Who Is Paying Kevin Downing’s Bills to Serve as Trump’s Mole?

I want to return to the report from Monday describing Rudy Giuliani claiming that Kevin Downing continues to keep him abreast of what Paul Manafort has told prosecutors, and that Manafort has not yet said anything incriminating about Trump.

Rudy Giuliani, who represents Trump in the Russia probe, told Reuters that he had spoken with Manafort’s lawyer, Kevin Downing, as recently as last week. Manafort pleaded guilty on Sept. 14 to violating foreign lobbying laws and trying to obstruct justice. He was convicted at trial in another case in August.

Giuliani said the conversations were occurring under a so-called joint defense agreement, which allows lawyers who represent different clients to exchange information without violating attorney-client privilege.


Manafort is talking to Special Counsel Robert Mueller “about a lot of things, none of which are incriminating with regard to the president,” Giuliani said in one of several conversations with Reuters this month.

Giuliani said he was told by Downing that Manafort had met with Mueller’s team roughly a half dozen times.


Giuliani said Downing had not shared specific facts with him regarding Manafort’s discussions with prosecutors.

“He’s just telling me the conclusion that he’s not in a conflicted position with us,” said Giuliani, who has been very public in his defense of Trump, appearing regularly on TV disputing aspects of the investigation and calling it a political witch hunt just as the president has.

The report is sourced entirely to Rudy. (Given that it shows up in a story relying on Rudy as a source, the claim that Mueller is working on a report probably comes from Rudy too). Downing declined to comment.

It also differs in one key respect from a CNN report from last Wednesday, which describes Manafort and his lawyers meeting with Mueller’s team at least nine times, three more than Rudy claims to know about.

At least nine times since he pleaded guilty on September 14, a black Ford SUV has brought Manafort to Mueller’s office in southwest DC around 10 am. Manafort’s lawyers arrive around the same time, waiting in the lobby for the car to arrive. There they remain inside the offices, typically for six hours.

It’s not entirely clear yet what Manafort has shared with prosecutors, and if his interviews check facts that haven’t yet come to light outside of the prosecutors’ own notes. Among the questions, investigators have asked Manafort about his dealings with Russians, according to one source familiar with the matter.

Mind you, these two reports aren’t necessarily incompatible. It could be that Rudy spoke with Downing on October 14 (so, the beginning of last week), and Manafort paid three more visits to Mueller’s team on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of last week. Or it could be that, as on all other matters, Rudy’s command of actual details is not great.

Still, both reports make it clear Manafort has spent a lot of quality time with Mueller’s team of late, and Rudy claims to know that none of that quality time has incriminated the president.

Before we consider why that might be, consider that Manafort’s plea was built to allow this. Manafort’s plea lacks this clause that appears in Rick Gates’ cooperation agreement, forbidding Gates to share any information learned while cooperating with others.

Mueller surely could have included that clause in Manafort’s plea, but did not.

And while both plea deals include a paragraph waiving the right to have counsel present for cooperation sessions, that waiver can be rescinded on written notice to Mueller’s office.

SCO’s spokesperson Peter Carr declined to provide any information on the circumstances surrounding Manafort’s cooperation.

One way or another, though, Manafort’s plea does permit his lawyers to sit in on meetings, and without that gag, they can pass on what they learn to Trump’s lawyers so long as the ethical obligations surrounding a Joint Defense Agreement permit it.

I can even think of a good reason Mueller might not mind that Trump is getting updates about Manafort’s testimony. It’s a good way to stave off whatever rash action Trump will take if and when Mueller starts to focus more explicitly on him. That’s particularly important as Mueller’s team waits for Trump to turn in his open book test and provide whatever kind of follow-up Special Counsel might require. Trump thinks he has full visibility into the risk Mueller poses to him, and so will be less likely to panic about it.

Perhaps (as indicated by the CNN report) Mueller is using this period to glean all that Manafort knows about the Russian side of the conspiracy. Once Manafort has shared stuff that exposes him to the risk of retaliation from a bunch of Russian oligarchs, then Mueller can start walking him through what he knows about a different kind of vindictive oligarch.

Thus far, then, I can at least come to grips with the report of a continued JDA, even if it violates everything people think they know about JDAs.

What I don’t understand, however, is who is paying for Kevin Downing’s legal bills?

Using CNN’s report (based off their really valuable stake-out), Manafort has lawyers, plural, at these sessions and they had already had — through last Wednesday — around 54 hours of meetings with Mueller’s team. Assuming just two attorneys present and a very conservative $500 hourly fee, Manafort’s attorneys would have billed $54,000 just for in-person time; the real amount might be twice that.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson has already approved the order permitting DOJ to move towards seizing some $46 million in money and property tied to Manafort’s ill-gotten gains (they had to wait until October 20 to start moving on Manafort’s Trump Tower apartment), so the process of stripping these assets before any Trump pardon could forestall that process is already in the works. One explanation for Manafort accepting a plea deal was to save the cost of a trial, but his lawyers have already spent over a week’s worth of time sitting in on his cooperation sessions. Paul Manafort has been going slowly but spectacularly bankrupt since March 2016 (though he remarkably still employs a spokesperson), and forfeiture only speeds that process.

So who just paid upwards of $50K to make sure Rudy G would continue to get reassuring reports that Manafort has yet to flip on the President?

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. 

79 replies
    • Ed Walker says:

      That’s a great possibility. Trumpy thinks he’s getting something for the money, Manafort gets representation and Mueller gets all Manafort’s money without having to leave assets in Manafort’s hands.

  1. Diviz says:

    […Manafort’s lawyers] can pass on what they learn to Trump’s lawyers so long as the ethical obligations surrounding a Joint Defense Agreement permit it.

    So would the ethical obligations of Manafort’s lawyers include staying mum on the fact that the subject matter has turned to the campaign side of the conspiracy in as much as they may reasonably expect that communicating such information may make the presidential pardon hail mary pass less likely? Does that mean that Mueller is relying on the JDA and the pardon-dangling to effectively include the no-third-party-blabbing clause but also keep soothing, Enya-like melodies of no collusion beamed to the WH? Or did I overthink that?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      EW cites the portion of the agreement that, on notice, allows Manafort to rescind the portion that precludes having his lawyer present during questioning (at the end of the last block quote).  Having the lawyer present, while probably not desired by Mueller’s people, is not the same as Manafort refusing to cooperate.

      It does provide a witness more capable of later communicating with Trump’s people.  I think EW is saying that having a back channel to Trump is a possible intended part of the framework Mueller put in place.  The purposes of that will take some pondering.

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump 2020 sounds like Trump, but it would place Manafort in an unavoidable conflict: he’d lose the lawyer(s) being paid that way were he to disclose information harmful to Trump.  Not to mention, any flow from the mercurial Trump could be cut off on a whim.

    I get why Manafort might take the help, and why the compromised Trump might give it, always with strings and always using someone else’s money.  Like much else that involves Trump, the arrangement would be a house of cards.

    I suppose it’s possible that Mueller might want to keep Manafort talking by allowing him a carve out, with a cap, from the assets he forfeits to pay for legal fees.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Possible bombs have been sent to famous rich liberal politicians.  In the German model, the intent would be to co-opt them into agreeing to take more drastic action to protect the Homeland.  Next, the Reichstag fire.

    • cfost says:

      Yes. And then the Sturmabteilung. And then the breaking of glass. One wonders whether today’s equivalents (e.g., Proud Boys) have thought through their cause to its natural end, which, if the analogy holds, would result in mass starvation and destruction, as in Germany after WWII.

      Others have noted that Trump’s endgame in the Mueller saga will be to simply declare Mueller’s report to be classified. That would protect Trump and hide from public view all the details that Mueller and EW have been working hard to uncover. I keep hoping that the legal minds on this site will discuss this at length, since a possible tactic of Mueller’s could be to allow a mole on purpose, to buy time and to control the feed of info to Trump. Is a possible classification gambit a realistic endgame strategy?

      • Trip says:

        Not related (I think, but): F.B.I. Arrests White Nationalist Who Fled the Country

        The F.B.I. has arrested the leader of a violent California neo-Nazi gang on a federal conspiracy charge after he apparently fled to Central America earlier this month…Mr. Rundo apparently crossed into Mexico two weeks ago and was brought back to the United States on Monday, according to two people familiar with the case who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

        How fucking ironic that he fled to Central America and Mexico? Borders, you know?

  4. Peterr says:

    I’m sure there are plenty of pockets out of which Downing could be paid . . . Trump, the Trump Foundation, Trump Inc., any of Roger Stone’s friends, or even various Ukrainian/Russian friends of Paul.

    What I find intriguing is the notion not just that Mueller agreed to not gagging Manafort’s lawyers, but perhaps affirmatively allowed them to speak freely. I agree with the general thought that Mueller can use this to lull Trump & Co. into a false sense of security as they broach issues in Ukraine and Russia before turning to issues closer to home. But if we consider that the whole of Mueller’s charge includes not just a criminal investigation but also a counter-intelligence investigation, the absence of a gag clause gets a lot more interesting.

    As a matter of tradecraft, I would think that Mueller would be operating under the assumption that whatever is said in these conversations with the lawyer present have a decent chance of getting back to Russia, on way or another. (They might not, but you don’t bet that way as a prosecutor/spook.) Thus, this gives Mueller a way of speaking indirectly to Putin & Co., as opposed to the direct way in which his indictments of various GRU officers by name speaks to Putin.

    Public indictments are a not-at-all-subtle and not-at-all-diplomatic club to the head, which get the attention of the target rather well. But selectively letting Putin know certain things that Mueller has discovered, simply by the questions he’s asking Manafort and the answers he’s getting in return, may also be part of Mueller’s long game on the intelligence side.  When Mueller says “Sure, Kevin, have a seat, and feel free to pass along whatever you’d like to the rest of the Trump team . . .”, he almost certainly operates with the assumption that Putin and the GRU are part of that team.

    Is Mueller trying to lull Putin into a sense of security, too? Is Mueller offering information that he knows will bait Putin into acting (shutting down bank accounts, moving spies out of DC, etc), and thus causing Putin to reveal more about his intelligence operations?

    The possibilities are not quite endless, but they are certainly voluminous — and Mueller is too good at his job not to be thinking along these lines when he agreed not to gag Manafort’s lawyers.

  5. Frank Probst says:

    Manafort has decades of criminal activity to talk about, and his work with Trump is just a small sliver at the end of it, so Mueller’s team could probably keep him going for weeks before they got to Trump.  And with Gates’ cooperation, he already knows 95% of what he going to get once he gets there.  Mueller may just be pumping Manafort for non-Trump related info right now so that he can hand him off to other prosecutors for things that don’t relate to Trump.

    There’s one possibility for who’s paying for Manafort’s lawyers that you didn’t entirely cover:  Mueller has an agreement with Manafort that allows him (Manafort) to use some of his assets that he would have otherwise been forfeited to pay his legal bills rather than give the money to the government.  Can this legally be done?  Based on what you’ve reported, it looks like Manafort has numerous lawyers, and none of them may know what all of the rest of them are up to.  The JDA, if I understand it correctly, ALLOWS the attorneys to talk to one another, but it doesn’t REQUIRE it.  Would Manafort be legally permitted to have one or two lawyers talking to Mueller about Trump who are walled off from the rest of his legal team?  Downing may be bachkchanneling info to Giuliani while Manafort has another set of lawyers bachkchanneling info to Mueller about Trump.  I know that this idea seems awfully farfetched, but Manafort has almost zero incentive to help Trump, and at the absolute least, he can provide into about the infamous Trump Tower meeting that included Don Jr and Jared.

    • Frank Probst says:

      Another question:  Is there anything to prevent Manafort from communicating with Mueller’s team directly, without going through his attorneys?  Could Manafort be having meetings with Mueller’s team at, say, the Alexandria jail without any of his own lawyers present.

  6. Willis Warren says:

    If you’ve been paying attention, the tweeter in chief hasn’t been using “witch hunt” as regularly and seems to have been placated by his conversation with Rod Rosenstein.  My only hope is that they’re playing him and working secretly on the collusion (yes, I know that’s not the right word, bmaz) behind the scenes

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Trump knows nothing about truces.  He has a predator’s feral sense of weakness and opportunity.  He takes advantage of both.

    • Willis Warren says:

      I would guess that Marcy nailed it here.  He’s getting stroked by Rudy and Manafort’s lawyers.  I’ve never fully trusted Rod Rosenstein, but maybe they’re playing coy

  7. Someguy says:

    This post does explain the thing that has bewildered me, which is how on Earth is Manafort being allowed to say anything to anyone?  I appreciate the explanation that unlike Gates, there is no gag order.  I have faith that Mueller knows what he’s doing, so there must be a reason for this.

    I suppose another reason Mueller might not have included a gag order is that he wants to see what Trump or others do with the information.  They discuss activity X in a session; a few days later, activity X stops.  They discuss bank account Y; a few days later, account Y is closed.  We also don’t know what, if any, FISA or other court wiretapping or other surveillance might be in place.

    But this part bugs me:

    One way or another, though, Manafort’s plea does permit his lawyers to sit in on meetings, and without that gag, they can pass on what they learn to Trump’s lawyers so long as the ethical obligations surrounding a Joint Defense Agreement permit it.

    A JDA allows sharing of otherwise attorney-client privileged information, without waiving that privilege.  The premise is that the parties to the JDA have a common legal interest.  That leads me to two conclusions, neither of which involves the ethical obligations surrounding a JDA.  First, Manafort has pleaded guilty to a number of crimes; therefore, he has no common legal interest with anybody else as far as those crimes go.  That leads to the conclusion that *if* there is still a common legal interest, then it has to do with some other crimes, which is interesting.

    Second, although maybe logically first, is that what Manafort tells Mueller is not attorney-client privileged information to begin with.  So disclosing that information to anybody else would not implicate the JDA.  As long as there’s no gag order, Manafort can tell anybody about what he tells Mueller.  The JDA is actually irrelevant.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Chuck Todd of MTP fame thinks he achieves balance by interviewing Ted Cruz and Jeff Flake on the same show.  (The traveling MTP bus was in Dallas, but I guess interviewing Beto O’Rourke would not have promoted Chuck’s sense of balance.)  No wonder Chuck flunked teeter-totter, bike riding, skateboarding and surfing.  His balance is as vacant as the suit he wears is empty.

    Chuck poses this fatuous question: if Trump won’t stand up and lead in a moment of crisis, what do you do, wait for other leaders?  Perhaps the press could give voice to others who are leading.  Perhaps Chuck could find his own stories and voices, like, oh, a reporter, rather than have them spoon fed to him.  More tantalizingly, perhaps he could resign in disgrace.

    • Eureka says:

      Chuck’s coverage was remarkably horrible today.  Besides all this ^ , he repeated his dazzling insight that ~ OMG!  How bad is it (civility, I guess) that the first thing we thought of today was domestic origin, instead of “ISIS” (sic) or Al Qaeda ?!?! ~

      ‘Cause, you know, terrorists from holes in the wood and OK and the ‘defenders’ of the ones 45 just pardoned by jet (and too long a list to extensionalize)…oh, nevermind.

        • Eureka says:

          It was.  I normally hit the mute button when he comes on, but today I clearly have some masochistic need to know how badly our fourth estate-satellite-types are breaking the news.

        • Trip says:

          NBC makes some truly bad hiring decisions. Right wing propagandist, and all around horrible person Megyn Kelly was feigning to be ignorant about black face being racist, so she could stir up shit with the lunatics. How does she still have a job? Twitter, of course, dug up her past where this issue was already discussed and she was cognizant of the fact. Not that I saw any of it, I just read about it. She was phenomenally repugnant during live coverage of Dr Ford’s testimony. That I saw.
          She is meanness personified covered by gobs of make-up.

        • Eureka says:

          My guess is that they are trying to capture some of the ‘love to hate it’ audience and create some variability.  Not for noble reasons, just clicks.  Sort of like how CNN is doing with its guest/commentator slates.

  9. Trip says:

    Marcy, You retweeted on the subject of Trans/gay rights and the DOJ, with an explanation from Popehat.

    Check this out:
    US votes against UN resolution condemning gay sex death penalty, joining Iraq and Saudi Arabia
    America one of 13 countries on Human Rights Council to oppose historic vote

    The US is one of just 13 countries to have voted against a United Nations resolution condemning the death penalty for having gay sex. Although the vote passed, America joined countries such as China, Iraq and Saudi Arabia in opposing the move. The Human Rights Council resolution condemned the “imposition of the death penalty as a sanction for specific forms of conduct, such as apostasy, blasphemy, adultery and consensual same-sex relations”….The US supported two failed amendments put forward by Russia, which stated the death penalty was not necessarily “a human rights violation” and that it is not a form of torture, but can lead to it “in some cases”. ..The 13 states to oppose the resolution were Botswana, Burundi, Egypt, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, China, India, Iraq, Japan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the US and the United Arab Emirates. 


    • Eureka says:

      Thanks, I’ll have to read both of these things.  The whole trans-rights-shutdown revival reminds me of Kavanaugh, then Collins repeating, how Brown v Board of Ed was a favorite case of his.  At the time, especially with Collins repeating it, I took it as a gaslighting three-fer:  anti states rights*, pro judicial activism*, and a limited notion of what he/they think civil rights should encompass (roll back in time to MAGA).  i.e. no trans rights, with possible implications for other groups.

      *like I said gaslighting three-fer, not pro-Plessy

      • Trip says:

        To be clear, this was last year, while Nikki Haley was at the helm (a “moderate”). So it’s a continuation of the same theme.

        • Eureka says:

          Yes, like with the permission to gut ACA-eligible plans of pre-existing conditions news, it’s all a continuing theme (by revival I meant the new moves anticipated for a few days).  The past few days of news have really bothered me (as we all surely have peaks of pique with what’s going on), like they are just rolling this stuff out like an unmanned tank.

    • Eureka says:

      I’d read some trans writers’ posts on this the other day.  One I relocated:  Parker Molloy discusses a House bill towards potential remedy (and at the end of her thread notes thus far anecdotal problems trans women have had with passports revoked/denied to date):

      Parker Molloy on Twitter: “Lots of people asking what they can do to fight back against the Trump administration’s planned anti-trans actions. The answer, honestly, is to elect Democrats. Let me explain why.”

  10. Michael says:

    I think everyone is overlooking a major possibility- as Popehat pointed out, this is Giuliani we’re talking about. He could be lying about his conversations with Kevin Downing or exaggerating or…

  11. Eureka says:

    New UNSC briefing on Yemen (Oct. 23rd).  The statement in the first tweet haunts.  Comments from around the world in the replies, many pointing to an obvious solution.

    Mark Lowcock on Twitter: “There is now a clear and present danger of an imminent and great big famine engulfing #Yemen: much bigger than anything any professional in this field has encountered during their working lives.”

    Mark Lowcock on Twitter: “To prevent famine in #Yemen: 1) Stop attacks on civilian infrastructure 2) Allow imports of food, fuel & meds 3) Provide more foreign exchange & pay civil servants 4) Support humanitarian scale-up 5) End conflict My statement to the @UN Security Council:…

  12. Trip says:

    Mueller link seen in mystery grand jury appeal

    The special counsel appears to be locked in a dispute with a mystery grand jury witness, but much of the case is sealed.
    …a POLITICO reporter who visited the appeals court clerk’s office on a day when a key filing in the dispute was due earlier this month observed a man request a copy of the special counsel’s latest sealed filing so that the man’s law firm could craft its response. The individual who asked for the secret filing declined to identify himself or his client and replied “I’m OK” when offered a reporter’s business card to remain in touch…The bottom line is the most likely scenario is someone filed a motion to quash or otherwise resisted a grand jury subpoena, and the judge issued an order denying that and saying the witness needs to testify,” said Ted Boutrous…It’s unclear whether the case the appeals court has agreed to hear in December involves an assertion of attorney-client privilege or some other privilege, is framed as a broader attack on Mueller’s authority, or perhaps advances both sets of arguments.

  13. Trip says:

    Trump’s response to the bomb mailings, especially as it relates to news organizations, and directly after the murder of Khasshogi, comes across a veiled threat or warning. He blames the bombs on negative news coverage about himself, at a rally last night. We can safely assume that MbS thought that Khasshogi brought his own murder upon himself too, for mildly criticizing his regime.

    Wake up news orgs, stop trying to appraise Trump’s response as if this is a normal administration.
    The press did not threaten Trump’s life, causing justified retaliation. That he could view, on any level, just deserts or an equivalence in actions for exercising First Amendment rights is WAY beyond the pale. His ‘softer’ comments are a doubling down.

  14. Trip says:

    Marcy, on Trump’s unsecured phone usage: Any chance it is by design rather than by ignorance? In other words, Trump detailing the plot to collaborators (listening in) under the guise of “I won’t give up my contact list or civilian phone, I’m just a stubborn ass”. If some information gets to them, he can then claim that he didn’t give it to them directly.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Possible.  It would be easy for the Russian state’s resources to monitor an unsecure retail-grade or standard corporate-grade phone.  A commercial satphone would have an even more obvious signature.  Plus, the Don is probably less careful than Jesse Stone in giving out his “private” cell number to people he thinks are powerful.

      I think it’s more likely that the Don thinks his retail phone is more secure than a govt phone.  He would assume the latter was being monitored, because the gubmint is out to git him.  And because he wants to and nobody tells him “no” or puts him in a corner.

      The old saw was never more true than for Donald Trump: ignorance is curable, stupidity is terminal.

      • Trip says:

        If China and the Russians are listening in on his calls via the unsecured phone, that means the gubmint is listening, too, to find out what they are hearing/learning. (And maybe also some 400 lb guy lying on his bed in NJ). That’s why I’m wondering if there are coded messages going through. Obviously, given the chance, he will pass on intelligence directly to Russia, as demonstrated in the oval office meeting.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Trump is a feral predator, but he is profoundly stupid.  To him, it’s probably just his phone, so he uses it.

          Ten bombs now, not nine.  Another to a different address for Biden.

        • Trip says:

          Can’t really argue against the stupid hypothesis. I think that the two theories, however, are not mutually exclusive.

          JFC, on the bombs. I think, since there are so many, the person or persons will be caught soon.

        • BobCon says:

          I think there’s a distinct possibility that he doesn’t care what phone he uses because he knows a lot of the people he’s talking to are compromised and won’t keep any secrets anyways.

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump’s consistent language and priorities directly encourages and rewards violent behavior.  Yet – or because of that mentality – after imminent mortal threats to prominent Americans, this man-child refuses to say the right thing – even as his aides are pleading with him to say the presidential lines they spoonfeed him.

    We have no idea whether this bomb violence involves one – or more – people.  No one should assume it’s a lone wolf bad actor or assume the reasons for it.  But it is curious, given that Trump’s most ardent supporters are addicted to projecting onto their opponents their own worst behavior, that the first defense those Trump defenders came up with is a Democratic victim false flag op.  The odds of that lame excuse being true – given the careful, accomplished people and the multiple felonies involved – are worse than the odds of winning the lottery.

    Sarah Sanders defense of Trump’s morning tweet – which blames the media for the bomb violence – is typically obtuse and destructive.  Trump’s tweet, like so many others, is itself a violent fuck you to the targets of these bombs, to all the people around them and around the system used to deliver them, to the innocent bystanders, and to the American public.

    • Trip says:

      Sarah Sanders is a GOP Stepford Wife.

      No matter who sent those bombs, Trump’s comment ties those acts directly to press criticism of himself. Telling them to get their act together following the mass mailings indicates he believes that there are “reasons” for the bombs. He is indirectly sanctioning, justifying or making excuses for domestic (or foreign) terrorism. There is no other way to interpret those comments. The press has not called for the death of Trump. That no GOP member is condemning his rhetoric within the context of the bomb mailings is a clear indicator that they condone this violent messaging and that retribution has its place.

      • Greenhouse says:

        He doesn’t even call it domestic terrorism, which it most likely is. He calls it “political violence” — deutschebag, cabron that he is.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Exactly.  Trump is excusing the bomb violence in the way he criticizes the press for criticizing him and therefore leading to such violence.  He validates that violence when he deems it a reasonable and logical consequence enacted against those who dare criticism his brilliance.  That makes Trump a fascist authoritarian.

      • Vern says:

        “Sarah Sanders is a GOP Stepford Wife.”

        Um, Sarah Sanders is an evil Ms. Piggy and perhaps evidence of swine – human interbreeding.

      • emptywheel says:

        I object to the description of her a Stepford wife. I don’t think there’s anything gendered about her dishonesty. And I think she’s very willful and competent in her lies.

        • Trip says:

          Ok, fair enough, but the Stepford Wives were (spoiler alert for people who don’t know) robots and so technically not women. I’ll rephrase it by saying she is a feeling-less monstrous GOP machine of her creators*.

          * one being Mike Huckabee.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          You’re technically correct about the robots.  But their impact is based on their gender, just as it was the men in their lives who were “real,” but principally so in their misogyny.

          They wanted robot-like women who would please them and do as they were told.  Instead of adding another nine holes to their golf course in Stepford, they provided themselves robots, who appeared as if they were formed by seed pods.  That they could only find that behavior in a robot begs the question about which partner is really a robot, but that’s another topic altogether.

          While I agree that Sanders’ behavior is predictably robotic, obtuse and as deceitful and cruel as her boss, I have to agree with EW that her behavior is not gender based.  Sanders would be a harm to civil society and valid public discourse in any form.

  16. Ken Greenhouse says:

    He doesn’t even call it domestic terrorism, which is what it most likely is. He calls it “political violence” — deutschebag, cabron!

  17. bmaz says:

    Um, yeah, I am one of “those people”. How can Manafort still be in a JDA?

    Also, why would Downing be relating the real story to Rudy? I would love to sell Rudy a used car. The old axiom is “there is a perfect ass for the seat of every used car”. Rudy is perfect.

    • BobCon says:

      I’d love to see an explainer how that would work. For instance, does that mean that the flesh and blood leadership of Trump 2016 would be at some kind of risk?

  18. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Chuck Todd is to reporters and interviewers as Donald Trump is to presidents.  With Trump, the responsibility lies as much with the Republican party as it does Trump.  With Todd, the responsibility lies with those at his network who hired and continue to promote him.

    • Trip says:

      At least from reports I’ve read they dumped Megyn Kelly. Whoever hired her in the first place should be canned. A Fox News race-baiting racist and rightwing propagandist turns out to be an NBC race-baiting racist and rightwing propagandist. Who’da thunkit? And either way she gets rewarded with huge a contract windfall.

  19. earlofhuntingdon says:

    We could have used recently a president as capable of leading in tough times as London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan.

    Khan has been mayor only slightly longer than Donald Trump has been president.  But he has been called upon more than once to say the right thing in deadly difficult circumstances.  He chose to speak of common aims and common decency, and his determination that the government as well as the people would stick to those standards in spite of events.

    America, however, has Donald Trump.  He cannot bring himself to say such things.  And he thinks saying them would be wrong.  He doesn’t believe them. He thinks saying them would be bad for his tough-guy image.  What the country needs? Meh.

  20. orionATL says:

    i have no real sense of the legal issues here, but i am definitely inclined to give the benefit of any doubt with regard to possible tactical error to the special counsel team. while providing a fly-on-the-wall communications channel to the trump rump lawyer band certainly disturbs me,  it seems highly unlikely that osc would overlook something so consequential.

    in fact this apparent anomaly reminds me of concerns about the osc having charged concord management as part of the internet research agency indictment – discussed here in its most recent perspective by ew:


    was it an error? or was it a gambit?

    we’ll see in the fullness of time, as the saying goes. the osc team have been pursuing public and private crooks for a long time.  they have team members not directly involved in any particular tentative indictment, like their appeals expert, who would, one hopes, offer candid criticism where error loomed.

    i’ll put my money on mueller.

    • Eureka says:

      To add why this bothers so:  to ‘stand with’ is commonly used today to indicate a certain kind of allyship, where the subject, of some relative power or privilege, is standing up for/by/with another or group who is more vulnerable or socially victimized.  e.g. (I) Stand with Parlkand or (I) Stand with Reality Winner.  Or men saying I Stand with Women.  Or literally Chris Long standing with Malcolm Jenkins, hand on Malcolm’s shoulder as Malcolm raises his fist.

      The phrase is so commonly used with this connotation that it is often used as a joke, like “I stand with (person on twitter who just said chocolate or cheese is awful and is getting ratioed for it).

      45 is not a vulnerable person needing allyship.  Better they could use a term like ‘aligned,’ and then we would just have to argue over the political economy of it all.

      Anyway, I find it another example of the media facilitating or endorsing this admin’s circus, as if they just cannot help it.

  21. Tracy says:

    Thanks for addressing this serious issue, Marcy!

    It seems to me that it would have been easier to just require that Manafort leave the JDA and add a gag order to his agreement like w/ Gates.

    It’s all very curious and I HOPE that this is some version of 3-D chess that is just well over my own head at this point. I agree w/ the commenter above that this is indeed a v scary thing and causes me to lose sleep @ night; and Bmaz, I agree: how could Manafort still be in a JDA at this point? There are some extraordinarily baffling things at this stage, not least of all who’s paying Downing, (certainly Trump or someone connected w him), etc.

    I appreciate all the views on how Mueller may be using this to his advantage and yes, my money is still on Mueller’s expertise. But my faith that justice can actually be done at the highest level of govt has been shaken by the Kavanaugh outcome and it sometimes seems like there are a million things against the Criminal
    In Chief being held to account for selling our country down the river. Shouts of “USA!” at his rallies, indeed!!! If they only knew… and I hope that one day they will, however bleak it’s looking at times.

  22. Tracy says:

    On other subjects, in response to comments above: 1) the Yemen catastrophe is horrifying, @Trip, Chris Hayes is the only MSM host to even graze on its seriousness- what kind of a world is this??!, 2) @Trip, I’m constantly infuriated by turning on my tv and having to endure the same footage of Trump spewing garbage, spin, gaslighting and lies, over and over again, it’s completely offensive. Do they not realize: they 100% feed the beast??! Trump would GO AWAY if they just ignored him – but it’s the Imperial Presidency here to stay, and he’s a master of doing something shocking to attract attention. Anyway, I’m fed up, I have my tv on “mute” every time he’s put on, I refuse to normalize his cruelty and spin.

    I’ve said it a few times on here but anyone looking for a pick me up check out Beto O’Rourke’s twitter feed, it is always positive with affirmative massages, rather than snark, vitriol, violence- mongering and lies.

    • Trip says:

      I’m tied up to the stupid TV for bundling. But if they run Trump, I’m off. They deserve lower viewership every single time they promote his BS. *click*

  23. Eureka says:

    A must-read re:  Kavanaugh-related emails obtained by The Guardian.  I’ll paste a brief summary excerpt, but nearly each para. is on the FedSoc Greatest Hits playlist.  Key are those likely to appear before him at SCOTUS; Kav already decided a case on DC Circuit in favor of an attendee’s client:

    …participated in monthly evening cocktails and dinners from 2001 to 2003 with a group of men that included Noel Francisco, who now serves as the Trump administration’s solicitor general. It is not clear whether the dinners continued after Kavanaugh became a federal judge in 2006.

    Other attendees included a lawyer who is now a top strategic adviser to Rupert Murdoch; the author of the George W Bush-era “torture memos” that were used to justify illegal interrogation techniques; and two lawyers who now frequently appear before the supreme court on behalf of corporate clients.

    Dining club emails reveal Kavanaugh’s close ties to Trump’s solicitor general | US news | The Guardian

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