Lawfare’s Theory of L’Affaire Russe Misses the Kompromat for the Pee Glee

As I disclosed last month, 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. 

Lawfare has updated a piece they did in May 2017, laying out what they believe are the seven theories of “L’Affaire Russe,” of which just five have withstood the test of time. It’s a worthwhile backbone for discussion among people trying to sort through the evidence.

Except I believe they get one thing badly wrong. Close to the end of the long post, they argue we’ve seen no evidence of a kompromat file — which they imagine might be the pee tape described in the probably disinformation-filled Steele dossier.

On the other hand, the hard evidence to support “Theory of the Case #6: Kompromat” has not materially changed in the last 15 months, though no evidence has emerged that undermines the theory either. No direct evidence has emerged that there exists a Russian kompromat file—let alone a pee tape—involving Trump, despite a huge amount of speculation on the subject. What has changed is that Trump’s behavior at the Helsinki summit suddenly moved the possibility of kompromat into the realm of respectable discourse.

Nevertheless, along the way, they point to evidence of direct ties between Trump’s behavior and Russian response.

The candidate, after all, did make numerous positive statements about Russian relations and Vladimir Putin himself—though how much of this has anything to do with these meetings is unclear. At a minimum, it is no small thing for the Russian state to have gotten a Republican nominee for president willing to reverse decades of Republican Russia-skepticism and commitment to NATO.


What’s more, two days before the meeting, Trump promised a crowd that he would soon be giving a “major speech” on “all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons”—but after the meeting turned out to be a dud, the speech did not take place. And notably, the hacking indictment shows that the GRU made its first effort to break into Hillary Clinton’s personal email server and the email accounts of Clinton campaign staff on the same day—July 27, 2016—that Trump declared at a campaign stop, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing” from Clinton’s email account.

For some reason, they describe Don Jr’s reported disappointment about the June 9 meeting, but not Ike Kaveladze’s testimony that his initial report to Aras Agalarov (the report made in front of witnesses) was positive. Based on Don Jr’s heavily massaged (and, public evidence makes clear, perjurious) testimony, they claim that the Trump Tower meeting was a dud. Then they go on to note that the Russians at the June 9 meeting asked for Magnitsky sanction relief, rather than offering dirt.

In June 2016, Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort met with a group of Russian visitors in Trump Tower, including attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya. In the now-infamous email exchange that preceded the meeting, Trump, Jr. wrote, “I love it, especially later in the summer” when informed that the meeting would provide him with documents that “would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.” Trump, Jr. and other representatives of the Trump campaign were reportedly disappointed when Veselnitskaya failed to provide the promised “dirt” on Clinton and discussed the issue of Russian adoptions under the Magnitsky Act instead.


While there is evidence—most notably with respect to the Trump Tower meeting—of Trump campaign willingness to work with the Russians, there’s not a lot of evidence that any kind of deal was ever struck.

To sustain their case that “there’s not a lot of evidence that any kind of deal was ever struck,” they neglect a number of other points. They don’t mention, for example, that a week after the Trump Tower meeting, the Russians released the first of the stolen files. They don’t mention that (contrary to Don Jr’s massaged testimony and most public claims since) there was a significant effort in November 2016 to follow-up on that June 9 meeting. They don’t mention that that effort was stalled because of the difficulty of communicating given the scrutiny of being President-elect. They don’t mention that the same day the Agalarov people discussed the difficulty of communicating with the President-elect, Jared Kushner met the Russian Ambassador in Don Jr’s office (not in transition space) and raised the possibility of a back channel, a meeting which led to Jared’s meeting with the head of a sanctioned bank, which in turn led to a back channel meeting in the Seychelles with more sanctioned financiers. And inexplicably, they make no mention of the December 29, 2016 calls, during which — almost certainly on direct orders from Trump relayed by KT McFarland — Mike Flynn got the Russians to stall any response to Obama’s sanctions, a discussion Mike Flynn would later lie about to the FBI, in spite of the fact that at least six transition officials knew what he really said.

Why does Lawfare ignore the basis for the plea deal that turned Trump’s one-time National Security Advisor into state’s evidence, when laying out the evidence in this investigation?

All of which is to say that even with all the things Lawfare ignores in their summary, they nevertheless lay out the evidence that Trump and the Russians were engaged in a call-and-response, a call-and-response that appears in the Papadopoulos plea and (as Lawfare notes) the GRU indictment, one that ultimately did deal dirt and got at least efforts to undermine US sanctions (to say nothing of the Syria effort that Trump was implementing less than 14 hours after polls closed, an effort that has been a key part of both Jared Kushner and Mike Flynn’s claims about the Russian interactions).

At each stage of this romance with Russia, Russia got a Trump flunkie (first, Papadopoulos) or Trump himself to publicly engage in the call-and-response. All of that led up to the point where, on July 16, 2018, after Rod Rosenstein loaded Trump up with a carefully crafted indictment showing Putin that Mueller knew certain things that Trump wouldn’t fully understand, Trump came out of a meeting with Putin looking like he had been thoroughly owned and stood before the entire world and spoke from Putin’s script in defiance of what the US intelligence community has said.

People are looking in the entirely wrong place for the kompromat that Putin has on Trump, and missing all the evidence of it right in front of their faces.

Vladimir Putin obtained receipts at each stage of this romance of Trump’s willing engagement in a conspiracy with Russians for help getting elected. Putin knows what each of those receipts mean. Mueller has provided hints, most obviously in that GRU indictment, that he knows what some of them are.

For example, on or about July 27, 2016, the Conspirators  attempted after hours to spearphish for the first time email accounts at a domain hosted by a third-party provider and used by Clinton’s personal office. At or around the same time, they also targeted seventy-six email addresses at the domain for the Clinton Campaign.

But Mueller’s not telling whether he has obtained the actual receipts.

And that’s the kompromat. Trump knows that if Mueller can present those receipts, he’s sunk, unless he so discredits the Mueller investigation before that time as to convince voters not to give Democrats a majority in Congress, and convince Congress not to oust him as the sell-out to the country those receipts show him to be. He also knows that, on the off-chance Mueller hasn’t figured this all out yet, Putin can at any time make those receipts plain. Therein lies Trump’s uncertainty: It’s not that he has any doubt what Putin has on him. It’s that he’s not sure which path before him — placating Putin, even if it provides more evidence he’s paying off his campaign debt, or trying to end the Mueller inquiry before repaying that campaign debt, at the risk of Putin losing patience with him — holds more risk.

Trump knows he’s screwed. He’s just not sure whether Putin or Mueller presents the bigger threat.

132 replies
      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        I believe you had it correct the first time.

        Trump’s biggest problem *is* Trump.

        He is his own worst enemy.

        And will not stop tweeting.

        • TheraP says:

          And these rallies seem to fuel the tweeting fire, while lowering the common sense meter. Apparently he’s gotten antsy again and the sycophants are encouraging more rallies to raise his spirits. But instead the upshot is more guilt-laden tweets which play right into Mueller’s hands. It’s a downward spiral for Trump. And Putin’s shadow lurks. Not a good scene at all.

            • TheraP says:

              Kids’ parties don’t include demogoguery. Trump’s rallies are PURE demogoguery.

              I was actually, however, referring to the aftereffects of the rallies – fueling Trump’s egomania and decreasing any ability to consider the consequences of his knee-jerk, enraged Twitter rants. Which simply go into the “corrupt intent” file in the Obstruction of Justice Drawer Mueller’s secretary is keeping track of.

              After any rally: wait for it! Cuz it’s coming…

  1. Ollie says:

    “Trump knows he’s screwed. He’s just not sure whether Putin or Mueller presents the bigger threat”

    This. This right here makes me giddy. Oh please, please let it be Mueller and please triple please I pray the outcome is total destruction of that beastie drumpf and his spawns.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      I share your hope that Mueller catches him, but I would be very cautious to show any giddiness at the prospect that Trump fears Putin so much that he views him as the overriding danger. That can be a very bad scenario for all of us.

      • emptywheel says:

        Ditto what Bob said. I think Putin will not go quietly when he realizes he’s not going to get what he wants. That’s what I was trying to lay out in this post.

        The country is not ready to respond to a renewed attack from Russia, and Trump has only made us less prepared.

        • Bob Conyers says:

          To add to that, I don’t don’t just fear what Putin can do, I fear what Trump can do to try to appease Putin (wih an assist from the GOP).

          The range of damage a president can do to national security (and for that matter domestic issues) is huge, especially with the refusal of the GOP in Congress to oppose him, and a court system that decides to defer to the executive.

        • Anne says:

          “The country is not ready to respond to a renewed attack from Russia, and Trump has only made us less prepared.”

          Trillions of our tax dollars spill into “homeland security” and we aren’t prepared.  WTF!

          • pedex says:

            The “intelligence” agencies suck up more $$ per employee with less results than any other dept. They are a national security threat on their own. Our intelligence budget alone is bigger than Russia’s military budget and operates basically with no oversight. That kind of structure and funding guarantees not only failure but world record breaking corruption.

      • Peterr says:

        It also leaves open questions about Mike Pence. Manafort had a very strong role in getting Trump to select Pence to be his VP, including telling Trump that his campaign plane had engine problems and he’d have to stay overnight in Indianapolis while waiting for repairs. Today I sit here wondering whether this was a brilliant political ploy by Manafort to get the Christian Right on board with Donald “Grab ’em” Trump (though that moniker didn’t come out til later) or if it was part of a fall-back plan that Putin and his oligarch pals put to Manafort, should something happen to Trump.

        When possible, spooks like to have backups when they run a big operation.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          The too-conservative-for-arch-conservative Indiana Mike Pence was hand-picked to be on the Trump ticket by Manafort and his patrons.  It would seem that there is some there there.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        If Trump disappoints Vlad, or for some reason Putin feels he needs to abandon him, the ways in which he could reveal dirt on Trump are myriad, and some of them virtually untraceable.  It would lead to prosecution or impeachment and disarray among the normally tightly orchestrated GOP.  It would preoccupy the Dems for quite some time.

        Trump’s immediate successor would be Pence, though he himself might well be compromised.  He is more conservative than Trump, more disciplined, self-righteous, judgmental and secretive.  He would be more effectively bad than Trump, if much quieter about it.

        The disorder from officially pursuing him, however deserved, would multiply the problem.  Predictably theatrical GOP defenses, such as “witch hunt” and “coup” – the ironies would abound – would cause further disruption.

        The 2020 election would inevitably be involved.  The next, predictably Democratic president, would be ensnared in the process. Add to that that the Dems are notoriously poor at self-defense.

        All in, Putin would have a win-win.  Throw in Brexit – the trap door for that officially opens next March 29th – and the West will be in considerable disarray for years.  I’ll bet Putin has already laid in the champagne and vodka; the beluga caviar won’t be far behind.

  2. Drew says:

    “Trump knows he’s screwed. He’s just not sure whether Putin or Mueller presents the bigger threat.”

    Well put. The kompromat on Trump is wider and deeper than even this. There is a long history of Trump with Russia to be outed. Most people (including, it appears, Lawfare which seems to be confusing admissible evidence in criminal court with what can be seen now and documented later) most people seem to think that the use of kompromat is some sort of hard-edged & clumsy blackmail, using specific threats for specific behaviors. It is far more likely that Trump’s friend Putin expresses concern and shows him how he can help protect Trump from vulnerabilities which he then spells out. Of course those vulnerabilities have been cultivated and developed, they are the kompromat. I read the fearful Trump we saw in Helsinki as aware he’s been outmaneuvered, looking to Putin’s help as the only way out.

    The kompromat and vulnerabilities of Trump were developed before, during and after the campaign. They are all linked together.d

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      “Trump knows he’s screwed. He’s just not sure whether Putin or Mueller presents the bigger threat.”

      I suspect Mr. Manafort has a similar problem, caught between the rock of Mueller and the hard place of his quite vicious former clients.  The next couple of weeks will be interesting.

  3. Alan says:

    Yeah, but who’s going to believe the Russians? They are a bunch of liars, they made it all up, fake news. I personally believe Trump is working with the Russians because that’s where his bread is buttered, both in his business empire and getting him elected President. There’s also some chance Russia has “soft-kompromat”, which the Lawfare article describes as not actual hard kompromat but simply the ability to convince Trump that they have or may have hard kompromat, and that’s all Russians would actually need to manipulate Trump.  I’m not sure where that possibility gets you tho–it’s not enough for criminal charges, but the possibility of it combined with Trump’s behavior and other revelations might be enough to sway a few impeachment votes.

    • Drew says:

      I think it’s pretty clear that the Russians have *every* type of kompromat on Trump and they know how to release it in ways where it doesn’t matter who believes it.  “Hard kompromat” is actually a B.S. category, because that only works in the theoretical case of someone who has a crystallized morality and crystalized interests, where some single secret is all they are protecting. That’s like B movies from the 1950s. The kompromat that would work with Trump is a reasonable indication THAT HE CAN UNDERSTAND that a sequence of events can be triggered (or prevented) that will be very bad for him. Trump won’t react well, or predictably, to hard-edged threats, but he can be led around by this sort of manipulation.

    • Avattoir says:

      Possibly we’re seeing some ‘receipted kompromat’ exhibited in the current Manafort trial: the phony invoices.

      Phony invoices & doctor’d receipts are a common feature of tax evasion cases. Some time ago on this site, I summarized one of my experiences with prosecuting financial fraud, being a tax evasion case in which the defendant changed his plea from NG to G during our presentation of the government’s case. He changed it WHILE we were actively presenting suspect invoice after mystery receipt, while tracking the defending corporation’s fake cash flow statements, the ones that went to its banks and tracked its income and loss summaries for tax reporting purposes, on one big board next to the jury box, against the actually verified cash flow of the business on a board positioned next to it.

      We opened hard with the fake receipts and phony invoices because they were the most, uh, gonna say romantic part of the exercise – and because the story they told would sit up front right there next to the jury for the entire time until the corporation’s controlling mind went onto the witness stand without any explanation for them.

      His own attorneys had warned him of this (I assume; I would have, and they were way more experienced at this racket than I was at that time.). But until he saw it laid out graphically, and watched as jurors turned their eyes from those boards to him, time after time, the extent to which he should have realized he had no answer for our case apparently didn’t sunk in.

      The Blame Gates theme of the theory of Manafort’s defense has a similar defect: it’s all very well to exploit the abundant evidence of Gates’ active complicity in laying down the web of evasion and fraud in Manafort’s cash migration scheme. But Manafort needs a live body to testify, to point the finger at Gates for this being a flyer of Gates and not Manafort.

      This could well explain Manafort’s anxiety to pursue continued contact with Konstantin Kilimnik: Manafort needs KK to come to EDVA and testify as Manafort’s proxy, in hopes that Paulie Rugs can avoid the witness stand & being confronted with all these suspect invoices.

      And there’s a potential “It’s A Trap!” feature to these phony invoices, to then extent some at least appear amenable to being traced to payments to Trump or Trump entities.


      • bmaz says:

        I don’t understand how Manafort can win either of these cases without taking the stand. And he simply cannot do that.

        • Peterr says:


          I really like the apparent decision not to put Gates on the stand by the prosecution and really push this as a paper-driven case, because it keeps the focus on that ever-growing pile of receipts. And there’s nothing Manafort can say to pixie-dust those receipts.

          All of which raise an interesting question once again: who is paying for Manafort’s defense? I can’t imagine the lawyers are taking the case on the premise that they’ll be able to get paid once Manafort wins and gets his property back.

          • bmaz says:

            That distraction feign was bullshit from second one. The prosecution stated unequivocally today they intend to call Gates. As they always did. Even if he is a flawed cooperator, you close with Gates and the predominant case agent to tie the story up with a bow. That is just how it is done. It is not magic, it is jury trial 101.

            • Avattoir says:

              Typically the single most dominant discussion in trial prep on the prosecution side is: start strong or end strong. Here, that would translate into Start with Gates or End with Gates.

              But the choice is greatly eased in a case where the prosecution has things like facially fraudulent documents to lay out, strewn like flowers on the runway to greet the entrance of the star witness.

              Ken White was on that Barro podcast  today, discussing the strategy of the the defense actively working to leave the jury disgusted with ‘both sides’, and how well and often that works. BL: it does, but rarely [“not as often as I’d like” said White, which tracks my own experience – I’ve seen it work maybe a dozen times? over 4 decades (from both perspectives.White’s guess is it won’t work here, particularly because a very able prosecution team has seen this strategy coming for months; but he does the ‘U Never Can Tell’ hedge, with which I very much agree.

              • Peterr says:

                Those documents are gold as far as the jury goes. The details below may need to be corrected or revised, but I can easily see a closing statement along these lines from the prosecution, right before the case goes to the jury:

                Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, four months ago you were probably doing what I was doing: getting your taxes calculated and filed. You collect up your records, your paystubs, your expenses, then either sit down and calculate your taxes yourself or you hand all that paperwork to someone else to calculate your taxes. You did it, I did it, millions of people all over the country did it — but we didn’t do it the way Paul Manafort did it.

                He fudged the invoices.

                He tweaked the income statements.

                He forged records.

                He kept secret income in secret bank accounts, from which he wired money directly to vendors so that this income remained out of view of the IRS.

                Mr. Manafort had gotten very used to a certain standard of living — an extremely high standard of living — and when his legitimate income to support that high standard of living dried up, he scrambled to find illegitimate sources to keep him living in the manner to which he had become accustomed.

                He lied to banks, to illegally obtain loans.

                He lied to people who sold him the items of his luxurious lifestyle — the ostrich coat, the elaborate landscaping, the rugs, and all the rest of it — he lied to them when he spoke about his reason for paying directly from foreign bank accounts.

                He used these lies to lie to his accountants, so that they could unwittingly support his lies to the IRS, all so that he would be able to save on his taxes.

                He lied a lot, and used all these lies, so that he could continue living a wealthy life he could no longer legitimately afford.

                Let’s be clear: everyone likes to take every legitimate deduction and use every part of the tax code to lower their tax bill — everyone, that is, except folks like Mr. Manafort. Taking legitimate deductions was not enough for him, and so he lied.

                And we’ve shown you the papers and invoices and receipts that prove it in the course of this trial. Now his receipts may have much larger numbers on them than yours probably did, but that shouldn’t matter. What matters is that he hid some of these, he forged some of these, and he lied about some of these, all to let him keep wearing new five-figure tailored suits, walking on his six-figure rugs as he strolled through his various seven-figure homes.

                You’ve heard the defense try to muddy the waters, to try to explain things away, to try to blame anyone else they can find. There’s just one problem with that: this is a simple case.

                He lied, and you’ve seen the paperwork to prove it.

                Unlike law-abiding taxpayers, Mr. Manafort lied to the IRS. Unlike law-abiding home buyers, Mr. Manafort lied about his financial situation to the bank to get a loan. Unlike law-abiding purchasers of high-end luxury items, he lied to those who sold them these things about the source of his money.

                We know he lied, because we’ve got the receipts.

                And now, at the end of this ___ day trial, you know he lied, because you’ve seen the receipts too.

                Or something like that.

                • SpaceLifeForm says:

                  Well done.

                  Hopefully, we will get to that point.

                  So, who leaked the closing arguments to you? I’m sure you left out a couple of points to hide the leak. :-)

      • Ed Walker says:

        In my limited experience, the big problem with paper cases is keeping the jury involved. I have seen a couple of securities fraud criminal cases lost because of that. I’m really glad these are experienced prosecutors, and it sounds like they are mixing in plenty of “he did what?” to keep them alert. I hope so.

        I tried several civil paper cases in front of a judge, no jury, and didn’t have that problem. Maybe judges are immune to tedium.

        • Peterr says:

          I think the references to the extent of Manafort’s wealth and purchases that has so upset Ellis is part of the “keep the jury awake” efforts of the prosecution.

          It’s one thing to show receipts with 6 figure purchases listed on them, but to show a picture of the item in question or the item itself is quite another.

          • bmaz says:

            No. Documents are dry and boring. Graphics and pictures zing. Ellis is not concerned about showing “wealth” per se, he is ridiculously preventing the government from “completing the story” of their theory of case. Despite that it is the truth as to Manafort, not some manufactured fiction. Ellis is substituting his own little view for the right of parties to present their case with relevant evidence. If the govt was going too far, that would be one thing; they are not and Ellis is trying their case (actually preventing the same) for them.

            • Bob Conyers says:

              Part of me wonders if a nurse was accused of defrauding the VA of $20,000, and part of the prosecution’s case was showing the jury pictures of a low mileage used Ford Focus, a new dryer, and a deluxe crate for her dog that she bought soon after the transaction in question, would Ellis be so worked up?

              • bmaz says:

                Heh, nobody buys a Focus. But substitute a new Ford Explorer in your example, contrasted with her real income, and the answer is absolutely not. It would be key evidence. And THAT is kind of the problem I have.

                I’ve represented young mothers accused of food stamp fraud, and the fact that they even had functioning cars was held against them. There is a dichotomy at heart here.

                • cat herder says:

                  I could live fairly comfortably (much better than current circumstances) for the rest of my life on what Manafort spent on fucking landscaping. So fuck that guy.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            I agree with bmaz.  Among other things, evidence of Manafort’s character is important.  America, more than any other country, judges people by whether they are employed, how they make their money, how much they make, and what they spend it on.  Judge Ellis is preventing the prosecution from presenting full evidence of the accused’s character.

            If Manafort had been a lobbyist or law firm partner, made $2 million a year, kept it in US banks and brokerage houses, cheated a little on his expense accounts, paid the usual taxes, bought $4000 suits and a $15,000 leather jacket – or paid $60,000 a year to send a daughter to Choate –  there might be social resentment, but there would be no legal issue.

            Manafort, however, spent $2 million on clothes.  Manafort’s clients might have insisted on paying him via Russian-affiliated banks in a Mediterranean money laundering capital.  But that did not prevent him from moving his funds to a major bank in the US or a western capital, or to declaring it on his tax return.

            Manafort’s money – a lot of it – came from unexplained sources.  He chose to keep it in strange places.  He apparently chose not to declare it to the tax man and paid no tax on it. He paid for high-end purchases with overseas bank transfers, an unusual pattern for a man of wealth living in the US.  In short, what he bought, what he paid for it, and how he paid are all unusual and classic warning signs of illegal behavior.

            The prosecution is not trying to bring in evidence of these things to bias the jury against a high-income Beltway professional because he’s wealthy.  It is trying to lay the groundwork for his allegedly illegal acts and to show that he had the means, motive, and opportunity to commit them.

            • bmaz says:

              Yes, exactly. And do those facts make Manafort “look bad”? Sure, obviously. But is that “unfair” or evidence of “bias”? No, it is the truth.  And it is completely appropriate under Rule 403.

              Evidence of crime, and the ill begotten booty of it, usually does make the perpetrator look bad. Sorry, that is how it goes.

        • Ed Walker says:

          This is from the WaPo, Washkuhn was Manafort’s bookkeeper:

          Washkuhn spent hours on the witness stand, describing account balances, bills received and payments. Her testimony is critical to the case being heard by a six-man, six-woman jury in Alexandria, Va., as Manafort, who was then-candidate Donald Trump’s campaign chairman for a period in 2016, is charged with running a years-long scheme to hide millions of dollars from the Internal Revenue Service, and then, when his income dried up, lying to get bank loans so he could continue living the good life.

          You’d really have to work to keep that frm turning into juror ambien.

      • Koolmoe says:

        “Phony invoices & doctor’d receipts are a common feature of tax evasion cases” –

        and of Money Laundering too, no? Could that be a goal of this case, or perhaps one this case will lay groundwork for in the subsequent DC case?

  4. LowdenF23c says:

    The failure of many institutions has led us to this point and is truly depressing. First among them is the Republican Party. Just imagine if they succeed in normalizing the acceptance of foreign adversarial intelligence agencies as just another campaign tool.

  5. William Bennett says:

    on the off-chance Mueller hasn’t figured this all out yet,

    A pretty far off off-chance that would be, too.

    But Mueller’s not telling whether he has obtained the actual receipts.

    Sounds like you are referring to something more concrete/documentary than just a coincidence of timing suggestive of a q.p.q. Can you be a bit more explicit about what you mean by “receipts” and what they might be? Cuz at this point, where we’re already at the “collusion isn’t a crime” stage and moving rapidly toward “collusion is awesome!” it’s going to take something diamond-hard to break through the zombie-cult forcefield around this guy.

      • Peterr says:


        Also, I think it is highly likely there is documentary evidence of Trump’s people working to get a Trump Tower Moscow approved, even during the campaign. If this efforts followed the typical oligarch/Putin practice of “bribe the right people, and then we can talk,” Mueller may have actual receipts.

        Then there’s also the possibility of Russian tapes of Trump’s activities in Moscow during the Miss Universe pageant. Not pee tape stuff, but Trump on tape talking about engaging in illegal financial activities. If such tapes exists, it is not a stretch to envision that some nice Russian may have shown at least part of one to Trump at some point, to “encourage” his cooperation with Putin and his minions. If that happened, it is possible (probability unknown) that the NSA may have acquired them and they are now in Mueller’s possession, or Mueller’s team came across contemporaneous notes/emails/texts/other communications that describe the tapes.

        Thoughts of incriminating documents and recordings are what keep Trump up at night. See “Access Hollywood” for a tame example of his nightmares.

  6. harpie says:

    …love this paragraph, especially…the “call-and -response” metaphor—really, really good:
    “At each stage of this romance with Russia, Russia got a Trump flunkie (first, Papadopoulos) or Trump himself to publicly engage in the call-and-response. All of that led up to the point where, on July 16, 2018, after Rod Rosenstein loaded Trump up with a carefully crafted indictment showing Putin that Mueller knew certain things that Trump wouldn’t fully understand, Trump came out of a meeting with Putin looking like he had been thoroughly owned and stood before the entire world and spoke from Putin’s script in defiance of what the US intelligence community has said.”

  7. smurphy999999999 says:

    I was screaming this internally the whole time I was reading the end of that Lawfare article. It’s not even a novel idea, it’s basically how to turn people against their country. First get them to do something small and innocuous, then use that act to get them to do something bigger. Rinse and repeat until they are in so deep that you own them. Every act is kompromat.

    I’m also annoyed at how many people keep acting like the June 9th meeting was a dud simply because Jr says so or because trump never actually gave his Clinton speech. I think a more likely scenario is that the trump campaign was dumb enough to think it was a good idea to get dirt from the Russians so they can use it directly and the Russians had to point out that if the campaign released it directly they would have to explain how they got it.

      • bmaz says:

        Maybe, and maybe some of it needs to be “cleaned up”. But it is likely known and available to Mueller.

      • maestro says:

        It’s hard for me to conceive of a scenario where Manafort’s testimony would be considered the coup de grace against Trump. I would think that co-conspirator testimony, especially that of a sleazeball like Manafort, would be particularly vulnerable to cross-examination and credibility attacks.

        One possibility is that Manafort could tell the SCO where to find *other* evidence, but given that the Feds have already raided all his stuff, it would really have to be something he hid well.

        I can understand that it would be *nice* to have Manafort’s cooperation, but I guess it’s hard for me to figure out how it could be *necessary*.

    • Peterr says:

      Mueller has to prove his case not just in court but also in the political realm — without engaging in overt politics. He knows that whatever he presents will be put under the microscope by the House GOP, and he wants to make damn sure he’s got this nailed down in such a way that Congress cannot derail his work.

      See “Walsh, Lawrence, Iran-Contra and”

      People talk about parallels to Watergate (including me), but I-C seems to be at least as much an appropriate analogy to make.

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        In that regard, he has to set a high political price on any pardon, and while Judge Ellis might not like the early emphasis on how Paulie the Rug lived it large, the photos of the ostrich-skin jacket and dictator-chic home improvements are there at least in part for that. (Though yeah, they do show that it wasn’t deductible business expenses or that Gates was directing the specific use of those payments.)

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I agree that Walsh’s Iran-Contra investigation is a better analogy for Mueller’s work.

        I think an important part of this first trial is to set up the corruptness of Paul Manafort, that he’s all about money, lots of it, what he’s willing to do for it, and lying about all of it. 

        Establishing his spending patterns is not just about showing that Manafort lives large.  In this trial or another, it will be about money laundering, something that’s likely to recur in Mr. Mueller’s prosecutions.

        • pseudonymous in nc says:

          Yeah, you’re right: the narrative here is “Paulie doesn’t do pro bono work. If you’re not the paying client, you’re the product being sold.”

        • Trip says:

          Kind of an aside, but whatever Manafort paid for most of those jackets, the price was too high at any cost. Ooof Fug duds. That ostrich thing was a glorified Members Only jacket of the 80s.

          • SpaceLifeForm says:

            Ostrich Skin, Snake Skin, and the Classic Cohen.

            Suspect the most expensive one for Manafort was the Classic Cohen.

      • bmaz says:

        Honestly, his job is to prove in court, not to worry about the superfluous stuff. It is really not helpful when people pretend a trial attorney’s job is anything but that.

        • Peterr says:

          Lawrence Walsh would not have called the out-of-court stuff that screwed his prosecutions “superfluous.”

          Proving his case in court is indeed Mueller’s job, but in this case, it’s not his whole job.

          How he crafted his indictments is filled with both legal decisions and political decisions in terms of what to include and what not to include. A “speaking indictment” reflects the political as much as the legal.

          Deciding when to release an indictment is both a legal decision and a political decision. In legal terms, indicting people in a certain order makes sense in terms of the progression of the investigation, as well as the potential for encouraging people to make deals. Indicting person A puts pressure on Person B, whose cooperation to stave off indictment may aid the development of the case against Person C. But in these times, it also makes sense to consider how an indictment will be received in the political world. If you think that releasing the incredibly detailed indictment of all those GRU officers on the eve of Trump’s visit with Putin was a pure coincidence driven solely by inside-the-courtroom considerations, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.

          In the same way, the DOJ’s guidelines about not indicting sitting politicians right before an election has nothing to do with proving the case in court and everything to do with the political context in which that case will be tried.

          Do Mueller and his team obsess about how Fox News or CNN might spin their indictments? No. But are they blissfully oblivious to the broader political context in which they are working? Again, no.

          Total WAG here: when Mueller and Rosenstein get together to talk about the progress of the case, I suspect they spend a large amount of their time talking about the political context, and ways in which to keep the case moving forward rather than giving Trump and his minions in the House a path to shut the case down. Questions like “Which documents can we safely show Nunes & Co., and which should we fight to hold back?” are quintessentially political in nature, given what Rosenstein is dealing with on Mueller’s behalf.

          And it’s really not helpful when people pretend a special counsel’s job is just “prove it in court.” The whole reason there is provision for the appointment special counsel in the first place is because in certain cases the political issues and conflicts of interest are so intertwined with the ordinary DOJ procedures that those procedures cannot function cleanly.

          • bmaz says:

            Yeah, that, the investigation and trials, really is the primary job, along with writing a report, if appropriate. Acting like he has any duty to public relations or to react to Fox News or any other happy horseshit is nuts. And your dreams of the Mueller Rosenstein discussion is, I don’t even know how to describe, but there is not a chance in hell that occurred, because both parties are too smart for that.

            • Peterr says:

              Are you saying that when the House was leaning on Rosenstein to produce documents related to Mueller’s investigation, Rosenstein isn’t going to talk with Mueller to see what would and would not compromise his investigation?

            • pseudonymous in nc says:

              Yes, the special counsel’s team has the primary job of securing indictments, then winning convictions and limiting  potential avenues for appeal. That’s what prosecutors do. But most prosecutors don’t have to think about the pardon power, and the special counsel’s team does.

              Judge Ellis apparently told the prosecuting team that he’d have started with the bookkeeper and CPA and tax returns, not Paulie’s spending habits and the wire transfers from offshore companies. And yes, he’s an old coot, but he’s presumably also never tried a case with a dangle of a pardon in the background.

              • bmaz says:

                Ellis was a “commercial litigator” in private practice before Reagan appointed him in 1987. Frankly, I am not sure he has ever really “tried a case” as a lawyer, and I will make a substantive bet he never did. Things are a little different from the well instead of up high on the bench, and it is the height of belligerent arrogance for a judge to decree and micromanage how an advocate tries their case. Refereeing the battle is one thing; decreeing how it ought be done is quite another.

              • earlofhuntingdon says:

                To bmaz’s point, commercial litigators do not often spend a lot of time in court.  They more often use the pre-trial process as a weapon in negotiations.  Discovery battles often win or lose the war.

                Criminal law is a different kettle of fish.  Ellis should be familiar with it after thirty years on the federal bench.

                It’s tempting to see his behavior here as his last tour in front of the limelights before retirement.  He’s 78, Ivy League educated, and a former naval aviator.  Doubt is not part of his make-up.

    • Drew says:

      I’m not convinced there is a delay. This stuff takes time and in 15 months Mueller has over 30 indictments and is in the middle of a trial on a big fish. The pattern of the prosecution seems to be to encircle, getting all the subsidiary stories in order and build an ironclad case before moving forward. Trump is the final end, not something to make a quick run at.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Russia has had thirty years to build its dossier on Trump.  The alleged pee tape, if it exists, would probably be among the least interesting items in it.

    • Kick the darkness says:

      True.  And if payoffs to playmates and porn stars isn’t enough to deflect his approval needle, video of him cavorting around like a big wiggly bowl of orange jello probably won’t do it either.

  9. yogarhythms says:


    Thank you. I too am a fan of “Call and Response”.  I’m frequently/mostly at a loss to respond to your calls.

    But I continue to listen and learn and time will tell if my rhythms improve.

  10. schnoobies says:

    stumbled onto the site a few weeks ago and can’t stop checking it every day :)

    first time posting, but i wanted to say that the uncertainty aspect of kompromat really makes sense when viewed with this article:

    he’s trying to survive, but it doesn’t look like he’s going to. is prison in America a better option than running from Putin?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Something tells me that being in prison in America would not be running far from Putin.

      Being in prison would not protect Manafort.  Having taken one for the team would be more help.

      • Bob Conyers says:

        I don’t think anywhere is truly safe, but I still think prison is safer, especially with assurances from the feds that they’ll trade extra security for cooperation.

        On the other side, I am sure the prosecutors have a long list of people they’d be happy to share with Manafort of people who kept their mouths shut and still got killed. Mobsters have a long history of cleaning up loose ends, and not caring whether they were good boys or bad boys.

        And quite frankly, I think even Putin would tread cautiously over something like this. It’s one thing to have a dissident journalist thrown off a roof in Budapest. Killing a major American witness in a US trial is something completely different.

        That’s not to say the Russians wouldn’t want Manafort to experience some agita over the decision, just that I think the prosecutors would have good counterarguments.

    • emptywheel says:

      I’m not a fan of that article.

      Trump knows what Putin has on him. He knows Putin can ruin him. He’s just not sure what Mueller has and whether it’s worse or not.

    • Charlie says:

      Bobby Gladd – this is for you… Having read that there is underfunding for cyber protection against “foreign” interference/meddling in elections, after today’s lining up of national security chiefs, could this mean that the necessary funds will now be made available and that the worm is finally turning against orange mop amongst fellow republican senators and representatives who wish to save face/their skins? “Always look on the bright side of life, de dum de dum de dum de dum.”

  11. Kick the darkness says:

    “after Rod Rosenstein loaded Trump up with a carefully crafted indictment showing Putin that Mueller knew certain things that Trump wouldn’t fully understand”

    Is the idea that the hacking indictments were meant, in part, as an effort to temper how Putin might go about extracting Trump’s debt when the met in Helsinki? And by loading Trump up, that the hacking indictment was the first part of a 1-2 punch, with punch 2 being the ConFraudUS indictment(s)?

    Thanks, as always, for all the great work on this site.

    • emptywheel says:

      I’m not sure entirely. I am sure that Putin’s aides would understand that indictment better than Trump’s lawyers did.

  12. Willis Warren says:

    Maybe the case is stronger with Manafort, or maybe the conspiracy goes deeper and farther back with Manafort. At some point, the evidence shows beyond a reasonable doubt that tRUmp took part in this (which I’m sure it pretty much does already) and the country needs to wake up and pay the piper. No best case scenario involves holding onto this jackass. At some point this stopped being a criminal case and started being a national security one. It’s at that point that we realized there is no “deep state”

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Alleged Russian spy, working at US embassy in Moscow for a decade, had full access to “secret data” at embassy.

    Lot of data passing through that embassy over ten years.  A lot of data.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      A woman Secret Service employee, apparently, described as a “mole”.

      A Russian national.  She is not under arrest.  Debate seems to be going on about how to respond to this, including whether to add her case to Mueller’s Russia investigation.

      Suspicion about her mounted in 2016.  Her clearance was revoked and she was apparently let go last year, among the 750 who left the embassy during the tit-for-tat between Trump and Putin.  Hiding the bad apple, so to speak, another Trump regime specialty.

      “She had access to the most damaging database, which is the US Secret Service official mail system,” the source said. “Part of her access was schedules of the president – current and past – vice-president, and their spouses, including Hillary Clinton.”

      She had plenty of time to gather intelligence without supervision, the source said. “Several employees interacted with her on a personal level by emailing her personally on a non-work account. This isn’t allowed.”

      The Department of Homeland Security was apparently notified about the case but it is unclear how much detail was passed on to officials outside the agency. It is also unclear why the woman, a Russian national, was hired by the Secret Service in the first place or what kind of vetting took place.

      Secret Service, State Dept., FBI and CIA all informed. The SS apparently failed to take the lead in dealing with their former Russian national employee who worked at the American embassy in Moscow. Questions abound about her vetting.

      Her period of service would have included all of the Obama administration and two years of the Bush II administration. She was let go early in the Trump administration.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        The Secret Service, reported to the Treasury Department from its creation until 2003. It is now under the Heimat Sicherheit Department. The head of DHS at the time this Russian national was reportedly fired by the Secret Service, in 2017, was Kirstjen Nielsen.

        Ms. Nielsen has loyally excused Mr. Trump’s verbal diarrhea as often as Sarah Sanders.  She was the aptly named agency head who told Congress, in relation to a comment by Trump, that she had no idea whether Norway was predominantly white.  It is perhaps the most homogenously white country in Europe.

        Donald Trump agreed without protest to Mr. Putin’s demand to cut the US embassy’s staff by 755.  He falsely claimed that Putin saved American taxpayers millions.

        It was that contretemps that Ms. Nielsen’s Secret Service apparently used as cover to silently let go this alleged Russian mole.  No publicity, no arrest (inside the embassy is US jurisdiction), and apparently not much of an investigation.

        The demands that Ms. Nielsen resign – which began over the furor caused by her cruel enforcement of the Trump/Sessions/Miller immigration policy – should become louder and more insistent.

  14. Willis Warren says:

    From Twitter,

    Putin today took his Trump praise up another notch. “After elections, some leaders generally quickly forget what it was they promised the people during their campaign. Trump doesn’t.”


    • Trip says:

      He was ostensibly wrong about the idea that the Broidy abortion payment was a cover-up for Trump’s affair. Chris Hayes mentioned a recent lawsuit filing naming Broidy by the playmate, forgot her name.

      Cohen should flip, but not release everything publicly, through Avenatti, Tom Arnold or anyone else.

      Maybe the SDNY isn’t offering anything?

      • Rusharuse says:

        I choose to believe it WAS Trumps baby. Aborted because a scan revealed horns and a tiny 666 birthmark behind the left ear.😨

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        That was not Avenatti’s baby; the argument arose elsewhere.  It remains a plausible supposition.

  15. jf-fl says:


    great article- perhaps your best yet.

    My primary question though was your use of ‘call-and-response’, I’m not familiar with this term and I couldn’t find any legal reference to it googling.   The closest I found to what I read as your intent was a musical definition.   As such I’m assuming you were using it in a casual sense but since it was repeated so frequently (and it involved no cursing or foul language)  I initially read it as having more significance because of how you phrased it.    I was f-ng disappointed by that.

    I’m sure we’ll be reading many nuanced articles on what legal precedent there is constituting an offer and acceptance of conspiracy.  I sort of recall a similar question in the Blagoyavich (sic) senate seat case (who Trump recently broached pardoning, so he clearly feels it has some relevance).

    • TheraP says:

      “Call and Response.” Black Churches are particularly good at this. Probably because much African music is based on it. You have a leader who initiates and others who respond. It can be mesmerizing to witness. Like a back and forth that builds and builds.

      You have to experience it to understand it. And likely you’ve seen it on TV without realizing it had a name.

      I too am a fan of it. And caught EW’s meaning right away.

          • TheraP says:

            Call and Response goes back – in Africa – to the singing of a group of people doing a common job.  Singing together lightens the work.  You can still find that on ethnic recordings from Africa and other cultures.  It probably spread around the world as people migrated.

            Since slaves shipped to the US were usually first captured and enslaved by other Africans (and that goes back centuries there sadly), perhaps those enslaved in Africa learned to sing “code” there too – in a call and response form.

            It occurs to me that we should call slavery in America the American Gulag.

            What amazing strength these Black Churches carry!

  16. Rusharuse says:

    Confession- Been watching Trump rally in PA. (mods don’t throw me out!)

    Getting a lot of noise reliving election, baking Hillary – lock er up, fake news so on, but when he tried to sell Helsinki it was crickets! He tried hard, “being friends with Putin is a good thing” crickets! No matter what he tried: shout, repeat, pause, gauge reaction, shout, no reaction . . backtrack to the fake media to engage and reload. I reckon the base has sussed him out, at least on the Putin relationship.

    Also, this guy looking more and more like an orange Barney Rubble (he is leading the USA back to the stone age!).

    • TheraP says:

      I keep thinking about your observation last night. Very helpful info.

      It’s interesting how Trump can so easily stir up hatred and incite a crowd to near violence, but he’s not a real “leader” capable of uniting folks toward something positive. (Not that I see cozying up to Putin as a positive!)

      He has built his message on what fires up his crowds. But what else are they except rabid hoards of haters? He can’t even inspire them, except with his tired, already disproven lies. He struts and preens and regurgitates them; they thrill to the mesmerizing vibes of their hypocritical hypnotist. But it goes nowhere. It’s a movement of emptiness and anarchy. And Trump can’t get anywhere with a message of “Russophilia” – how ironic.

      • Rusharuse says:

        Insult comedian bombing is a sad sight!

        Did notice he referenced Mrs Trump often- “my wife/Melania/she said/we watched/we agree”. Maybe he is testing re-branding as the wholesome family man: Dad in the Brady bunch or “Beavers” father (no pun!) (I think that little Boidy has flown!)

        On Russia- something post Pavlovian going down. See instant rapport with Russians in the Oval office, Putin mirroring, making eye contact, “anchoring” Trump with a little squeeze on the left triceps (seen at Hamburg and Helsinki). Sounds, images, smells, who knows what Trump has been conditioned to respond to. What do you think?

  17. @pwrchip says:

    “emptywheel says:
    August 2, 2018 at 2:40 pm

    One reason I have harped on Manafort’s iPods to the extent I have is I wonder if he taped certain meetings.”

    I posted in Wapo in mid July and here in early Aug 2017, that Manafort could have used his cell phone to connect to Trump thus making Trump present by proxy. I also sent this idea to the FBI via their webpage.

    Only because Trump Jr. was interviewed on the news in describing what went on at that meeting, “1st Kushner walked out of the room after a few minutes and Manafort was on his phone during the whole meeting.” Which he said the meeting only lasted 15-20′

    The question begged to be asked, here you have three men supposedly very busy men and are there at TT to collect dirt on Hillary, why spend the whole meeting on the phone as important as that meeting was?

    But what motivated me to act, was that Trump kept insisting he knew nothing about the meeting and kept repeating it every chance he could. Why be so repetitive to at the time when it seemed so innocuous.

  18. orionATL says:

    this short, calmly powerful emptywheel post, together with trump’s facial and body messages when speaking in front of and, later, about putin’s actions vis-a-vis the 2016 election, cannot leave any doubt that, with our famously irrascible and pugnatious president trump acting like a pussy cat in putin’s presence, he has been entirely compromised by something putin holds over him. that something is surely the help putin offered trump and which trump gladly accepted to win the american presidency (and probably the senate) in 2016.

    an additional important piece of evidence explaining trump’s behavior vis-a-vis the doj and fbi, beginning with comey in january, 2017, is a recent nytimes article that said that trump had been told in explicit detail by our intelligence officials a couple of weeks before his inauguration that putin had personally ordered the attack on the election process with the intention of harming clinton.

    • TheraP says:

      So true, Trip!  So TRUE.

      True for us.  But not for Trump.

      We’re deep, deep, deep in the Crazy,

      • Trip says:

        “Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.”
        ― George Orwell, 1984

        Orwell’s prescience explains why NO ONE in the GOP will really do anything about anything, no matter how obscene.

  19. Erin McJ says:

    I agree that this is much more compelling than a pee tape. I’ve never been convinced that any sexual impropriety short of molesting his own kids would make a dent in his reputation. I also think that money laundering is too effing boring for most voters to care about it and that rich people get away with financial crimes all the time, so I’m not sure the justice system is able to care properly, either. And there is zero chance Trump would actually feel shame and fear about either thing.

    However – the fact that so much of it has been done in public gives me pause. Kompromat requires secrets, right? I have the sense that we have been groomed – or at least his base has been groomed – to shrug at the stuff we already know. That seems pessimal from the standpoint of a KGB member wanting some screws he can turn. I feel like the receipts would need to be surprising in order to be an effective threat. Evidence of vote manipulation would be surprising (because we have been assured there wasn’t any). Evidence that Trump welcomed Russia’s help? He said as much out loud in public and the world threw up its hands and said, basically, Trump gonna Trump. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    I am also given pause by our history in Wisconsin. This morning, listening to WPR, I was reminded that we have our own long-running investigation of a sitting executive (that was supposedly not targeting the executive) for improper “collusion” during an election or reelection campaign (the details are hazy at this point). Multiple iterations of this went on for ages and despite a bunch of guilty pleas, it never snared the guy at the top, the state Supreme Court killed it, and then the party in control killed the associated nonpartisan Government Accountability Board and punished the people who had been in charge there by failing to confirm them to lead the separate orgs that succeeded it. tl;dr there may well have been plenty of there there, but in the end it didn’t matter.

    • Doctor My Eyes says:

      Hello, discussants.  Before I make my brief first remark, here’s a little background.  Largely because of my horror at attempts by the W. Bush regime to normalize torture, or at least legalize it, I spent a few years obsessively participating in on-line discussions, first on dailykos then increasingly on a facebook group wherein we like-minded unpragmatic “purists”  licked one another’s wounds, offered a measure of mutual protection from the gangs, and shared our views of what was most likely factual as best we could make out.  We fought a hard fight against those who quite successfully prevented open, honest discussion leading to organic consensus.  Thus, for example, Obama’s lies and actions wrt drone strikes went unchallenged in any way likely to reach a person not already in the choir.  It is from the Obama gangs that I learned how powerful well-executed on-line manipulation can be in forging one worldview while blocking alternatives.  When Obama was elected, I had educated myself to join in what I had hoped would be a national discussion on complicity.  Soon after the painful realization that this plan was utterly Quixotic (“Look forward not back”–who could have imagined what was to come if we failed to face our past), I withdrew from the insanity and false community that is the internet in order to see what kind of pleasure I could find in life while things fall apart around me.  This current comment is an indication that events have once again grabbed me by the short ones and pulled me back in.  Thank heavens for this smaller group of citizens who seem to comment with integrity.  Thank heavens for Marcy Wheeler.  Here’s a fervent wish that discussions here on EW can remain uninfected enough to help all of us feel some measure of connection with actual events shaping our lives, no matter how disturbing they may be.

      I have a certain lens through which I interpret what is happening with this nightmare. I am eager to reality-test them with you well-informed people.  Maybe one day.  For now, may I offer a response to this:

       the fact that so much of it has been done in public gives me pause

      My opinion is that whoever is running this show, whichever organized crime figure or group, wants things to be public in a certain way. I’ve always thought they were called wise guys because of their indirect way of asserting their power backed by threat of violence, “Nice family you’ve got there” being the classic example. Putin wants the world to know that he controls the US, so he stages a press conference in which it could not be more clear. Putin wants the US military to know who is running the show, so the Russian Defense Minister openly blasts a US General who questions policy toward Syria (I have wondered if the “Supreme” C-i-C sprung from ignorance or was an intentional reference to C-i-C Trump’s superior). Putin wants intelligence operatives to know what happens to those who would tell the world Russia is now controlled by organized crime–thus we see the quite public and agonizing death of Litvinenko and a photo of Bob Levinson captioned “This is the result of 30 years serving the USA”.  My thinking is that this photo is propaganda, to be sure, but even more a pointed message to US Intelligence operatives to whom the Levinson’s story will be much more real, and who are much more likely to understand who wanted him captured and why. Putin’s recent remark to the effect that Trump remembers his promises to “the people” is another example.   (I wonder if this comment brought a little tingle of fear up Trump’s neck.)  Those in the know understand what is being said, while those in the dark fail to imagine how bad things are until they do and there is nothing they can do about it. Raw power wants to make itself clear.

      If it comes to be that I do participate here further (and I choose to come back to engaging these upsetting issues on line), I apologize in advance for a tendency to imagine the worst (or perhaps to see with clear eyes).

      “I have done all that I could, to see the evil and the good, without hiding.”

  20. Trip says:

    Dershowitz uses the racist Gatestone as a medium to call Chomsky a bigot.
    Irony is officially dead.

    A steady drum beat of vitriol is visible on the Gatestone website on almost any given day. Just this week, the Gatestone Institute published stories claiming that the “mostly Muslim male migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East” in Germany are fueling a “migrant rape crisis” and that “Muslim mass-rape gangs” are transforming the United Kingdom into “an Islamist Colony.”…Last year, Gatestone claimed that officials in Germany were seizing homes to be provided to “hundreds of thousands of migrants from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.” The racially tinged article wasn’t remotely true….Many of the fake stories have percolated into mainstream U.S. politics. Gatestone was largely responsible for the false claim that there are “no-go zones” through Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Sweden, and other European states where Muslim immigrants have set up a parallel society in which local police no longer enforce the law.


    I didn’t link to Dershowitz’s article of hysteria.

    • Trip says:

      At least he’s come out of the closet and demonstrated that he is a lobbyist for Israel. He’s now willing to throw Russia under the bus for interfering in the elections, in order to counter Chomsky. Baby-steps, Mr Neutral observer.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Chomsky doesn’t wear blinders, which means he feels obligated to criticize state policies that are destructive to people, regardless of what religion the state purports to sponsor.  I suspect he also believes that the end never justifies the means.  Two reasons he has effectively been banned from the MSM for decades.

      Dershowitz is a zealot who mistakes himself for a civil libertarian.  His support of Trump makes that obvious.  He seems desperate to remain relevant to a world that has passed him by.

      That parts of the MSM still promote his views, even as the counterpoint to a saner perspective, proves Chomsky’s point that its purpose is to manufacture consent.  It promotes a narrow, false sense of choice and debate as part of its program to achieve it.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        In his commentary on state action, he highlights that the state and the MSM will show harm done to a favored population, but seldom the precursors to that harm or the often cruel, intentional lack of proportion in the response to that harm.

  21. Kick the darkness says:

    Vanity Fair (!) reporting yesterday:

    “one source told me. “Emmet (Flood) feels there’s nothing there with collusion, so it’s fine for Trump to comment and tweet,””

    Infotainment? Lawyer-assisted suicide? Flood starting to roll up his sleeve and sample the prickly and tingly from Rudy’s junk bag?

    • bmaz says:

      This is almost certainly horseshit. No lawyer, much less one with white collar criminal experience, would ever say this. And if Flood did, he is not 10% of the lawyer he is cracked up to be. I do not buy it.

      • Bob Conyers says:

        It’s possible Sherman’s source is one of those people out of the loop who just gets the happy talk version Flood uses with people he doesn’t trust.

        I think Sherman is a pretty good reporter, but I doubt Flood is candid with more than a couple of people.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I don’t see how the subject is appropriate for the White House Counsel to comment on.  Trump’s personal lawyers seem happy to confuse the non-crime of collusion with the crime of conspiracy.  But that’s not a job for the lawyers for the presidency.  The differences are many, and Flood would know it.

      And as bmaz says, it’s hard to imagine any defense lawyer being happy with a client who tweets the shit Trump does.

    • Kick the darkness says:

      Thanks all.  In a future movie, imagine a scene where Flood and Rudy are sitting around a table trying to have a strategy session.  What would that dialogue look like?  “Rudy…” “Rudy….” “Could I just say….”  “Maybe a word…”.  And when the Trump blimp comes flaming to the ground let us hope there is at least a brief moment when those in the fourth estate that are playing the chump in all this can be taken to the woodshed for a good warming over.

  22. William Bennett says:

    August 2, 2018 at 2:40 pm
    One reason I have harped on Manafort’s iPods to the extent I have is I wonder if he taped certain meetings.

    So then maybe Manafort’s role in the whole scheme was to secure the “receipts,” in the form of recordings of compromising meetings, and was keeping them for Putin… that is to say, acting as Putin’s agent not just in furthering the scheme but in assembling the gun to point at Trump’s head. If that’s the case, how does the current trial and the question of flipping or staying loyal look from his point of view? In this frame, “Loyal” means loyal to Putin, not to Trump at all. Trump was his target. And wouldn’t it also render Trump’s potential pardon moot? If he’s holding the goods on Trump, and it was his job to do that (and probably from his own p.o.v., profit from them himself–that whole “make us whole” thing), then Trump is sure as hell not going to pardon him if they do come out (because he’ll be shitcanned himself) and sure as hell not going to flip either, because he’d be flipping on Putin, not the Patsy In Chief.

    Or am I totally off track here? Hurts my brain to think this way.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Manafort, under pressure and in considerable debt, was not charging Trump or his campaign for his expensive services.  That ordinarily means that Manafort considered the information about and personalities surrounding Trump and his campaign as the commodities he was selling.

      His deliverables would be meetings, information, policy positions, personnel choices, and kompromat – in order to enforce the policy and personnel choices.

      For that, he would need documentary evidence.  That would be to demonstrate to those who were paying him – or forgiving his debts, or refraining from collecting them – that he had done as promised.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        As Manafort’s bookkeeper would know, debt forgiveness is treated as income.  Offering valuable services in exchange for a creditor foregoing some act – such as a foreclosure or other debt collection – might be income, too.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Manafort has an illegal income shifting problem, too.  Hypothetically, let’s say Manafort receives one million in income in Cyprus in year 1.  He pays no tax to Cyprus.  He doesn’t declare it as income and pays no tax on it in the US.  That saved him several hundred thousand dollars, at least for a while.

          In year 2. Manafort moves the million to the US, but treats it as a loan. Loans are not ordinarily income to the borrower (but their forgiveness is).  Manafort avoids the income and taxes on that million for another year.  Another year’s savings, another year’s use of the money for Paulie, another year in which the USG has to find that tax revenue somewhere else.

          In year 3, Paulie rolls it up.  (He does this in series; this is only one tranche.)  He deems that million dollar loan to himself as forgiven – he doesn’t want to repay himself and has already spent the money.  He declares the million as income and pays tax on it.

          Paulie’s tax cost is probably less in year 3 than if he had paid it in year 1:  the tax rate is lower, he has lower income or offsetting expenses that reduce his income and total tax paid.  He’s also had the illegal use of that money for two years.  This is hypothetical, and Manafort was moving around a lot more money.

          Middle class Americans picked up Paulie’s tab.  They pick up Donald Trump’s tab, too, and the tabs for GM, Apple and Google, when they legally park their money – for accounting purposes, they can still use it offshore – in those nice tax havens in Ireland, the Netherlands and the Caribbean.

          Mr. Mueller’s team will have all this down pat.  His people will introduce the relevant bits into Manafort’s trials as needed.  I hope they do it with some flair so that someone on the jury stays away for it.  It really is a big deal, and Paulie’s not the only one who does it.

      • bmaz says:

        Yeah, this is a fine little point I have never understood how Trump, much less Manafort, could explain without stepping on their own dicks. It never looked rational; still doesn’t.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I’m gonna suggest that Manafort’s constant search for cash, despite earning some $60 million from the Ukraine alone over several years, is not because of his “lavish” lifestyle.  Consider the mechanics of money laundering.

        If you’re laundering your own money, for example, you pour it through various hands – investments, trusts, other transactions – in such a way that it comes out clean at the end: documented obvious sources of funds, taxes paid, etc., at the other end, minus the costs for the laundry and dryer, soap, softener, etc.  The vast majority of it remains yours.

        If you’re laundering someone else’s money, though, you’re basically a commission salesman.  You do the work to find and push dirty money through the cleaning process, and return it to sender.  You keep only a portion of the transaction costs. But woe unto thee if you unexpectedly loose a bundle of someone else’s laundry.

        If Paulie were doing that, than his real earnings would be a fraction of his nominal earnings.  The effect would be twofold.  He would be constantly on the look out for ways to spend/transit someone else’s money – best not to repeat the same process too many times and leave too much of an evidentiary trail.  He would be short of cash because he was keeping only a small part of what appeared to be his.  The same argument would apply were Donald Trump laundering Russian oligarchs’ money.

        • Doctor My Eyes says:

          Yes.  And my naive understanding is that this is why Caesar Ellis misses the point when he cuts off the prosecution’s attempts to show that Paulie the Rug spent a lot of money.  Of course he’s not being tried for “being rich” (which he likely isn’t); he’s being tried for illegal activity which involved, in part, spending a lot of money.  I’m happy to be corrected on this thinking.

  23. Tracy says:

    Thanks, Marcy! This helps answer my questions about what happened and has happened after the June 9th meeting (I read your 6-part series re: your theory of what happened leading up to, and at the time of it, but I missed this piece about what’s been occurring after, and what Mueller might be looking at, ex: receipts).

    I also hope the iPod is fruitful!!!

    I haven’t read all others comments yet but I look forward to it! :-)

  24. Tracy says:

    I wasn’t able to comment on individual posts, but I read you all and looked at all your links, and I always appreciate you all and your insights.

    Bobby, I also feel your anxiety, and to reassure you, like Charlie, I just heard on NPR that the 50 states and local election officials are communicating like never before, comparing notes on suspicious activity. It’s criminal that the pres doesn’t do his job under Article II (I think that that is impeachable in itself!) to protect us, but at least people locally, and our federal agencies, are doing the best that they can. These are the real patriots, not the Traitor in Chief who ironically goes to these rallies, talking about patriotism and flag waving; if nothing else, by the end of all this, I’d like them all to see that he has no clothes.

    Trip, references to The Truman Show and to 1984 are scarily apt right now, yes!

    @Pwrchip, thank you for being a patriot and sharing your ideas with the FBI. I believe it’s people like you, Marcy, and everyone willing to go out on a limb: that if they “see something, say something.” I sometimes fear that the central gang of thieves will have it all locked up amongst themselves, as with a crime family, and so it’s the lesser-known, lesser-seen people (not to say you are a not a star!!) who will make all the difference to this case.

    Last point, having been reading Marcy’s work and all of your comments, and lately about Oleg Deripaska, I am starting to get this picture of Putin as the head of a giant organized crime organization. I imagine that he has skills unlike few people on the whole planet for manipulating others to keep himself in power, including using statecraft and getting kompromat to ratchet up the ante with each increasing concession. I can imagine how he has spun circles around our giant orange ignoramus and Narcissist in Chief. It must be laughable for Putin to deal w/ Trump – taking candy from a baby – and they’ve been preparing for this, or something like this, with him for years.

    In these moments, I am heartened by heaving read or heard (I think in an episode of the NYTimes’ “The Daily” podcast, below, in which they discussed the connection b/t FIFA investigation, Russian investigation, Steele and Mueller) that Mueller’s specialty is organized crime (or internationally-connected organized crime), and crimes that extend overseas, like money laundering. I also saw on a CNN special about him that he’s super interested in technology. I feel like he’s the perfect person to be looking into this host of issues that we face – that gives me hope: that if there is kryptonite to Trump, it’s Mueller. Mueller knows exactly what he’s dealing with and looking at.

    (the podcast, if you are interested) :

  25. John Ely says:

    I was disappointed by the Wittes Lawfare update.  Perhaps I’m also missing something here, but Manafort seems to be a small time Russian operator compared to Trump.  Manafort was clearly trapped by an extreme drop in cash flow after the collapse of the Yanukovych gov’t and started breaking all kinds of laws to avoid a crash in his net worth.  Isn’t this just Trump’s story in small time?  Aren’t Bank Loans from Russian laundered money via Deutsche Bank crucial to the survival of the Trump Organization after it filed for bankruptcy?   Isn’t this the grand narrative of kompromat?  After all, one of the most famous arguments about the causes of the French Revolution are not an absolute but a relative decline income and the effects that this can have on a nation or an individual’s sense of ‘wealth’ or ‘well-being’???   Or in spook terms, isn’t this what every diplomatic security or counter intelligence agent considers first and foremost in applications for security clearances?

Comments are closed.