The Mueller Investigation: What Happens on September 7?

I hesitate to write this post, partly because I think it’s a good idea to dismiss every single thing that Rudy Giuliani says, and partly because we’ve all learned that it is sheer folly to pretend anyone can anticipate what Mueller will do, much less when.

Nevertheless, I wanted to address questions about what might happen in the next two weeks, as we approach the 60-day mark before midterm elections.

Rudy G is wrong about everything

The aforementioned Rudy G, who has been saying that Mueller has to shut down his entire investigation (or even finish up and go home) on September 1 on account of DOJ’s policy against overt investigative action close to an election.

As I said, the policy only prohibits overt acts, and only 60 days before the election. Mueller might argue that it’s entirely irrelevant, given that none of his known targets (save, perhaps, Dana Rohrabacher) are on the ballot. But enough credible journalists have suggested that DOJ is taking this deadline seriously with respect to Trump’s associates (including Michael Cohen in SDNY, where DOJ actually leaks), that it’s probably correct he’ll avoid overt acts in the 60 days before the November 6 election.

But that timeline starts on September 7, not September 1.

Paul Manafort’s stall

One thing we know will dominate the press in that pre-election period is Manafort’s DC trial, scheduled to start on September 17.

Unless he flips.

While I still don’t think he will flip, he is stalling in both his trials. In EDVA, he asked for and got a 30-day deadline to move for an acquittal or mistrial. He may have done so to provide extra time to consider the complaints raised by one juror that others were deliberating before they should have, which Manafort had asked for a mistrial over. If that’s right, juror Paula Duncan’s comments, describing the one holdout and explaining that even she, a Trump supporter, found the case a slam dunk, may persuade Manafort that challenging this trial won’t bring about any other result and may mean he gets convicted on the remaining 10 counts.

In any case, however, by getting 30 days to decide, Manafort moved the deadline from (by my math) September 3 to September 21, when he’s scheduled to be deep into the DC case (and therefore too busy to submit such a motion). It did, however, move the decision date past that September 7 date.

Speaking of the DC case, after getting an extension on the pre-trial statement in that case, Manafort basically punted on many of the substantive issues, effectively saying he’ll provide the required input later.

He may not be flipping, but he’s not prepared to start this trial.

Is it Roger Stone’s time in the barrel?

The big question, for me, is whether Mueller has finished his six month effort to put together a Roger Stone indictment.

Tantalizingly, back on August 10, Mueller scheduled Randy Credico to explain to the grand jury how Stone threatened him about his testimony. That appearance is for September 7. Given how far out Mueller scheduled this, I wondered at the time whether Credico was being slated to put the finishing touches on a Stone indictment.

What might prevent Mueller from finalizing Stone’s indictment, however, is Stone associate Andrew Miller, from whom Mueller has been trying to get testimony since May 9. Miller is challenging his grand jury subpoena; he’s due to submit his opening brief in his appeal on September 7. That might mean that Mueller has to wait. But two filings (District, Circuit), the docket in his subpoena challenge, and this CNN report may suggest they can move forward without first getting Miller’s testimony.

Both the Circuit document and CNN provide more details about a May 9 interview with two FBI Agents, with no attorney present (no offense to Miller, but what the fuck kind of self-described libertarian, much less one in Roger Stone’s immediate orbit, agrees to an FBI interview without a lawyer present)?

Mr. Miller was first interviewed by two agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation who visited him unannounced on or about May 9, 2018, in Saint Louis, MO, where he resides. He was cooperative, answering all their questions for approximately two hours, and at the conclusion of the interview, was handed a subpoena to produce documents and testify as a witness before the grand jury.

CNN describes that’s what poses a perjury concern for Miller with regards to his testimony before the grand jury because of that original interview.

Miller’s case is complicated by the fact that he initially cooperated with the special counsel’s investigation. When FBI agents first approached him in May, he spoke with them at his home in St. Louis for two hours without an attorney.


Dearn said in an interview that she was just being “carefully paranoid” and protecting her client from accidentally committing perjury if he testifies and contradicts something he told investigators back in May without a lawyer present.

As the District filing seems to suggest, Miller got not one but two subpoenas (???), just one of which called for document production:

Mr. Miller was served with two subpoenas dated June 5, 2018, both requiring his appearance before the Grand Jury on June 8, but only one of which required that he search and bring with him the documents described in the Attachment to one of the subpoenas. See Exhibits 1 and 2. After a filing a motion to quash on grounds not raised herein, this Court issued a Minute Order on June 18 requiring Mr. Miller’s appearance before the Grand Jury on June 29 and to produce the documents requested as limited by agreement of the parties by June 25.

Miller turned over 100MB of documents on June 25, but shortly thereafter, Mueller prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky asked for more.

Mr. Miller has since complied with that part of the order producing voluminous documents in a file that is 100MB in size to government counsel on Monday, June 25. In her cover email to government counsel, Aaron Zelinsky, Miller’s counsel stated in pertinent part: “Mr. Miller does not waive and hereby preserves all rights he has to object to the subpoena requiring his appearance before the Grand Jury this Friday…and from any continuing duty or obligation to supply additional documents subject to the subpoena.” See Exhibit 6. Nevertheless, Mr. Zelinsky recently informed counsel that he is not satisfied with this production and is unreasonably requesting additional documents from Mr. Miller.

CNN reported that those documents pertained to WikiLeaks and Guccifer 2.0.

After a protracted back and forth between Dearn and Mueller’s team, Miller handed over a tranche of documents. In turn, the government had agreed to limit its search to certain terms such as Stone, WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, Guccifer 2.0, DCLeaks and the Democratic National Committee, according to court filings and interview with attorneys.

So at the very least, Mueller has 100MB of documents that relate to Wikileaks and Guccifer 2.0 (which raises real questions about how Miller can say he knows nothing about the topic), and 2 hours of testimony that Miller may not want to tell the grand jury now that he has lawyers who might help him avoid doing so.

Meanwhile, there are some filings from the end of his District Court docket.

The Circuit document mostly explains what filings 33, 34, 35, and 37 are (though doesn’t explain why Mueller refused to stipulate that Miller be held in contempt): they’re the process by which he was held in contempt and therefore legally positioned to appeal.

6. Because Mr. Miller desired to appeal the order denying his motion, ensuing discussions with Special Counsel to stipulate that Mr. Miller be held in contempt for not appearing on the upcoming appearance before the grand jury on August 10, 2018, and to stay the contempt pending appeal did not succeed.

7. Consequently, two days before his appearance, on the evening of August 8, 2018, counsel emailed government counsel and Judge Howell’s clerk (and on the following morning of August 9, hand-filed with the clerk’s office), a Motion By Witness Andrew Miller To Be Held In Civil Contempt For Refusing To Testify Before The Grand Jury And To Stay Such Order To Permit Him To Appeal It To The U.S. Court Of Appeals For The District Of Columbia Circuit and citing authorities for granting a stay of contempt. ECF No. 33. The government served and a response on the evening of August 9 ( ECF. No. 35) and Mr. Miller served a reply early morning on August 10. ECF No. 37.

8. On August 10, undersigned counsel for Mr. Miller met government counsel at 9:00 a.m. as previously agreed to at the entrance to the grand jury offices, and was advised by government counsel that a motion to show cause was filed shortly before 9:00 a.m. ECF No. 34.

9. Approximately two hours later, the court held the show cause hearing, with the Mr. Miller and local counsel appearing telephonically from Saint Louis, MO.

10. The court granted Mr. Miller’s and the government’s request that he be held in contempt and stayed the order if the notice of appeal were filed by 9:00 a.m. August 14, 2018. ECF No. 36.

That doesn’t explain what Document 38 is, to which Miller didn’t respond, and in response to which Beryl Howell issued an order.

CNN’s description of Miller’s attorney’s concern seems to split his testimony into two topics: Guccifer and Wikileaks, and Stone’s PACs. Miller’s only worried about legal jeopardy in the latter of those two. (For some details on what the legal exposure might pertain to, see this post.)

[Alicia] Dearn was adamant that Miller not be forced to testify to the grand jury about one topic in specific: Stone. She asked that her client be granted immunity, “otherwise he’s going to have to take the Fifth Amendment,” she said in a court hearing in June.

Aaron Zelinsky, one of Mueller’s prosecutors, noted Miller’s lawyer was making two seemingly contradictory arguments: “On the one hand, that the witness knows nothing, has nothing to hide, and has participated in no illegal activity. On the other hand, that there is a Fifth Amendment concern there.”

In the hearing, Dearn said she was concerned Miller would be asked about his finances and transactions related to political action committees he worked on with Stone.

Miller “had absolutely no communication with anybody from Russia or with Guccifer or WikiLeaks,” Dearn said in an interview.

By process of elimination, the only thing she believes her client could get caught up on are questions about his financial entanglements with Stone and his super PAC.

The Circuit document concedes that Miller may be the subject — but not target — of this grand jury investigation.

12. Lest there be any misunderstanding, Mr. Miller was not a “target of grand jury subpoenas” (Concord Mot. at 1), but rather a fact witness or at most a subject of the grand jury; nor was he a “recalcitrant witness.” Id. at 13. As the foregoing background demonstrates, Mr. Miller has been a cooperative witness in this proceeding.

It would be really weird if Miller really did get two subpoenas, and that’s not consistent with the Circuit document. So it may be there were two topics or crimes described in the subpoena: conspiring with Russia, and running a corrupt PAC. And if Miller’s only personally legally exposed in the latter of those, then it’s possible Mueller would treat these differently.

So it’s possible Mueller got what they need to move forward on the main conspiracy case against Stone, while it has to wait on Miller’s own involvement in Stone’s corrupt PACs until after the DC Circuit reviews things.

Other September deadlines

The September 7 timing is interesting for two other reasons. First, that’s also the day that George Papadopoulos — whose plea deal covers his lies and obstuction but not any conspiracy case — is due to be sentenced.

Just 10 days later Mike Flynn (whose plea deal was also limited to his lies) has a status report due, just a 24-day extension off his previous one. That timing suggests he’s about done with his cooperation. Perhaps that shortened time frame is only due to his team’s push to get him back earning money to pay for his lawyers again. Perhaps there’s some other explanation.


August 24: Revised deadline for Manafort pre-trial statement — Manafort punted on many issues.

August 28: Hearing in DC Manafort case.

September 3: Current deadline for motions in EDVA Manafort trial

September 4: Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings scheduled to begin (projected to last 3-4 days)

September 7: Randy Credico scheduled to testify before grand jury; George Papadopoulos scheduled for sentencing; Andrew Miller brief due before DC Circuit; 60 days before November 6 mid-terms

September 17: DC Manafort trial starts, status report due in Mike Flynn case

September 21: Requested deadline for motions in EDVA Manafort trial

September 28: Government brief due in DC Circuit appeal of Andrew Miller subpoena

October 9: Miller reply due in DC Circuit

November 6: Mid-term election

November 10: Status report due in Rick Gates case

As I disclosed in July, 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. 

66 replies
  1. Charles says:

    If Mueller does not produce indictments related to Russia prior to the election, I predict Trump will close down the investigation the day after the election. Even if he has to fire the whole Justice Department to do so. There will be months before newly-elected people arrive in Washington, and the Republicans will not care much about what additional mess Trump makes.

    If Mueller is as politically sensitive as I think, he will produce those indictments before November.

    • Kai-Lee A. Klymchuk says:

      Agree. He will surely make some moves, regardless of the outcomes, following the midterm elections.

      Ending Mueller’s tenure would perhaps cause the greatest uproar, but the real Decider is Rosenstein. He is the one who will disseminate a report and recommend any actions, including extraordinary measures, such as postponed or immediate indictments of Trump himself.

      Trump will likely get rid of Sessions and as soon as things get really hot for him, probably Rosenstein, too. He’ll install an interim person, who doesn’t need to get heard and approved, and keep that person in office as long as possible. A complete lackey, of course, who will do everything to quash any moves the individual overseeing Mueller might make against Trump Inc/LLC!

      He will be additionally emboldened and reckless on numerous fronts from after the midterms – whatever the outcome – until he’s ousted. Even with control of the House, there will be little the Democrats can do.


      • RWood says:

        What about the Mandatory Report scenario? (Quote from a Big Think article I can’t link to for some reason)

        “Should Mueller decide to pursue criminal charges against the president, he would first have to obtain permission from the acting attorney general Rod Rosenstein.

        If Rod says yes, the criminal process will unfold against the president. If Rosenstein says no, that triggers a report to Congress, and its  a mandatory report at that level. And then Rosenstein and Mueller have to explain what happened to congress. And that provides sunlight to the process”

        The mandatory report is designed to be a fail-safe that prevents a politically biased attorney general from thwarting a fair investigation. After all, the attorney general is appointed by the president, and its possible that an attorney general will adhere to party politics instead of principle.”

        I’ve tried to imagine Drump creating a situation where a strategic NO from Rosenstein would be the best option for Mueller and have failed to come up with one. If anything, Mueller has built both his case, and played out his indictments, in a way that helps assure he does not need such an option.

        Its a question I lack the knowledge to even attack properly, so I’ve been watching for a lawyer to weigh in and provide some answers, but so far have not seen anyone touch this. If the Dems run the table come November and gain the maximum number of Senate seats possible, they will still be seven seats short of a super majority. The report from Mueller would have to be so damning that even they could not ignore it for  impeachment to happen.

        Not the way I see this playing out, but the thought experiment remains.

          • Charles says:

            Interesting… but if [a newly-elected Democratic] Congress were to request such a report, wouldn’t the Court feel obliged to defer? In the Galindez case, the public interest considerations are limited, while in a matter involving possible impeachment, they would seem to be somewhat larger.

  2. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Well, hey: according to Rudy G ‘truth is not truth’, and therefore the 7 Sept date doesn’t really mean anything, anyway.  60 days, 60 ways, Rudy G plays and plays.

    The only reason that Rudy would claim that Sept 7th matters is because he’s grasping at straws while trying to look like Mista Tough Guy wit da New Yawk act-cent.

    But the straws also don’t matter.  Like truth, they are ephemeral and don’t really exist.  Indeed, they are as ephemeral as Rudy’s vaunted, totally bullshit ’60 day window’.  Tag as: just more shitshow.


    • punaise says:

      with apologies to Paul Simon:

      “60 Days to Leave Your Lawyer”
      The problem is all inside your head, it’s plain to see
      The answer is easy if you take it logically
      I’d like to help you in your struggle to be free
      There must be sixty days to leave your lawyer
      I said it’s really not my habit to intrude
      Furthermore, I hope my meaning won’t be lost or misconstrued
      But I’ll repeat myself at the risk of being crude
      There must be sixty days to leave your lawyer

      You just slip out the back, hack
      Make a new plan, man
      You don’t need to be coy, boy
      Just get yourself free
      Hop under the bus, wuss
      You don’t need to discuss much
      Just drop off the key and flee
      Go get yourself free

  3. Bob Conyers says:

    – Would any kind of September date be regarding only Mueller and Trump associates, or would it also include things like more overseas hacker indictments from a non-Mueller team, for example?

    – I somehow hadn’t done the math for the second Manafort trial. Starting September 17, with about three weeks of testimony, means that the jury may not start deliberating until October 8 and a verdict may not happen until a few weeks before the election.  That’s pretty significant all by itself.

    – 100 Mb of documents could be as much as an Oxford English Dictionary, or it could be one poorly scanned color PDF. That’s an odd way of describing how much was handed over instead of a page count.

  4. Jan says:

    Seems to me that aside from the Russia investigation, which is warranted, and which exposes Americans influenced by Russia – people are missing a salient point.

    Trump et al are busy reinventing the USA in the image of Russia. Look at who Trump has surrounded himself with, during the campaign, and now. They have no flag, or more precisely, they are attempting to raise a new flag. It isn’t the Stars and Stripes. They are seriously attempting to overthrow what you have come to know as the USA. They are ready to discard it, actually more than ready, they are actively undermining it toward ending it. Trump et al are working towards an autocracy.

    Vote them out in November, and best of luck!


  5. Oldlawyer says:

    Speaking of timing, anyone else consider it just a bit strange that AMI has reportedly just “recently “ let the Trump Tower doorman out of his agreement about the alleged illegitimate child with the housekeeper? Why now? Anything to do with Pecker’s immunity and/or AMI trying to minimize fallout from these skeevy catch and bury agreements?

    • bmaz says:

      Nope, not at all. Part and parcel with deciding to cooperate, Pecker and AMI sized up where they were at and decided they needed to step back from those kind of arrangements. It all fits perfectly.

      • Peterr says:

        It strikes me that they may have been encouraged to step back from those kind of arrangements as part of their cooperation deal. “If you want a pass, you have to release folks to talk.”

        • Bob Conyers says:

          They probably also want to avoid litigation over their contracts.

          AMI knows about as well as anyone how to play poker and when to fold on a losing hand.

          • Trip says:

            Someone, here, I forget who, linked a story or paraphrased one that Pecker now hates Trump. Something to the effect of he helped Trump and then was kicked to the curb. So aside from limiting his legal exposure, supposedly he has a bug up his ass about Trump. I do not know how accurate that is since I didn’t click on any links. But if true, he would be a very dangerous enemy to have.

            He can print what he wants about Trump and then if Trump sued, he’d have to testify and prove that Pecker knowingly lied to defame him. I don’t think that’s a (bumpy) road Trump wants to travel down.

  6. DrFunguu says:

    How refreshingly fact-based and realistically uncertain compared to that “what will Mueller do/by the book” fluff piece in today’s NYT…
    Thanks again for your outstanding reporting.

  7. Frank Probst says:

    At this point, I have trouble seeing why Manafort would stall his legal proceedings any longer. I think he wanted to stall the EDVA trial until after the DC trial, because Trump is going to scream “DEMOCRATIC JURY” and probably a bunch of racial dogwhistles when those verdicts come down. That move blew up on him in a rather spectacular fashion. He got his ass moved from his cushy suite in eastern Virginia to the Alexandria jail. The EDVA trial wasn’t delayed, and he got convicted on 8 counts. And the one juror that’s come forward is a Trump supporter who thinks the Mueller investigation is a witch hunt, and Manafort was only indicted because they want him to flip on Trump, but it was STILL abundantly clear that Manafort was guilty as hell, and 11 of 12 jurors thought he was guilty on the remaining counts. The only way the optics can get any worse for him is if more jurors come forward making similar claims.
    So why bother delaying? He’s not getting out of jail unless and until he’s pardoned, or he gets transferred to a prison that’s much cushier than where he’s staying now. And the DC trial really IS going to touch on Russia, which means Trump is just going to get nuttier and nuttier as time goes on. If they’re promising him a pardon–and they may as well be using a skywriter right now–he ought to just plead no contest to everything else, drop his appeals, and go to directly to sentencing. He may as well cool his heels in Club Fed rather than the Alexandria jail, and those are his only two options while he waits for his pardon.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      I don’t think I’ve seen a good analysis of Manafort’s state of mind, so it’s possible his attorneys are doing the best they can with a very difficult client who wants contradictary things.

      The witness outreach that landed him in jail can’t be something his lawyers approved, so it’s possible he’s a loose cannon. How that affects specific legal maneuvers is going to be speculation, though.

      • emptywheel says:

        Manafort may be difficult because the evidence against him is overwhelming. But he seems an utterly competent client if you ignore the witness tampering.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Manafort is not directly stalling. It is those behind the scenes, paying the Manafort lawyers.

  8. Marvin Danielson says:

    September 7: also the final day of committee hearings on Kavanaugh, in the world according to Chuck Grassley. Coincidence?

  9. Kai-Lee A. Klymchuk says:

    To ROTL:
    What also would seem to be ephemeral, given its mental nature, is actually as solid as concrete, and that’s Trump’s perversity.
    That will be front and center of any and everything from the midterms onward. The ultimate go-down-in-flames, defiant smash and grab is about to begin!

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Fully agree about the perversity.  Meanwhile, while we are in chaos and turmoil over Trump, according to Asia Times and other sources, the Caspian region (‘Pipelineistan’) is now reaching new levels of cooperation, and Putin has ordained that no NATO ships will be allowed in the Caspian.  And then there’s also the progress of the New Silk Road, consolidating new initiatives that leave the US watching from the sidelines.

      Nothing would surprise me at this point — not even learning that Manafort was drawing this entire mess out by acting on orders from his previous paymasters to keep America’s media, President, and other DC-based entities fixated on Trump’s shenanigans.  Our obsession with Trump’s perversity hands an advantage to Russia, China, and anyone with an axe to grind with the US.

      Unfortunately, neither Fox News nor the mainstream US media seems able to put the unbelievable costs of Trump as a Political Dumpster Fire into context.  So Manafort, et al, continue to get away with their whining and foot-dragging, as if there are no global business or foreign policy implications.

  10. Kevin Finnerty says:

    It will be interesting to see whether Stone is indicted on or before the 7th, and if so, whether it will be for his PACs or the main conspiracy. There was a lot of reporting in late July that said Ecuador was on the verge of handing over Assange, and then, nothing happened. I wonder if the delay is somehow tied to the dilatory tactics of Stone’s associates. It would make sense that any conspiracy charge that ensnares Stone would also catch Assange. Maybe Mueller wants to indict them both at the same time, and Miller’s efforts to protect Stone have afforded Julian a couple extra weeks of room and board at the embassy.

    • Frank Probst says:

      Just a hunch, but I think when Mueller hands out indictments on the “main conspiracy” (assuming that he does), he’s going to indict everyone at the same time (or at least in “waves” of several defendants at once) with one or more “talking indictments”.  Stone is a loose end at the moment, which makes Andrew Miller a loose end.  I think Stone is going to be indicted for a bunch of felonies even if Mueller thinks he had nothing to do with the “main conspiracy”.  If that’s the case, those indictments will be “spun off” to other parts of the DOJ, like Cohen was.  I think the same thing about Carter Page.  They both just seem like obvious crooks, and it would almost be negligent NOT to indict them.  (I should note that I’m just guessing here.  They both may be totally innocent, but it certainly doesn’t look that way.)  Andrew Miller has probably dug himself into a hole by trying to dodge his subpoena.  Mueller gave Manafort enough rope to hang himself with, first by defying a gag order, and then by witness tampering.  He seems to be letting Miller have all the rope he needs, too.  It wouldn’t surprise me if Miller gets hit with some sort of “cover up” indictment for something he does while he’s avoiding the grand jury.

  11. Avattoir says:

    Frank Probst –
    You appear to have a different more expansive view of nolo contendere than I hold.AFAIK it has NO independent status or validity in the federal court system (For that matter, it only has very limited status in at most a handful of state courts; and as a concept it’s already died out in the rest of the English-speaking Rule of Law world.

    There are some minor obscura and quibbles that kinda sorta seem to support (tho when you look closer or even just think it thru, don’t really) that it (somehow) still ‘exists’ (barely) in the federal system. But look at those closely and they all evaporate: every one is a byproduct of this or that federal court judge’s (this cranky Franky’s, or that obTuse Thomas’) notion of consent, indulgence or toleration, often based on some combination of flawed thinking and dubious judicial demeanor.

    The bottom line is that it’s possible to do almost anything in any court under cover of judicial consent, indulgence and tolerance. Any attorney who regularly works the courts (not even just criminal courts) over time, can recall witnessing some minor claims judge or procedural referee say something like, Okay that’s enough, let’s move this line along; John Smith, stand up: I’ve decided you’ll be taken from here to an official facility and hung by the neck til dead … just checking!

    Anyway, your projection of a nolo contendere plea scenario for Manafort simply doesn’t work: Manafort doesn’t control the deal, no federal judge will do it without consent all round, even then few federal judges will tolerate such shenanigans, and with the national profile and international attention Manafort’s drawn, that plea-happy few reduces to zero.
    And IAE it wouldn’t achieve the effects you describe.

    • Frank Probst says:

      Thank you for the explanation.  That’s why I come here, btw.  Because I’m NOT a lawyer, and everything I know about the law pretty much comes from reading the news and watching television.  My expertise is medicine and genetics.

      So taking what you’re saying into account in the case of Paul Manafort, I STILL don’t see how delaying the DC trial, or his sentencing, or any of his appeals, or anything else, really helps him.  The EDVA verdicts have little to no chance of being successfully appealed.  He’s unlikely to put up any serious defense at the DC trial, AFAIK, because he doesn’t have any witnesses that help his case.  At this point, why stall?  He probably has multiple state AGs looking at him for state level crimes.  His current location is the Alexandria jail.  His federal prison sentence will probably occur in a much nicer facility.  He’s either going to get a pardon or he’s not.  If he doesn’t get one, he’s probably going to spend the rest of his life in prison.  But if he DOES get one, he gets out of whatever facility he’s in, and if he has any sense, he’ll be on the first available flight to a country that doesn’t extradite to the US.  His biggest obstacle there is the possibility of an indictment for state level crimes that could potentially keep him in jail even after a federal pardon.

      So is there any good reason left for him to drag his feet on any of this?  I mean, he’d ideally want to send in the best written appeals that he can, but he’s probably going to end up with the same result even if his legal team sends in rough drafts that are riddled with typos and grammatical errors.  Is there an angle here that I’m missing?

      • SteveB says:

        The playing for time is perhaps not about Manafort’s interests at all (except re doing his bit for a pardon) but about Trump’s. Trump wants to drag things out partly because of the belief that the longer the probe goes on the less interested the public become and the lower the support; there is also the imperative of getting Trump proxies cases into the upper levels of the judicial system as vehicles to challenge the probe directly, and induce senior judiciary to expound upon the breadth of executive power and presidential immunity; there is SCOTUS stacking to consider here as well.

        So Manafort slow walking is priced into his pardon.

        It would not surprise me if, despite the lack of substantive grounds, Manafort will appeal the EDVA case as a means of further giving cover for Trumpian narratives: there will be a baying audience forFauxNews takes on how he is courageously fighting the good fight against an out of control witchhunt, aided and abetted by the wrong sort of conservative judges.

        • Frank Probst says:

          I suppose that’s a possible explanation, but Trump doesn’t seem like he wants this to drag on.  His advisers may be pushing for this, but the White House leaks like a sieve, and that’s not a theory that I’ve seen come up.

        • bmaz says:

          Two full blown complex criminal cases, including jury trials, in two different jurisdictions, in less than a year is not exactly the slowest of walks. Actually kind of moving right along by my eye.

          • SteveB says:

            @FrankP and @bmaz

            1 I am not saying that Mueller has been slow, very far from it: however you measure the speed, whether in comparison to other special/independent enquiries or otherwise. Seems to me, given the array of issues, and the complexity of the political forces arrayed against it, the inquiry is remarkable and efficient.

            2 The Trump *narrative* is that because theres no there there, the inquiry should wind up. This has been the persistent cry from various sources, and along the way various attempts have been made to set artificial deadlines on this or that aspect of the probe or on its general activity.
            3 Alongside the narrative of this is taking too long , the American people are tired of this, there have been a number of co-ordinated efforts to derail obstruct and get views of what the probe is actively considering.
            4 One of the strategies to attack the probe was to use proxies to challenge Mueller’s authority. Manafort had three goes at this. The other avenue is only now coming to fruition via Miller. Two other of Stone’s allies/associates were lined up to be vehicles of the challenge to Mueller’s authority, via challenging the subpoena – first Credico, then Nunberg. Both made big public fusses of threatened non compliance with subpoenas, both folded, both earned Stone’s vitriolic disprobrium in consequence.
            5 Manafort appears to have imagined there was something to be gained from splitting the superceding indictment, no doubt two challenges to Mueller played its part. But, subsequently he tried to drag out proceedings, attempting to put off EDVA till after the DC case.
            6 My sense therefor is the speed and diligence of Mueller and the legal processes has outstripped the Trumpers ability to effectively engage in lawfare, by coordinating their challenges in a timely fashion.

      • Avattoir says:

        The way I see it is, he’s up to his neck in pickle juice. nothing but vats and vats of pickle juice surrounding him all directions. He can’t possibly ‘know’ his ‘best’ move, he can only pull the lever *maybe only once) of chance. Even if he could identify his best move, he’s no position to control his fate, nor does he have any truly reliable assurance that anyone he or anyone rational would objectively count on for rescue would be wiling to use that control to benefit HIM, over, say, themselves.

        One way to deal with that – a way I’d be surprised if we were to learn he doesn’t engage in constantly – is sit down & make a list: a full objective-as-possible listing of all scenarios, alternatives & options, then weight them all. Also, that’s a pretty reliable way to depress the living crap of yourself, and for most anyone, not at all restricted to high-functioning crooked manipulators like Manafort.  Because, what if all that doing that shows you is you’re deep down in pickle juice jar in a WAREHOUSE full of them, stretched out as far the eye can see?

        Which, it seems to most if not all of us, that’s where he’s at.

        Plus, we understand he’s already taken some shots at trying to exert control over his situation, which didn’t work out well.

        You’d have to a hardcore Buddhist to deal with all that, which Manafort AFAWK is not. I think it’s most likely he chooses … unwisely.

  12. Trip says:

    What I still don’t understand: None of the people under investigation (at this very moment and scheduled for court, interview, or sentences, etc.) by Mueller, are running for office. Manafort has no role in gov’t, same with Stone, Pap and Flynn. So, is Rudy making up all of this “can’t touch anyone around midterms” rule? That would seem to exempt anyone, in general, if they were even marginally attached on the periphery of any candidates. The people mentioned above are most connected to Trump, not candidates who are up for reelection or election in November.

    Comey broke a tradition by publicly talking about Clinton, a candidate directly up for election, right then and there in the general, not Clinton’s campaign aides or any people involved in some future cycle of elections.

    I’m honestly at a loss of how this “rule” is appropriate as it relates to these subjects. The GOP wants to say they are a direct reflection on them, does that mean then that we SHOULD consider these people in terms of guilt by association? That’s kind of rich, since Trump is constantly distancing himself by claiming he never really knew any of these people and they were flashes in the pan as far as his candidacy. So which is it? The GOP owns these people as their close associates, or they were never critical parts of political infrastructure?

    I think Rudy’s narrative makes the GOP in toto part and parcel of the corruption. And yet, I still don’t believe his rule applies.

    • Wm. Boyce says:

      I found Mr. Apuzzo’s analysis of Mr. Mueller’s career very interesting in Sunday’s Times. It profiles him in a way that shows that we might expect a certain course of behavior from the man, which is more than all the wild speculation that most of the mainstream media has been engaging in. And, this was in there as well: “If, as special counsel, he unearths evidence that Mr. Trump has committed a crime, former colleagues say they are certain he will try to hold Mr. Trump accountable. ”

      That’s all we can ask for.

  13. Trip says:

    I guess no other news is happening in the country and world, now that Sen McCain has died. RIP McCain.

    The coverage is relentless. The dedication and participation of CNN and MSNBC, with the exclusion of anything else, is their very own MAGA mantel. J McCain voted Republican party-line and (in concert with Trump, even), at a rate of 85-90% of the time, perhaps higher, to the advantage of the wealthiest power brokers in the country and to the disadvantage/detriment of the rest. That is the truth, regardless of how civil, kind, or nice he was to the press or his equals in government. To recall him as the “better days” of gov’t ignores that the better days (with McCain) were legislatively just LIKE TODAY, only with a bit more finesse and charisma.

    Coverage: sure, he was a senator. Wall to wall, day after day coverage, though? Will this continue until the funeral?

    Because, really: Trump is still president and the GOP is still up to enormous levels of fuckery. Kavanaugh is still headed to the Supreme Court. Immigrants still don’t have their children who were stolen by the US gov’t, NK is still producing nukes, and another gun rampage killed people.

    Roll away the stone already, maybe he’ll rise.

    I’m sorry if this offends anyone, but this has been nonstop for 2 days straight.

      • Pete says:

        DemocracyNow fills in the holes and balances things out a tad:

      • SteveB says:

        In part I think that the lengthy eulogisation is because this is the era of Trump, and noteworthy though McCain’s virtues foibles and faults were, there is a considerable element of projection involved.

        Using McCain’s passing as an implicit rebuke to all things Trumpian, is something McCain himself encouraged.

        • Bob Conyers says:

          The GOP (and the press to a large extent) wants to laud McCain’s times of independence while at the same time burying any mention of where specifically he broke ranks.

          There is no way the phrase “McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform” will pass the lips of McConnell or any other Republican. Likewise climate change, torture or even normalized trade with Vietnam.

          The same thing is happening with Trump and McCain. The specifics of the feud will go unmentioned, as will the merits of McCain’s beef.

          Likewise, whenever Trump gets in trouble we see the GOP paying lip service to their “opposition” to Trump without a single mention of any specifics, and the media refuses to dig into specifics or merits. More of the same praise for independence, without ever tackling what that actually means.

          • Tracy says:

            Hey, Bob, I agree w/ you on these key things that McCain did on campaign finance reform, climate change, torture.

            Trip, in general I understand b/c I also get furious when the media does not cover the horrendous policies Trump’s goons are enacting. There was the “affordable clean energy” plan laid out last week, totally under the radar – increase in 1,500 deaths due to lung and heart disease by 2030, Obama’s plan would have reduced emissions ~30% by 2030, and Trump’s only ~1%. There are so many corrupt, immoral things that this admin is doing, we need more airtime devoted to these catastrophic policies.

  14. punaise says:

    (VG, you know you shouldn’t encourage this sort of thing :~)

    at the risk of overstaying my welcome, continued:

    I said it grieves me so to see the country in such pain
    I wish there was something I could do to bankrupt you again
    I doubt you appreciate that but let me please explain
    About the sixty days

    Why don’t you just lower the flag back to half-staff
    And I believe in the morning you’ll see it was a gaff
    And then I dissed you along with all of your riff-raff
    There must be sixty days to leave your lawyer
    Sixty days to leave your lawyer

    Throw Cohen a bone, pwnd
    That Manafort court: snort!
    You don’t need to be coy, goy
    About the NDA ploy

    Hop on the bus, POTUS
    You DO need to confess much
    Just take the stand, gland
    And get yourself banned

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Please tell me that Katy Tur did not just say there is no greater contrast in politics between President Trump and John McCain.  Does disdain for Trump or McCain hagiography destroy common sense and a sense of history?

    A great many pairings in life and politics show greater differences than between McCain and Trump.  Elizabeth Warren and the handful of women considered to campaign for for the Presidency come to mind as far greater contrasts.

    It is a big deal that Trump acquired five deferments – to Dick Cheney’s six – or that like Cheney, Trump “had better things to do” than go to war.  McCain spent two decades in the Navy, in part, because that was the family business.

    It would be hard to be more misogynistic than Donald Trump.  But McCain could be crude and vile when talking about women, including his wife.  He famously used the “c” word in front of reporters when she interrupted him during a small campaign event in 2008.  He was a frequent womanizer, though not with the desperate abandon of Donald Trump.

    McCain was ambitious and largely successful.  With a few exceptions, he was resolutely conservative.  He was of his time and his upbringing.  Trump, too, but he is so far from normal that comparisons between him and anyone else are not really useful.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      John McCain might have occasionally put country over party, but he didn’t make a habit of it.

      • Tracy says:

        Earl, one thing: he did put his thumb down for repeal and replace. I see him a bit like Justice Kennedy – not the “swing vote” that people stated (of the latter), and not entirely the “maverick” that was said of the former, b/c MOST of the time they voted w/ decided in favor of the party to protect the party’s interests – but in a key moment here and there, they blocked what could have been an immediately disastrous result. At least this helped to put those potentially devastating things off to another time – it could have been more proactive than reactive, but it’s certainly something.

        • Trip says:

          Tracy, when he voted for the billionaire tax break, he also voted to remove the individual mandate in the ACA, which is the backbone of the program. So he, in essence, did damage, before his dramatic “no” vote.

          The individual mandate was created as a way to stabilize the non-group insurance market. Obamacare prohibits insurers from charging sicker consumers more for health insurance, or denying them coverage altogether. But in order to insure people with pre-existing conditions at the same rates as healthy people of the same age, insurers need plenty of healthy consumers—those who pay premiums but don’t use much care—to subsidize the sick. If healthy people drop out of the market because they are no longer mandated to have coverage, insurers would need to raise their rates to cover the remaining, sicker customer base. The roughly 85% of marketplace customers who qualify for the government’s premium subsidies won’t feel the brunt of these premium increases, because the GOP tax bill doesn’t affect the subsidy structure. But the remainder—those who make too much to qualify for assistance—could find themselves priced out of the market.

          • Trip says:

            The fact is he took part in dismantling it.  Maybe he had a change of heart when his illness became more serious. But his first act doomed people, who might have cancer like himself, from getting care, just so that rich people could get richer.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      On the real John McCain, the survivor (emph. added):

      What happened to that other John McCain, the refreshingly unpredictable figure who stood apart from his colleagues and seemed to promise something better than politics as usual? The question may miss the point. It’s quite possible that nothing at all has changed about John McCain, a ruthless and self-centered survivor who endured five and a half years in captivity in North Vietnam, and who once told Torie Clarke that his favorite animal was the rat, because it is cunning and eats well. It’s possible to see McCain’s entire career as the story of a man who has lived in the moment, who has never stood for any overriding philosophy in any consistent way, and who has been willing to do all that it takes to get whatever it is he wants. He himself said, in the thick of his battle with Hayworth, “I’ve always done whatever’s necessary to win.” Maybe the rest of us just misunderstood.

      His first wife would probably agree with that italicized sentiment.  As for the last quote, we admired that attitude in football coaches – “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing” – probably because they were talking about a sport, not survival in a prison camp or politics, and because we didn’t think they meant it literally.  John S. McCain III probably did.

  16. harpie says:

    WSJ via Kyle Griffin:

    Paul Manafort’s defense team held talks with prosecutors to discuss a possible plea deal ahead of his 2nd trial. // But the talks stalled over issued rasised by Mueller, WSJ reports.


    • harpie says:

      Thomas Cleveland:

      “The plea talks on the second set of charges stalled over issues raised by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, one of the people said. It isn’t clear what those issues were, and the proposed terms of the plea deal couldn’t immediately be determined.” / Presumably this comes from defense lawyers and there’s some strategy in leaking it. 


      • Tracy says:

        I wonder if the strategy is to telegraph to Trump: if you are going to pardon me, do it now/ or I need a definitive answer, otherwise, just know that I am shopping my options and I’m not afraid to turn on you if I need to…

  17. RWood says:

    Another question! (I’m the five-year old of the internet sometimes)

    Per the 17th amendment, if a Senate vacancy occurs due to death, resignation, or expulsion the amendment allows the state legislature to empower the governor to appoint a replacement. That replacement would hold the seat until the end of the senator’s current term or until a special election could be held.

    But I’m also reading this:

    The only exception is Arizona. The Grand Canyon State requires a special election for all vacancies and does not allow any temporary replacements.

    The MSM is speculating as to who the Governor will appoint to take McCain’s seat.

    So which is correct?

    • bmaz says:

      Governor will appoint a replacement to serve until 2020 when special election will determine who will then fill the last two years of McCain’s term with a full election for the six year term in 2022.

      • RWood says:

        Thanks again. I was under the impression that “special election” required a much shorter time frame.

  18. Trip says:

    I do not understand the intentional speaker phone doddery. The McCain death clearly took the Cohen, Weisselberg and Junior story from the headlines, occupying the media’s every moment. Why would Trump want it to shift back, while he was catching a break from the heat?

    His strategery is dumb as f-ck.

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