A Warning about Hype Surrounding the Manafort Tax Evasion Trial

As I laid out a few weeks ago, 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.

Because Mueller has already obtained the testimony of chatty Trump allies who promptly leaked the content of their interviews to the press, the constant stream of easy updates on the Mueller inquiry has dried up. No outlet has thus far invested in the critical thinking to figure out the publicly available side of what I reported to the FBI that subsequently got moved under Mueller. No one has thought about why Michael Cohen’s very competent attorney is letting him leak to the press rather than (or, at best, in parallel with) offering a proffer to the Feds. Instead, outlets are dedicating front page space to recycled stories they first reported three months earlier. We actually spent half the day Friday getting our fix from the news that Don Jr and Robert Mueller not only had reason to fly out of National Airport’s shitty 35X gate, but were doing so at the same time (for the record, I would have been in the 35X terminal with Trey Gowdy Thursday, but he apparently got rebooked from a badly delayed Greenville flight onto an on-time Charlotte one across from 35X; he wore shades right up to boarding the plane to avoid detection but that didn’t thwart my powers of observation).

We’ve hit the summer doldrums of the non-stop Mueller inquiry news addiction and things are getting bleak.

Perhaps because of that, news outlets are hugely hyping the Paul Manafort trial, due to start on Tuesday. Here’s Politico reporting “Risks pile up for Trump as Manafort heads to trial.” And here’s WSJ claiming “Manafort Trial Holds Big Implications for Russia Probe.” [Update: Here’s the WaPo contribution to the hype; I make some specific compliments and criticisms of it in this thread.]

Yes, it is true that (as both Politico and WSJ point out) there will be a small campaign angle to the trial: Mueller’s team wants to explain how Manafort got a $16 million loan from Chicago’s Federal Savings Bank by promising its Chairman, Stephen Calk, a position in the Trump Administration. But that’s garden variety sleaze, not conspiring with Russia.

It’s also true we’ll get salacious new details on the luxury goods Manafort used to launder money. But most of that, including details of a bizarre arrangement with the local antique rug shop, have already been stipulated in pre-trial filings. Manafort is even trying to get details of his ties to Viktor Yanukovych excluded from the trial, but in doing so, he released a ton of documents that the press has already mined for worthwhile reporting.

It’s also possible that Manafort will decide, between today and Tuesday, to cooperate with Mueller rather than face a fairly straightforward trial, or that a guilty verdict in four weeks time will induce him to cooperate. Thus far, there’s little sign of that, and a guilty verdict will have no immediate change on his jailhouse conditions that might persuade him to cooperate. Any federal sentence will ultimately be served in conditions better than the ones he currently is in at Alexandria jail.

Barring some unexpected jury intransigence or judicial rulings, it still looks like Manafort’s best shot to avoid spending the rest of his life in prison is a pardon, and he looks to be operating accordingly, imposing as much reputational damage to Mueller as possible, without budging on his willingness to stay the course in apparent expectation he’ll be rewarded at some point in the future.

Aside from Rick Gates — who is sure to be beat up by Manafort’s attorneys — the most interesting witness who might testify at trial is Bernie Sanders’ former campaign manager Tad Devine, who would testify about PR work done before 2014. We’ll have to wait to see Tony Podesta and Vin Webber and similarly illustrious people testify for the DC trial, if it happens. This trial is just the appetizer course for the feast on sleazy DC influence peddling we’ll get in September, if the DC trial actually happens.

The newsworthiness of the trial will be limited further still by the outdated policies of the courthouse, EDVA. No devices are permitted in the courthouse, which means there will be no real time coverage. To break news, you have to leave the courthouse, and go to your (meter parked) car or the cafe where you’ve left your device across the square to report out. As a result, any “breaking” scoops will likely come from less responsible journalists with less grasp of both how trials and Judge TS Ellis works (as we saw earlier this year, when Daily Caller led everyone to believe one of Ellis’ typical rants indicated trouble for Mueller). Responsible journalists (Josh Gerstein and Zoe Tillman are particularly good bets for this trial) will sit through the entire proceeding before reporting out something more measured.

This is a tax trial, not a spy trial. Financial experts call it a “paper trial,” meaning the jurors will weigh dry documentary evidence rather than the reliability of unreliable witnesses (like Gates), which makes the outcome more predictable, though in no way guaranteed.

One of a slew of reasons why I declined an offer to cover this trial is I expect any interesting Mueller news to happen elsewhere — perhaps in his apparent relentless pursuit of testimony from Roger Stone’s allies, perhaps in the negotiations over Julian Assange’s continued residence in Ecuador’s embassy, perhaps even in fallout from Mariia Butina’s arrest (though Butina is not a Mueller case, in spite of what some outlets will tell you). I didn’t want to miss such news because I was stuck in a court room watching witnesses talking about financial documents.

Undoubtedly, the trial will be well-watched and in some outlets well-reported. It will teach a lot of people about how white collar trials of privileged defendants work. It may well be the rare moment when a white collar criminal faces consequences for his acts.

But don’t rest your hopes for continued Mueller disclosures on the Manafort trial.

115 replies
  1. Trip says:

    I don’t expect much from Manafort’s trial (in revelations about Trump). I do not expect or even contemplate his cooperation with Mueller. I think it’s not in the stars. And juries can be a weird bunch. You never know what will happen. I mean, Robert Durst was fucking demented, and got away not guilty. Rich white men experience a different type of “justice”.

  2. CaliLawyer says:

    Recent reporting (think it was CNN) has confirmed the long-suspected sealed Assange indictment. I’m still curious if any of the readers here know enough about US/UK extradition procedures to know if the US can extradite him without unsealing the indictment? My instinct says no, but there might be some carve-out for cases touching on national security.

        • bmaz says:

          Paragraph 9 is a load of crap. It quite clearly described Assange’s early activities, and, even from now public information it is very no longer operative because of Assange’s own affirmative actions regarding the 2016 election. There is a qualitative difference in postures.

          To say that Assange is still in the same posture as the NYTimes is absurd, as other points seem to argue. He may, or may not, should and/or will be charged at this point. But to say he can’t be because he is still in the same posture as the Times is ridiculous.

          And I love Jen. She is a fearless and tireless advocate on a number of human rights issues around the globe (including West Papua, which is a very tough situation). But this is throwaway lawyer press jingo, and means nothing.

        • Trip says:

          From your article:
          Whether a sealed indictment awaits Assange in relation to the Russian hacking investigation is unknown.

        • CaliLawyer says:

          Sealed indictment v. drafted charges is a six of one/half dozen of the other argument. As I said, only Assange really knows what he has done. There could well have been criminal hacking activity (or conspiracy to commit) predating the 2016 election conduct involving Assange. What the feds might have on him is still largely a black box. There was reporting out of Ecuador that he had initially asked for Russian security in the embassy and was shut down.

        • bmaz says:

          “Sealed indictment versus draft indictment is a six of one/half dozen of the other argument”

          This is one of the most absurd and ridiculous things said on this forum in a long time. And you claim to be a lawyer?? Wow. Just wow.

          Let’s review “CaliLawyer”: One has the imprimatur of a formal finding by a neutral grand jury of citizens, the other does not. One has the backing of law for arrest and extradition, the other doesn’t. I could go on, but you have sufficiently clowned yourself already.

        • emptywheel says:

          That said, I’m pretty sure that 85% of the GRU indictment had been presented to the GJ before it got rolled out, but one part got added later.

        • bmaz says:

          I have no idea, but there is no way to say that without having a GJ transcript.

          Irrespective, this guy is saying that a draft parked in a file gathering dust somewhere in a dark DOJ file room is the equivalent of a true bill found by a GJ, signed off on by the presiding judge and sealed. That is laughable bullshit.

        • bmaz says:

          Adding on: It is pathetic how hard it is to get disclosure of federal GJ transcripts. Seriously wrong. Any disclosure is hard, and IF you get it, it is usually only bits and pieces under Brady, Jencks or some other direct individualized witness disclosure. The defense ought have an early and unmitigated right to the full transcript. We do in state court. After the transcript is filed, you have 45 days to move for a copy and to challenge any issues contained therein. The fed lack of transparency in this regard is abominable.

    • Charlie says:

      The British government has enough on its hands (the Brexit fiasco) without becoming involved in the Assange quandary. He will likely be spirited out of the Ecuadorean embassy (police force cover to stop him ‘fleeing’ having been reduced) and flown to Ecuador which has granted him citizenship. As relations with the US have become increasingly strained and distrustful in the past couple of years, it is unlikely that the Tory government would assist in any extradition deal as they may well fear that Assange would never make it to court because he knows too much about the intrigues surrounding the Trump clan and its nefarious dealings.

      • bmaz says:

        No, he will, at a minimum, have to deal with the UK bail jumping crimes. The thought that the Brits are just going to escort him to a plane to Ecuador, or that the current Ecuadoran government wants him, is laughably absurd. Seriously, you have to be kidding with this, right??

        Also, as to US extradition…..extradition for what?? I challenge you to identify ANY case that could possibly be extraditable on. Go ahead, I know for a fact you cannot possibly point to one. Then I challenge you to study up on international extradition law and the protocols it operates off of. Please do that before spewing this kind of garbage here again.

        • SteveB says:

          The Bail Act offence will not result in jail time of any great duration ie measured in months, but I have little doubt that the Chief Magistrate (who handles all extradition cases, and related bail matters) will be especially keen to be seen to deal with the brazen affront to his court and the administration of justice the Assange case represents. I have little doubt the court will go out of its way to disavow any interest or concern for the political penumbra of the case and will want to be manifestly seen to be independently in charge of its own proceedings.

          As for extradition : what you said, bmaz. Of course, no-one knows what evidence there maybe in the hands of the US Govt of Assange’s role as an accessory/conspirator in the hacks, but absent that what basis for indictment in the US would there be?

        • bmaz says:

          Yeah, I agree with that, from what I can discern from UK statutes and talking to attorneys there. But I’d think he gets taken into custody, held and tried and then significantly more than normal punishment handed out. It was a pretty brazen affront to the UK justice system in light of all the contrivances and appeals gone through for him to act in such bad faith. Not to mention all the money expended as a result of his flight. That has to count in the government’s eyes I would think. Also, there is still a decent chance Sweden refiles the remaining charge once they know they can get personal jurisdiction over Assange after the UK is done with him.

        • Charlie says:

          Forgive me, I was hypothesising or maybe fantasising having seen the clip of the sofa being carried out of a side door of the embassy last week and being loaded into a white van which was drawn up very close to the door. Could he have hidden inside it?!
          In fact, Julian Assange would face arrest were he to leave the embassy because he breached bail in 2012 when Swedish authorities were seeking his extradition to face accusations of rape. They have now dropped the case. However, Assange’s lawyers are concerned that his arrest would be followed by a US extradition request. The “best” solution would be Assange accepting some sort of penalty or fine for breaching bail conditions and then to be extradited to a “safe” country.
          He may be kicked out of the embassy soon as Downing Street is in discussions with Ecuador and the US over his fate. However, Ecuador and Britain want to ensure Assange remains unharmed (they are already concerned about the state of his health) but suspect that US prosecutors have a sealed indictment against him because Assange and WikiLeaks were a conduit for the distribution of Russian hacked Democratic Party emails in 2016 (which he denies) that were subject to national security protection and will, therefore, wish to extradite him to the US where he faces prison if convicted. It is unknown whether a sealed indictment awaits Assange. But according to US officials, charges have been drawn up relating to previous WikiLeaks disclosures of classified US documents.
          Ahead of the new Ecuadorean head of state’s visit to the UK, their foreign ministry said “The Ecuadorian state will only talk and promote understandings about Mr Assange’s asylum, within the framework of international law, with the interested party’s lawyers and with the British government. At the moment, due to the complexity of the topic, a short or long-term solution is not in sight.” which a British government source reiterated by saying there was no sign of immediate progress.
          It is alleged that embassy staff want him to leave because he has poor hygiene and is very smelly!

        • bmaz says:

          Rendition is a perfectly legal and proper function of lawful extradition treaties and processes. You are referring to extraordinary rendition.

  3. William Brown says:

    Well… why *is* Davis allowing his client to leak to the press? As we’ve all said ad nauseum by now, it just doesn’t make any practical sense for Michael Cohen to be informing the public what he knows. SO much so that we all thought the latest leak happened from Trump, but then kind of grew unsure of that? Either way I’m curious to hear your opinion.

    • Trip says:

      Frankly, I don’t understand how in the hell this could be questionable. If someone leaked the info to a reporter, and the reporter verified it as true, then the reporter would know which camp the leaker was from, based on this verification process, and based on the individual who did the leaking in the first place.  It makes zero sense to me that people would be uncertain of origin, especially those people in the news organization which the source contacted.

      • SteveB says:

        But isn’t the sequence this:

        Giuliani commented that Cohen was about to leak the tape and claimed that it was exculpatory

        Then there was a leak of some of what purported to be a description of the contents

        Then CNN got the actual recording.

        Thus Cohen reacted to TeamTrump play, as I understand it: but correct me if I’m wrong (again!).

      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        I would not assume the reporter did any verification.

        Access reporting. Someone reporter knows hands reporter a recording, says it came from ‘X’.

        May be completely false.

        The real ‘X’ may not be Cohen or Davis.

        Based upon the attack on CNN recently, it may all be part of a ploy to discredit CNN.

    • Strawberry Fields says:

      It’s leaked because of the crime-fraud exemption. There is no attorney client priviledge on the tapes because it’s a conspiracy to commit a crime. So both sides are trying to spin the evidence before it shows up in a court case.

      • bmaz says:

        That is close, but not quite right. It was not “leaked”, which would indicate it still had some protected status. It no longer did, and it was simply disclosed. Whether Cohen and Davis “should” have disclosed it when and how they did is a separate question (and a good one!).

  4. pseudonymous in nc says:

    Yep, the Calk quid pro quo is the only substantial thing to look out for on the prosecution side, and perhaps the extent to which Paulie the Rug was squeezed in the first half of 2016.

    The defence strategy might be more interesting. Paulie’s lawyers have tried to limit references to campaign activities and are likely to portray this as unfair treatment of one of NoVa’s many tax-dodging, loan-fiddling influence-peddlers — in essence, “criminalising politics” by prosecuting crimes of those involved in politics. But do they need to send an early signal to the White House that they expect a pardon once everything’s done, or is that already baked into the cake?

    • Bob Conyers says:

      One thing I wonder about is if there is in fact a deal for a Trump pardon, does it make sense from Trump’s perspective to tell Manafort to just plead guilty and keep all of the trial evidence out of the media? I realize a lot of it has been revealed already, but typically the press pushes things revealed at trial more than they would push stuff that’s in a stack of paper.

      I realize it’s safer from Manafort’s perspective to go to trial and hope for a lucky break, but if he’s ultimately hoping for a pardon, wouldn’t Trump make a bigger push to keep things quiet?

  5. Willis Warren says:

    I’ve always wondered if the Brian Ross report that caused him to resign was a hit… kind of like the Dan Rather bit. I wonder who the source of that story is…

    I’ve never understood why keeping a source confidential is more important than letting the public know of an administration deceiving through leaks.

  6. Frank Probst says:

    Am I the only one that thinks that it’s FAR more likely for Trump to commute Manafort’s sentence (if he’s found guilty) rather than pardon him?  That’s straight out of the Scooter Libby handbook, which most of the long-timers on here are familiar with.  I can already imagine the press release saying that there was NO COLLUSION, and this trial didn’t show any evidence of collusion, and poor Paulie was only prosecuted for some teensy oopsies he made related to tax laws, which shows that tax laws are too complicated, and we need to fix them RIGHT NOW.

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      You can pre-emptively pardon, but you can’t pre-emptively commute, for obvious reasons. And whatever happens to Paulie the Rug in EDVA, the reasons why Amy Berman Jackson rescinded his bail (and the charges attached to those reasons) haven’t gone away.

      So it’s a question of timing: not just how long Paulie’s willing to sit in a cell, but also what happens between now and the end of the DC trial.

  7. Avattoir says:

    I’ve been involved in a number of tax evasion trials and related inquiries, so am able to confirm a lingering impression that there may actually have been have one or two stimulating albeit painstakingly narrow debates in cross-examination of expert witnesses on their views on the limits to ‘flexibility’ in the actual versus potential treatment of certain arcane provisions of the tax code.

    If memory serves, one of those may have involved a particularly lively dispute over the timing differences that might apply to when investor funds, OTOH, versus, OTO, tax rebates, are applied to research expenses, in calculating current versus carried losses. But I don’t wish to oversell the notion that blow-by-blow reporting of this first Manafort trial is likely to hold nearly that interest, to say nothing of titillation.

  8. Pete says:

    Perhaps it is the nature of this trial  but I am unsure whether to be surprised or not that Jeffrey Yohai (Manafort’s ex son in law who copped a plea) was not on the witness list.

    • bmaz says:

      Can see why you’d think that, but all they need are documents and records that may have involved Yohai, and those can be admitted into evidence through custodians of records without putting Yohai on the stand and subjecting him to cross-examination.

  9. Frank Probst says:

    The latest Giuliani interview:


    To give credit where credit is due, he doesn’t sound batshit crazy in this one.  But what I find most interesting is that he states that there are 183 recordings THAT HE KNOWS OF, and he implies that there may be more.  I suspect that the government only gave them tapes that somehow touch on the Trump Organization.

    One of the major points that seems to be getting lost (in the MSM, not here) with the Cohen investigation is that it’s not a part of the Mueller investigation.  His case was specifically handed off to the SDNY.  Yes, Mueller probably knows what’s going on with the Cohen investigation, especially as it relates to anything that touches on the Mueller probe, but he’s not running the ball here.  There haven’t even been any indictments in the Cohen investigation.  We have some fairly good ideas about SOME of the things he could be indicted for, but we don’t know what the SDNY got from all of their raids, and they may be focused on something that no one has really been thinking about.

    Now Cohen appears to be sending up public trial balloons (as opposed to proffers) indicating that he’s willing to say under oath that he was present when Trump was involved in at least one discussion regarding the Don Jr/Russia meeting BEFORE the meeting happened, and that other people were present for the discussion.  That information is only useful if it’s somehow corroborated.  If it can’t be, I don’t see how useful Cohen can really be to Mueller.  And if that’s the best he can do, I think the SDNY is going to eat him alive.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Rudy, rudy, rudy. Kick off the heels, take off the dress, and look in the mirror.

      Telling Lanny Davis to hire competent counsel is rich.


      Press saying today that Lanny Davis is getting ready to leak more of his client’s surreptitiously recorded tapes. All you’re doing is destroying Cohen’s credibility and his usefulness as a witness and his career as a lawyer. Get some competent legal advice.

      [And now rudy says 183 recordings. Who is leaking rudy? Look in the mirror]

    • Bob Conyers says:

      Do we know if the recordings are tapes, or are they audio files? Also, do we have any sense if the recordings seized in the raid on Cohen’s office and other rooms are the complete set, or does he have a lot more that the feds haven’t seized sitting in a cloud account, stashed in a locker somewhere, or stored on an iPod, Manafort-style (but stored more securely than what Manafort did)?

      It’s occurred to me that Cohen may be signalling he has recordings that the feds haven’t found, and he’s trying to find out what either side will offer for them. Or it’s possible he’s bluffing. At a minimum, I’m guessing he made a huge number of recordings over the years, although whether they weren’t destroyed and weren’t found by the feds is another question.


  10. Frank Probst says:

    @William Brown, @Trip, @SteveB

    Nothing about the reporting on the release of the tape makes any sense. Here’s the CNN story saying that the Special Master deemed that the recording was privileged, and Team Trump wrote her to waive privilege on this particular recording:


    And here’s the story saying that CNN’s source for the recording was Lanny Davis:


    So neither side is making good legal decisions here. Team Trump should never have waived privilege on this tape, and Lanny Davis should never have released it to CNN. They appear to be fighting a PR war with zero regard for the legal jeopardy that they’re putting themselves in. The SDNY may be holding off on indictments so that everyone involved can keep digging themselves deeper into the holes they’re in.

    DISCLOSURE: I need to eat some crow here. My theory was that this tape was the one piece of evidence that was deemed NOT covered by privilege that Team Trump wanted to fight about, but they dropped their challenge when Kimba Wood said that the rationale for suppressing the evidence would have to be made publicly, even though the evidence itself would be masked.

    • SteveB says:

      “The FBI is in possession of a recording between President Donald Trump and his former personal attorney Michael Cohen in which the two men prior to the election discuss a payment to a former Playboy model who has alleged an affair with Trump, Rudy Giuliani and a source familiar with the matter told CNN Friday.

      Cohen has other recordings of the President in his records that were seized by the FBI, said both a source with knowledge of Cohen’s tapes and Giuliani, who described the other recordings as mundane discussions. Another source with knowledge of the tape, however, said the conversation is not as Giuliani described and is not good for the President, though the source would not elaborate”

      This suggests to me that Giuliani touted the story, and murkied up the details. They were stuffed on the privilege argument and went onto a PR attack to limit the damage knowing what the contents of all the recordings were, selecting the least incriminating for their attack. He anticipated that Cohen’s team would be approached for comment, and that they might eventually respond by releasing the audio file itself to rebut the Trump narrative: in inducing their opponents to do this Trumpers respond by saying Cohen is a shit who secretly recorded privileged conversations and was responsible for it entering the public domain.

      • Trip says:

        Steve, I think you are correct. What I was referring to is how the talking heads from the info origin (leak to their reporter/ or confirmation of first reporting) were suddenly questioning who leaked what, from which camp. My assertion is that they should know, because they were the ones confirming (from) the source, etc.

        Or is there some new deep throat who leaks for both sides?

        • SteveB says:

          No apology necessary.

          All of this G said, C said is quite a good example of how the bastards succeed in messing up the narrative to try and extract marginal advantages in the shitshower.

          It’s hard to see how Cohen gets back into the pardonable cohort of the Don’s flock. But that may depend on how incriminating on their face the other audios are : the worse they are and the less their meaning depends on C explaining them, the the greater the necessity for the Don to be done with C . Obviously how the audios fit into the pattern of other evidence is also crucial.

          I very much doubt the audios are mundane : why the months of aggravation and expense if that’s the bottom line on them.

  11. SpaceLifeForm says:

    NYT publisher disputes Trump’s retelling of off-the-record conversation


    It was supposed to be an off-the-record meeting. But President Donald Trump had other plans.

    On Sunday morning, nine days after sitting down with New York Times Publisher A.G. Sulzberger at the White House, Trump decided to make the once-private meeting public. At 8:30 a.m., the president declared on Twitter that he had talked with Sulzberger, one of most powerful media executives in the country, about “the vast amounts of Fake News being put out by the media,” sending the Times scrambling to offer its own version of events.

    [If you want to believe Mueller still wants to talk to trump, so be it.   But after this, I would think very few would want to talk to him at all]

  12. Drew says:

    The Palmer Report’s theory is that Cohen is lighting himself on fire just to hurt trump. Thus Cohen acting irrationally & more or less violently to hurt someone without thinking it through. Sounds kind of like the Michael we have all grown to know & love. Thus the sequence that would make any sense of this (meaning that those of us who can accept and dwell in a world filled with irrational and stupid people doing irrational & stupid things, can discern the connected thread of irrational behavior) the sequence would be: 1) Judge Wood says that the tape can only be privileged if the Trump team successfully makes that argument, but in any case their arguments would be made public, thus outing the conspiracy between Cohen & Trump on the tape) 2) The Trump team says “fuck that shit” and either waives privilege or fails to respond to Wood. 3) Rudy says to the gang, “Don’t worry, I’ve got this.” and proceeds to put out an expurgated version of its contents in a not convincing attempt to portray the tape as “exculpatory”–though the real goal is to inoculate the public to the contents, “nothingburgerizing” it. 4) Cohen decides to respond and takes a copy of the recording that he has (which might be separate from the recording seized for evidence, perhaps) and gives it to CNN to show those bastards–i.e. with no consultation with a real attorney) 5) Not having gotten enough attention or caused enough damage with that, he then gives the statement about the Trump Tower meeting to his CNN contact.

    This has the advantage of accounting for known facts and accounting for the fact that Cohen is a dumbass who solves problems through brutality. I’m not entirely convinced–any comments on the hypothesis?

    • bmaz says:

      The Palmer Report is batshit insane. It is akin to paying attention to InfoWars. Don’t do that.

  13. Drew says:

    What I laid out wasn’t a repeat of the Palmer Report, just one element which seems like it could be reasonable–Michael Cohen getting heated up and going rogue on his attorneys and doing things to hurt Trump without thinking them through and without regard to his own well-being. We know Cohen’s main professional relationships with adversaries involved calling them up and screaming threats at them, right?

    The rest of the sequence I advanced was from other sources. What are the main faults in it?

    • Rusharuse says:

      PALMer! Good name that! Reading him is like doing alone what you normally get done with your girlfriend. But, but, who doesn’t like to read -Javanka is goin to jail, Sessions is a mole for Mueller, Trump is gonna die in jail. I mean Fuck Yeah, bring it on . . Flesh for Fantasy!

  14. Alan says:

    @Frank Probst (sorry, clicking “reply” doesn’t work…)

    Read the Special Masters report. The tape was UNDER CONSIDERATION when the Trump camp claimed to “waive privilege”. Looks to me like the tape was never considered privileged (not a private conversation, not actual legal work, or crime fraud exception maybe), the Trump camp knew they were going to lose a privilege fight on it, so they waived the fight and claimed to the media that they were “waiving privilege” (on a document that was never privileged) in order to get out ahead of the story, put their own spin on it, make it look like they were being forthcoming by “waiving privilege”, and otherwise limit the damage. If you listen to what the Trump camp is saying, then sure it makes no sense, because what they are saying are not the actual facts and circumstances.

    • bmaz says:

      From all appearances, it was putatively found to be privileged. But the thing with privilege is even if putatively found by the special master, it has to be affirmatively asserted by the holder, in this case “client” Trump. It was crystal clear the government would have challenged that, and the burden to prove up the privilege against a crime/fraud exception challenge would have been on Trump, which would have required evidence be put forward. That would have led to cross-examination of whatever they put up, and likely a loss for Trump. No way Team Trump wanted to expose themselves to that and a likely finding of crime/fraud against them. So, the assertion was waived.

      • Alan says:

        That’s not what the Special Master herself said:

        “On July 20, 2018, the parties withdrew their designations of “privileged” as to 12 audio items that were under consideration by the Special Master.”


        So according to the Special Master, Trump designated the tape as privileged, and while this claim was under consideration, he withdrew that claim.  I’m not sure where you are getting your contrary info and why you believe it is more accurate than what the Special Master wrote.

        • Michael says:

          That’s always confused me- the other 11 tapes were supposedly conversations with reporters, right? Conversations between a client’s lawyer and the press aren’t usually considered privileged, right?

        • Alan says:

          > it was putatively found to be privileged

          except for that part, which was the key to what you claimed. I can find no reliable indication that the tape was putatively found to be privileged, and without that, the narrative I gave would be closer to correct, not your explanation.

        • bmaz says:

          Um, no, the narrative you gave is not “closer to correct”. Not at all. I take it you have never dealt with a special master on evidentiary issues before.

          Here is the first thing to know, “privilege” is an evidentiary concern, “client confidentiality” is an attorney’s ethical concern. They are related, but quite different. Once the government seized the material from Cohen, client confidentiality was out the window for all intents and purposes, save for Cohen maybe having the putative duty to try to assert privilege. He did so, Trump joined in (stupidly at that juncture if you ask me, but that is what he did).

          A special master was requested over the initial objection by the government that a DOJ clean team was sufficient. All the evidence was delivered to Jones, the special master. She and her team did a review and announced classes of items. Almost all were found to have no privilege as to further use in the government’s case. The remainder were noticed to see if Cohen/Trump really wanted to assert privilege on them. Keep in mind, the burden to assert and establish that is on the person making the claim, and in this case, that person was “client” Trump. And the court had already announced that any such assertion would be dealt with in open public and on the record.

          There is a list, somewhat similar to a Vaughn Index, issued as to what is generally in play so that the claimant can decide whether to assert or not as to particular items or classes of items, and the government can decide if they want to challenge as to any item, or classes of items, or not.

          Trump did not want to fight what would be a very strong crime-fraud challenge, so waived as to a class of items, one of which was this particular recording. And here we are.

          And this is pretty much how it goes in special master determinations. I hope this helped you out.

        • SteveB says:

          Sorry I posted my perhaps oversimplistic ideas below as you were correcting misapprehensions for yourself.

          As ever I should have waited to let you do your stuff.

        • SpaceLifeForm says:

          It sure seems like the clean team route would have arrived at the same endpoint and the call for special master was all about delay.

        • bmaz says:

          Yes, I think that is right. But the court decided discretion the better part of valor, and that is okay as long as the SM process did not inject differentially substantial delay, and Jones did an admirable job insuring it did not.

        • SpaceLifeForm says:

          I left out ‘avenue of appeal’, which when the special master route started, I noted that going with sm was a good thing. IIRC, you thought it was not that important.

          Based upon events since then, do you still believe that sm route was really not that critical wrt to ‘avenue of appeal’?

          Think Kavanaugh now.

        • bmaz says:

          Yes. For starters, Kavanaugh is not on the court now. Secondly, it is inherently a trial court decision. So, still, no.

      • Frank Probst says:


        Okay, now I’m confused.  If the Special Master says it’s privileged, then how does the government find out what’s on the tape in the first place?  And why wouldn’t Team Trump simply say that we’re asserting privilege on everything that the Special Master says is privileged?

        (USUAL DISCLAIMER:  I’m not trying to be a smartass here.  I honestly just don’t understand how the process works.  All of my experience is with doctor/patient privilege, which I’m discovering is quite a bit different than attorney/client privilege.)

        • SteveB says:


          This rough guide is aimed @ Frank and @Alan

          1 Raid seizes stuff -using clean team

          2 Trump asserts privilege

          3 Special Master appointed

          4 Clean team copies stuff to Trump/Cohen/ hannity ( as parties in a joint agreement)

          5Trump claims privilege over loads of stuff including the audios – designation

          5a Clean Team do their own designation

          6 Both Special Master and Clean team get notice of  T designation

          A Where both sides agree as to a document status _ no problem

          B where they disagree SM has to make a determination – based on documents themselves, arguments of parties (TrumpCohenHannity ; Clean Team) and perhaps calling for extrinsic additional evidence to determine point

          C SM always likely to indicate what preliminary view is  to give parties opportunity to (re)consider position argument etc to allow them to decide what to do next

          This is the rough guide of course.

          So knowing the audios were claimed to be priviliged, and that subsequently Trump resiled from the claim

          Then, with better than my knowledge of the actual procedures, bmaz has inferred that stage 6C in my rough schema had occurred : and I for one believes he knows whereof he speaks.

          @Alan: I
          don’t believe you have demonstrated an adequate grasp of this sort of legal process either in general or of the specific applicable federal rules of evidence and procedure, to persuade me to adopt your views on this topic rather than those of the obviously experienced bmaz.

  15. Drew says:

    @SteveB what do we know about Lanny Davis’ actual role? I have not read everything out there about this–has he actually indicated that he (or his people) released, or approved of the release of the tape? It seems like a dumb thing for a lawyer trying to get a cooperation agreement for a client to do. When I think dumb, Cohen comes to mind.

    As I say, I’m open to revising my understanding of this.

  16. Rusharuse says:

    Hear ye, hear ye!

    “I think you all saw today that President Donald Trump was correct. There is no evidence that Mr. Manafort or the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government,” attorney Kevin Downing told reporters after Manafort pleaded not guilty to money laundering and other charges.

    Thats it, thats the story, the fix is in! The 64 dollar question but- who is the real client? It’s not Manafort, he’s the threat. It’s not Trump, he just has the golden key. Just who is the client(s)? Who Instructs council “MANAFORT MUST NOT FLIP!” Who says that??

  17. Drew says:

    @SteveB Ok, so I poked around and I see that Lanny Davis actually takes responsibility for the recording (I had thought that that was just part of the fog of speculation about it that came out at the time). Sorry. While he denies that the Trump Tower statement came from “us”. Meaning, I guess Cohen or his attorneys.  It seems unconventional for an attorney who needs to get a deal with the prosecutors for his sleazy client, to go public with evidence, but I guess it was decided that it was PR wars time.

    But it does seem puzzling all the denial all-around stuff about the Trump Tower revelation–Davis making adamant denials AND accusing the other side. I just don’t see the benefit for the Trump side (though it’s much easier for me to believe that Giuliani is edging into dementia than that Trump is) so maybe Rudy’s just doing addle-brained stuff, conducting public debates with himself with leaked documents, etc. That doesn’t fit with the reaction of the newsies who knew who their sources were. It doesn’t really make sense for Davis to accuse the other side (“I don’t know why they put it out.”) as opposed to just denying that it was his office/team.

    I still think that that could have been Cohen, blowing up without advice of counsel (or against advice of counsel)-perhaps passing the statement to the press through a friend. If there’s dumbassery to be done, MC is dumbass central.  The other explanation would be bad faith leaking (second thoughts?) on Lanny Davis’ part. Undermining your reporter while the story is being reported is not a good thing for a source that wants a story out there. So I’m still sticking with the kamikaze Cohen theory.

    • Alan says:

      IMO, Giuliani knows these bad facts are going to come out anyway, so he’s getting out in front of the story, leaking the bad facts and putting his own spin on them, creating a “Fog of Trump” and trying to make enough people tired of the story before the full implications are understood.  It’s working.  He might also be leaking some false info along with the real info so he can later focus on the false info and claim that nothing can be trusted.

  18. Trip says:

    No collusion! No collusion! No collusion!…Trump

    I don’t even know if collusion is a crime…Rudy

    • Trip says:

      I can’t wait for the part when Rudy tells us all that the people of the US actually voted for Putin democratically.

    • bmaz says:

      Remember when a couple of the locals here started freaking out when the “collusion” word was first trotted out and said “collusion is not a crime, or even a criminal concept, this is about conspiracy!!”

      Those were giddy times that seem so long a go.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Well, if Rudy doesn’t know, he’s in the wrong job.  But we knew that.  He’s reverted to being a lying performance in service to another lying performance artist.

      The Don is getting desperate.  Wonder why that is?  He is the president, the most important and powerful man in the world.  But he acts like a con man on the run.

    • Trip says:

      Now Rudy introduced that there was a meeting 3 days before, even though he says the meeting didn’t happen, and there were no reports at the time:
      “There was another meeting that has been leaked that hasn’t been published yet,” he started. “That was an alleged meeting three days before — or according to the leak, maybe Cohen will withdraw this, I don’t know — they haven’t pursued it. And two publications are not going to publish it. I think they found independent contradiction. He says it was a meeting with Donald Jr., with Jared Kushner, with Paul Manafort, with Gates, with possibly two others, in which they — out of the presence of the president — discussed the meeting with the Russians. We checked with their lawyers, the ones we could check with, that meeting never took place, it didn’t happen. It’s a figment of his imagination or he’s lying.”

      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        Seems like what rudy is calling a leak, is really just hearsay at this point in time. It may be actually fact, and why he would want to blame Cohen is obvious. Suspect the two sources are baiting rudy.

        If it is a true leak, why would rudy know that?

        The simple answer would be that someone *is* leaking to rudy about ongoing info ops.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Yep, and how did Rudy pay for that Yankees World Series ring.  No one gives them away. 

          He says he paid “market price,” only years after he acquired them. But there’s no market even to price them.  His rings – he has more than one – look a lot like garden variety corruption.

  19. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Quiet Skies: “Not Intended to Surveil Ordinary Americans,” says TSA.  Hahahahahaha.

    This program involves hundreds of examples, each involving multiple agents and surveillance resources tracking one non-violent person for months, without their knowledge, someone with no prior history of crime or violent behavior.  It is a very expensive program that consumes staff hours and budget dollars like the Delta House consumes beer.

    This is not about air travel security.  It’s not about racial profiling.  It’s not about shepherding scare public resources.  This is an experiment in pre-crime. 

    It is a psych experiment that targets certain personalities and lists of behavioral traits.  It is an attempt to discover what combinations of personality and behavior might lead to violent or criminal conduct.  It populates the data base and will inevitably be used to suggest further, more invasive programs when its results turn out to be inconclusive and contradictory.  It is a contractor’s wet dream.

    This program is one more glaring reason why the DHS should be the primary agency subject to Congressional audit and oversight in the next Congress.  It is another reason Congress needs to legislate a national privacy regime similar to those in Europe.

    The MSM, of course, now admits this program exists, but frantically quotes supporters to normalize it. Just like it does Donald Trump.  Both are wrong.

    • Valley girl says:

      On a vaguely related issue, reading that original article, and your comments above, I thought of another (but not hidden) TSA program.  Can’t remember the name right now, but it’s the one where you give TSA all kinds of information, and in return you get a “pass” so you can always go through the shorter TSA security cheek line at the airport- special treats like not having to remove you shoes, for example.

      I have not applied for this program because I tend to want to keep my privacy to the extent that I can.  (Same reason I never joined Faceborg.)  My experience, having taken numerous flights in the past three years, is that sometimes my ticket puts me in the “short line” and sometimes in the “long line”- same airline, travel between the same two cities.

      Sorry I can’t remember the name of the TSA program.  It seemed odd to me that according to the article on Quiet Skies that one person surveiled was a Southwest flight attendant.  I’d have thought, if anyone, a flight attendant would have joined this “you don’t have to take off your shoes” TSA program,  so they’d already know what they thought they needed to know.

      This “Quiet Skies” program adds another  hefty bit of evidence that TSA is royally fucked up.

      Earl (and others) I realise that my comment covers various things in a not very concise manner, but I hope you get my point, such as there is one.


    • Valley girl says:

      I remembered some discussions a while back about El Al security , so I googled.  These two links had interesting comments, the first one from a traveller on El Al , the second is CNN interview with Isaac Yeffet, the former head of security for El Al and now an aviation security consultant in New York.

      First has a few linked comments, others not.  Anecdotal mostly, but interesting.  Second link of course more authoritative.

      Contrast (snip)

      Yeffett: We must look at the qualifications of the candidate for security jobs. He must be educated. He must speak two languages. He must be trained for a long time, in classrooms. He must receive on-the-job training with a supervisor for weeks to make sure that the guy understands how to approach a passenger, how to convince him to cooperate with him, because the passenger is taking the flight and we are on the ground. The passengers have to understand that the security is doing it for their benefit.

      First article passenger (snip):
      The typical US security theatre
      Typically I have no respect for the programs we have in place in the US to ensure our flights are safe.

      We have the TSA, which consistently misses 80%+ of weapons that are brought through checkpoints in tests. We have TSA officers who are “behavior detection officers,” and that training comes in the form of a one day course, which hardly qualifies them as experts.

      And let’s not even talk about the air marshal program. More air marshals have been arrested than they’ve performed arrests. ‘Nuff said.

      Meanwhile by all accounts, EL AL has exceptional security. They’re the world’s most targeted airline, and they have a perfect safety record. That says a lot, so I was excited to experience proper security for once.



      • Valley girl says:

        Comment is awaiting moderation. Let me try that again with only two links:
        July 30, 2018 at 2:28 pm
        I remembered some discussions a while back about El Al security , so I googled.  These two links had interesting comments, the first one from a traveller on El Al , the second is CNN interview with Isaac Yeffet, the former head of security for El Al and now an aviation security consultant in New York.

        First has a few linked comments, others not.  Anecdotal mostly, but interesting.  Second link of course more authoritative.

        Contrast (snip)

        Yeffett: We must look at the qualifications of the candidate for security jobs. He must be educated. He must speak two languages. He must be trained for a long time, in classrooms. He must receive on-the-job training with a supervisor for weeks to make sure that the guy understands how to approach a passenger, how to convince him to cooperate with him, because the passenger is taking the flight and we are on the ground. The passengers have to understand that the security is doing it for their benefit.

        First article passenger (snip):
        The typical US security theatre
        Typically I have no respect for the programs we have in place in the US to ensure our flights are safe.

        We have the TSA, which consistently misses 80%+ of weapons that are brought through checkpoints in tests. We have TSA officers who are “behavior detection officers,” and that training comes in the form of a one day course, which hardly qualifies them as experts.

        And let’s not even talk about the air marshal program. More air marshals have been arrested than they’ve performed arrests. ‘Nuff said.

        Meanwhile by all accounts, EL AL has exceptional security. They’re the world’s most targeted airline, and they have a perfect safety record. That says a lot, so I was excited to experience proper security for once.



  20. Gary Siegel says:

    OK, this is silly but, in that picture, Manafort looks like Gul Dukat from Star Trek.

    He was a terrorist posing as politician.

    Just saying.


    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Confusion, misidentification and mischaracterization are his things.  They are all he’s got. Today’s Rudy is to the law as tabloid journalism is to news.

      What Rudy does is a disservice to the name of the father of the Chicago blues.

  21. Trip says:

    Senator Rand Paul‏Verified account @RandPaul

    After meeting Judge Kavanaugh and reviewing his record, I have decided to support his nomination. No one will ever completely agree with a nominee (unless of course, you are the nominee). Each nominee however, must be judged on the totality of their views character and opinions.

    And once again, piece of shit Rand Paul finds an excuse to go against his STRONGLY HELD “principles”. So predictable. I’m against this, I’m against that…But fuck it, you know, I’m voting for everything, anyway. His bullshit is stacking up like the crap he piled on his neighbor’s property.

  22. Trip says:

    I wonder if someone is feeding Giuliani some disinformation about what is about to be published, yanking his chain. And then he inadvertently confesses what actually happened? There seems to be a pattern. Maybe he is relying on old SDNY FBI chums, who aren’t getting the full scope, a little less than accurate info, from investigators. I hope it captures the earlier leak pipeline. Hope springs eternal.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Given Rudy’s background, especially his history of extra-marital affairs, I think he’s as capable a liar as Donald Trump.  If he thinks inventing facts or an absurd characterization of them has some benefit, he’ll do it.

      • Trip says:

        He lied about being at ground zero as much as first responders. There is no low he can’t reach.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          If he had done, he’d be dead by now owing to pulmonary failure.  The only ground zero air he breathed was exhaled by the people he lauded after the fact.

    • Tracy says:

      Several contributors on MSNBC tonight floated the idea that Rudy is following a pattern (as much as an incoherent person could; i.e. with Stormy Daniels, Karen McDougal tape), in which when the Trump team learns of something damaging immanently coming down the pike, and their strategy is to “try to get ahead of it” – to attempt to shape the narrative. Emily Jane Fox (Vanity Fair) said that this pattern has been heavily discussed within Cohen’s camp for at least two weeks, and that the pattern, in this case, aligns with their belief that the Trump team is snatching “cards out of Cohen’s deck” in order to hamper his usefulness to prosecutors, and/ or to get ahead of his info.

      Interestingly, Daniel Goldman (fellow at Brennan Center at NYU Law School), floated that at this point, due to federal rules regarding witnesses, ALL of Rick Gates’ testimony to Mueller’s team would have been handed over to Manafort’s lawyers; using back channels, he says, they could have shared this information with Trump’s team.

      (The following is an interesting piece bylined by Goldman – why Cohen ought to zip it)


      Regardless, it is hard to see how this strategy works in Trump’s favor, especially with such a bumbling messenger as Giuliani: 1) bringing up a meeting that no one in the public previously knew existed, 2) insisting that the very existence of the meeting was denied by all people alleged to have been present (by only Giuliani, btw), 3) mentioning Rick Gates, 4) insisting that in the non-meeting, Trump DEFINITELY was not present.

      Although Giuliani claimed via Twitter, as people have noted, that Lanny Davis was about to leak more stuff – and while Giuliani reiterated on TV today that the info about this meeting came from Davis (which does not seem to be the case), an article from the Chicago Tribune, Friday July 27th, says the following at the end:

      “When asked about that and other matters, the normally press-friendly Davis on Friday did an abrupt about-face and told the AP he was now ‘completely barred from talking to the media.'”


      I wonder if it signals Cohen’s moving towards a plea deal (or, I hate to think, even a pardon?? it feels like something has shifted)…

      Marcy’s article is again very apt and great reporting. After tonight, all signs indicate that Manafort must be aiming for and assured a pardon for his silence/ conspiracy to further obstruct the truth. I did not realize: every one of 31 other people aside from Manafort has already flipped or is Russian. Manafort is within the number that Giuliani obviously considers the 4-5 high-up people within the campaign that he “was able to check with” and allegedly all agreed (my word) that the pre-meeting never happened (suggests that they are getting ready to throw Pappadapoulos and others, lower down in the ranks under the bus). It seems that continued obstruction and conspiracy to cover up a crime is happening, which appears to include Manafort’s on-going buy-in and efforts.

      I note that at one point today, Rudy slightly lessened his vitriolic attack against Cohen re: the leaked assertion of the other pre-meeting meeting, in which Don Jr apparently walked in (with Cohen present) and let Trump know about it, saying something like: “if Cohen even said it, and if he said it he may walk it back.”

      Also, I note that BOTH Cohen and Trump sides were reportedly “furious,” Trump when the other side allegedly released the McDougal tape, and Cohen reportedly when the other side allegedly leaked info about the TT meeting. (Emily Jane Fox reported this in Vanity Fair on the Cohen side; Betsy Woodruff reported it in the Daily Beast on the Trump side):



      Been thinking about Marcy’s reporting regarding Maggie Haberman, and access reporting – it is interesting that BOTH Cohen and Trump are reportedly “furious,” pointing to a typical escalation by hot-headed thugs, or… perhaps… does the ostensible “fury” actually hide that pardon talks/ talks about a further conspiracy to obstruct justice on some terms, are happening behind the scenes…?

      • Trip says:

        Rudy is so scattershot that if anyone floated a Cohen pardon, I can imagine him calling it in, or passing on the info to Fox and Friends live, and then denying it later.

        Any of the scenarios you mention are quite possible.

        One thing is certain, and that is that this administration is off the richter scale in histrionic behavior. From Nunes to the FreeDUMB caucus to Rand Paul’s huffy shallow principles, to Rudy’s confessionals, but ultimately to Trump, whose histrionics also flare out to Munchhausen’s, in that he creates these dramatic problems for the country and then when he stops doing damage, he congratulates himself for being a savior.

        No matter the origins, the important thing is to recognize the obvious gaming and to repeat what it is ad nauseam. This entire administration is an acute terminal disease.

  23. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I’m happy Manafort’s EDVA trial is up first.  It should be a clear win for Mueller’s team, it will show he’s in it for the money – and a lot of it – and he’s been dirty for a long time.  It will create a nice frame for the press and public as he defends the more recent crimes he’s charged with in DC.

    • Trip says:

      Naw, I’m not a lawyer, but dropping the civil case just means that the spaghetti didn’t stick.

  24. Trip says:

    The truth is out, stop the presses: IT’S ALL GATES’ FAULT, EVERYONE! Manafort was your typical squeaky clean choir boy who just fell in with the wrong crowd (along with a bunch of rugs, misc ipods, Duane Reade merchandise and whatnot). So says the defense in opening statements.

    HAHAHAHAHA! Good one!

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