A Comparison of Rick Gates and Paul Manafort’s Plea Deals

Because I wanted to get a sense of what Gates won by pleading guilty and cooperating with Mueller’s team earlier, I decided to compare the two plea deals. (Gates, Manafort)

Manafort’s a bigger criminal than Gates

Obviously, the biggest difference comes in recommended sentence. While the government got Gates for a lie to prosecutors and got Manfort for witness tampering, the rest of the conduct was largely the same. Nevertheless, for a variety of reasons (Manafort was the lead and Gates benefitted from being called a minor player, Manafort’s obstruction gets added on top whereas Gates’ lie does not, Manafort got way more money out of the deal) the sentence ranges end up dramatically different.

Manafort’s advisory sentencing range works out to 210-262 months, whereas Gates’ range is 57-71 months.

The government is intent on taking all of Manafort’s stuff

The Manafort plea includes over three pages laying out how the government is going to take his ill-gotten gains. Given my newfound obsession with Paul Manafort’s forfeitures, I’ll write that up separately (or better yet make bmaz, who actually knows something about how this works, do so). The short version, though, is the government is intent on making sure they’ll get it all.

The EDVA charges

While this plea only deals with the charges in DC, the plea is meant to work with the EDVA charges. So for example, Manafort’s plea required him to admit he was guilty of the 10 hung charges in EDVA and prohibits him to appeal that case in any way (and includes the one bank account he had saved from forfeiture in the EDVA trial in the forfeiture in this plea). Manafort’s plea notes that if he is sentenced in EDVA before DC, he will have a criminal history for the purposes of sentencing. The plea promises to recommend that both his EDVA and DC sentences run concurrently (which probably would have happened anyway), but notes that neither judge, Amy Berman Jackson nor TS Ellis, is bound by the plea.

Gates was gagged

Perhaps most interesting pertains to Section 8, the description of cooperation each man has to offer. This is mostly boilerplate, and for both includes a few things in boilerplate bullet points — most  notably the requirement to participate in undercover activities — that won’t apply to either men (though Gates likely did still have documents to turn over whereas Manafort likely doesn’t).

But Gates’ plea has a bullet point Manafort’s doesn’t.

The defendant agrees not to reveal his cooperation, or any information derived therefrom, to any third party without prior consent of the Office.

In other words, the prosecutors anticipated sharing secrets with Gates that might blow up their case. They appear to have no such concerns with Manafort. Possibly, he has already seen such details in the 302s he got from Gates; he would be bound to secrecy about those under the DC protective order.

Still, there would almost certainly be things that Manafort would be discussing going forward, and he doesn’t appear to be bound to keep that secret.

Update: Andrew Prokop notes one thing I missed: the language introducing what kind of cooperation will be required in Gates says he’ll be working with “this Office,” whereas Manafort’s says he’ll be cooperating with “the Government.” I agree with him that suggests Manafort may still be cooperating after the Mueller office has shifted all its prosecutions elsewhere and will be cooperating in other jurisdictions (for example, against Tony Podesta, Vin Weber, and Greg Craig in SDNY). Anybody who has ever broken the law with Manafort should be securing legal representation if they haven’t already.

A slightly larger obligation to Gates

There’s one sentence at the end of the Government’s Obligation section in the Gates plea. After it says he can argue for any sentence below the advisory guidelines, it says,

Depending on the precise nature of the defendant’s substantial assistance, the Office may not oppose defendant’s application.

I’m not sure what to make of the difference — perhaps it suggests the government expected Gates might have that kind of argument to make?

Note, too, that the 5K language in the Manafort plea is actually plural, meaning if he cooperates a lot he’ll be able to ask for a lesser sentence in EDVA too.

Pardon-proofing the statute of limitations

The statute of limitations paragraph, which allows the government to prosecute the underlying crimes and any other crimes not prosecuted if “any plea or conviction [is…] set aside or dismissed for any reason,” even after the statute of limitations toll includes this language in the Manafort plea that is not present in the Gates plea:

The Office and any other party will be free to use against your client, directly and indirectly, in any criminal or civil proceeding, all statements made by your client, including the Statement of the Offense, and any of the information or materials provided by your client, including such statements, information, and materials provided pursuant to this Agreement or during the course of debriefings conducted in anticipation of, or after entry of, this Agreement, whether or not the debriefings were previously a part of proffer-protected debriefings, and your client’s statements made during proceedings before the Court pursuant to Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.

It also repeats that this language applies to the conduct described in the Statement of the Offense “or any other crimes that the Government has agreed not to prosecute.”

Some lawyers believe this language generally and the addition specifically provides further insurance against pardon. If Trump pardons Manafort for the crimes he has just pled guilty to, the government will then be able to go after him for the other crimes he just told the grand jury about, crimes which are probably worse and for which the President is a co-conspirator.

Gates can’t even write a story about Paul Manafort’s sleazy influence peddling

There are two slight differences under the section enumerating trial rights. Both are prohibited from profiting off their stories. But those prohibitions are described differently. Gates many not make money on stories about his:

work for Paul Manafort, the transactions alleged in the Indictment, or the investigation by the Office or prosecution of any criminal or civil cases against him.

Whereas Manafort may not make money on stories about,

the conduct encompassed by the Statement of the Offense, or the investigation by the Office or prosecution of any criminal or civil cases against him.

There’s also a really subtle difference about how proffer statements might be used. Gates waived the right to object “to the Government’s use” of his proffer statements (which started on January 29, almost a month before he pled). Manafort waived the right to object to “the use” of his proffer statements, suggesting Mueller’s team might know of other venues (or branches of government) besides the Federal government where those statements might be used.

Gates preserves two potential collateral attacks on his sentence

Gates preserved two additional rights in the collateral attacks section. First, if the sentencing range for his crimes gets lowered in the future, he can challenge that under 18 USC §3582(c)(2). Additionally, he could also challenge the sentence if newly discovered evidence comes available. Manafort has neither of these protections.

The government can declare Manafort in breach of agreement based on good faith

With Gates, the standard the government has to prove to argue he has breached his agreement is preponderance of the evidence or, in case of committing a crime, probable cause. With Manafort, the government only has to prove “good faith.”

Jeannie Rhee gets involved

This may be a minor (or huge) issue. But there’s one difference to the prosecutors who signed these pleas. Andrew Weissman, Greg Andres, and Kyle Freeny are on both. But whereas Brian Richardson signed Gates’ plea, Jeannie Rhee signed Manafort’s. That’s interesting because she has been heavily involved in the Roger Stone investigation, but she was also involved in the two Russian indictments.

45 replies
      • orionATL says:

        that’s useful to know.

        what this piece offers for an emptywheel reader like myself who often wanders around lost in the legal (not to mention factual) arcana of these complex cases is an abstract, simplified view of the legal process involved in manafort, to whit, the decision-making process that manafort and his lawyers may have gone thru in deciding to plead guilty and cooperate.

        it seems that, in reality, manafort was playing the last card he had to avoid spending the rest of his life in jail. that card was cooperation with mueller. and now a presidential pardon seems out of the question. manafort’s only hope for sentence reduction, according to this young lawyer-journalist’s telling, lies in mueller’s putting in a good word (many convincing good words, in fact) for him with the judge at sentencing time. even that may not work if the judge is sufficiently ill-disposed toward manifort’s behavior.

        so a decision to cooperate and tell osc what he knew may have been the key to manafort’s decision to cross over to the other side. furthermore, the prosecutor typically expects that cooperation to be unstinting, unlimited. these were important questions i had prior to yesterday’s publication of the deal.

      • KM says:

        To be fair, just about nobody does.  There’s a pretty universal assumption among observers of the investigation that once the Mueller team indicts people or secures guilty pleas, the charges brought at that time represent for all intents and purposes the final balance-sheet.  They throw at them everything they’ve got — which is, after all, the way we’re more or less used to prosecutors behaving.  The rest then is presumably up to the juries and the courts.

        But those observers might take a lesson from how Paul Manafort was dealt with.  An initial set of charges — a lot of them; we think Mueller’s done.  But no: two superseding indictments, in February and then in June, brought later in the process to ratchet up the pressure.  (With the latter set of charges admittedly centred on Manafort’s post-indictment shenanigans.)  Mueller didn’t show all his cards in his initial hand.  He kept significant stuff in reserve.

        It has seemed obvious for a long time now that Mueller is playing his case-in-chief cards closest to the vest, building up, piecemeal, the very diverse and often seemingly unconnected foundations for that case, while rarely if ever even showing a glimpse of the best parts of his hand.  There are certainly some observers who sense this.  But what almost no one seems to guess at is the possibility that the Mueller team *may not be done with* — indeed, may have only begun with — Papadopoulos-of-the-14-days and Flynn, and perhaps, eventually, Cohen.

        So when Deanna Paul ignores, like just about everyone else, a very substantial benefit that Manafort could get from his “capitulation” — full cooperation may avert far more serious additional charges in the case-in-chief — that might not be all she misses.  For when she later says, “The best cooperation happens early on, even on day one — a la Michael Flynn …”, it seems like this is too simple a read on the difference in the treatment of Flynn vs. Manafort.  (Gates seems a much better comparison on that score.)  The right response to this might be:  sure, but only if Flynn has truly cooperated, systematically and deeply, beyond the narrow four corners of the charges he (currently) faces.  Otherwise case-in-chief charges (and others, perhaps, in Flynn’s case) may be lurking in the wings.  (Providing, moreover, further opportunities to issue “speaking” indictments through which the Mueller team can tell us about the crimes of other conspirators….)

        And that (if I’ve got it right) is just one reason why I read emptywheel….

  1. Posaune says:

    Great work, Marcy. Thank you soooo much! Saw your tweet about forfeiture of #43b—I would imagine that piece would really unhinge orange head to an unprecedented degree, no?

  2. Troutwaxer says:

    “though Gates likely did still have documents to turn over whereas Manafort likely doesn’t.”

    I’m not sure I buy that. The government raided Manafort’s homes and offices, and I think a storage unit, but if I were a player of Manafort’s stature I’d keep my special paperwork someplace other than my home/office/storage unit. Just saying.

    • cat herder says:

      Does Paulie seem like a skilled operator to you? He’s the kind of guy probably confused about how they got into his storage unit, since he used one of those combination lock carabiner things he found on ebay for $4.99 for a 10-pack. “But… how did they guess the combination?! HOW?? Did I forget to scramble the numbers last time I was over there?”

      • Troutwaxer says:

        You may have a point about Manafort’s basic competence, but the idea of having a special place to keep important papers I don’t want the government to see seems so basic (if I were doing what Manafort did) that I can’t imagine he didn’t see the need too.

        On the other hand, Manafort was clearly dumb enough to bring the horrible shit he was doing in foreign lands back home, so maybe he’s not very bright.

        • Bob Conyers says:

          Considering the amount of overseas work he did, it’s not out of the question he left files in places out of the country. Whether they haven’t been seized by others is a different question.

      • Willis Warren says:

        Manfort is an extremely good looking guy, who has probably never had to try in his life.  I don’t doubt that he makes mistakes, he probably has never had to apologize

        • orionATL says:

          i think this is pretty much right on target. good looks and a nice suit go a long way.

          the saying about conmen is that the way to be successful at conning people is to never look like what the mark imagines a conman to look like.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          Perhaps in the past, but he’s not aging well.  The photo EW uses on her posts looks like someone whose soul went dead some time ago.  It seems quite likely that lots of likker and drugs helped deaden his senses over the years, and he got sloppy.  Whether he has an underlying disease (liver issues?  whatever…), he does not appear to be a vibrant, energetic, nor well man at this point; ill health would also lead to sloppiness.  His skin and eyes appear sallow.

          Nevertheless, he operated with impunity for a very long time, and probably long enough so that operating a criminal racket seemed normal to him.  Consequently, criminal rackets posing as governments watched him, and almost certainly thought, ‘This guy could be useful for us.’   A guy who wasn’t Stone, Manafort, or among their ilk would have taken a pass on being useful to such dark forces.

          But I keep having the sense that this whole Mueller investigation: Trump, plus money laundering, plus Erik Prince, plus Kushner-Netanayu-Mohommad bin Salman, plus Ukraine, plus Cambridge Analytica is epic; it feels at the moment like we are seeing one stanza of Homer, with much of the battle yet to begin.

    • david sanger says:

      They only got some specific folders from the storage unit. Now they can go back and look at all the rest. Plus he may well have other docs stored elsewhere.

      Also he can alert Mueller about documents other parties may have.

  3. orionATL says:

    “Manafort waived the right to object to “the use” of his proffer statements, suggesting Mueller’s team might know of other venues (or branches of government) besides the Federal government where those statements might be used.”

    i’d suggest other depts of the federal government not directly focused on prosecution, like maybe the state dept or treasury dept’s fincen division, might be interested in some substantial “debriefing”.

    manafort was in the ukraine (and some russian satellite countries) with kilimnik as an “aide” for a decade. this would give putin something to worry about besides shainghaing former u.s. ambassador mcfaul for interrogatjon.

    m’s knowledge and possible use of russian money laundering techniques would of interest to treasury. further, though it might seem a stretch, could russian covert involvement in the ukraine including shooting down a civilian airplane (verified by dutch intelligence) and the use of “little green men” be considered operating a terrorist network?

    putin and russian military intelligence needs to pay, as well as does manafort, for their attack on the american civilian population in 2016.

      • orionATL says:

        states of course. i took that to be what ew intended.

        i thought it important, though, to point out manafort’s potential usefulness in the much larger issue of the putin government’s 6 year-war on the heretofore stable european and american political cultures and NATO. m. was, for example, a principle in the effort to collect some famous, washed-up european ex-pols and launder their opinions thru the weber and podesta political manipulation firms in an effort to influence american public opinion on behalf of some ukrainians and russia.

        • orionATL says:

          yes, alas. but one can hope. it would help a lot if the secs of state and treasurey weren’t under the control of a prez who owes the putin government big-time. maybe a dem house :)

          my experience with institutional corruption is that it can be so pervasive and effectively self-protecting that one can drive oneself crazy – and become ineffective oneself – trying to deal with it in totality.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      I think Putin has done a clever job insulating himself against a response to 2016 in the short term. The links he has built to the NRA, evangelicals, Netanyahu and some major GOP donors will make the Republicans scared to death of exposing him.

      Hopefully in the long run, his backfires on him and the GOP and their malignant backers, but we’ll see.

      • William Bennett says:

        >The links he has built to the NRA, evangelicals, Netanyahu and some major GOP donors will make the Republicans scared to death of exposing him.

        Yes, my concern too. The thread Mueller has been pulling on threatens to unravel a big swath of the GOP fabric. Even if that’s a rightful outcome, the people who will find it threatening to their bank accounts and stability extends far outside the GOP itself. We’ll be very lucky if we can expose what they’ve done in the form of Trump. “We were all fooled!” will be the line, even from his biggest enablers and the corporate media, and the commentariat and gatekeepers of what is politically permissible will rally to that line, just as they did after 9/11, after Iraq proved to be a disaster, after the economic crash in 2007…. Anything that threatens to shatter the dominant both-siderist narrative, as this does, also threatens the foundations of the whole business (and I mean business) of politics as it has evolved to function lo these last 40 years or so. A LOT of interests don’t want that.

      • Raven Eye says:

        The links he [Putin] has built to the NRA

        The NRA isn’t saying much to their members with regard to this.  The emails I get from their ILA and from Ollie North just keep humming along with the usual drivel.  Is there ever going to be a point in time that the “membership” starts asking questions?

        [“Membership” in quotes because a one year NRA membership (to get a discount at the HQ Fairfax range) has turned into years of the magazine and constant intimations that I’m still a member (they don’t bother to audit).  The value of what they send me is that it helps me keep up with the knuckleheads.]

  4. cbear says:

    Dear Marcy, first of all, THANK YOU so much for all your outstanding work over so many years—I’ve been reading your brilliant commentary since the FDL days and lurking here daily from the beginning—-and you’re a national treasure.
    I hope you (and the other great commenters here) will permit me a question:
    What do you think the chances are that Mueller will bring, or refer, charges against any of the other cretinous, corrupted, dirtbags involved in Manafort’s machinations on behalf of the Ukrainians/Russians? Namely, Greg Craig, Vin Weber, Podesta, and all the other various and sundry sleazebags–Dems and Repugs alike.
    IMHO it would be not only the right thing to do, but also a smart political move on his part as it would at least partially blunt the “Democratic Witch Hunt” smokescreen thrown out by the goopers. At least in the eyes of the general public.
    Thanks again!

  5. Doug R says:

    If this ends up putting Nixon’s biggest fan and the Mango Menace and Dense Pence away, I think the next Democratic president should commute Manafort’s sentence after about six years kinda like Obama did with Manning.

  6. Kick the darkness says:

    When we first saw Manafort enter this story, back before servers starting pinging and him getting whole and all that, as I recall he had washed up in a hotel or a rehab resort or something like that, suicidally depressed about his marriage falling apart. Kevin Downing’s statement yesterday emphasized his plea deal was in part to accommodate his family. I’ve seen what Manafort loses, but what does he/his family actually get to keep? Is his family left with the resources to maintain a comfortable, although probably diminished, living (since he’s an empty nester that would likely be his wife)? And if Manafort was thought to be a target based on his cooperation, I can imagine violence could be potentially directed at his family. Would potential protection for his family be part of his agreement, although maybe not spelled out on paper within the plea agreement? As has been pointed out, this agreement basically would appear to leave Manafort crushed. It’s over for him. He arguably deserves all of that and more. But he must have been bargaining for something.

    • Kick the darkness says:

      From Bloomberg (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-09-14/manafort-gives-up-prized-hampton-s-estate-keeps-florida-home)

      Manafort gets to keep his $1.25 million home at the BallenIsles Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. The Florida location might help if Manafort is forced into bankruptcy. The state’s homestead exemption allows a primary residence of unlimited value to be protected from creditors, as long as the debtor lived in Florida for 40 months or longer. Also exempt are 401(k)s, IRAs and Roth IRAs up to $1.2 million.

      If there were properties/assets that were just in his wife or daughters names to what extent would  they have been exempt from forfeiture?  I suppose probably not.  But like trust funds for his daughters, stuff like that.  Does all that go bye bye?

      • Kick the darkness says:

        And its not a legal thing, but I guess one difference between Gates and Manafort’s plea(s?) is that after Gate’s plea Weissman went over and shook Gate’s hand.  During Manafort’s plea, however, Weissman took particular relish in reading the rap sheet.  According to Politico

        After he was done, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson joked that Weissmann had just given “probably the longest and most detailed summary” of charges she had heard in a plea hearing.

        Not to mention the 20 or so people involved in prosecuting the case who showed up to bear witness.

  7. APB IV says:

    The big elephant in the room re forfeiture is does he get the ipods back, or should readers of this informative & awesome site start saving up now for what’s sure to be a rather fierce bidding war come govt auction time?

    • Avattoir says:

      Like pieces of a bat broken in a MLB game? More like an elephant grave site.

      All data will already have been copied & memory erased. I suppose someone could invest thousands in the mirroring technology necessary to effect partial recovery of deleted files and the underlying structure, but I don’t know of any Emptywheel Eregulars into memorabilia for its own sake.

      Not aiming this at you – IDK who U R – but the nature of the interest a collector might have into the data in those ipods very much brings up in my mind the Judicial Watch / Jerome Corsi / Daily Caller type interest that’s IMO is really grounded in a desire to assemble mass falsehoods from unconnected detritus and crap. Other than from the uptick here in troll & weirdo traffic over the last 18 or so months, I don’t see anyone here remotely interested in that junk.

  8. randomname says:

    I found it interesting that Manafort’s and Gates’ plea agreements only binds the SCO, and expressly acknowledges that other federal prosecutors could prosecute him for the charges dropped. I don’t expect anything to come out it and am not even suggesting it’s unusual (I’m no expert), but it just seemed odd to me.

  9. Bradley Brooks says:

    A question (or two or more) from an architect and, ergo, not an attorney. Thanks in advance:
    It’s my understanding that “Conspiracy” has two fundamental requirements, a) some threshold of contribution, participation, or knowledge by at least two parties, and b) an underlying crime. I also seem to recall discussion after either or both of the large-party Russian indictments that they established the narratives and criminality, for which subsequent folk, Stateside, would be charged with Conspiracy. So a few points I wonder about as a layperson…
    1: Let’s say somehow some of (or for argument, let’s just say “all of”) these Russian plaintiffs found themselves next week in the U.S., arrested, and on trial within days… and somehow a jury acquitted them all on all of the charges. Would that “neutralize” any possibility that others could be subsequently charged with Conspiracy to: defraud the U.S., hack into emails, etc.? Would there no longer be, technically, a “crime,” since there would have been a full acquittal, hence no “Conspiracy”?
    1.a: (From a media narrative perspective, the fact that the first two groups of Russians were, to U.S. audiences at least, total unknowns meant that public discussion of the indictments focused on their substance, not on the spectacle of personalities, had the plaintiffs been the members of Trump’s circle, who will surely be (imminently/eminently) named in Conspiracy indictments. As a corollary, it means that the veracity of the original narrative ((Is it called “Explanation of the Offense”?)) gets set in place, and any subsequent shock and protest about Jared or Junior must by definition stipulate to that original narrative. People rightly complain that the lies of Trump Team build upon themselves when not adequately debunked and exposed, and that the same people become progressively wearied against fighting all of that, but I think we have to allow that Trump Team is equally vulnerable to the very same dynamic, just from the standpoint of Truths, instead of Lies. And on a closely related story, despite all the justifiable criticism, a more accurate instance of “anonymity” allowed the NYT OpEd to be discussed on the merits of substance, instead of getting lost in the spectacle of authorship.)
    2: If the two predicates(?) for a Conspiracy are, as above, plural parties and underlying crime, what’s the underlying threshold for that criminality? Assuming the Russians never face trial, and are therefore neither convicted nor acquitted, does their mere indictment with all its painstaking detail suffice in our Nation of Laws? Or would the “Stateside Folks” have to be added to the original indictments or named in superseding ones and tried for those charges, instead of Conspiracy?
    3: Is there some deeper strategy to having charged the Russians first, or is it just that when charging a crime, you have to charge the actual folks “Whodunnit”?
    4: Super-general questions: If the huge body of evidence shows Trump’s election to be fully/deeply fraudulent and criminal, what’s to be done with all his actions, pronouncements, and appointments over the past two years?… And, to meet the threshold of Treason, could Congress retroactively pass a Resolution declaring Russian election interference an act of war(ishness), without actually passing a Declaration of War, hence triggering the avalanche of other legal measures that would necessarily follow?

    Horribly long, apologies, thanks.

    • Avattoir says:

      Hope your “architect” day job produces cleaner edifices than this Vandelay Industries effort on your ‘understanding’ of how conspiracy works.

      How would you feel if I – someone who knows Jack Squat about architecture, design or engineering – strolled into where you work, sat down at one of your drafting tables, and started drawing up supposed ‘plans’ for an office tower? Would you be likely to take those AT ALL seriously? I would hope not.

      Law schools exist for reasons, as do bar exams and legal research. I didn’t have the faintest understanding of criminal conspiracy charges when I left law school, or after passing the bar, and for several years beyond that. I didn’t develop an interest in conspiracy prosecutions as a HOBBY, it was because the work I was doing demanded I start learning about them. And my understanding of them was particularly poor for a number of years, compensated for largely by my enthusiasm for the effort and I could not possibly count all the hours spent in libraries, reading case reports, talking with other attorneys with some similar level of interest (Surprisingly few lawyers are actually interested – a mere fraction of a single percentage point.), and DOING THE ACTUAL WORK: working with investigators to figure out WTF they had, trying to describe it all in words, filling holes if possible, if filled then drafting indictments, MORE filling of holes and fissures as they arose in the course of litigation, presenting them to juries, arguing them there and before appeal courts … and I’ve never gotten them fully figured out, even after more than 4 decades.

      So, no: you do NOT deserve nor will you receive any sort of a ‘pass’ on something you thought up all on your own without regard to CENTURIES of law in this area. And I don’t say this out of any conceit that I’m any smarter than you or anyone else who posts here (fearless leader exempted, of course: give her an ounce of useful information & she can build a planet).

      If you think you can reinvent fire, good for you, but I can assure you no one who knows what they’re posting about in this area is going to buy your product. If it’s actual UNDERSTANDING you’re after – and you certainly appear to be at least trying to suggest that’s what’s motivating your post – then do it the old-fashioned way: EARN it – go into the case reports (which are largely if not entirely FULLY FREE & PUBLICLY ACCESSIBLE ONLINE), and start reading.

      BTW, where do I submit my time sheet on the external utilities duct system I just drew up for your next multiplex?

      • orionATL says:

        prof. avattoir,

        respected sir,

        why don’t you just retell the story about your client who started a business and thought he was going great guns because he was getting more and more of all the business of that sort to be had in the nation (?). he invested a lot in his growing business under advice from a member od an advice giving consortium. unfortunately, it turned out your client had been suckered by a member of that group of experts, who together had conspired to sell their advice to such suckers.

        only this time please put in more details about that conspiracy. it might be educational. if not, i’m still dying to hear more about that case, as i wrote at the time.

        as for pay, i’m hoping you believe in pro bono and public service. me and the wife live on a tight budget what with the two houses, the corgis, and the marina fees. i’m very sympathetic that professors don’t get paid more, but we each make our choices in life. thanks in advance for your generosity.

      • posaune says:

        Oh come on, the guy’s probably drawing bathrooms for Gensler’s low-budget public building projects.   At least he has the HVAC now.

      • Bradley Brooks says:


        Frankly, your reply is both rude and not even proofread.  Very rude.  I submitted honest queries.  There are good questions in there.  You were personal, rude, right out of the gate.  Honestly, I couldn’t even read it; a cursory scan didn’t even reveal the slightest bit of useful response.

        You owe me an apology.

        • SteveB says:

          I note my contribution to this sub-thread, inviting you in a solicitous tone to clarify your questions has not as yet elicited a response. So if you are concerned simply to ask reasonable questions, please re-formulate so that a reasonable reader could discern how your questions relate to the realities of recent events, and respond accordingly.

      • r helder says:

        strelnikov to avattoir

        >Law schools exist for reasons, as do bar exams and legal research…CENTURIES of law in this area.<

        thank you.  there is a pernicious reactionary anti-intellectual propaganda trope that insinuates the idea that judicial decisions are merely “personal opinions,” “judge-made law.”   in fact, the millennia-old development of anglo-american common law and statutory law has produced a body of reasoning which, by its very logic, is largely accepted by those versed in the various strains of legal inquiry.  at the federal level, most judges do the hard work of discovering and researching existing law.  to wit, even on the u.s. supreme court there are many more 9 – 0, or 8 – 1, or 7 -2 decisions — settled law — than those close 5-4 opinions that receive public scrutiny because they involve evolving law.

        that we now have reactionary semi-conspiratorial organizations like the “federalist society” organized to “game” the courts and undermine this consensus is a further threat to our democracy, and must be addresses if democracy is to continue here

    • SteveB says:

      In a previous life and not in the USA I was frequently called upon to assist the Court of Appeal with grounds of appeal against conviction and or sentencing drafted by prisoners themselves or their friends/ relatives in cases where ineffective assistence of counsel was an aspect of their complaint, and had driven them to act as lawyers in their own cause. I am thus very used to wading through reams of paper containing quasi-legalistic reasoning trying my very best to uncover what genuine grievance may be buried within that could be reshaped into something approaching a tenuously arguable ground justifying further investigation.

      It is with that background and in that spirit I have read and re-read your post. I am genuinely puzzled about what it is that you are asking to have explained.

      Perhaps you could help yourself to be helped by simplifying what you are asking and how you are asking for it.

      For example: what is the purpose of hypothesising the acquittals of Russian actors ( defendants not ‘plaintiffs’) on the charges contained in the trolling and hacking indictments? A starting point for you on that topic could be grasping that an acquittal of any individual defendant generally does not mean no crime took place.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      A conspiracy requires an agreement to commit a crime and some action toward fulfilling the agreement.  The crime itself need never be committed.  Only one party need take those tangible steps in order to criminally implicate all parties to the agreement.

      As an aside, my observations are that commentators here are ordinarily considerate, their arguments fact-based. Trolls excepted, they aspire to refute arguments, not to denigrate the commentator.  

      They can be acid-tongued, though irony, sarcasm, and wit are more common.  Thick skin required.  Political commentary is a contact sport.

  10. pseudonymous in nc says:

    A minor point on the forfeiture: the two substitutes — including Apartment 43G — aren’t classified with the first seven properties as the proceeds or instruments of the crimes to which Paulie pled guilty. On the one hand, the forfeiture process allows swapouts. On the other hand, the apartment was bought in 2006 by John Hannah LLC for cash, which fits into the start of the period covered by the DC charges. JH LLC was the later recipient of the $10m loan from Deripaska.

    The indictment and the Superseding Criminal Information stayed away from 43G, perhaps because there wasn’t enough evidence to tie that purchase to dirty money from Ukraine, but perhaps also because the sale of properties for dirty money comes a little too close to part of the case in chief.

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