Manafort Turns State’s Evidence: “It’s Time for Some Game Theory”

It took a day for the President to complain after his former campaign manager, having spent the week proffering up testimony, flipped on Friday. When he did, Trump tied the Mueller investigation to polls (and upcoming midterm elections) for the first time in a Tweet.

Of course, his freebie legal PR hack, Rudy Giuliani has been tying midterms to the investigation for some time in his insistence that no indictments can come between now and then. Rudy should be happy, then, that Paul Manfort’s plea avoids a four week trial for Trump’s campaign manager right in the middle of election season.

But he’s not.

I mean, at first, Rudy put a brave face on things Friday, claiming,

Once again an investigation has concluded with a plea having nothing to do with President Trump or the Trump campaign. The reason: the President did nothing wrong and Paul Manafort will tell the truth.

But almost immediately after making that statement, Rudy took out the part about Manafort telling the truth.

Roger Stone, who’s shrewder than Rudy, immediately suggested anything Manafort may be saying (or may already have said) implicating him would be a lie.

I am uncertain of the details of Paul’s plea deal but certain it has no bearing on me since neither Paul Manafort or anyone else can testify truthfully that I am involved in Russian collusion, WikiLeaks collaboration or any other illegal act pertaining to the 2016 election.

Though of course, Stone’s seeming awareness that Mueller might pursue Manafort testimony about Stone reveals his brave comment for the lie it is.

I’m more interested, however, in Rudy’s (and John Dowd’s) apparent desperation to stave off a mass prisoner’s dilemma.

Manafort first proffered testimony Monday, September 10. Rudy was still boasting about how much he knew about Manafort’s thinking for a Thursday Politico story — though he based that off conversations before and after the EDVA trial, which had ended three weeks earlier.

Giuliani also confirmed that Trump’s lawyers and Manafort’s have been in regular contact and that they are part of a joint defense agreement that allows confidential information sharing.

“All during the investigation we have an open communication with them,” he said. “Defense lawyers talk to each other all the time, where, as long as our clients authorize it, therefore we have a better idea of what’s going to happen. That’s very common.”

Giuliani confirmed he spoke with Manafort’s lead defense lawyer Kevin Downing shortly before and after the verdicts were returned in the Virginia trial, but the former mayor wouldn’t say what he discusses with the Manafort team. “It’d all be attorney-client privilege, not just from our point of view but from theirs,” he said.

Immediately after Manafort’s cooperation was announced, both NPR and the same Politico team that had been quoting Rudy’s bravura reported that someone close to Manafort said there would be no cooperation against the President. In later stories, both quote Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Rudy claiming Manafort’s cooperation has nothing to do with the President.

Despite Manafort’s having led the campaign, the White House has sought to distance itself from him and his case.

“This had absolutely nothing to do with the president or his victorious 2016 presidential campaign,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Friday. “It is totally unrelated.”

Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani echoed that idea, adding that “the president did nothing wrong.”

But the NPR version includes this correction.

Editor’s note: An early version of this story published before all the court documents in the case were available contained a characterization from a person familiar with the case that said Manafort’s cooperation would be limited. When charging documents and other materials appeared, they did not support that and the characterization was removed.

And the Politico noted how quickly Rudy backed off his claim that Manafort would testify truthfully.

Of course, anyone who has read the plea agreement closely — up to and including the government’s ability to declare Manafort in breach of the agreement with only a good faith rather than preponderance of the evidence standard —

— and it’s clear that if Mueller’s team wants Manafort to testify about Trump, he will.

Meanwhile, Rudy is yelling on Twitter that the morning shows aren’t taking his word about what Manafort is testifying about over what the clear text of the plea agreement suggests.

I’m more interested still that John Dowd emailed the lawyers for the (reportedly 37, though the number is likely smaller now) other witnesses in the Joint Defense Agreement, claiming outlandishly that Manafort has no evidence on Trump.

The President’s lawyers — the one who currently “works” for him for “free” and the one who allegedly doesn’t work for him anymore but recently got lionized in Woodward’s book as his main source about the Mueller investigation, and in that role was shown to be either an idiot or a fantasist, that the “free” one cites to claim that Woodward exonerates the President — are working very hard to convince others that Manafort’s plea deal doesn’t mean the calculation both other witnesses and the Republican party have been making has to change.

They’re trying to stave off an awful game of prisoner’s dilemma.

Consider if you’re one of the other 37 (which might be down to 34 given known cooperators, or maybe even fewer given how uncertain Rudy seems to be about Don McGahn’s third session of testimony) members of the Joint Defense Agreement, especially if you’re one who has already testified before the grand jury about matters that Manafort (and Gates) might be able to refute. So long as there’s no chance Trump will be touched, you’re probably still safe, as you can count on Trump rewarding those who maintain the omertà or at the very least working to kill the Mueller inquiry shortly after the election.

But if you have doubts about that — or concerns that other witnesses might have doubts about that — you still have an opportunity to recall the things you claimed you could not recall a year ago. Depending on how central your testimony is, you might even be able to slip in and fix your testimony unnoticed.

So each of 37 (or maybe just 30) people are considering whether they have to recalculate their decisions about whether to remain loyal to the President or take care of themselves.

Meanwhile, there’s the Republican party. Admittedly, the Republicans are unlikely to do anything until they rush through Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation, even if doing so without first inquiring about the allegation that he assaulted a girl when he was in high school will damage their electoral prospects with women in November.

But once they’ve got Kavanaugh confirmed (assuming no big news breaks in the Mueller investigation before that), then the calculation may change. Right now, a lot of Republicans believe they have to stick with Trump through the election, if only to ensure the GOP base turns out. But if Trump’s poll numbers continue to sink — and as the numbers of those who strongly disapprove of Trump continue to grow — Republicans in certain kinds of districts (especially suburbs) will have an incentive to distance themselves from the President.

All that’s a straight calculation based on whether Trump will help or hurt more, come November. But the Republican party, from Trump’s endless repetition of “no collusion;” to Devin Nunes’ naked attempt to obstruct the Mueller investigation; to Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham’s referral of Christopher Steele rather than Don Jr for perjury charges; to Mark Meadows’ latest attempts to turn Lisa Page and Peter Strzok’s attempts to chase down someone leaking about Carter Page into a suggestion they themselves leaked; to Richard Burr’s cynical boasts that his committee hasn’t found stuff they wouldn’t chase down if they had been told of it, has invested everything on a gamble that Trump was telling the truth (or, more cynically, that he could stave off discovery of any conspiracy he entered into with Russia).

Republicans have invested a whole lot into attempting to give the President a clean bill of health.

Meanwhile, his campaign manager — a guy many of them have worked with — is presumably now doing the opposite, telling Mueller precisely what the Republicans have been working so hard to suppress for 18 months.

At some point, the ones who have been playing along even while admitting that the President probably did conspire with Russia (I know of some who believe that’s likely), will make their move.

If the GOP were less dysfunctional, they’d do it sooner rather than later, cut their losses with Trump to try to salvage the Pence presidency (whom they like far more anyway). But for now, that calculation of whether or not to do so is likely happening in private.

I’m in no way promising Manafort’s plea deal will set off two parallel floods of rats fleeing the Trump JDA or his presidency generally. These are Republicans, after all, and I’m sure they still would prefer obstructing the whole thing away.

I don’t think a mass abandonment of Trump is going to happen anytime soon.

But Trump’s lawyers do seem worried that could happen.

Trump needs his fellow Republicans to believe that Paul Manafort isn’t providing evidence that incriminates him. Because if they start to believe that, their calculations behind support for him may change, and change quickly.

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. 

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58 replies
  1. What Constitution? says:

    Rudy’s “on further reflection” backtrack on the second half of the first reaction — to wit, deleting “Manafort will tell the truth” — is amazing. So will the story on this be that Trump insisted that Rudy not fence him in with respect to the surely-upcoming “Paul who?” defense? How’s that going to look? “I had no idea Manafort had ever worked with Russians?” Or will he go straight for “He told me he’d been a fry cook at an Arby’s outside Des Moines and that’s why he wanted to work for the campaign for free”?

    Better still, what are the odds being given in Las Vegas over the subject of Trump’s first “National Alert Tweet” coming up later this week? How about the odds on specific words? “Witch Hunt” even money? How much if he uses “You’re nothing to me, Fredo”? Maybe the “specific words” should be reserved for a nationwide drinking game instead. Two drinks for “NO COLLUSION”.

    Thank you, EW. Your work on this has been fabulous.

  2. Geoff says:

    He may know MOST of what Manafort can tell him, but I assure you he does not know what was spoken in the June 7 Manafort Trump meeting, where they were the only two present.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      It’s also possible that there are other investigations that they want Manafort’s help with. I wouldn’t be surprised if he also has intelligence information that is wanted outside of DOJ.

      • Desider says:

        I’m hoping that Manafort provides evidence that allows Mueller to pivot/greatly expand the money laundering-influence connections and address Saudis, UAE, Israel… beyond filling in gaps w Trump/Russia. Guess I’m hoping Christmas comes early this year.

        • Tracy says:

          Wasn’t Rudy saying – back in the day when he was trying to “get in front” of this story, probably due to something that came up in JDA/ as Gates going into 1st trial/ Haveberman reporting that never materialized, before Rudy retracted it b/c nothing came out in the press- that the June 7th meeting included basically the same suspects as at June 9th meeting, and they were “all” denying existence of any June 7th meeting,  and that Trump DEFINITELY didn’t know about it and DEFINITELY wasn’t there – but Rudy I think said it included Gates, and so now we will know for sure, b/t Gates and Manafort, if it did happen, who of usual suspects was really there, including the truth about Trump’s being there… this is my hope!

          …and if Cohen is now talking maybe we will find out whether there really was a moment when Don Jr came in and told his dad.

    • square1 says:

      Why would you be so sure of that when Manafort took notes on the later meeting and Mueller has Manafort’s files, including ipods?

  3. Peterr says:

    It’s hard for Trump Co not to be worried, when the guy who said he’d take a bullet for the president has walked that all the way back to Mueller’s office and the guy who Trump figured would back him to the bitter end decided otherwise. Says Trump to the Trumplings, “If Michael and Paul could flip, *anyone* can. We gotta put a stop to this.”

    Given the SOP of Trump, Inc., I expect there are plenty of threats being uttered toward the 34, and the leaks of Trump’s “volcanic” reaction to Manafort’s plea were designed to demonstrate to them just how seriously Trump takes betrayals. Of course, the harsher the reaction, the more it will likely push others to decide to talk to Mueller sooner rather than later, to get a deal before Trump gets it in his head (true or false) that they are unreliable.

  4. RS says:

    How do we know that Manafort started talking to OSC on Monday? I see you’ve linked the plea but not clear to me where in the plea that is indicated. Thanks.

    • SteveB says:

      Re Manafort first proffered testimony Monday, September 10.

      See plea agreement p14 under header 14 Complete Agreement refers to the proffer signed 11 Sept 2018.

      I imagine that Sept10 refers to pre proffer agreement negotiations

  5. TheVirginian says:

    What what are the chances that Manafort might have something to tell Mr Mueller about his days persuading the institutional Republican Party to shallow the New York Numbskull? I would think Manafort would have been in the middle of a lot of horsetrading through the convention – which, if I remember, he was hired in part for his experience in running. How interested might Mr Mueller’s team be in Paulie’s exploits as chief broker between Trump and the GOP bigwigs? It sets me thinking about that taped conversation back in June 2016 where Ryan and McCarthy and others were for some reason talking about people getting paid by Putin.

  6. pseudonymous in nc says:

    It’s pretty clear that Rudy911 supplied Josh Gerstein and Carrie Johnson with that “sources close” quote before the plea agreement surfaced, got it written up by Politico and NPR, and has been quoting himself ever since on the twitters. Cheneyesque. I know that nobody actually burns sources for lying to them, but the fact that Carrie and Josh are grinning and bearing it after being hoodwinked suggests that it’s a source they can’t afford to burn.

    So I think it’s not just about convincing the institutional party that they don’t need to evacuate right now: it’s also a pantomime from Rudy911, Dowd and Sanders to keep King Stupid from completely losing his shit, which would feed back into the party’s calculations.

    So it’s storm surge and it’s a flood not named Emmett.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Part of the strategy would have been getting ahead of the story.

      Being first frames the issue, everything that comes after becomes a “correction.”  They are not given as much attention as the original.  I suspect this story will be different.

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        You can’t play he said – she said when one side is a couple of gobshites and the other side is documents filed in court with Paulie’s initials on every page.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          You’re too fact-based.  These guys invent their own reality.  It’s been a Gooper trademark since at least the days of Shrub and Big Dick.  :-)

  7. TheraP says:

    The Prisoner’s Dilemma assumes each is in a cell.  Alone.  But not here.

    Many of these 30-37 potential defendants presumably have families, homes, responsibilities to family well-being, to children’s well-being.  So family pressures may also begin to enter in here.  Big time.

    I’m imagining the significant others’ questions re this “defense agreement” (now public knowledge).  Did they know before or not?  I can envision the middle of the night pillow talk at 2 or 3 am – prime time for heightened anxiety:  Thoughts of perp-walks by a loved one.  Will they or will they not accompany them to court?  Etc.  The pressure is on!

    Then there’s another variable.  Trump with an itchy phone finger, dialing up this or that person.  Will that person take the call?  What would it mean if they refuse to take the call?  Could someone be recording that call?

    The more you think about the variables here, the more complicated it gets, all the possibilities they have to try and game out.  Pressure from loved ones!

    The tension and anxiety are bound to get to someone.  Or several someones.  And there’s only so much time before it’s too late.  Family, loved-ones, will realize this too!

    Brilliant post, Marcy!  Many helpful posts.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      You’re right that this is an imperfect approximation of the classic prisoner’s dilemma, although I think it’s fair to say that despite the JDA, the flow of information is severely limited.

      It’s also worth adding that in the standard framing of the prisoner’s dilemma, the greater the number of prisoners, the greater the chances are that someone will turn informant. And considering that there are already informants, you have to expect more to peel off.

      I think another possible difference from the classic prisoner’s dilemma is that not everyone in the JDA may be under threat of prosecution. I would not be surprised if some of them are people who know things but aren’t involved in the conspiracy. They may well have joined simply because the Trump camp came calling with money for attorney fees if they signed on with one of the lawyers already in the JDA. If that’s true, and with no risk of betrayal, they may decide to stick with the JDA rather than face the prospect of tens of thousands of dollars in attorney fees. Of course, they may decide it’s worth paying the fees from now on for an independent lawyer rather than get stuck on a sinking ship — I can’t imagine it’s a good feeling knowing Victoria Toensing is representing you.

      • orionATL says:

        “,they may decide it’s worth paying the fees from now on for an independent lawyer rather than get stuck on a sinking ship”

        i like the tightness of “ratfuckers leaving a sinking ship” :)

        vs

        “individuals making prisoner’s dilemma calculations” leaving a sinking ship.

        ratfucker’s all, each and every one, says i.

      • TheraP says:

        Your comment makes me think there could even be someone(s) playing Double Agent(s).

        Info flowing both ways.

        After all these are people with very loose morals, no scruples.

        • orionATL says:

          and some of their ratfuckin’ hides are likely to get nailed to the osc trophy wall.

          as dr. johnson said: “nothing causes a man to reflect like the prospect of hanging in the mojrning.”

          or as boswell faithfully (we hope) wrote:

          “…383. Death; Mortality

          “Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.”

          Boswell: Life

          so let us watch and see just how long it takes this 3? cabal to begin disintegrating.

          those still at the whitehouse dare not be first out the door; that leaves the dear departed ones to be the first to leave the jda, unless perchance their attorneys see some benefit in lingering near the door a tad longer.

          in any event we now have a measuring stick to judge how parlous individual members of the jda cabal think the situation is for them at various times in the future.

        • posaune says:

          Good comment, TheraP.   I helped organized a rent strike in NYC once (building fire, constructive evictions, etc); we had very experienced counsel, established an court approved escrow fund for rents, etc.   Still, when all was finally resolved (2 years+), we learned that there were tenants who paid rent to the escrow fund AND to the landlord at the same time!!   Double rent!   And it was interesting to see who those people were:  those pushing hardest for improvements, generally.    So yeah, there will be those who work both sides.

  8. David Lewis says:

    Ultimately with Nixon it wasn’t Watergate. It was the pattern of “rat-fucking” (what a horrible and thus marvelously apt term) exposed during the investigation that guaranteed a Senate impeachment.

    How did that body become convinced of Nixon’s guilt…they had a “road map”- a 55 page document that concisely pieced together a pattern of behavior revealed but spread thinly over 1000s of hours of tapes and documents.

    That document may soon be revealed: https://www.lawfareblog.com/watergate-road-map-and-coming-mueller-report

  9. Teddy says:

    If gerrymandering and the most favorable map, ever, don’t prevent a complete GOP wipeout in the House and Senate respectively in November, I predict Ryan and McConnell will initiate and conclude a quickie lame-duck session impeachment and trial to get Pence in place with a veto pen in January.

    Also, judges confirmed like hotcakes, if Schumer’s too stupid to stop it.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      I agree on the judges but not the impeachment. The remaining Republicans are most likely to be the hard core conservatives in the most Trump-positive areas. It’s too soon for them to bolt, especially when Trump will be doing everything he can to fire up his base.

      In this case I think the dilemma is belling the cat — the group will be better if some take on the ultimate sacrifice, but none of them are willing to do it.

    • JD12 says:

      Until now Trump has only helped Republicans gain power (aside from a couple special elections), so they’ve had reason to defend him, but if the midterms go as expected it’ll be clear he’s become a liability and it will be easier to turn on him. They’ll want to wait until next Congress, though, so Pence can run twice for reelection. I think Ryan’s retirement has something to do with that strategy—he’s behind Pence in the line of succession already.

  10. Ollie says:

    Well I see the woman claiming sexual assault from Kavy has come forward.  She is a California Professor.  A friend of Brett , Judge Mark,  has talked publicly about his friend Brett in https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2018/09/brett-kavanaugh-mark-judge-high-school-drunk-al

    He’s not helping his buddy Brett.

    legation-alcohol/

    The WP article.  So is this strong enough Marcy to stall the vote now?  You’d mentioned unless something comes down from Mueller or….  Will this affect Trump?  God I hope so and great piece.  TY  Also?  I sure hope I did the links correctly.  I wouldn’t of bothered but am hoping some thoughts shared here.   Anyway if wrong, I apologize Rayne.

  11. cat herder says:

    The more we learn, the less convinced I am that the Republicans are obstructing because of party loyalty, and the more convinced I am they’re obstructing for the same reason Trump is obstructing: they’re guilty as shit of the same things Trump is guilty of and think they can ratfuck their way clear of prison. What’s the current count of GOP congresscritters who received and used known-stolen info to win in ’16?

  12. oldoilfieldhand says:

    Unlikely there is just one woman who was subjected to this behavior. The boys clubs have rules and norms of their own. Wackos abound…Drinking and drugs make it easier to rationalize unacceptable behavior, especially when responsibility can be sidestepped by being unable to remember what transpired. Dad will cover it.

    • Desider says:

      So how come the loser left hasn’t been able to come up with 65 assault victims in 1 night <snark/>.

      Anyine notice how Republican damage control resembles those 2 Russian “tourist” guys who just wanted to visit Salisbury Cathedral? It’s like between Fox and RT, just showing up is supposed to be enough.

  13. Anura says:

    If Trump starts fearing for his assets, I’d assume his first instinct would be to start throwing the most convenient people under the bus. I’m not sure the JDA can survive that.

      • bmaz says:

        You are, once again, making people here dumber with your comments. There is nothing “unraveling”, Grassley wants to let Ford be heard by a fucking committee phone call. At worst, they plan to force her to come live on Tuesday and still jam though Kavanaugh’s nomination in committee on Thursday.

        • Desider says:

          I’m on conspiracy ground now, but just as Michael Moore thinks Trump wrote the op-ed, I can’t help but wonder whether this high school sex assault is a distraction from Kavanaugh’s perjury to congress, illegally leaking Starr grand jury docs and knowingly using stolen Dem Congressional mails, abetting torture, and finding out he’s a long-term member of the “vast rightwing conspiracy/Roger Stone ratf*cking team” – or whether people find a 35-year old assault accusation more germane than all that. I mean, his hearing says he’s unable to objectively evaluate the truth, and he can’t even provide simple answers in a hearing, over and over. Shocking.

          • Trip says:

            The assault may well be perjury, too. He categorically denied it (okay, technically via the press and not in session). This woman allegedly shared the experience with her therapist and husband a few years back. Of course the lying and the stealing of emails, as well as using that info, should disqualify him. But the assault, if true (and likely it is), is just as germane.

            A great point:

            Stanley [email protected]

            Sexual assault of women is not about pleasure . . . its about power. Its about seeing them as inferior as unequal as without the opportunity to make decisions about their own life and its choices. The SCOTUS docket is built of issues about equality, power and choice for many.
            1:30 PM – 16 Sep 2018

            • Desider says:

              Goddammit, no, it’s not germane. Both Durbin & Leahy note he perjured himself to Congress at different times. They have “the receipts”. Kamala Harris has something else damaging. In writing, I suppose.

              That’s quite different from what Kav didn’t say on the stand (adult activities only) or said to the press, stuff 37 years ago that requires a much higher level of convincing. Of course sex scandals tend to carry more juice, so maybe so, but by existing evidence he should already be done. (And what about his finances – more strange habits and funny payoffs that we’re not supposed to worry about)

                • Desider says:

                  Well at this point they seem to carry no weight – the official line seems to be the hearings went swimmingly except for this last minute hangup. Suc is the state of our shitty politicians.

        • oldoilfieldhand says:

          The Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, Chuck Grassley from Iowa, and the rest of the Republican Senators, not only in the Judiciary Committee, but the entire Senate, personifies Upton Sinclair’s famous quote” It’s difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it”.

          It’s as though the Republican Senators, all blind, and many of their constituents, also blind, are playing charades. No government body with the resources they have available, and certainly no collection of millionaires anywhere else in the world could possibly be so obtuse Even a blind pig will occasionally find an acorn. These people couldn’t find their ass with both hands and a GPS.

          Greg Palast is right. We have the best government money can buy. I am disgusted by the kabuki theatre evident every day in the “world’s most deliberative body” of bought and paid for politicians. We have one more chance to vote them out. If we blow this one…

          Okay, I’m through venting for the morning. Thank you for all of the important work that you do Marcy! Thank you to all of the commenters here on emptywheel for helping me maintain my tenuous grip on sanity.

  14. orionATL says:

     ol’:rog opines :

    “neither Paul Manafort or anyone else can testify truthfully that I am involved in Russian collusion, WikiLeaks collaboration or any other illegal act pertaining to the 2016 election.”

    so rog thinks wikileaks collaboration is an illegal act?

    well, i’d say that –

    1.russian collusion and

    2.wikileaks collaboration

    are two things of more than a few illegal things that might have had ol’ rog’s cloven hoofprints on them. (past tense important here)

  15. craigsummers says:

    “…….I don’t think a mass abandonment of Trump is going to happen anytime soon.

    snip

    Trump needs his fellow Republicans to believe that Paul Manafort isn’t providing evidence that incriminates him. Because if they start to believe that, their calculations behind support for him may change, and change quickly……..”

    Personally, on this issue, I think you are living in a dream world. The Democrats will not have the necessary votes to remove Trump from office in an impeachment proceeding. Trump’s base could care less whether he conspired with Russia or not. That’s what drives the Republicans. However, I’m sure if Mueller looked at Trump’s business records, he could put Trump away longer than Manafort. Trump seethes corruption.

  16. Chetan Murthy says:

    Re: “prisoner’s dilemma”, I think that’s a lovely way to frame the calculation these JDA folks have to make! I’d only add that there’s one known (IIRC) “winning strategy” for it: “tit for tat”. You do to others, what they did to you last time. And while this is a single-round game, Fat Donnie has been playing related and similar games his entire fucking career. And he always, *always* *ALWAYS* defects, rats out the other guy, leaves the other guy holding the bag. Anybody looking at Putinfelcher’s history, would know, KNOW that staying loyal is a bum’s play, and their loved ones hopefully would be telling them that.

    But then of course, Spanky Dollhands isn’t known for hiring intelligent co-conspirators, so hey, maybe they’ll ride this b*tch all the way down.

    • BroD says:

      “he always, *always* *ALWAYS* defects, rats out the other guy, leaves the other guy holding the bag.”

      Good observation!  Hmm, how would that work–DT ratting out everyone else?

  17. George Proust says:

    We also have to consider that it seems that Giuliani is only signed on to help Trump to protect his own ass. He will try to claim attorney-client privilege and get all the evidence against him into that “privilege”.
    I remember seeing a photo of Giuliani and Stone leaving some gentlemen’s club before the election. The look on Giuliani’s face told me that they had just been discussing something so audacious, so beyond his capabilities, that his response was to drink two more whiskeys and to “hang onto his seat”.

  18. Hika says:

    Question for lawyers: How can an individual lawyer represent more than one party in a JDA? As a case progresses, each party must reassess whether they stay in or leave the JDA. The timing of one party leaving necessarily affects the interests of other parties. The lawyer for multiple parties would seem to have an insoluble conflict of interests. Perhaps their clients have another private agreement to act in unison, but that surely cannot be in the best interests of each client equally.

  19. Chetan Murthy says:

    Maybe not worth answering, but another Q re: JDAs:

    This JDA sounds just like suborning perjury, no? I mean, how can possible co-conspirators be allowed to meet to “get their stories straight”? That seems like an open-and-shut way to pervert the course of justice …..

    • HCCarey says:

      It sure seems that way to me. I could really use an explanation of how JDAs work and how they are NOT examples of suborning perjury or obstructing justice. If Trump’s JDA has all the access to the prosecution’s evidence regarding Manafort…

  20. Yette says:

    Prediction: When the Republicans do move away from Trump, the media will embrace them as somehow brave patriots. The media has outright refused to call Nunez, Ryan, McConnell and Graham accomplices after the fact. The general media assessment will likely be that the Democrats would have done the same thing; did do the same thing for Clinton and that none of them could have ever seen this sedition for what it was. The Republicans will simply say we’re putting that behind us, that they somehow were restraining Trump, and somehow claim they will ensure nothing like this ever happens again. In other words, back to normal in the Beltway, back to control by corporations and lining each others pockets. Cynical but plausible. Remember, McCain was part of the Keating Five, never really suffered any lasting effects, although Im not trying to equate treason to financial corruption.

  21. pseudonymous in nc says:

    Flynn status report just out: set to move to sentencing in late November with memoranda from both sides filed no earlier than after the midterms. Read into that what you will.

  22. manqueman says:

    Jeez, Maggie’s tweet is inane, maybe insane. I mean, what she attributes to Dowd is possible but has to highly unlikely at best.
    But so what? I’d be happy just watching Donald twist slowly in the wind on the collusion thing. And, of course, can’t wait for the inevitable release of his financials (I know, won’t be coming from Mueller).

  23. manymusings says:

    TheraP — I think Marcy’s invocation of the prisoner’s dilemma is spot on here. It’s a metaphor for conceptualizing the breaking point for individuals in a group when their collective fate depends on a unified front, but each individually is presented with exclusive incentives that pit the fate of one against that of the other(s). It’s predicated on the assumption that everybody gains by sticking together but can’t be certain that everyone will, which makes it fundamentally about projection — what does it take for any one individual to decide SOMEONE ELSE has or will break, whether by pressure or greed, thus precipitating the very breaking point that collectively could be prevented. That’s what Marcy is describing. Everyone in an alleged conspiracy is better off if no one talks, but no one has assurance that pressures or incentives won’t work on others (risk + asymmetry of knowledge is the prison cell).

    Craigsummers — totally agree on assessment of GOP. Between tax cuts and corporate-regulatory lollapalooza, they figure they’ll get while the gettin’s good and worry about any electoral fallout from the Trump catastrophe later. The notion that republicans (or the dems, frankly) ever act from the longview is fanciful. As is the idea that republicans aren’t petrified of Trump voters. Trump’s base will NOT go quietly into that good night — or be talked into a Pence switcharoo, even if Trump were to endorse. (First, try to imagine what sequence of events possibly could lead to that actually happening — Trump endorsing Pence on his way out; and second, if it ever WERE to happen, Trump’s voters would only see his endorsement as the product of threat or duress, and would blame every single republican that didn’t protect him.) Trump loyalists seem him as persecuted, and see their own plight as defending democracy itself — which is why neither his demonstrable personal traits, nor accusations from a political class they distrust to the core (including members of the GOP), will sway them. It’s a mistake to imagine Trump’s support as a continuum, rather than an as a fault line demarcating an inverse picture of reality. The “continuum” model perpetuates the fantasy that just a little more information could tip the scales. The “fault line” model realizes that each piece of “information” broadcasted about Trump is processed not as evidence not about him, but about the determination of his persecutors.

    Also agree re financial crimes — Mueller (or a US attorney) likely could put together a damning case against Trump on financial crimes and while not as sexy as espionage, financial crimes tend to have the luxury of a paper trail, hence the cases can move faster and rely less on all the shady characters with whom criminals cavort. Which is a big factor in my skepticism (which have expressed several times here) about the conduct of, and assumptions about, the “Russia probe.” There’s a fundamental tension in foregoing the low-hanging fruit (i.e., financial crimes) in pursuit of espionage as a *criminal* matter, which links to the inherently murky underworld of intelligence (not to mentions hardens and ignites both Trump supporters and IC/surveillance skeptics) — especially when there’s a simpler path available: knock out the first (i.e., financial crimes), which may in its own right propel impeachment, and the results of which only add gravity to the stakes of the latter (i.e., Russian interference on behalf of a criminal and arguably conspiracy w/ the criminal’s campaign).

    Re Kavanaugh — I take Desider’s point here (as I understand it). The effect of the Ford grenade is to replace a congressional focus on evidenced, disqualifying criminal conduct while he served in the public trust (i.e. ,stolen emails + lying) with a scandalous but fundamentally speculative an unverifiable accusation dating back nearly 4 decades. The time element being salient because it makes it virtually impossible to vet the accusation by any fair or reasonable standard, which makes the issue purely a matter of what one decides to believe, which is to say it makes it political. (Realize I’m wading into sensitive territory, but IMO if we’ve collectively decided certain types of accusations reverse the presumption of innocence, we’ve upended the fundamental premise of not just our justice system but our social contract.) By contrast, the emails and lying are documented, and thus are a relevant, credible and fair basis to tank the nomination. That the dems glom onto the scandal at the expense of the bona fide grounds for disqualification is frustrating, and yet another signed we’re being governed from a sewer. As a strategy is to kick any confirmation past the midterms, it may well work, and so as ugly as some of us think it is, it’s hard to blame them for the calculation.

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