That Ongoing Grand Jury Investigation that Michael Cohen’s Loot Is Feeding

On Thursday, the NYT asked for the judge in the Michael Cohen case to unseal the warrant materials for the things seized on April 9, as well as the email accounts that had been searched prior to that. In their request, NYT attorney David McCraw asserted,

First, any risk of impairing law enforcement interests is minimal because the Government’s investigation of Mr. Cohen has concluded. … More to the point, Mr. Cohen has pleaded guilty to all the charges against him. And to the extent there are any ongoing investigations related to Mr. Cohen’s, any sensitive law enforcement information in the documents can be redacted.

As noted by the NYT, both Cohen and the government opposed the request.

A day later, the prosecution team wrote the judge, asking for three weeks to respond and permission to file part of its objection in sealed form

The Government intends to file an opposition to this request, and seeks permission to do so no later than November 2, 2018. In addition, because responding to this request requires describing, inter alia, the effect that unsealing would have on an ongoing grand jury investigation, the Government requests permission to file a portion of its response ex parte and under seal.

The government got two weeks, and the permission to file some of this under seal.

In response to this, I’ve seen a lot of people who assume the ongoing investigation is into Cohen — and it may well be. But the prosecution letter doesn’t say that, and given the way Cohen pled guilty in a rush to beat the campaign season and promptly started begging all prosecutors to start asking him questions, there’s no reason to believe that’s the case.

The reporting on the scope of the warrants against Cohen was always very vague, focusing on the Stormy Daniels part to the exclusion of the taxi medallion and fraud part. Just the taxi stuff was included in his guilty plea. So there’s still fraud (which is probably why Cohen pled guilty so quickly).

Some of the other crimes that might have been covered in Cohen’s warrant — such as the pay to play associated with the Inauguration — would overlap with Mueller’s investigation (and Cohen has spent some days chatting with Mueller’s prosecutors). But it’s certainly possible that (as I’ve suspected), that pay to play has already gotten spun off from Mueller’s investigation and is being led out of NY.

And, of course, there are the Trump Organization people — Executive 1 and Executive 2 (one of whom may well be a spawn) mentioned in Cohen’s plea who might also be targeting. Or, of course, Individual 1, Trump himself.

40 replies
  1. earlofhuntingdon says:

    First, any risk of impairing law enforcement interests is minimal because the Government’s investigation of Mr. Cohen has concluded. … More to the point, Mr. Cohen has pleaded guilty to all the charges against him. And to the extent there are any ongoing investigations related to Mr. Cohen’s, any sensitive law enforcement information in the documents can be redacted.

    That’s a good clue that prosecutors are working on cases other than Mr. Cohen’s, concerning which Mr. Cohen’s evidence – and his cooperation – might be extraordinarily helpful.  The NYT is not being genuine or helpful.

    • NorskieFlamethrower says:

      “The NYT is not being genuine or helpful.”

      OH NO!!! Tell me it ain’t so! How long until a critical mass of folks understand that there is not a dime’s worth of difference between The Grey Lady and the Wall Street Journal?!

  2. Peterr says:

    The Times is in an old-fashioned newspaper war with the WaPo, and their lawyer is being too cute by half in seeking to force the government to reveal these materials right now. Yes, the case at hand is a wonderfully local story about NYC taxi medallions, which is all over but the sentencing, but everyone at the Times knows that this case is tied into the ongoing Mueller investigation. Everyone.

    Including, it seems, McCraw (emphasis added):

    The Materials relate to the Government’s criminal investigation of a person who was for a long time the personal lawyer to and close associate of the President of the United States. Mr. Cohen undertook some of his criminal conduct in his capacity as the President’s associate, and — he alleges — at his direction. Even if the focus of this investigation was initially on Mr. Cohen’s “personal business dealings,” its scope ultimately became much bigger than that. At the same time, the President and his supporters have suggested that the investigation was politically motivated and not based on the rule of law [4]. Simply put, the public interest in knowing the underlying bases for the investigation could not be higher.

    McCraw seems to want it both ways. He bases his argument on the fact that the Cohen investigation is essentially over, and thus there is no reason to keep the warrant materials sealed. At the same time, he uses the ongoing public dispute over the ongoing investigation (is it political or legal?) to bolster his argument that these materials simply must be revealed to the Times in order to serve the public interest.

    The latter sounds like a rather large admission against interest. In the bolded sentence above, McCraw openly admits that the investigation is larger than Cohen and his medallions.

    At this point, the place to satisfy the public interest in resolving the larger dispute McCraw references is within the federal courtrooms in SDNY, EDVA, and DC — and wherever else the Muller team farms out their discoveries. I’d love to see Judge Pauley point this out to McCraw, not merely denying McCraw’s motion, but telling him to read the paper he ostensibly represents a bit more closely before filing another frivolous motion.

    And yes, I use the word “frivolous” in its very specific legal sense: “a baseless motion for a legal ruling.”

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Nicely and accurately said.  The NYT is acting almost as if it were trying to help Mr. Trump, one wealthy New Yorker to another.

  3. Avattoir says:

    Woke up October, hired yourself a gun

    Dad always said you were the Chosen Son

    Dad said, Here is a million, more from where that came

    Born under indictment with an invented family name

    Woke up October, never loved so can’t be gone

    Fred didn’t bother with no right, just all the wrong

    Think you’re looking good, big baby, immune from all laws

    Born into riches, grabbing flesh between your claws

    Now you’ve paid off Len Leto, SCOTUS is your lair

    So here comes your Roy Cohn, a real DC consigliere.

  4. Wm. Boyce says:

    Whatever Mr. Mueller and co. are doing, my bet is we won’t see any more legal action until after Nov. 6. I base that on his profile in the Times, which I found useful in assessing his character. He simply doesn’t want to be seen influencing an election.

    • bmaz says:

      No. Not even close. Mueller will never indict Trump. At most, and am not even sure about this, he “might” name Trump as an unindicted co-conspirator.

      • chuck says:

        We get that in his FBI bio, but do you think the Marine connection is under-played? Bobby Three Sticks has more than two synapses to rub together and the closer 45 Bonespurs gets to treason the more that pushes BBB to indict?  (Dates aside.)

        • Wm. Boyce says:

          No, it’s like bmaz says: “Mueller will never indict Trump.”

          The constitutional remedy is impeachment.

          But there could be a whole world of trouble for the creature when and if the final report is issued.

  5. new-radical says:

    Well done Avattoir! Perhaps a little work on iambic pentameter.
    Your rival Trump is a very stable genius and “knows words I have the best words”
    I suspect he would prefer nine bullet points, on less than one page.

  6. new-radical says:

    I wonder about all the discussion of indicting the president. All Mueller has to do is keep getting closer…
    Don Jr
    and finally Ivanka
    Simplicio will be apoplectic

  7. gedouttahear says:

    I know this is (HA!) supposed to be a nation of lawz, but can’t those three, plus jar-red just be indicted for a degree of pukiness heretore unknown?

  8. Yogarhythms says:

    Avattoir beautiful lyrics. Coincidence Bobby three sticks investigation leads to Billy three sticks prosecution of former Palace consigliere. NYT posits public interest in warrents but alas “public interest” arguments by NYT aren’t compelling perhaps “access” would be more compelling.

  9. Trip says:

    Not attaching a link, except to a twitter rebuke, interesting on the parallel arrests in Russia (hacking):

    Independent Russian newspaper says FSB agents were promised $10 million to leak criminal evidence against hackers, possibly outing “Fancy Bear” to the FBI.

    On October 6, the newspaper Novaya Gazeta published an article by columnist Irek Murtazin echoing a report from a day earlier in Kommersant that says Russian investigators have evidence that former FSB Information Security Center agent Sergey Mikhailov, former Kaspersky Lab expert Ruslan Stoyanov, and two other accomplices shared secret intelligence with the FBI…Whereas Kommersant’s sources say the four suspects were promised $10 million to give the Americans internal files and case records from their 2013 investigation into Pavel Vrublevsky (an entrepreneur with notorious ties to hackers and spammers), Murtazin cites rumors that the authorities have screenshots of messages from one of Vrublevsky’s former business partners offering the same amount of money to “ruin” Vrublevsky and land him in jail. (Mikhailov personally supervised the case that got Vrublevsky a 2.5-year prison sentence, though Vrublevsky was released on parole a year early.) Both the Kommersant story and the Murtazin article describe the same scheme, whereby Mikhailov allegedly leaked the data to the FBI through a chain of intermediaries. …..Implying that Vrublevsky was punished after blowing the whistle on Mikhailov’s treason is controversial, to put it mildly.
    Murtazin’s sources also “hinted” that Mihkailov’s “most serious crime” was sharing intelligence that allowed the FBI to identify the GRU hacker group “Fancy Bear.” Noting that the group virtually ceased its activities after December 2016, Murtazin guesses that Fancy Bear’s “curators” were ordered to “keep a low profile,” once Mikhailov and his accomplices were arrested.

    briankrebs‏Verified account @briankrebs

    I call BS on this story, and am willing to bet that @rnp_1 paid for its placement. These Russian cybercrime fighters that Vrublevsky hates so much are on trial for their lives (literally) because they did the right thing in a country where no one does

  10. Allison Holland says:

    i agree with brian. misinformation and how to plant it is part of the russian exceptionalism that has us looking backwards so much of the time. check out the saudis and the turks this week. the truth is so obscured. i dont trust the turks to say someones been killed and i dont trust the saudis to say they didnt do it. i dont trust the russians to print any truths so i never believe them unless they are out of the country running for their lives. even then i take it with a soured dose of trust. all the more reason that fox news be investigated as part of the conspiracy to defraud the american public. it wont happen of course but it should. truth is preconcieved these days as a story for a purpose.

  11. chuck says:

    No indictment due to the office, but I’m placing my bet on the over for Mueller language concerning DJT as it relates to his role.

  12. Trip says:

    Oh, FFS, “We didn’t intend to kill the guy, just rough him up and kidnap him to get him to stop writing”….or something like that. Is that supposed to sound much better than rogue killers?

  13. Trip says:

    Michael Cohen, the hero we don’t want, but one we might need?
    “He Is Trying to Make It Right”: As the Midterms Approach, Michael Cohen Is Doubling Down on His Civic Duty

    So Deputy Dawg Derp Trump directed the payoff. He’s the least favorite spawn (aside from Tiffany) so his sacrifice will be no sweat off Trump’s back. It’s interesting that this is leaking before the midterms (and is not part of the Mueller investigation, so that tradition of going silent is kept)

  14. Trip says:

    Non-sequitur, but related to the Trump/Warren Brouhaha: I bet if they did a DNA test on Trump the results would be equal parts rotted turnip, bed bug, Nazi German and rabid marmot.

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