Judge Ellis Compares Paul Manafort to Domestic and Foreign Terrorists and Spies and Traitors in Pulling his VIP Privileges

As I laid out last week, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. 

As I noted in this post, last Friday Paul Manafort requested to continue his VA trial until after the other one and (in a really craptastic argument effectively claiming a jury of Manafort’s influence peddling peers wouldn’t give him a fair trial) to move the trial to Roanoake, VA. In response, Judge TS Ellis (who likes being dicked around even less than your average judge, which is generally not at all) issued an order to have him moved to the Alexandria jail (which is where Judy Miller waited out the aspens turning). Manafort’s lawyers responded to that saying, effectively, “psyche, we’d rather leave him where we’ve just claimed he can’t prepare for trial.”

Have I mentioned how TS Ellis really, really doesn’t appreciate being dicked around? Here’s the order he issued refusing Manafort’s effort to stay in Northern Neck. In the middle of a bunch of language calling bullshit, Ellis strings the bolded words together.

At 5:00 p.m. this evening, however, defense counsel filed a motion opposing defendant’s transfer from Northern Neck to Alexandria, despite having just complained about defendant being housed at Northern Neck.1 In the motion, defense counsel states that “issues of distance and inconvenience must yield to concerns about [defendant’s] safety and, more importantly, the challenges he will face in adjusting to a new place of confinement and the changing circumstances.” [citation omitted] However, defense counsel has not identified any general or specific threat to defendant’s safety at the Alexandria Detention Center. They have not done so, because the professionals at the Alexandria Detention Center are very familiar with housing high-profile defendants including foreign and domestic terrorists, spies and traitors. All these defendants were housed safely in Alexandria pending their respective trials and defendant’s experience at the Alexandria Detention Center will presumably be no different. Moreover, defendant’s access to counsel and his ability to prepare for trial trumps his personal comfort.

1 It is surprising and confusing when counsel identifies a problem and then opposes the most logical solution to that problem. The dissonance between defendant’s motion to continue and motion opposing transfer to Alexandria Detention Center cannot be easily explained or resolved. [my emphasis]

Meanwhile, the government (as I predicted) submitted a really cranky response to the motion to delay the trial. They provided a list of what discovery they gave to Manafort when, proving his wails about getting large dumps of information to be bullshit, noting among other things that, “The vast bulk of [the documents recently provided to Manafort are] documents from a bookkeeping service (NKSFB) that works for Manafort, who has had access to this material long before the government did.” (The device from which Manafort obtained discovery last week was Rick Gates laptop; Manafort received the rest back in June.) They also pointed out, in a number of different ways, that Manafort not only knew the trial was coming, but had brought all this on himself by refusing to waive venue in the EDVA charges, thus creating a second “rocket docket” trial he had to prepare for. They even quote from a Manafort jailhouse conversation a point Josh Gerstein made (which I quoted): that Manafort has always wanted the DC trial to go first.

That other reasons may account for this application is strongly suggested by a prison call in which Manafort discusses going to trial first in the D.C. Case and contends to the listener (who did not believe the D.C. venue was favorable) that the listener should “think about how it’ll play elsewhere….There is a strategy to it, even in failure, but there’s a hope in it.” Phone Call of Manafort (June 20, 2018), at 4:02-4:39.

Mostly, though, they call bullshit on his claims of duress in jail he had been in, citing liberally from his jail phone calls (made from his private phone).

Nor are the conditions of his incarceration since June 15, which he has not challenged, more restrictive than for other inmates (and in various ways less restrictive, as noted below), or unduly interfering with his ability to prepare for trial. It is incorrect that Manafort has “very limited access to his attorneys and the records.” Dkt. 110 at 6. In fact, Manafort has reported, in a taped prison call, that he has reviewed all discovery: Just days before filing his motion for a continuance, Manafort told the person on the call that, “I’ve gone through all the discovery now.” And he has had extensive access to his counsel and materials: On July 4, 2018, Manafort remarked in a taped prison call that he is able to visit with his lawyers every day, and that he has “all my files like I would at home.”

Specifically, contrary to Manafort’s assertions about his jail conditions, Manafort is in a private unit in which he can review materials and prepare for trial.3 Moreover, he is not confined to a cell. Between the hours of 8:30am to 10:00pm, Manafort has access to a separate workroom at the jail to meet with his attorneys and legal team. Visitor logs from the prison indicate that each week Manafort has had multiple visits with his legal team.

Manafort also has a personal telephone in his unit, which he can use over twelve hours a day to speak with his attorneys.4 According to prison telephone logs, in the last three weeks Manafort has had over 100 phone calls with his attorneys, and another 200 calls with other persons. Those telephone logs indicate Manafort has spoken to his attorneys every day, and often multiple times a day. Manafort also possesses a personal laptop that he is permitted to use in his unit to review materials and prepare for trial. The jail has made extra accommodations for Manafort’s use of the laptop, including providing him an extension cord to ensure the laptop can be used in his unit and not just in the separate workroom.5

3 Among the unique privileges Manafort enjoys at the jail are a private, self-contained living unit, which is larger than other inmates’ units, his own bathroom and shower facility, his own personal telephone, and his own workspace to prepare for trial. Manafort is also not required to wear a prison uniform. On the monitored prison phone calls, Manafort has mentioned that he is being treated like a “VIP.”

4 The defense representation that telephonic communication “is restricted to ten (10) minutes per call” is incorrect. Dkt. 110 at 3. Each phone call session is limited to fifteen minutes, but there is no restriction on the number of phone call sessions, meaning that Manafort immediately can reconnect with his attorneys whenever the fifteen minutes expires. For example, according to telephone logs, Manafort has had successive phone call sessions with his attorneys that have lasted over forty minutes. The attorney calls are not monitored.

The government even claims Manafort is still engaging in foldering, with the help of his lawyers.

5 Although the jail does not allow prisoners to send or receive emails, Manafort appears to have developed a workaround. Manafort has revealed on the monitored phone calls that in order to exchange emails, he reads and composes emails on a second laptop that is shuttled in and out of the facility by his team. When the team takes the laptop from the jail, it reconnects to the internet and Manafort’s emails are transmitted

In response, Manafort has written a filing that is not only cranky, but basically devoid of real argument. There’s the boo hoo hoo about the plight of poor white collar criminal defendants who have a phone in their own VIP jail unit (with what I expect we’ll learn is a bogus rebuttal of the claim he continues to folder messages to others).

In its opposition, the Special Counsel goes to great lengths to describe Mr. Manafort’s conditions of confinement and to contend that these have not had an adverse impact upon his preparation for trial. The Special Counsel’s opposition is self-serving and inaccurate. While the opposition does not generally misrepresent the confinement conditions,1 its cavalier dismissal of the challenges of preparing for back-to-back complex white collar criminal trials while the defendant is in custody shows a lack of concern with fairness or due process.

1 In at least one respect, the description of conditions is inaccurate. With regard to alleged email workaround, the Special Counsel is wrong. While it is possible for Mr. Manafort to provide counsel with information he would like communicated, any communication is then sent by counsel in a manner that is consistent with the rules of the detention facility.

There’s the laughable claim — which Manafort’s lawyers absolutely know is rank bullshit — that all jail phone calls are monitored by the private vendor who provides the service, even those to family members.

Moreover, the Special Counsel’s opposition further demonstrates its unlimited resources. Apparently, but unsurprisingly, the Special Counsel has taken the time to assign personnel to listen to all of the non-privileged phone calls Mr. Manafort makes from jail. Armed with personal conversations between Mr. Manafort and his family, the Special Counsel selects snippets to support its version of events. The Special Counsel does not pause to consider the reasons a detained defendant might have to make his situation sound better when speaking with concerned friends and family.

And there’s the sheepishness in being caught in asking for what they wanted from the start anyway.

The Special Counsel complains that Mr. Manafort is seeking a “months-long adjournment” suggesting that such a delay is not warranted by the situation. According to the Special Counsel, if additional time were needed, Mr. Manafort would have sought a delay of both trials. This utterly misreads the situation. The two months between now and the District of Columbia trial date would allow sufficient time to prepare for that case and simultaneously to prepare for the Virginia matter. Such a schedule would allow the District of Columbia trial to proceed as scheduled on September 17 and the Virginia case to follow with only a short period between the two. This would require only a single continuance of the Virginia trial and it would be defendant’s first (and only) such request. The defendant viewed this request as a reasonable accommodation under the circumstances.

After reading this reply, I came to realize that Manafort’s legal team is arguing as trollishly as the lawyers for troll king Yevgeniy Prigozhin, making arguments in bad faith in an attempt to cough up more discovery. Which may suggest the legal strategies are the same: to discredit the Mueller investigation and obtain as much sensitive discovery as possible.

I mean, can you be cited as a lawyer for pretending not to know that all jailhouse conversations are monitored?

Ellis has scheduled a hearing for next Tuesday to address the continuance and location change. But given that he’s thinking of Manafort in the same breath as he thinks of “foreign and domestic terrorists, spies and traitors,” I’m guessing he’s done with Manafort’s bullshit.

It all seems like this is coming to a head even more quickly than Manafort’s upcoming trial date. But given Manafort lawyer Kevin Downing’s insolence, I’m not sure that’s a good thing.

131 replies
  1. Teddy says:

    Who agrees with me that the judge probably omitted from his first draft the word “OTHER” — originally between “including” and “foreign and domestic terrorists, spies and traitors”??

  2. Henry Tenenbaum says:

    Isn’t this all Kabuki Theater, with the only cliffhanger being the timing of The Pardon? And isn’t THAT when the show begins, with State AG’s in starring roles?

  3. pseudonymous in nc says:

    Mueller’s office got a taste of Ellis’s crankiness and drafted in an AUSA from the district that he knows (Uzo Asonye) and seems to respect, based on the transcripts; Downing is continuing to bullshit having tried to cherry-pick a venue and schedule and Ellis really does not like his court treated as junior varsity.

  4. pseudonymous in nc says:

    (Having driven through a lot of Virginia today: Virginia is a big state. Much bigger than someone who thinks of McMansion Despot Lobbyist NoVa as Virginia.)

    It’s pretty clear that Manafort thinks he’s really fucking clever and that he outwitted the prison staff at Northern Neck with his “leave it stuck in the outbox” email strategy — which isn’t the same as foldering but is a cousin who oughtn’t marry. It’s also pretty clear that the distaste that Mueller’s office feels for Manafort is gradually washing over every judge who has to deal with him. Perhaps Judge Ellis no longer believes that Mueller’s team simply regards Manafort as someone to be flipped but instead as someone whose sense of impunity ought to translate into an extended period in non-VIP prison?

    • bmaz says:

      Yeah. And as Fats Domino and Cheap Trick would say, “Ain’t that a shame”?

      Pull too much garbage and you end up in it. It is one thing to protect the record, it is quite another to do it late and very obnoxiously. Which is what Manafort is doing. They look like idiots and asses.

      • Silence Hand says:

        ^this.  @earlofhuntigdon really crystallized my thinking on this issue in a post on the last “grand bargain” thread.  DJT actually rarely issues pardons, and when he does it’s for unrepentant anti-gummint types.  Here:

        The Don is a lot less generous with pardons than he lets on.  He issues them rarely, ignores process, and makes shit up.  But his pattern is to give pardons to people who are like Ollie North: proud of their crimes and happy to commit them again.  That turns the purpose of a pardon on its head, but it creates a Trump friendly culture. 

        Pretty much sums it up. Overall, this is why Cohen absolutely can’t count on Trump for a pardon – he’s not proud enough of his crimes. Basically, DJT sees him as kind of a worm.

        • What Constitution? says:

          Isn’t “kind of a worm” the way everybody sees Cohen, not to mention the way Trump sees everybody other than himself?  The defining characteristic for Trump is only whether or not the worm is “my” worm.

  5. Avattoir says:

    For over 4 decades, you work your rolodex & dialing digits to the point of having to moisturize regularly, just to make your estates meet, by engineering lies, toxin, venom, violence, even genocide to pull off power heists at the geopolitik scale, then one day you’re forced to lounge on a recliner in the anteroom of your jail suite while nobodies and cranks treat you like a common ratfucker.

  6. Kevin says:

    Could someone explain to me what the strategy is for postponing the VA trial until after the DC one? Maybe I am thick, but I don’t get what Manafort is hoping to gain by having the DC trial first.


  7. Trip says:

    I picture him like Paul Sorvino in Goodfellas slicing garlic with a razor, only in swankier digs.

    But how is he getting on without 9-12 ipods?

    • Bob Conyers says:

      It’s crossed my mind that those iPods weren’t for Manafort’s needs, and he was told to record meetings so that his owners could find out if he was ever double crossing them or falling down on the job. So it’s possible he’s actually fine without them, since they might have been another form of ankle bracelet to let his other captors keep an eye on him.

  8. BillT says:

    Hello to all. I am a newcomer to this site and have enjoyed reading all of posts and comments that the site offers in focusing light on the dark shadows of our current president and his Republican & post Soviet comrades in arms.

    A big shout out to Marcy for her intrepid and courageous speaking truth to power for so long!!!

    The Times of London had a interesting article last night -Tower of secrets: the Russian money behind a Donald Trump skyscraper
    The Trump Toronto reveals the links between a shadowy world of post-Soviet money and a future president.

    The article covers Putin and his cronies getting paid a “commission payment” of $100M for assisting or allowing Alex Schnaider to see a Ukrainian steel mill for $500M and then investing $40M into the flagging Trump Toronto in 2010.

    The article stated that Trump earned at least $4M annually as a license fee.

    The article also flagged $3.1 of laundered stolen funds from Kazakastan in 4/13 which bought 3 units in the Trump Soho project, that Trump received handsome payments for licensing his brand name and received 18% of the profits from that project.

    Trump’s due diligence, when vouching for his foreign investment partners amounts to “willful obliviousness”, which in my mind reflects Trumps presidential management style and overall knowledge bank.

    Trump and his billionaire cabinet members, approach to the division between affairs of their official duties and their personal enrichment appears to echo how business is often done in the post-Soviet states; while working as Trump cabinet secretaries and Trump stooges.

    Let’s home Peter Strzok shares some true & very embarrassing info on president Blondie during his testimony today. I am sure that he had come across some very damaging info. on Trump’s back door dealings with Putin and his mafia cronies that has not yet come to light.

  9. Trip says:

    U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to break with NATO and conduct American security unilaterally — if allies do not immediately meet higher military spending targets, NATO officials and diplomats said.


    So, let’s review: Trump sets up an adversarial untenable prerequisite or he will pull out of NATO STAT, and WITHOUT Congress. No one saw this coming, amirite? Except Putin, he’s delighted. When will congress pull Trump out of Putin’s butt?

  10. harpie says:

    “the Alexandria jail (which is where Judy Miller waited out the aspens turning)”

    LOL Marcy!

    • Silence Hand says:

      This whole situation is just a giant verbal bullseye for MW, which she’s been hitting with verve and accuracy.  A sheer, stark poetry of schadenfreude.


      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Except that Schadenfreude would apply better if the stakes were lower.  Here, they’re high.  A loss for Manafort, notwithstanding his immediate appeal to the Fourth Circuit, would have a major impact on events.  He was the president’s campaign manager and an adviser before and after.

        A second loss in DC and the probable prison time escalates.  The Don will start to imagine he hears the sound of tumbrels on the cobblestones.  He will wonder how far a federal pardon would go to save his ass, despite so many facts having come out into the public record via the trials.

  11. Bob Conyers says:

    Since the evidence is pretty stacked against Manafort in the VA trial, what are the odds he pleads guilty to avoid the media circus of a trial? If his big hope is a pardon, I assume the main thing he loses by pleading guilty is the hope for some kind of major unforced error by the prosecution, which seems highly unlikely.

    I would guess Trump’s side wants to avoid anything that makes Mueller look good, professional, and on the side of justice, and it seems at least possible they would rather have Manafort go quietly now than have the evidence argued in public and he news cycle turn to Manafort for days on end.

    I don’t know the maneuvering that can happen at this point, though, and whether there are legal implications that would make Manafort feel the need to stand and fight. It does seem, though, if he wants a show trial, the DC case would be a better place to have it.

    • emptywheel says:

      It’s clear from that one comment — the listener should “think about how it’ll play elsewhere….There is a strategy to it, even in failure, but there’s a hope in it.” — that Paulie is playing for an audience of one, and his pardon relies on discrediting Mueller as much as possible.

      • Bob Conyers says:

        So I’m left wondering whether the VA trial is the right place for Manafort to discredit Mueller or not. Does this turn out to be a ledger and receipt-based trial with little in the way of quotable witnesses, where the prosecution endlessly dunks on Manafort, and Mueller’s team looks solid and professional while Manafort looks sad and pathetic (and Trump looks bad for hiring him)?

        I can see how it’s also possible that the defense turns this into an attack on Mueller in general and tries to put Mueller on trial, but I honestly don’t have a good sense if Ellis is the type of judge to allow that, if Mueller’s team is the type to be put on the defensive, or if there are even legal and procedural openings to try to turn this into a carnival act.

        In short, does it make sense for Manafort to go to trial and get to take another bite at the apple, or does it make more sense for him to fold now and save his ammo for DC?

        • bmaz says:

          Yes, it is very much a document case. And the admission of them into evidence by the government will be relentless. Once admitted, and they will be, it will be hard for Manafort to defend against them without him taking the stand and testifying. Which he absolutely cannot do. This is a galaxy sized problem for Mr. Manafort.

          His lawyer can argue some bullshit about Mueller in opening and closing…..maybe…..but Ellis won’t allow much of that (if at all), and he is unlikely (like, seriously he will never) to allow that bullshit into case in chief evidence whatsoever. That is going exactly nowhere.

          If Manafort packs it in here, there is no reason to fight in DC. It is all or nothing. The delay and bullshit is coming to a head for Mr. Manafort. The end result will not be pretty.

          • Silence Hand says:

            I concur.  Manafort’s problem, re DJT, is that he looks more and more like a simpering, cosseted incompetent.  The document-based trial is bound to cement this, and I suspect that Mueller knows that.  Paul “Little Lord Fontleroy” Manafort isn’t gleeful and unrepentant, nay, MANLY enough to merit a Trump pardon.  Those are for the Steve Hammonds of the world, shooting deer on gummint land and then burning it up, and literally sandpapering their nephews.

            Trump pardons are statements of strength and rewards for unrepentant criminals, not hall passes for weak-chinned little boys with bad suits and hair.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              Manafort is not incompetent.  If he were, his bones would be in a ditch somewhere in the Crimea, the Caucuses or Anacostia.  He just doesn’t know much about IT security, and is too egotistical or desperate to worry about it.

              • Trip says:

                He’s “above it”, a “VIP”.  And why wouldn’t he think that when he has gotten away with this shit for what, 30-40 years? Maybe more?

              • Silence Hand says:

                He’s for sure competent, but at a game as different from the current one as euchre is from Fortnite.  Also, thinking of your assessment of DJT pardons: looks are everything here, and Paulie certainly looks the fool right now.

                I suspect that Trump’s pardon proclivities have not escaped Mueller et al., and anything that makes Manafort look weak and incompetent increases the gag reflex for DJT.  Recalling, also, “do you think I’m a baby, Paul?”; Trump has gone full alpha dog on Manafort and clearly sees him with contempt.

        • SpaceLifeForm says:

          I suspect that once Manafort is locked up in Alexandria, Judge Ellis will delay the trial (maybe because of a sick relative).

  12. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Manafort and everyone else on his side of the aisle are more worried about what will be disclosed if Manafort ever gets inside a court room. And the government goes first.

    I don’t think Paulie wants to be a sacrificial lamb for the Don any more than does Mickey C, just to find out what the Feds might have on him. Besides, this one is likely to produce less of that than the one in DC.

    Given Paulie’s client list from the past four decades, I don’t think he sees cooperating with the Feds to be a way out, more a way under.

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      Mueller’s office has already said that the evidence needed to prove the EDVA charges is a lot narrower and less Russia-tinged, though the Federal Savings Bank loans as a possible quid pro quo from Steve Calk imply continued influence on the campaign and transition even after officially departing.

      Would Downing have the gall to argue that whatever happens in the EDVA trial taints any jury in DC?

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        The bigger problem would be the pending prison time.  Add that to the time he would do if he loses in DC, and that’s a lot of pressure on Paulie to talk.

        I don’t think he will.  Too many skeletons with AK-47s in his closet.  The Don will be tempted to pardon him, but by then the damning facts will be in the public record.  Appeals to the 4th and DC circuits would take time, as would even an expedited appeal to the Supremes, which means the Don would be twisting in the wind for a while.

        A pardon would only void federal penalties.  It would not wipe the record of the convictions and the evidence they rested on.

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Is this sufficient evidence for a commitment hearing?

    After taking credit for the “success” of the most recent NATO meeting, having thrown it into disarray by his boorish behavior and bringing up extraneous issues, and declaring that NATO was “stronger” after his visit than before, Mr. Trump travels to the UK, where, he says, “they like me a lot“.

    In the real world, UK police unions are complaining loudly that so many officers have been drafted to police London (>4000 at last count), in expectation of hundreds of protests, that officers are being forced to sleep on cots and camp beds set up in squash courts and sports halls, with limited access to showers, toilets and hot food. After twelve hour shifts in a heat wave.

    The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson, said the conditions were “an absolute disgrace”.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The WSJ’s Rebecca Ballhaus reports on twitter:

      Trump arrived 30 minutes late to today’s NATO summit, missed his scheduled meetings with at least two world leaders, prompted the secretary general to call an emergency session, held an impromptu 35-minute news conference, and is now leaving for the airport to go fly to London.

      Is it possible that Mr. Trump does not take his work seriously, other than his reporting to Mr. Putin?  His NATO peers, and all of America, might be forgiven for thinking so, and for planning to work around him.

      How ironic would it be if the next president-elect were caught seeking a back channel to NATO member countries, and told her NSA to tell them not to respond too quickly to American sanctions, because things would soon change for the better.

      • SteveB says:


        But shirley it was deepstateDems colluding with GCHQ to bug TrumpTower that started the cloak’n’daggery. Soo Unfair. Sad! These Fake Allies are the Enemy of the People, my beautiful people. Making America Great Again means getting better bffs than ever before.

        • Valley girl says:

          lol  – but I’m wondering if “had planned to” means the meetings did or did not take place.  Two of those four countries and Trump’s long history with them was long ago for me a big tell (and to others I’m sure) = kompromat.

  14. klynn says:

    How in the world did Benczkoeski get a Senate vote of approval? Mueller better act fast because as far as justice goes…this abomination does not pass the smell test. This needs some screaming! We need to demand that he recuse himself. This is seriosly a very bad situation that he will end up Asst Atty Gen.

      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        No edit time. Random, but a lot recently.

        No problem, real sentient homo sapiens can parse what you wrote.

        Bots, maybe not so good on the parsing.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Seems to be part of the con of working the ref.

      If Mueller’s team has to hand off investigations to another part of the DoJ, it would likely go through Benczkowski’s criminal division.  That Benczkowski is Trump’s mole and Session’s former aide would seem to be a feature.  The only check on what he does with a hand-off would be Rosenstein, and that assumes it relates to something Sessions has recused himself from.

      • Silence Hand says:

        Wow, how likely is it that substantial chunks of the investigation fall outside of Sessions’s recusal?  Is the upcoming effort here to break those out as distinct elements such that they can be spindled?

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          To a reasonable person, much of this is related to Mueller’s investigation.  But there are outliers.

          The Cohen case in SDNY is probably outside of it, but liability for the probable state and federal crimes involved there would normally be used to flip Cohen on things he knows about Trump.  Who knows how that process will play out with the new head of the DoJ’s criminal division.

          • SpaceLifeForm says:

            I am very confident there are many investigations happening that are not tied to Mueller investigation. Many.

  15. Avattoir says:

    As a junior hire into the DoJ over 4 decades ago, I took what was given. A senior DoJo, leaving just in front of a new administration, passed me a “problem” file already set for trial.
    The indictment concerned financial crimes alleged to have been committed on behalf of a corporation owned by someone who for many years had been a donor to local candidates of both parties, the latest holders of that ‘office’ having both lobbied for months, one closer to badgering the office & the (our departing) senior DoJo, over how the case was, among many more colorful judgments, “borderline at best” & “nothing more than an impending embarrassment [that would] blow up” for the prosecution, investigators, the government agency that passed on the complaint, and the whistle blower who within a week of the indictment being handed down had been sued for an array of barely discernible complaints that read something like defamation, fraud, and interfering with contractual relations.
    Trial was scheduled to accommodate 8 days for the government’s case in chief alone. I was new to leading this type of case, nervous as shit that all my prep over the weeks before surely only misled me to a false sense about the picture presented in the evidence, and didn’t feel comfortable leading with the analysts (as the senior had urged). So I determined to ‘go simple stupid’ and spend the first few days calming the fuck down by introducing documents thru the chief investigator, who’d describe each one while pointing out salient features then pin up an out-sized photocopy on one of several big boards we positioned for convenient viewing from the witness stand and jury box. My hope was that in just going that way, there was a better chance of whatever was ridiculous about the prosecution case that I just wasn’t getting would emerge to my consciousness (sort of like like with a Magic Eye painting).
    I don’t think it took a half hour before my nerves stopped fraying, and the investigator and I got into this nice rhythm (Credit all to him; he was experienced dealing with bably trial attorneys, & slowed things right down with a nearly theatrical drawl I couldn’t recall from our preparation.).
    Just over 2 hours into our case in chief, including the usual break for P & C, lead defending counsel, senior not just to me (by decades) but even to the judge, moved to excuse the jury for the day while “we” explored plea arrangements.
    We never actually met. He told me he’d lunch with his client and return before the afternoon session. They arrived back close to the time, so the bailiff called in the judge and then, without actually having said anything to me beyond asking what penalty we were seeking, led his client thru change of plea on all counts except one (which AFAICT was only ever there for bargaining).
    If memory serves (I’m sure it does.), that prosecution case was neither as simple nor as straightforward as the one the jury overseen by Judge Ellis is to hear.

    • bmaz says:

      Yeah. That is how doc cases go though, isn’t it? Put on your case agent and custodians of records if the defense insists (and the jury hates you if you insist on that, too time consuming) and you are off to the races as a prosecutor. I’ve been on the wrong side of this too many times. It is, as the defense, just like sitting there and being beaten about the head.

      • Bob Conyers says:

        This is great detail.

        I’m curious what the Trump PR spin will be. He doesn’t want the media to focus on how careful and thorough Mueller’s team has been to follow the rules, and he doesn’t want anyone to focus on how he hired to run his campaign a financially desperate guy who endlessly schemes to break the law in dumb ways.

        All I can guess is there will be a huge distraction aimed to divert the media while this is happening.

        • Bruce Olsen says:

          He’ll play the coffee boy card as much as he can.

          He doesn’t really have anything else, does he?

  16. Frank Probst says:

    I’m still dumbfounded by the fact that he used his lawyers to ferry e-mails in and out of jail.  Is this legal?  And if Mueller knew it was happening, was there anything he could have done about it?  His attorneys are basically saying that it isn’t happening, which seems unlikely.  If Manafort was just claiming that he was sending e-mails out, they could reasonably say that they were flagging and reviewing them before sending them on.  But he seems to be saying that he’s RECEIVING e-mails, too, so either Manafort’s lawyers didn’t know this was happening, or they’re lying, right?  I don’t see any other way this could be happening.

    • Trip says:

      Who was he emailing? Obviously not his lawyers. Does that make them a party to any potential witness tampering?

    • Bob Conyers says:

      The way this is described, it looks like it was designed to give the attorneys plausible deniability. They would claim they didn’t know what Manafort was doing. They were just bringing the laptop back and forth to jail, since the rules said it couldn’t stay with Manafort, and they had no idea it would send and receive emails once it connected to their office wifi.

      Whether that kind of claim would stand up to the kind of IT experts the FBI can bring to the case, I don’t know. I suspect the FBI may have let this go so that they could know more about what Manafort was up to.

      • Bruce Olsen says:

        “We just brought Mr. Manafort a file because jailhouse rules prohibit files. We took the file back at the end of the day. How were we to know he’d file through the bars and effect an escape?”

        Not much of an argument, is it?

  17. bmaz says:

    You, and Frank Probst before you, may want to research Lynn Stewart and the Blind Shiek case. Though I doubt this case goes that far.

    • Trip says:

      Oh yeah, forgot about that case.  “You, and Frank Probst before you” sounds like dialogue in some script for a future Star Wars film. Some kind of lineage thing. LMAO

    • Frank Probst says:

      Would that apply here?  Stewart was under “special administrative measures” with Abdel-Rahman.  I don’t know what the rules would be with Manafort’s lawyers.  Given that he’s already been indicted for witness tampering via electronic devices, I’d think that his lawyers wouldn’t ferry a laptop in and out of jail for him without making sure it was locked down.

      • bmaz says:

        I don’t know. A lot is up  to the particular institution/warden.

        Frankly, I have no issue with Manafort’s confinement conditions. Neither has the government that much. Think about why that may be (you are now seeing part of it).

        The relative confinement conditions are short term, and fools gold  for the public. Don’t pay attention to that, focus on the charges, trial date, and how they are merging rapidly. That is the real story.

  18. Trip says:

    Marcy is watching the Strzok theater, so we don’t have to.  I don’t feel like being immensely pissed off today. Praise be to Wheeler!

  19. Trip says:

    Fox News claims entire US defense budget goes to NATO minutes before Trump lies and says US funds 90 percent of NATO
    Fox News on Thursday falsely suggested that the entire U.S. defense budget is paid to NATO.
    In an on-screen graphic titled “U.S. Contributions To NATO in 2018,” Fox News claimed that $706.1 billion was paid to the military alliance.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Another assault on the truth as well as NATO.  That gives Donny one more thing to report to Vlad about.  Has he been a good boy.

      His pathology and deceit are becoming more obvious.  Too bad for everybody that instead of holding him to account, this GOP is behind him 110%

      • Trip says:

        He got the supreme court justice pick, the billionaire tax break, the utter disintegration of the EPA, his racist immigration policies, deregulation to the point of the wild west and he’s broken a lot of healthcare. However, he stepped in ‘it’ with his tariffs. Since the big monopolies rely on cheaper stuff, from cheaper labor, etc., this may be a bridge too far. How connected their (the GOP’s) interests are to Putin may determine whether they throw Trump under the bus soon. They have their man Pence at the ready, after all.

        Adding: then they would pretend that they were the heroes all along.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Mike Pence, such a hard fundamentalist “christian” that he was too extreme to hold public office in Indiana.  Another reason to thank Paul Manafort, who insisted he join Trump on the GOP ticket.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Probably about 70% goes to NSA, Telcos, and many, many outsourced companies.

      Ok, maybe Fox gets a slice too.

  20. cfost says:

    I agree that Manafort, and probably several other of the defendants in ConFraudUS are playing to a one-man audience. “There is a hope….”  But how sure can they be that DT won’t dump them as soon as they are no longer useful to his own personal defense? And how sure can DT be that these people can protect him, finally? I think that is where Emmett Flood and the “ new and improved James Dobson and Ginny Thomas Memorial Supreme Court” comes into play: the end game. Simply declare, in so many words, and via a tortured and dishonest logic, that DT is above the law.

    OT. Given his long history of association and business with crime families in Central/South America, I can’t help suspect that one of Rupert Murdoch’s sons (or his son in law) are your man, Marcy. Or secondly, Mark Zuckerberg. Just a hunch…

  21. BillT says:

    As far as the confirmation of Brian Benczkowski, if memory serves me right, under the Patriots Act the president can request from the Head of the Ciminal Division of the FBI any Grand Judy Info. that he wishes, in order to keep the nation safe. My understanding is also that the president can request this Grand Jury Info. verbally, thus leaving no paper trail of those requests.
    This is another case that Congress never thought that a Russian plant would become president of the U.S.

  22. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Donald Trump loves to use the OK sign: index finger and thumb making an “O”, with the remaining three fingers splayed upward.  In scuba diving and in American culture generally, it means, “OK”.

    Does Mr. Trump know that in foreign parts that common gesture often means asshole.  I wonder because Donald is using his OK sign a lot in Europe.

    It’s one of those anecdotes one picks up when studying how cultural ignorance can lead to marketing mistakes, surely, a genre that the world’s greatest marketing genius would know well.

    Among the more famous examples.  An American fountain pen company created a slogan in Spanish to the effect that its pens would not leak in your shirt pocket and embarrass you.  Lost in translation was that the colloquial meaning of not embarrassing you is that its pen would not make you pregnant.

    Another is the Detroit car company that developed a global trademark and marketing theme for a small car it called the “Nova”.  It hadn’t considered that in the Spanish-speaking world, the car’s name meant, “no go”.  Then there was the generic problem with another typical American hand gesture, the hitchhiking thumb motion.  Elsewhere, it means using one’s nether region for something other than to relieve one’s bowels.

    Surely, the world’s greatest marketing man knows all about how to avoid such mishaps.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Dunkin’ even think about it.  But IHOB he will. He might even say everything is fine, he was just kidding.

    • Trip says:

      Some people speculated that the “OK” sign was a hard right white supremacist signal.
      Those were people on twitter, so you know…

    • Valley girl says:

      I had a really hard time learning to how to flip someone off (another driver)while driving in UK.  I mean so that it came automatically.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        You can do it while keeping both hands on the wheel, but not while shifting with your left hand.  Flip it over and it’s Churchill’s victory sign.

        • Valley girl says:

          Yes, and also adopted as the peace sign, at least in US.  I had to explain this to a dear friend in the US (OT but he is Chinese Chinese, and he was in Tiananmen Sq in 1989.  The person next to him was shot dead, he was seen on national TV.  He made a very hasty exit to US.)

          Beats me how one can do this while driving with both hands on the wheel.  But, I’m thinking like an American- gotta put your hand outside the driver’s side window to flip off another driver.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            It is an inside the car gesture.  But it can be seen handily through the front windscreen.  Requires experience with the given vehicle and good palm control.  Trust me.  Best used when navigating a roundabout.

            • Valley girl says:

              You assume that the driver ahead is looking in the rear view mirror from time to time.  Reasonable assumption in UK.  Not in the US.

              I passed the British Driving Test first go, and a question was something like “without looking in the rear view mirror, describe the vehicle behind us”.  US driver’s tests are laughable by comparison.

              Enjoyed your comment, btw.

              • earlofhuntingdon says:

                Congrats on passing it the first time.  Cambridge post-doc and all.  (I knew an Oxford doc who took great pride in his driving, but could never find third gear.) It takes most people about three times.  Great for the DOT and test preparers’ revenue, and artificially limits the number of drivers on packed roads.

                You’re only forbidden from looking in the rear-view mirror when answering the question.  The examiner imagines that you’ve already looked and are supposed to remember what car was there.  American tests are much simpler by comparison.  But then driving is a right – traffic court opinions notwithstanding – and we have virtually no public transport to use as an alternative.

    • Michael says:

      Glad that you treated Donnie’s gesture. I chaffed to do so myself. Refr

      I’ve noted Donnie’s over-used gesture for what seems like forever. It amuses me to do a screen-grab of each instance – my collection is YUGE – because decades ago a German had graciously shared “their” understanding of the gesture (“f**k you”) by way of advising me to join *little* finger and thumb thereafter. I did. And that’s the reason why I named each screen-grab using the form:
      “La-La-La-La Fuck You”+DATE+TIME+”.jpg”

  23. clairence says:

    I am new to this whole “everyone’s a spy” world we’re living in, and have never been involved in trial preparation, so 100 phone calls per week seems like an extreme number.  It’s nearly fifteen per day, or just over 1 per hour (considering 8:30am – 10pm).

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Paulie lives and dies by his rolodex.  He’s a phone junkie.  He’ll be in withdrawal while in Alexandria.

      • Bob Conyers says:

        I’m sure a lot of them are ten second calls — “Mr. Manafort? Mr. Priebus left instructions that if you called I should tell you that he’s in meetings all day and won’t be able to take your call. What’s that, it’s an emergency? Yes, he said even if it was an emergency he wouldn’t be able to take your call. Yes sir, you have a nice day too.” <click>

  24. klynn says:

    Sort of OT…Question, were there any 90’s cell phones in with all the ipods? And did any of the ipods have tone apps? Techie youth at a camp were just talking about how to use iPods to make phone calls.

  25. Kick the darkness says:

    I linked to this article from somewhere after bumping into factlet/factoid that Kathleen Manafort has a law degree.  The article is not remarkable but the embedded picture of Manafort and his wife Kathleen at the GOP convention is one of those pictures that tells a story.


    If, hypothetically, Kathleen quietly became a cooperating witness without Manafort knowing about it would it be possible for her to work towards a reduced sentence for him if he’s found guilty?  Or does it not work that way?  TIA

  26. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Jim Jordan is doing a good imitation of Joe McCarthy.  He must think it’s a good way to avoid answering questions about sexual predation of the OSU wrestling team.

    Trey Gowdy is, too, but he’s a little more polished than the wrestler-on-a-stick Jordan.

    Committee chairman Goodlatte is just making shit up as he goes along.

    Clay of Missouri (D) makes the point that the committee is more interested in Strzok’s IMs than in investigating Russian meddling into the 2016 election – and remains unfettered in doing it again in 2018 and 2020.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Louie Gohmert proves once again he’s a guard poodle, and has fewer scruples than the average Republican ratfucker.

      Then again, the Republicans are not trying to discredit Strzok, so much as the entire FBI and its counter-intelligence function.  They might stand in the way of further Russian meddling in American elections and further influencing American government.

      If the Republicans’ contention that “arrogance proves bias”, and disqualifies someone from working in government, DC would be a ghost town.

    • Trip says:

      I thought Gowdy was sick of the nasty partisan politics? Yeah, a-ha. Dude is addicted to it.

      • Avattoir says:

        Then you missed dramatic moments, including: some surprisingly effective rules of order tactics featuring not only the minority leaders but by quite a number of minority members (tho a few exceptions), and at least two maybe more responses from Strzok that could end up quoted in bronze on plaques in LE offices.

        My impression is there’s a not-insubstantial chance that the passage of time will serve Strzok & his performance very well indeed.

  27. Trip says:

    Tom Newton Dunn‏Verified account @tnewtondunn

    WORLD EXCL: Donald Trump warns Theresa May her soft Brexit blueprint will “kill” any future trade deal with the US. Full @POTUS interview with @TheSun from 11pm.

    Trump tells me: “If they do a deal like that, we would be dealing with the European Union instead of dealing with the UK, so it will probably kill the deal”.
    Trump also reveals to me PM ignored his advice on Brexit negotiations: “I would have done it much differently. I actually told Theresa May how to do it, but she didn’t listen to me”.


    Trump still doing his lord’s work, and by that I mean Putin.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Read, unless the UK makes itself vulnerable and isolates itself from the political bloc that frustrates Mr. Putin, Mr. Trump won’t let them use the neighborhood playground or invite them home for tea.

  28. Kathleen says:

    It appears Judge T.S. Ellis did not mind being “dicked around” in the Aipac espionage dismissed trial?

    “A federal appeals court in Virginia says two men accused of illegally disclosing national defense secrets can use some classified information at their trial.
    Tuesday’s ruling by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirms a decision by U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III.
    Steven Rosen and Keith Wiessman are former lobbyists with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. They were charged in 2005 with conspiring to obtain classified reports on U.S. policy and sharing them with reporters and foreign diplomats.
    A three-judge panel of the Richmond-based appeals court said last year’s ruling by Ellis sought to protect the defendants’ rights while also preventing the unnecessary disclosure of classified information. “

  29. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Jim Jordan’s head wrestling coach – his boss when he was an assistant coach – admits that he knew about sexual predation problems at Ohio State’s wrestling program.  He talked to OSU administrators, his wrestling staff, and the doctor about his inappropriate behavior.  Apparently, nobody did anything to stop the inappropriate behavior.

    We’re dancing with a smaller version of a Michigan State problem here concerning knowledge and persistent wrongful conduct.

    The honorable Representative Jim Jordan’s career should now be toast.  He and his lies have been outed by a more credible voice.  His behavior appears to be more wrongful and persistent than the behavior that led to Al Franken’s resignation.

    Rather than admit and show contrition, rather than allow his former wrestlers some redress for what they went through, while their university and coaching staffs ignored the problem or dealt with it ineffectually, Jordan persists in his bad judgment and doubles down on his denials.  Blind ambition trumps all else.

    Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out, Jim.

  30. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Strzok frequently did himself no favors.  He needs to learn not to repeat obvious themes and when to shut up and let the obvious embarrassments created by Goopers rest on their narrow shoulders without comment.

    But the GOP were on a real witch hunt, not an invented Trumpian one, to assault the credibility of the FBI and its counter-intel group, which might be better used preparing for and combating the next Russian attacks during the 2018 campaign season.

    The Republican representatives gave all the appearance of working from a common script, with focus group tested epithets and themes.  (This was partly true of Democrats, although the credibility of their delivery was better.)  From the delivery of many of these representatives, several of them clearly had insufficient marbles to have launched this tirade against the FBI and its counter-intel group.  It does, however, give the Don one more item to add to his report for Mr. Putin.

  31. Kansas Watcher says:

    The financial aspects of the “Ellis” trial make wonder if the motions to delay indicate that evidence will be introduced that implicate either the Trump org. Or kushner org. And if that evidence were to lead to state charges against any or all members of the current presidential administration…. well.. game over man. Game over.

  32. Trip says:

    @Marcy, after reading your live coverage of the McCarthy hearings yesterday, I think it’s abundantly clear what we are dealing with. I don’t want an answer, but I hope you will consider the likes of who you’d be sharing information with, and recognize the bad faith element on anything related to the Russia/Trump investigation. The GOP will stop at nothing to absolutely destroy anyone not seen as supportive of Trump, or those providing evidence which may imperil his power.

    You are easier prey since you don’t have an institution behind you, nor are you independently wealthy to hire PR people to restore reputation. I’m just concerned about you, and not questioning your judgement, just so you know.

  33. Kansas Watcher says:

    So..  After digesting two years of information I had a completely new train of thought after reading this article.


    it wasnt 1 big conspiracy to collide with Russia.   It was a contest among all of the different members of his campaign.

    unless Paul can give Special Council leverage on Hope Hicks  he will never see light of day as a free man.

    he is all liability for Trump and has nothing to offer in return for a pardon.

    these rats are hungry for freedom from prison.

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