The Trump Team Strategic Errors: Rockets Instead Bursting In Air

During the winter, when the government was threatening and then did charge Paul Manafort with a bunch of tax fraud charges, he chose not to waive venue, forcing himself into two trials, one in EDVA and one in DC. (Raising the perennial question, who is paying for his legal representation?)

At the time, Josh Gerstein suggested might be seeking to avail himself of EDVA’s famed “rocket docket” which pushes trials through quickly. The thought was perhaps Manafort would have a better result with EDVA’s more conservative jury pool before his DC trial started, which in turn might be a way to discredit the Mueller investigation (something that has always seemed key to any strategy pursuing a pardon).

Manafort’s attorneys’ decision to effectively force some — but not all — of special counsel Robert Mueller’s case against him to northern Virginia baffled many lawyers, since it puts Manafort at risk of two separate trials rather than one. To some, it’s akin to choosing to play Russian Roulette with two bullets in the gun instead of one.

However, because the Alexandria-based federal court’s “rocket docket” is known for providing quick trials, there’s a possibility that Manafort could get to trial on bank and tax fraud charges in Virginia before the Sept. 17 trial date set Wednesday by Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington in the original case, now scaled back to focus on money laundering and failure to register as a foreign agent.

That means Manafort has a chance of getting his case before a northern Virginia jury first — a panel more likely to include Trump supporters who may be skeptical of Mueller’s enterprise. Such jurors are likely to be a rarity in Washington.


If Manafort could pull off an acquittal in Alexandria or even a hung jury, it could fuel President Donald Trump’s view of the Mueller probe as a prolonged “witch hunt” that is more persecution than prosecution. That would seem certain to lead to calls for Mueller to abandon the D.C. case and might prompt a pardon from Trump or some action to shut down the special counsel’s office altogether.

Even if nothing so dramatic happened, a stumble for Mueller’s team in Virginia and in its first contested trial could raise pressure for prosecutors to be more flexible in negotiating a plea deal.

Not long after at Manafort’s EDVA arraignment before the cantankerous TS Ellis, however, his attorney Kevin Downing admitted that they would prefer either everything move to EDVA, or the EDVA trial go second, after the DC trial still scheduled to start on September 17.

MR. DOWNING: We’re actually thinking trying to get the conspiracy to come here. We’re happy to be here.


MR. DOWNING: In this perfect world where I have my rosy glasses on, we were envisioning that we would be trying this case in November following the case in D.C.

THE COURT: You need to go back to the optometrist, because that isn’t going to happen.


THE COURT: You’ve got a trial date in September in the District? Mr. Weissmann, this case seems — maybe I’m not familiar with the indictment in D.C., but this case seems less complex than the one in D.C.

MR. WEISSMANN: That’s our view as well. The tax charges, as we mentioned, do largely overlap. But unlike the D.C. case, there are no Foreign Agents Registration Act charges before this Court. And those involve quite an extensive array of evidence and different theories of liability. Here we have what I think are five bank frauds and they are discrete over a two-year period and the discovery has been produced.

THE COURT: All right. Mr. Downing, I’m going to set this matter in July. Now, if in the course of your preparation something comes up that suggests to you that you now have a more persuasive basis for me to consider on a later trial date, I’ll consider it. But for now, 12th of — or not 12th — 10th of July at 10 a.m. with a jury. Also having that earlier deadline is an important — it will focus your minds, everyone’s minds on it and get this matter done.

In July, Manafort used his jailing by Amy Berman Jackson as an excuse to ask for a delay in the EDVA trial.

In a response, the government demonstrated to Ellis that Manafort was still trying to have his desired outcome, to have the DC trial go first.

Manafort can hardly now complain about the order of the trials: he was on notice from the Honorable Amy Berman Jackson, when he elected last winter not to have the proposed tax and bank fraud charges all brought in the D.C. Case, that his decision would likely result in his going to trial in Virginia first. D.C. Case Status Hr’g Tr. (Jan. 16, 2018). That other reasons may account for this application is strongly suggested by a prison call in which Manafort discusses going to trial first in the D.C. Case and contends to the listener (who did not believe the D.C. venue was favorable) that the listener should “think about how it’ll play elsewhere….There is a strategy to it, even in failure, but there’s a hope in it.” Phone Call of Manafort (June 20, 2018), at 4:02-4:39.

The trial went off in July as scheduled, meaning Manafort faced the more traditional of charges first.

Still, getting one trial in EDVA almost worked, with a holdout juror that hung the jury on 10 of 18 charges (though that won’t have that big an effect on sentencing) and lots of good press stemming from Ellis beating up the prosecution, both during Manafort’s challenge to Mueller’s authority and during the trial in general.

Add in the fact that Manafort (again, with his seemingly endless supply of funds to pay defense attorneys) got two bites at key challenges to Mueller’s case in chief — his authority generally, and the search of Manafort’s condo for things including evidence about the June 9 meeting — and the dual trial strategy probably wasn’t a total flop (unless, of course, it means Manafort is running out of money). Along the way, he also got full discovery on what Rick Gates has provided Mueller, presumably including the real goods Gates gave Mueller on the conspiracy with Russia.

But Manafort’s still facing another trial in a less friendly venue before a no-nonsense judge, a trial he seems to have done nothing to prepare for. (WSJ reports the two sides did consider a plea on the DC charges while waiting for the EDVA verdict, to no avail.) And all of Rudy’s squealing about how indictments or even further investigation during the campaign season might be a distraction, Manafort’s trial (one that’s sexier than the EDVA one) will remain a constant focus in the last six weeks before the election.

To be fair, it’s hard to measure how Manafort’s strategy is playing, as it’s not clear what — besides a full pardon — his goals are. Plus, he’s got a shitty hand, no matter how you look at it (except for the seemingly endless supply of defense fund dollars).

But Manafort’s bid for a second trial seems like an even worse strategic decision than Michael Cohen’s bid for a Special Master (which I now admit at least gave Trump and his company an opportunity to undercut any Cohen bid for a plea deal) not least because he’ll be a felon in his DC trial which will in turn make sentencing worse if he is found guilty there.

At least the defense bar is making money.

104 replies
  1. arbusto says:

    OT  Just wondered if anyone else, seeing the WH flag at half, then full, then half mast thought of Trump doing an erectile disfunction commercial.



    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      No. That never crossed my mind.


      Yesterday, I was ready to half-staff the flags at a ‘facility’.

      But, no official proclamation at that time.

      I almost did it anyway, fuck #UnfitForOffice

      But I waited.

      Later yesterday, someone (Retired MIL), asked why not at half-staff?

      I said, no proclamation. Not official. Trump is an ass.

      (Retired MIL person voted for trump, but agreed)

      I told him, it is because trump hates McCain, all spite.

      So, not many hours ago, I saw the flip flop that I expected.

      So, went back to ‘facility’ to half-staff the flags.

      Retired MIL person asks, why here?

      My answer: To put flags at half-staff, and that I fucking pay attention, and trump is still an ass.

    • Rusharuse says:

      I see it . .

      “Pecker Pucker” a syrup for men . . Time for a stiff drink!

      Trump the forlorne sad guy before treatment, Mueller the beaming vigorous “after” model.

  2. Tracy says:

    Thank you, Marcy, for your insightful reporting!

    Well, it seems that a confluence of events/ bad decisions has probably led Manafort to explore a plea deal – and I always wonder: who leaked this information?

    This ought to make Trump apoplectic, but maybe it’s part of Manafort’s team’s strategy, saying: look sarge, if you’re gonna pardon me, let me know or do it now, b/c I’m warning you, I’m looking for my best option…

  3. Rusharuse says:

    Is it that Manafort\Trump don’t like what Mueller is going to lay out in DC?

    Seems the only way to stop that happening now is a full flip or pardon. According to Vanity fair a pardon is almost certain with Trump willing to bypass McGahn and bring in another lawyer to do the paperwork.

    A pardon arriving on the court steps would be cool — almost best the drama of Comeys firing.

  4. Skeeter says:

    Pardon my ignorance (total novice here), but why all this talk of pausing investigations near the election when none of the players are running for office?

    • cat herder says:

      Because the players are Republicans and therefore very delicate and special creatures who only deserve the very best of everything.

      (reply link broken still/again, I hope this ends up in the right place…)

  5. Frank Probst says:

    I know I keep beating this point to death, but Judge Ellis’ response to Team Manafort’s request to delay the EDVA trial (on the grounds that he was so far away from his attorneys in his jail suite in eastern Virginia) was to move Manafort from the jail in eastern Virginia to the jail in Alexandria.  That was a major fail on the part of Team Manafort, as the Alexandria jail isn’t nearly as nice.  (The one in eastern Virginia isn’t exactly luxurious, but Manafort had about as sweet of a setup as he could have gotten there.)  Ellis was extremely hard on the prosecution during the trial, but the decision to move Manafort to Alexandria was pretty clearly a big smack in the face to Team Manafort for being a smart ass to the judge.

    So now Manafort is going into the DC trial with 8 felony convictions on the board, and he’s cooling his heels in a shittier jail than before.  And his 8 convictions covered cheating on your federal income taxes, which almost certainly means he also cheated on his state income taxes.  If he was thinking that he was going to get away with that, the events in New York (where pretty much EVERYONE wants to start handing out indictments) may have made him realize that federal pardons may not get him out of the hot water that he’s in.  Cohen is now looking at 3 to 5 years in prison WITH a deal, and we learned at the end of last week that at least two people have gotten immunity deals from the SDNY.

    So Manafort’s shitty hand has gotten MUCH shittier since this time last week.  At some point, the reality of it all is going to sink in.  And whatever he had to offer Mueller last week wasn’t enough for Mueller to make a deal even knowing that Manafort could have been acquitted of all charges in EDVA.  A deal now doesn’t mean he’s going to get a few months in prison.  It means he’s going to get a few years.  And whatever he has to offer doesn’t seem to be all that interesting to Mueller.

    • Yette says:

      I’m hoping that Ellis is subject to some type of judicial review based upon his actions during the Manafort trial.  If he feels he needs to punish defense or prosecution teams during a trial, he has in my opinion lost his purpose.  My sense from reading the trial coverage was that Ellis soaked up his 15 minutes of national fame by acting like a clown.


    • RWood says:

      I don’t think Manafort has any say in his own future anymore. He’s doing what he’s told like a good little soldier/pawn.

      Novichok outweighs all other options.

    • Drew says:

      “At some point, the reality of it all is going to sink in.”

      I’ve worked with addicts on many levels. It’s kind of surprising how reality doesn’t sink in quick enough in many cases–denial & self-pity takes them below what anybody thought would be the bottom.

      Manafort can’t plead guilty without allocuting to the crimes, can he? Doesn’t save much in terms of public revelations.

      I’ve been reading the Bonfire of the Vanities for the first time. Sherman (the character who invented the term/concept “Master of the Universe” for himself) reaches the point of, what for him is, unimaginable humiliation and loss of the essentials of life–but it is clear that what he was faced with was what most people have to deal with in their lives, in most ways every day.

      Manafort is, at best, trying to game how he can salvage a life that will maintain him at some sort of Master of the Universe level, even if less so than before. At 69, a deal that would require 6-15 years of incarceration (in other words, a good deal considering the charges) wouldn’t do what he sees as meeting his minimum needs.

  6. K-JAM says:

    I know MSNBC fans are supposed to love former aUS Attorney/Acting DEA Dir Chuck Rosenberg, however, does anyone have a reason why no journalist’ asks him why he *declined* to charge Manafort as aUS Atty EDVA for same charges years back? Especially while he is being asked to comment on the Manafort trial(s)?

    • Pat says:

      Possibly because Rosenberg didn’t have all the evidence seized from Manafort in the raids, or Rick Gates to testify, and corroborate evidence. Also, the Ukraine  somewhat recently provided documentation of Manafort’s crimes.

      • bmaz says:

        Well, no, Rosenberg would not have all of that because he is not on the SC team and it is protected GJ information. Even if he did, he would be precluded from talking about it by a host of ethical and statutory/rule concerns.

  7. Bob Conyers says:

    On discovery, did Manafort get to see everything Gates gave and told to Mueller, or just what Gates provided that was relevant to Manafort’s case?

  8. Avattoir says:

    DoJ encompasses FBI, but the norm is FBI investigates not DoJ and DoJ charges not FBI. Rosenberg was DoJ, not FBI: you can’t indict what doesn’t reach your desk.

    Just because you ask doesn’t mean Chuck’ll answer, or that he can.
    E.g. it’s been decades since I prosecuted, but even now I would not consider myself ethically free to go about granting nibblets to reporters on any of the charging decisions from those days.

  9. Avattoir says:

    Government is obliged to show defendant the evidence it intends to lead against defendant AND anything that might reasonably help in putting up a defense or that’s at all exculpatory (And if any of that is actually exonerating, presumably the case never gets to a jury anyway.).
    But DoJ does NOT feel itself bound by law or ethical obligation to reveal to defendant everything it knows about or has on defendant that makes defendant out to be bad, or that DoJ is even holding info or even evidence of that character in reserve on the given case.
    It should be apparent that there’s quite a bit of room for exercise of judgment and discretion in the tensions among these policies, and it’s not like individual DoJos or DoJ prosecution teams don’t ever get caught abusing those.
    But IMO the chances of anything like that happening with this OSC is virtually nil. AOT, it’d be too easily found out and that would blow up everything, office and officer holder’s rep included.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      Thanks, Av. So presumably discovery gives the Trump camp a good insight into what Gates has told Mueller’s team, but it’s possible there are significant pieces which are held back since Gates kept working long after Manafort was fired. Unless, of course, Manafort was still heavily engaged, which would be a new ball of wax.

      Is evidence revealed in discovery that comes from grand jury procedings still treated as highly confidential, assuming it’s not released at trial?

      • Avattoir says:

        There’s no way Mueller would work to release anything the OSC has come to ‘know’ about Trump unless it’s necessary to relate in the context of a filed indictment (or a proposed one, should DAG Rosenstein without consent to it being filed, in which case it the allegation might come out in a report to Congress contemplated within the DoJ regulation that applies to special prosecutions), OR or that it comes up during a trial on an indictment in such a way that it would be potentially misleading and arguably cause an injustice if not allowed into evidence.

        This is really all ‘by the book’ stuff, easy to repeat, because that’s the standard that’s widely (and accurately) known to be Mueller’s first resort in default.

        (Doesn’t mean there can’t be exceptions, of course, but those are typically hazard to impossible predict.)

  10. Joe F says:

    Serious question:
    Remember the underage girl Trump was air to have raked according to her and tan associate of David Epstein? She went quiet about a month before the election. Was she discredited (I know lawyers were fighting over her), OR was she likely paid hush money like the rest?!
    I feel like she MIGHT be the only thing Trump’s bass wouldn’t overlook.
    Anyone know what became of that story?

      • Lee says:

        I don’t believe the “base” is as homogeneous as that.  I suspect different people have different tipping points.  Like a mislabeled jigsaw puzzle, they may mentally hold onto the image on the box while the pieces come together to form a picture of something entirely different.  They can squint and ignore only so much; there comes a point where the new picture suddenly jumps into focus.  “That man really is a monster!”

        That said, I do think there are at least some of his base who would not be dissuaded by any evidence of Trump’s immorality, in part because they themselves have no morals to speak of.

  11. Peterr says:

    I believe that Trump thinks that pardoning Manafort will play very well with his base, and the only thing that would play better with the base would be Trump moving to shut down the Mueller probe entirely.

    Despite everyone in the GOP and the WH telling him not to do this because it would be electoral suicide for the GOP in November, I also believe that Trump thinks this advice is not only wrong but the pleadings of weak and foolish people. “I won the election. I’m the president, for crying out loud. Who the hell is Mueller or you or anyone to tell me I can and can’t do something?!” In Trump’s mind, pardoning Manafort would be a great act of political strength and get his base even more fired up to defend him by electing moar Republicans.

    The only question would be when he does this. I’d say he’ll do it ten minutes after the DC verdict comes down, unless he melts down even more over the McCain coverage than he already has. Let’s look at the timeline.

    Today there was the flag debacle and McCain’s final statement that skewered Trump one last time. Trump’s plan to change the subject when he called the press into the Oval office for a big anti-NAFTA agreement announcement fell flat, thanks to the screwed up phone call with the Mexican president that made him look very bad while the cameras rolled.

    Wednesday is the Arizona funeral in Phoenix, and who did the family ask to present a eulogy? Joe Biden.

    Friday is when McCain will lie in state at the Capitol, being honored right down the street from the White House. McConnell and Ryan will be speaking, as will VP Mike Pence (at least in part in his role as the President of the Senate). There will no doubt be plenty of coverage of the event, as well as coverage of the expected long lines of people waiting to pay their respects — and you know how well Trump deals with stories that talk about the size of your crowd in DC.

    Saturday is the public funeral at the National Cathedral, with plenty of dignitaries in attendance to honor McCain. From the Hill:

    The pallbearers, who will help carry his coffin at the Washington National Cathedral memorial service on Saturday afternoon, include actor Warren Beatty, former Vice President Biden, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Secretary of Defense William Cohen, former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.), former Sen. Gary Hart (D-Colo.), former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge (R), McCain’s former chief of staff Mark Salter, founder and president of FedEx Fred Smith, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Vice Chairman of Open Russia Vladimir Kara-Murza, longtime fundraiser Carla Eudy, businessman Stephen Dart and former McCain presidential campaign manager Richard Davis. . . .

    Tributes and readings will be offered by former President George Bush, former President Barack Obama, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) and former Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), as well as several family members.

    I can imagine Trump’s unfolding reaction upon seeing this list and pondering his dis-invitation from the McCain family . . .

    Warren Beatty and Gary Hart, but not me? How many porn stars and hot women have they slept with?
    (reads further)
    Bloomberg and Smith, but not me? How many buildings have they put their names on?
    (reads further)
    A Russian pallbearer? McCain has a #%$@*!$ Russian carrying his coffin?

    And when the actual event takes place, with all the wonder and all the spectacle and all the approving commentary of John McCain playing out on every damn network, right up the street from the White House, that might just push Trump over the edge.

    Right now, I think Trump is brooding over one enormous question: “How can I step on the media-driven funeral of a non-hero failed soldier who lost two elections for the office I won, taking place in the National Cathedral, to which I was very publicly and disrespectfully not invited?” Bombing something or starting a war would do it. So would pardoning Manafort, as would canning Sessions, Rosenstein, and Mueller.

    Logic is losing what little hold it had in Trump’s behavior. He’s acting out of his lizard brain stem (“fight-or-flight”), not his cerebral cortex. This will be one helluva week and I would not bet against a Friday or Saturday night pardon of Manafort.

    • cat herder says:

      And not a nice respectable Kremlin-allied gazillionaire Russian but one of those ungrateful dirty hippie troublemaker loser Russians who says mean things about Trump’s BFF.

      (Fourteen (or more?) pallbearers? Are they gonna do it like a relay race, or is it just a really looooooong coffin?)

      • Drew says:

        This is an old-timey society funeral, where there are plenty of HONORARY pall-bearers. It’s all about noting proximity & association. Personally, I prefer to dispense even with the interminable “tributes,” let alone rank upon rank of pall-bearers, but this is a political piece.

        One can never tell what DJT will do, he is the archetypal dog in the manger, so…? However, that doesn’t mean that either he or his base has this figured out very well. The Special Counsel’s office is only one piece of the legal peril for Trump & his administration. Clumsily firing Mueller might well trigger prosecutors in New York act quickly against Trump associates (including Jr., Ivanka & Jared), maybe even something on the order of freezing/seizing assets of the Trump Org.

        That’s all speculation, of course, but the point is, Trump could do one of his childish things and find that it triggers an avalanche even worse for him personally (and it is NOT speculation that the only thing that matters to DJT is how things affect him personally) than he had originally feared.

      • Doctor My Eyes says:

        Not a nice thing to say; I appreciate your saying it. Some of them bear responsibility for a lot of not very nice things.

        Per a recent discussion here, one striking similarity between Trump and McCain is that both got where they did on the coattails of their fathers.

        The thoroughly decent Democrats Feingold and Whitehouse laying to rest the (seemingly somewhat) decent Republican McCain can be seen as representing the final act of comity between parties in the Senate. It’s slash and burn from here on out.

        • Avattoir says:

          Plus perhaps Cindy can arrange with the Navy’s air division to crate over to Arizona the horse-drawn hearse used to transport Churchill’s body from St. Paul’s to the Royal Navy dock on Thames, hitch up some of those “legendary” Bud Light Clydesdales, haul the body to Luke AF Base to be loaded into Naval air transport transport to San Diego, there to be placed on board the destroyer class USS John S. McCain III for ceremonial manoeuvres down the Pacific coast of the U.S., Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua & Costa Rica to Panama (the array of tiny Central American banana republics that repay our historical generous hospitality to their dictators by routinely knockingthe men’s football team out of the World Cup), and the Canal Zone, where McCain was born – to be sailed across and back the Canal for so long as fortunes continue to be made in beer distribution & regional S&Ls or until the former Trump International Hotel & Tower Panama collapses.

          (I’m kinda serious on this: it’d be fun to see the national military forces, political establishment and beer industry come together to put on a military funeral of such maudlin splendor, it’ll instill in Trump such envy that he melts.

        • bmaz says:

          In one little bit of fairness, McCain was very helpful in keeping Luke AFB out of the clutches of base closing commissions over the years. I’d think he is thought well of out there.

        • Doctor My Eyes says:

          Not to be improved upon.  I can only suggest a dignified ending: dressing him in a jumpsuit, taping his hands to the controls of the old A-4E Skyhawk, catapulting him from a carrier to see if he can stay airborne more successfully when piloting from the resting place of heroes.

        • Trip says:

          Hey waitta minute. When does Sarah Palin do her DEF (dumb and blind) Poetry Jam word salad memorial? Without McCain, all of us would be none the wiser to the Grift Family Robinson of Alaska.

    • Kokuanani says:

      I’m surprised McCain didn’t arrange to have J-Z & Bey somehow participate in one of his funerals.

      Or perhaps Kanye.

    • TheraP says:

      Interesting question you’re posing. But don’t forget the potential for Decompensation – some type of severe psychological breakdown. Paranoia of a paralyzing type.

      At this point, after last week’s lashing while tied to the mast in a hurricane, the guy is so weakened that he had to capitulate about the where the flag sat on the flagpole. So now he’s facing endless days of McCain hagiography, TV delirium in every channel, hoards of people lining up to file past a coffin, all the things you listed.

      Trump is going through something he has never experienced. He can’t run from it. And all his sycophants are warning him of an even bigger firestorm if he pardons or fires anyone.

      Somebody is gonna slip meds into his soda – maybe the hamburger, like they do with a pet.

      He could curl up in a ball. There’s no telling. But at a certain point, full-on disorganization may set in, any ability to put a plan together could deteriorate and the minders in the Whilte House will be fearful his “mental breakdown” will leak. They will, I suspect, do anything to keep the world from knowing.

      I’m not saying that’s what’s gonna happen. But it could. So Meds! (It’s not legal to do that surreptitiously of course, but …)

      He is severely weakened. Lowering the flag again? (With all these investigations in full swing. A trial coming. The threat for Manifort of jailtime in State Penal Facility?)

      • Bob Conyers says:

        I’m in no position to judge his mental state, but history is full of cases of unstable rulers who are channelled by unscrupulous advisors egging on the worst tendencies of a failing mind. The second level monsters fill the organizational vacuum that the monster in chief has created, and that is often when you get a reign of terror.

        • TheraP says:

          Yes. But … “the bureaucracy is unifying to protect the world from Trump…. They do not conceal their complete frustration and alarm with Trump.”

          Scroll down till the very end: “The Containment of Trump.”

          Your point is well taken. But it would appear that some/many? see the clear dangers and are prepared. Indeed, they likely know the dangers far better than we from the outside.

          I think it’s bmaz who recently pointed out that the Justice System is working. Which of course ups the ante we speak of here. But the article above suggests that there’s another system, alarmed enough, to also have contingency plans in place. (I can imagine some very drastic ones that I would never put in print or hardly even speak. But if I can think of them, so can they.)

          Trump is a clear danger. To us. To the World. Our intelligence and defense services know this best! And are probably in the best position to take action to protect us all.

          Call me hopelessly naive. But I have a pretty good BS detector. And they, for sure, have better ones than I. That’s what I’m counting on.

      • Drew says:

        I’m convinced that Trump is a psychopathic narcissist, and not demented or some garden variety emotional or personality disorder. For a psychopathic narcissist decompensation usually manifests as rage–big time rage. We see that from him on occasion.  Occasionally, when the person’s image of the world (which must accommodate to their one “fact” which is their utter superiority & perfection) when that image breaks down, the psychopathic narcissist will be paralyzed for a while, basically while they integrate the unacceptable facts into a new story where they are the winner/victim of treachery. I think we saw a brief period of this with the Manafort/Cohen convictions–Trump was off his game & relatively quiet, but only for a few hours.

        So, a huge hit of irreducible facts against him might cause Trump to be paralyzed for a period, maybe even weeks if bad enough, his ultimate response will be rage. While he can launch nukes, I don’t think he can retarget them. He can order out troops, but if his orders are incoherent, it might give commanders opportunity to construe his orders to be illegal or non-existent.  Who knows? But when he’s caught, he will mostly act out in full-on rage.

        Ultimately, Hitler did commit suicide. But in the months leading up to it, he ordered the death of officers and others who stood against him. (I’m not talking about the jews & other persecuted minorities here, but about the politicals & others who had, up to then, been given some benefit of German jurisprudence).

        I’m not saying Trump is Hitler or Trumpists are Nazis, but both men are/were psychopathic narcissists.

        • TheraP says:

          Don’t forget he’s also delusional. Delusions of Grandeur. And Paranoia.

          It’s possible to be a Sociopathic Lunatic. (Sociopathy having at its core malignant narcissism.)

        • Drew says:

          It’s true that he’s delusional, but the delusions are a part of being a psychopathic (as opposed to garden variety) narcissist. It’s not so much the specific diagnosis that I’m concerned with, but that we shouldn’t presume that things that we observe are additional infirmities that will cause him to be any more disabled than he is. The fundamental problem is his absolute absence of conscience. The author of this article has been extraordinarily prescient in her predictions over the last 3 or so years by sticking with this analysis:

        • Doctor My Eyes says:

          Thanks for this thread, although I have to admit that analyses of Trump’s mind always strike me as a bit indulgent. We know he’s a very dangerous threat and we need to focus on how to contain him rather than being fascinated by his weirdness. I just want to add that my mother and my uncle were narcissists, I was married to a narcissist (go figure).  I finally got myself educated and my experience is that narcissists are “very special people” for whom their narcissism defines their worldview and how they behave.  The 3 people I mention were sweet by nature, but their interactions with others were limited by their limited understanding. Whatever Trump’s other traits, his choices will be limited by his narcissism.

        • marksb says:

          The Vanityfair article yesterday follows your reasoning almost exactly:

          Flying on Air Force One to his West Virginia rally last week, Trump seemed “bummed” and “down and out,” a person briefed on his mood told me. “He was acting like, ‘I know the news is bad, but I don’t know what to do about it,’” the source said. At the rally, an uncharacteristically subdued Trump barely mentioned Cohen or Manafort. By the weekend, though, his anger had returned. “He spent the weekend calling people and screaming,” one former White House official said. According to sources, the president feels cornered with no clear way out.

          I worked for a guy like this once, and it was a non-stop, 7/24 horror show.

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      Pardoning the multi-home/rug/suit-owning tax evader and money launderer to own the libs. I mean, it probably motivates those who like owning the libs and displays of autocratic power — perhaps Salena Zito could miraculously find someone at a gas station in Pennsylvania to explain in detail why it’s what blue-collar folks want — but the ads write themselves.

  12. Yohei72 says:

    @cat herder: “Because the players are Republicans and therefore very delicate and special creatures who only deserve the very best of everything.”

    Well, if I’m being perfectly honest and fair (as I try to be, though no doubt I often fail)… I’m hoping that the Mueller probe’s ongoing actions *do* impact voters’ decisions to the detriment of the Republicans. So it would be a bit inconsistent of me to scorn someone for claiming that the Mueller probe should be paused at 60 days to adhere to the DOJ policy. It’s conventional wisdom that the midterms this year are, to an even greater extent than usual, a referendum on the President; the “pro-pausing” argument that follows from that is obvious. It might be flawed, but it doesn’t strike me as obviously absurd.

    But IANAL, and all.

    • Chuck Dankens says:

      “Let’s tell Americans whatever we want, they all so fucking stupid!” 

      John Barron and David Dennison and dotard has operated on this premise for years.

      “Would” I misspoke I meant  “wouldn’t”.

    • Doctor My Eyes says:

      IANAL, but much ado about nothing:

      If Democrats win control of the House in November, the whole debate is likely academic. In that scenario, the House Judiciary Committee could subpoena any report as part of an impeachment inquiry. A judge would likely approve that request because of a D.C. Circuit ruling in 1974 that approved transmission of a report to the House on President Richard Nixon’s actions in Watergate.

      If Democrats don’t win control of the House in November, we’re totally screwed six ways from Sunday.

      • bmaz says:

        Well, maybe and maybe not. That ruling is from the mid 70’s, well before the original independent counsel provisions in the Ethics In Government Act  of 1978, and then reauthorized act in 1994, which had explicit reporting provisions. That sunsetted and now there is the Special Counsel provisions that are more code based than statutory and were written by Neal Katyal, and therefore there is no direct statutory reporting provision for reporting, but such is clearly contemplated. The problem is the basis of a report would clearly be grand jury information normally protected under Rule 6.

        In short, it IS complicated. I think Josh’s article lays it out pretty well. But it was a bad panel draw in DC Circuit, so I would not yet say it is much ado about nothing.

        • Doctor My Eyes says:

          Interesting.  My point is that, if we assume there will be no indictment of a sitting president, and election results mean there will be no impeachment of POTUS, then there will be many avenues for stifling the investigation, most obvious of which is to appoint a new AG, fire Mueller, and bury the whole deal. The SC will be stacked as well  In short, Trump will be untouchable and will wield ultimate power over any institution which might condemn him..  Do you see any way for truth to prevail in such a dire situation?

        • Drew says:

          I would only observe that, as I read somewhere, Mueller’s “report” is being primarily done through indictments, mostly “speaking indictments” that lay out more of the story than is strictly or minimally necessary to substantiate that charges should be brought. A lot can come out in indictments that refer to “Candidate-1” or “President-1” without technically indicting the man.  I’ve heard the idea that Trump could be indicted within the DOJ guidelines but prosecution would be delayed. I’m not a lawyer, but while, as BMAZ observes, this is very complicated, getting the report in question to congress is not the only way to get the truth out.

        • arbusto says:

          FWTW last night several former prosecutors stated Trump  minions face increased scrutiny by various State AG’s plus the detached proceedings of SDNY and (by Marcy’s knowledge) San Francisco and Pittsburgh on a myriad of offenses.  The former prosecutors also stated that District USA’s run the districts as fiefdoms and it’s  very hard for outsiders  to interfere

        • bmaz says:

          Meh, “Former AUSA’s” are almost always people on the media make. Sort them with skepticism.

          Some are very good, some very bad, and some in between. Also, funny, I have seen lots of  “outside interference” in District USA offices.

        • arbusto says:

          Well at least it might cause a diminution of adequate counsel and responses.  While there’s probably many deep pockets in the new reich, an arterial bleed would be nice.

        • Bob Conyers says:

          Can you explain for non-lawyers how far the grand jury restrictions cover the information gathered by Mueller’s team (or other units of DOJ)?

          For example, if Mueller’s team gathers IRS data on Don Jr. and presents it to a grand jury, is that data now off limits to Congress? Or is it available to Congress, and just the list of specific items of interest to the prosecutors is off limits, along with whatever analysis they may have done?

          I realize interviews are sealed in large part, but it’s not clear to me what rules apply to the rest of the evidence shown.

  13. Richard G says:

    About Team Trump’s strategy: Rudy G has been blunt that he’s all about swaying public opinion against Mueller and whatever case he eventually makes.  He assumes Trump won’t be indicted thanks to DOJ policy that protects a sitting president. So “the jury is the public,” as Rudy says. Apparently he and Trump are succeeding–Rudy cites polls showing that a majority now distrusts Mueller.

    I wonder if Mueller, seeing this overt sabotage campaign, might decide to seek an exception from Rosenstein and go ahead and indict Trump. (That path is available, according to Neal Katyal)

    Sen. Blumenthal said the other day that indictment should be on the table, possibly with a delayed trial.

    Since deferring to Trump’s weighty executive responsibilities per DOJ policy is arguably enabling obstruction of justice, does anyone here think indicting Trump would be a defensible exception to policy?

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        The dip in public approval coincided with a relatively quiet period amid trial preparations and ongoing GJ hearings. Indictments, guilty verdicts and plea deals have a clarifying effect. Which isn’t to say that they should be rushed, especially as things are naturally coming to a head, but that visibility matters.

  14. TheraP says:

    As OT as you can get, but I read the Twitter side bar and am not on Twitter etc, so: Serena Williams in a Tutu!

    I love it! There is nothing like fighting Injustice with Humor. Acting-out in a way that takes it to Utter Conformity.

    Early on I kept saying that the best way to get Trump’s goat was to Shame him via Humor. We should all take a lesson from Serena. Outstanding!

    Not sure if the link above will work. Yes it does!

  15. Trip says:

    Did you guys read that Brennan still has his security clearance and hasn’t actually been voted off the island or somethin’ reality show story arc?

    That shit went on FOR DAYS.

  16. Trip says:

    …partial win to prosecution ahead of Manafort’s second trial

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A judge overseeing the upcoming second trial of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort on Tuesday approved the prosecution’s request to allow evidence about a Justice Department inspection of Manafort’s lobbying activities in the 1980s but limited the scope of what it can show. ..The prosecution said it would like to introduce evidence to rebut the defense argument that Manafort did not know rules on foreign lobbying. Jackson ordered both sides to agree to a stipulation showing Manafort was notified of lobbying disclosure rules in the 1980s, which would be in place of the government submitting all of its proposed evidence to the jury…The government says the 1980s inspections uncovered 18 instances of lobbying and public relations activities that should have been disclosed, a revelation that prompted Manafort to resign as director of a federal agency in 1986.

      • Avattoir says:

        Hey! It looks like the booming US v Manafort trial industry might feature it’s first Charlie Black sighting in the D.C. trial.


        Government (Mueller OSC version) wants to introduce evidence of Manafort pulling a fast one on the FARA police in 1986 but eliding his own actual foreign lobbyist status on behalf of Saudi with a far more vague toilet bowl of lobbying by his  then partnership with Charlie Black, Roger Stone, and Peter Kelly in political consultancy, ‘apparently’ without consent (or even knowledge? heh) of his partners. And since calling Stone in as a witness on  this would present multilayers of awkward, plus Peter Kelly – the partnership’s Dem for bidnitz development – is really freaking old, seems to me it has to follow to the them-managing co-partner with Manafort, Charlie Black.

        Some here may have heard Black speaking briefly on a recent short WaPo vid report. Loved the ending, where Charlie first praises Manafort as the ‘most gifted political organizer I know of’ then follows that up with ‘but I haven’t kept real close to whatever Paul’s been up to since the 1990s and gosh darnit I sure hope it’s not as bad as appears’.

        Also, I kinda get the impression that back in the mid 1980s Manafort was pretty much the Ernst Blofeld of FARA-evasion (prolly for world domination purposes; see Dr. Evil.), so I think there’s a chance that Charlie will use his soft-toned southern lilt to off-load the entire evil slimey history of post 1980’s D.C. lobbying onto Paulie.

    • Tracy says:


      Can the OSC reject a guilty plea and force Manafort to go to trial?

      B/c I can imagine that if there is a trial, it has the benefit of telling the nefarious story of Paul Manafort, which could sour the public MORE to a pardon.

      Alternatively, Mimi Rocah, MSNBC legal analyst, said that if Paul Manafort pleads guilty, it could look like he didn’t fight the charges, also harming the public’s view of a pardon.

      The pardon option’s not looking great anyway (~20% approve, ~60% disapprove), so nothing would be more suspect than DJP issuing a low-polling pardon, since he loves those polls! That ought to send the signal to everyone that whatever liability he’d face at the hands of public opinion, Manafort must have something on him that’s far worse!

      • bmaz says:

        If Manafort simply wants to plead guilty to every count in the indictment, as currently filed, Mueller cannot stop that. Doubt that is going to happen, but it is theoretically possible. For any kind of “deal”, Mueller has to consent.

        • Avattoir says:

          Only on a plea DEAL – that is, if Team Manafort were to prioritize obtaining as much certainty as possible on the outcome.

          Now, if you’re implying Mueller might employ said allocution as a prophylactic to ensure against Manafort wriggling off the hook, my answer is, Gosh, that’d be clever.

          So clever, I’m tempted to post a suggested draft allocution (for discussion &/or comedy purposes only), except that

          a. I’d likely feel bad for having lifted  your idea, and

          b. regardless who else here might take a stab at it, this is something I’m inclined to think fearless leader should have by far the best cut at:

          What Would A Manafort Allocution On The D.C. Indictment Look Like?

        • bmaz says:

          You can plea to the indictment without going to much further than the indictment though. Stipulate you are guilty to the counts as alleged, that your guilt indeed matches the elements of each count as alleged and that you are aware that the government is in possession of, and would adduce at trial, evidence to prove the same.

          But, as you say, there is NO certainty doing that. For a “deal” Mueller will want much more, and want most of it on the record.

  17. HCCarey says:

    Who IS paying for his defense? It sounded like he was broke very recently.

    Are there any kind of transparency or disclosure laws regarding how a lawyer is paid?



  18. Trip says:

    So Graham has really turned into Trump’s yappy little lapdog. He’s trying to promote that Sessions should go because “immigration is a debacle”, but that is exactly what Trump wanted.
    Trump hasn’t been complaining about Sessions and some sort of recusal from immigration policy. How stupid does he think everyone is?

    And Graham has already moved on as far as Trump dissing McCain (his old BFF) with the flag fiasco. Love is a fickle beast.

  19. Kansas Watcher says:

    If I was Mr mueller I would schedule that third trial for the hung jury charges ASAP.

    Let’s find out how much legal defense money is available.

  20. Drew says:

    @ Fran of the North. reply function isn’t working for me. The author of that piece, Elizabeth Mika, can be found on Twitter as @yourauntemma her pinned tweet is a thread of some pretty amazing articles on this subject going back to 2015. I first ran into her when she posted a tweet or reply right after the inauguration, entitled “And so it begins” talking about what happens when such a narcissist reaches ultimate power. She discusses decompensation patterns in ways that were very prescient about what happened in the following months. Unfortunately I can’t find the link to that.

    We should note, that not all narcissists are psychopathic (malignant) narcissists, and not every case is so supercharged with privilege and success as this. I’ve worked for a narcissist and had to bail on a career along with a group of colleagues, but even there, Trump is in another class.

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