the two of them …and Mark Felt wants to cooperate because…

    Nixon:  Yeah.

    Haldeman:   he’s ambitious…

    Nixon: Yeah.

    Haldeman:  Ah, he’ll call him in and say, “We’ve got the signal from across the river to, to put the hold on this.” And that will fit rather well because the FBI agents who are working the case, at this point, feel that’s what it is. This is CIA.

    So let’s review: (1) A president is trying to shut down an FBI investigation of his campaign’s officially sanctioned and highly illegal hanky-panky. (2) The campaign chairman comes up with the idea to make that happen. (3) A tape recorder captured it all, live. (4) The investigation played out anyway, with the aforementioned Mark Felt playing a central role in his capacity of Deep Throat. (5) Nixon’s own party finally turned on him when this tape came out.

    Manafort might note that things did not turn out too well for Mitchell.

    Trump no doubt has taken note of #5.


    • Bob Conyers says:

      It’s not Watergate, but I’ve seen others linking to this article on Spiro Agnew’s prosecution, and I would highly recommend it.


      It’s a really interesting, detailed look at how prosecutors developed their case and rolled up smaller suspects to cooperate, what happened when they finally informed Attorney General Richardson what they were doing, what happened with statute of limitations issues, and more.

      Agnew should have done serious time, but it was also something of miracle they caught and prosecuted him at all.

    • Ollie says:

      Pardon me.  Like, I’m elderly and I just have to share my experience when Martha Mitchell was raising hell over her husbands activities and his co.horts.  They were freaking out big time over her outbursts and then silence.  Her husband arranged to silence her but that failed.  They said she had a drinking problem then a doc started drugging her to keep her quiet.

      To then have all this shit revealed?  It was mind boggling.  It was all so Alfred Hickock.ie.  I was a young adult and it frightened me to see how she was treated and she was always so ‘desperate” in her facial expressions and body language.  I heard later that during an interview, Nixon stated if there had been no Martha?  There’d have been no Watergate.  Powerful.  Anyhow.  Thanks for letting me share.  Trump has exceeded the distaste of Nixon’s corruption…by 100.

  5. Charlie says:

    Have just come across your blog although have been following the collusion timeline on various US websites for a while (from Europe). Appreciate its depth. Being mostly home-bound by age and disability will have plenty of time to read it from the initial entry through to now and hopefully to be able to contribute to the debate.

  6. jharp says:

    “There’s been a lot of talk about why Manafort doesn’t flip now”

    So what is the chance that he has flipped and it is a secret?

    I’d think Manafort and his family’s safety would be in extreme jeopardy if it was known he flipped.

    Sure am glad I didn’t take that path in life.   I cannot imagine worrying about my family being poisoned and there is nothing you could do about it.

    • Frank Probst says:

      Yeah, I’m not seeing it, either.  If he decides to flip, I think that one of the first things he’d do is literally get out of jail.  And something like that would leak fast.  I don’t think he gives a shit about his wife and kid(s), but if the family was going to go into Witness Protection, I think the U.S. Marshals would pick them up immediately.

  7. Valley girl says:

    Sorry to be dense here, but I’ve been blindsided by other issues.  Could someone please tell me where the list in EW article comes from?  I mean the one that starts with Bill browder and ends with Russian adoption?

    My reason for asking: EofH made a positive comment on an earlier thread about Dutch journalists.  I tried to respond, but kept getting 403 error.

    And, feel free to fill me in on Bill Browder.

      • Valley girl says:

        Thanks- I looked back at that post- which I’d read before.  You’re doing a much better job at keeping track than I am.

        Uh, if not obvious ZEMBLA is a Dutch doc. company

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      My comment was that I found Dutch journalists – and, by extension, their editors and publishers – less afraid to ask direct questions and demand answers, and to pursue an answer where their civil-minded American peers would have retreated.

      When a political interviewee blows smoke on one journalist, a peer will pick up the thread and pursue the answer, and so on.  “This is the Netherlands, you have to answer questions.”

      That practice upset the current American ambassador to the Netherlands, Pete Hoekstra.  Ironically, Hoekstra is a Michigander of Dutch extraction and a former politician accustomed to having his way with the American press.  Ultimately, he had to apologize for being a dick and answer the question.

  8. Valley girl says:

    It was Trip who mentioned ZEMBLA.  EofH comment was more general.  Back in 2017 ZEMBLA had a 3 part series- The dubious friends of Donald Trump. Excellent, I thought.

    More recently, May 11 2018, this turned up from ZEMBLA- Pounds and poison from Moscow.

    Essentially, I thought, an infomercial for Browder, and Natalia V is interviewed near the 3/4 mark.

    More to add, if I don’t get a 403

  9. Valley girl says:

    Okay then!  The May 11, 2018 posting was on YT (with that date)

    However, there was a NYT article on April 27-  Lawyer how was said to have dirt on Clinton had closer ties to Kremlin than she let on.  (btw I am no great fan of NYT)

    • Frank Probst says:

      EW will know for sure, but I’m pretty sure it’s Papa Dick.  Juleanna Glover (note the different spelling–probably Manafort’s error) was Papa Dicks’s press secretary during the Iraq war.

  10. Chetan Murthy says:

    What I fail to understand, is how ANYBODY could think that an ipod or MP3 player ISN’T just a disk drive with an interesting playback mechanism. And hence, anything can be stored on it. I mean, it’s like they haven’t heard of people hiding secret messages using vanishing ink? Or as dots on some surface? I mean, these are COMPUTERS. Any computer storage can store any message without limitation except for size.

    • Frank Probst says:

      I have no trouble at all imagining people thinking this.  Most people who know little to nothing about computers will probably think that an iPod or MP3 player just plays music.  That was my initial thought.  It took all of 20 seconds for someone to explain how you could use one to do a lot of other things, but it DID have to be explained to me.  I think a lot of people skipped the whole iPod/MP3 player phase and have no experience with them at all.  I wasn’t really “on board” with the tech until I got my first iPhone.  Looking back, I think of iPods and MP3 players to be mostly clunky things that are only good if you want to walk around with your whole CD collection in your pocket, which I never really wanted to do.  Using one as a portable hard drive was never something that I heard people talking about using them for.

      • Kay says:

        Most people who know little to nothing about computers will probably think that an iPod or MP3 player just plays music.

        I actually used my (first generation) iPod to save various file types, and I had forgotten about this functionality. Surely it was explained in the prosecutor’s response?

        • William Bennett says:

          I used mine–mechanical scroll wheel and all–to carry a copy of a website I was working on. Whole shebang–file directories, assets, some interactives, you name it. IIRC you, when you plugged it in to your desktop or laptop via usb, you could just view the whole file system, like any other peripheral with a drive on it. Somewhere I came across the fact that the makers of the Lord of the Rings movies were using iPods to transport pre-release versions of the film between NZ and London.

          Later on they became more locked-down but if it’s a file system, you can access it.

  11. Michael says:

    “I sure do get the feeling there’s something damned incriminating on those iPods.”

    Here’s a thought: they contain a s**t ton of pirated music files. A conviction under DMCA – like a conviction under Espionage Act – would pack Manifort for long-term storage and roll down the shade on The Life of Paulie.

    Just sayin’. (Can you tell I hate DMCA?)

    • Dev Null says:

      That’s wonderful!

      No, srsly!

      Back in the mid-90s, when I worked for a Fortune something-or-other company, I was involved in a nascent Internet music distribution project. The project was shut down because of the DMCA.

      As outside intellectual property counsel told us, the DMCA was so poorly written and so draconian in its penalties, our project would almost certainly run afoul of the DMCA no matter how due our diligence … and cost the mother ship gazillions.

      As the corporate VP told us, “we have no way to bound our losses”, and – because we’re a Very Big Company – we have a target painted on our back.

      I seem to recall that the penalty for each violation is $25K. That’s per track.

      You can store beaucoup tracks on a 64G device. ~dryly~

      A back-of-the-envelope calculation (I’m picking the numbers to make the calculation trivial): let’s say the typical uncompressed audio CD with (say) 10 tracks bulks 500M. Let’s say it’s compressed by a factor of 5, so the compressed CD would bulk about 100M. That’s 10M/track. A gigabyte will hold 100 10M tracks, so a 64G iPod could store 6400 tracks.

      At $25K per track, that’s $160M …

      “A million here, a million there, and sooner or later you’re talking real money.”

      In comparison, Manafort’s $10M debt to Deripaska is pocket change.

      I’m not saying that Manafort would ever see penalties this large, or even that it’s plausible to imagine that Mueller would pursue this; but it’s a wonderful argument.

    • Frank Probst says:

      This is something else that I’d never considered, and I don’t think it’s going to happen, but I think it would be hilarious to see Manafort go down for this.

  12. Frank Probst says:

    Okay, so a question from a non-attorney to the attorneys on here: Judge Ellis seems like a Grumpy Gus. And someone who isn’t very sophisticated with electronic devices like iPods might buy the argument that all they’re for is listening to music. How likely would it be that he would suppress the iPods that Mueller has, even if they’re not planning on using them in this trial? In other words, how likely is this gambit to succeed?

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    One Orwell Prize winner from the Irish Times, Fintan O’Toole, on this year’s prize winner, Carole Cadwalladr, and what she’s put on the line to commit journalism:

    This effort is innately and intimately personal. It is, of course, impossible without the long-term support of a media institution, of editors and colleagues. But while that support is a necessary condition, it is not a sufficient one. There is still that unblinking “I”, that personal commitment to discovering and telling the truth about what is being done to our democracies.

    Carole Cadwalladr has placed herself on the frontline in the fight to preserve open societies against rich, powerful and ruthless enemies. She has done so with the courage, skill, resilience and undaunted optimism of one who believes that fight can and must be won.

    Thankfully, we have a few people like that in the US.  We’re not “that unblinking ‘I'” that investigates and writes, but we are a necessary means of support. Let’s keep it up.

  14. Trip says:

    Is it just me, or does Susan Collins speak like a 150 year old woman? I mean this quite literally. She speaks like a woman of very advanced age.

    • Michael says:

      She has sounded strange for years and years. I don’t recall a time (and I am past 70) when the cadence of her speech was like that of the average person.
      Her.sen.ten.ces.are.a.ser.ies.of.near.full.stops. But that is not important. What is important is that she questions, she thinks for herself, disagrees with her own party when she sees need (read: is not a rubber stamp).

      • joel hanes says:

        Fearless prediction:

        The nominee will be asked about Roe, and will deny any intent to overturn it.

        Collins will join with all other Rs and vote for the nominee.

        Roe will come before the Court, and the nominee will join with the majority to overturn.

        • Bob Conyers says:

          I think you’re mostly right, except I don’t think the Supreme Court will ever formerly overturn it. Instead, they’ll allow states to make women jump through so many hoops and pay so much that abortion is impossible but not technically illegal.

        • joel hanes says:

          > don’t think …will … overturn it

          That was the trajectory pre-tea-party : preserve Roe as their sharpest culture-war wedge, and yet nibble away at the edges of reproductive health to make it difficult and inexpensive.   They used that strategy to collect the chunks of their base, to stitch them together, and to animate them.

          But with the rise of the teahadis, the monster awoke, and with Trump, it has broken free of its masters, and demands to be fed.  What’s left of the GHWB patrician wing has no control, and the members of the R. house caucus will do whatever they feel is required to placate the creature.

          I worry not just about Roe, but about Griswold.

        • Bob Conyers says:

          Yeah, Griswold is already under attack with conscience exemptions for health professionals and various fake science restrictions. It will get a lot worse.

        • Dev Null says:

          Even worse, fetal personhood.

          I would think that SCOTUS would have to overturn Roe before establishing fetal personhood.

          Obligatory caveat: IANAL.

      • Trip says:

        Before my elderly (over 90) grandmother passed, she had a similar rhythm to speech, although still very sharp (not so sure about Collins). Aside from that, I do not get the impression that Collins is a great free thinker. Like Corker or Flake, she puts up a minimal fuss show, but ultimately goes with whatever the party wants, with minute exceptions. She plays the game, first and foremost, her surface doddering notwithstanding.

    • tomk says:

      She has a speech disorder, spamodic dysphonia, which the radio host Diane Rheem also suffered from.

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    If Susan Collins thinks that neither Justices Roberts nor Gorsuch would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, I want what she’s smoking. It must be pretty damn good.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Ms. Collins thinks that she can take Donald Trump at his word when he promised her that he would not ask his nominee about whether he or she would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.

      Ms. Collins’s credulousness knows no bounds.  Mr. Trump is an habitual liar.  This GOP will not hold him to account for his lies.  Nor will Ms. Collins.

      Besides, Trump doesn’t have to ask the nominees on his short list their opinions about abortion, birth control, and infant and maternal health care and its provision.  His aides will do it.  McConnell’s aides will do it.  The FedSoc will do it.  Trump will see no one who does not already share his views.

      His “promise” to Ms. Collins was an easy one to make.  Trump won’t even need to break it to deceive Ms. Collins – or enable her to deceive and disarm her critics and the rest of America.

      • Peterr says:

        Dems need to whisper in her ear “Look how well Trump’s promises about tariffs and protecting Maine have worked out. Do you really want to trust him when it comes to his promises about a SCOTUS nominee?”

    • Dev Null says:

      That’s an interesting thought. If you find out, please let us know. I want some too…

  16. earlofhuntingdon says:

    If the Daily Beast’s Andrew Desiderio thinks that Democrats are opposed to Trump’s short list of Supreme Court nominees just to gin up the base for November, I do not want what he’s smoking.  It must have fallen off the truck and sat in the garbage dump for months.

    Any nominee Trump, McConnell and the FedSoc would propose will reflect their own priorities: racist, misogynistic, anti-labor, happy to constrict the Bill of Rights and overturn precedent to pursue conservative corporatist goals, not shy to impose his or her religious priorities via the law, and anti-democratic.

    • Flatulus says:

      I think whomever they propose first will be a throw-away pick to absorb the Dem’s ire, only to be followed by someone they’d really like.

      • Dev Null says:

        This would be sensible, not because it would absorb the Dems’ ire, but because it would rev up the rabid base for the midterms.

        But I agree with the other commenters: aint gonna happen.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Trump believes only in winning.  Nor would he countenance a gambit that required him to lose first in order to win second.  The loss of face would be unbearable.

      • Peterr says:

        Trump believes only in whining. If he wins, he whines. If he loses, he whines. If he’s awake, you can rest assured that he whines.

        Granted, the whining is louder when he loses, but still . . .

  17. Chetan Murthy says:

    What is important is that she questions, she thinks for herself, disagrees with her own party when she sees need

    What unmitigated *rubbish*. She breaks ranks when GruppenFuhrer Yertle tells her she can, and not otherwise. She doesn’t give two hoots about Roe v. Wade. And she WILL vote to gut it, as long as Yertle gets her enough plausible deniability.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      “I can’t comment on specific cases, but I absolutely believe in the importance of precedent.”

      “Good enough for me.”

      One year later…

      “This ruling does not reverse precedent. While it is true that the following test does impose a difficulty for some women, states may require pregnant women to prove their fitness prior to an abortion by running a marathon, bench pressing 300 pounds….”

      “Oh, I disagree with the ruling, but there is no way I could have known he would have voted that way.”

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Twitter has been all over the falsehoods sold by that opinion piece.  That it made it into the NYT, even as an opinion piece, when it so violates the facts of Trump’s history and priorities, is astounding even for the centrist, apologetic Times.

      It is a lie dressed up as opinion, making it in the Times’s eye suitable for publication in the most exclusive media real estate in the news world.  They say Trump has no shame, and it’s true.  But he’s got nothing on the New York bloody Times.

      • Trip says:

        I know @earl. They are pushing Trump and normalizing him like nobody’s business. I guess all for Zionism? They are a conservative fucking newspaper. What a grave disappointment they have become. They should be ashamed. But obviously putting this ‘opinion’ in their pages demonstrates that they have no shame.

  18. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I can’t wait to see how much cooperation the State Department and CIA will provide for the new left leaning government of Mexico.  About as much as they gave to Arbenz, I imagine.  At least it makes Trump’s propaganda machine’s job easier, as it looks for reasons to scream at people crossing the southern border and to escape the confines of NAFTA.

  19. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The MSM’s commentary on the issues raised by Trump appointing a second Supreme Court Justice is pretty weak tea.  It’s corporatist and lacks the depth of a typical high school graduation speech.  It’s all horse race horseshit and absurdities like claiming that Justice Ginsburg is a cult-like figure for the Democrats (using bad framing to normalize Trump.) 

    The balsa wood framing is bound by a few tired rubber bands.  It wouldn’t hold up to the wind from a mild sneeze or the stress of a drop of rain.

  20. Dev Null says:


    I tried three times to post a link to a satire vid embedded at LG&M.

    Perhaps they’re tied up in moderation … I have no idea.

    I give up.

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