The Purpose of a Mueller Report: for Referral to Congress If He Gets Fired

I said some weeks ago that I had finally figured out the point of the report that the Mueller investigation is doing. I lay that out in this TNR piece on what would happen if Democrats win the House but he is fired. While a report would not be necessary if Mueller continues to speak, as he has done, in indictments, it would serve as a vehicle to transfer grand jury information to the House Judiciary Committee rooted in the Watergate precedent.

Mueller’s activities thus far have been laid out in plea deals and highly detailed “speaking” indictments, which provide far more information about the actions involved than strictly necessary for legal purposes. But according to the regulationthat governs his appointment, at the end of his investigation Mueller must also provide the attorney general with “a confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions reached by the special counsel.” Also upon completion of the investigation, if the attorney general overrules an action Mueller wanted to take, he or she must notify the chair and ranking members of the Judiciary Committee.


[A] Watergate precedent suggests the House could obtain the report if Mueller were fired.

Some Freedom of Information Act requests have recently focused attention on—and may lead to the public release of—a report similar to the one Mueller is mandated to complete. It was the report done by Watergate prosecutor Leon Jaworski, referred to as the “Road Map.” The Road Map consists of a summary and 53 pages of evidentiary descriptions, each citing the underlying grand jury source for that evidentiary description. In 1974, Jaworski used it to transmit information discovered during his grand jury investigation to the House Judiciary Committee—which then used the report to kickstart its impeachment investigation.

Before Jaworski shared the Road Map, however, he obtained authorization from then-Chief Judge John Sirica of the D.C. Circuit Court. In Sirica’s opinion authorizing the transfer, he deemed the report to be material to House Judiciary Committee duties. He further laid out how such a report should be written to avoid separation of powers issues. The report as compiled by Jaworski offered “no accusatory conclusions” nor “substitute[s] for indictments where indictments might properly issue.” It didn’t tell Congress what to do with the information. Rather it was “a simple and straightforward compilation of information gathered by the Grand Jury, and no more.” Per Sirica, that rendered the report constitutionally appropriate to share with another branch of government.

If Mueller—whose team includes former Watergate prosecutor James Quarles—were fired and he leaves any report behind that fits the standards laid out here, this Watergate precedent should ensure it could be legally shared with the House Judiciary Committee.

If that’s right — if that’s how Mueller is treating a report while he moves towards any further indictments — then Rudy Giuliani’s efforts to focus attention on it would be ironic. Because if Trump is planning a Wednesday morning massacre for November 7, as Rudy’s stall on turning in Trump’s completed open book test until after the election suggests may be in the works…

President Donald Trump’s legal team has prepared written responses to several dozen questions from Special Counsel Robert Mueller but say they won’t submit them until after next week’s elections and only if they reach a broader agreement with Mueller on terms for the questioning.

Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, said in an interview Monday that the answers relate only to whether Trump colluded with Russia during his presidential campaign. He said the legal team is still unwilling to answer any questions concerning obstruction of justice by the president.


Giuliani said Mueller still could pose additional questions, and he called the ones received so far “a good sample.” He said he expects the issue to be resolved by the end of November. Once the election is past, Trump’s lawyers are bracing for a flurry of activity from Mueller.

“We have an informal agreement that while negotiating the final details of a Q&A that we wouldn’t comment much, we have been sort of quiet,” Giuliani said. “But I expect a day after the election we will be in serious discussions with them again, and I have a feeling they want to get it wrapped up one way or another.”

Then any work on a report simply ensures there’s something that HJC could obtain and use to reconstruct what Mueller has done.

73 replies
    • Avattoir says:

      Much might turn on the meaning of “conclusion”.

      “At the conclusion of the Special Counsel’s work, he or she shall provide the Attorney General with a confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions reached by the Special Counsel.”

      If a Special Counsel is fired, has his or her “work” actually ‘concluded’? Or rather, has it been interrupted, or forestalled, or a nullity … or what?

      Moreover, who is it who decides this question?

      Noting paragraph 600.10: “No creation of rights”

      “The regulations in this part are not intended to, do not, and may not be relied upon to create any rights, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or equity, by any person or entity, in any matter, civil, criminal, or administrative.”

      Noting also that a number of supposedly ‘liberal’ legal academics & former federal government lawyers have particularly, if only (and not otherwise), praised recently confirmed SCOTUS justice Kavanaugh for his expertise, insight and indeed vision on the scope of administrative law, legal questions might well arise around the issue of whether or not Article III courts should defer, and on the basis of what test, to the exercise of executive judgment.

  1. gedouttahear says:

    The scary aspect of all this is that government functioning ultimately rests on all participants, especially the “losers” in any particular encounter, abiding by the “rules” and when the rules are in doubt, by the decision of the judiciary as to what the rules are, and abiding by that decision. While all prior governments have flouted some rules before push came to shove, there is a real danger with this admin and this prez that if push does come to shove, this will all break down. See,
    ICE may be t’s Schutzstaffel.

  2. Nan says:

    This morning on twitter, I read about a possible last minute smear story coming out accusing Mr. Mueller of unwanted sexual advances. This is the kind of story loved by Fox and Breitbart folks. Possibly by Project Veritas/O’Keefe.  Just a rumor, but something to prepare for.  The next couple of weeks will go down in the history books.

  3. Bay State Librul says:

    You would think in a fucking democracy that Mueller would present his findings to the American people.

    What is so hard about that?

    I’m finishing up Amor Towle’s “A Gentleman in Moscow”. To wit, it seems to me that we have been locked up in a hotel for the past two years.

    Open the doors, I want out. I want answers. I want Mueller’s dissertation.

    • Avattoir says:

      And having been in the business, I want the precise opposite: I hope we NEVER see that “dissertation” (as you call it). I much prefer what emptywheel calls his “talking indictments”.

      FWIW, I recall from way back in the day – the decade plus of Mueller’s time in line prosecution, that happens to have coincided with my own – when there actually was a deliberate trend towards talking indictments – along with hyper-long openings by prosecutors.

      The early 1970s experienced explosions in both the number of accredited law schools and in class sizes in established law schools. The law school I attended (for my first law degree) had a decades-long history of LI classes starting out at between 50 and 80; my own LI class was the second in a trend where those parameters were reset to between 150 and 225.

      Looking back, I think one (relatively minor) factor might have been the early stages of Watergate (tho for the most part just in affecting the quality of students pushing for entry to law schools from 1972 thru the Carter administration); the really big factors were that I was somewhere in the first huge wave of the Boomer generation (the primary factor being a perceived demand for more and better trained attorneys … just imagine), and that, by then, educational institutions had established over the previous decade in anticipation of that massive increase in the demand for post-secondary education (largely expressed in college-entrance exams such as the SAT, including the presumed-specialty LSAT, with not just colleges but potential employers pretty much for the first time practically requiring applicants to produce not just degrees but class standings and even entrance exam grades).

      It was inevitable that within a decade or so of that massive influx, the nation’s huge wave of law school graduates would begin to express themselves on all aspects of legal practice, including the relatively narrow specialty of criminal trial practice. One manifestation of that was a marked increase in trial ‘intelligence’, including trial tools and communications among organized specialty groups. It wasn’t just a phenomenon expressed in & around law schools & law review journals: there was an explosion in local bar associations, branch offices of the ABA, and, to the point here, professional associations of government prosecutors – particularly in those in south (LA-based) & north (SF-based) California, New York state (particularly NYC), Florida, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio and Minnesota. And they all produced papers & reports & studies and those got disseminated broadly within affianced groups.

      Many of my fellow line prosecutors were fairly regular consumers of the products of these industry specific educational groups; some number of us, me included, were OTT enthusiastically active participants in their studies, their uhm actual and suggested experiments, and their ‘intel’. It became habit for the most ambitious & studious among us to regularly devour these groups’ products; we read them & passed them around & discussed them all the time.

      In that context, I specifically recall a number of what were considered then as ‘cutting edge’ studies on the precise & intimately related notions of a. talking indictments and b. long opening statement, as well as the studies & theories underlying whether, how & why they seemed to work.

      There was actually institutional resistance to the trend, mostly from judges and old buffalo prosecution office desk warriors. But with the explosion of legal causes and prosecutors working them, there actually weren’t a whole lot of old fogies around in the latter category, and the rate of turnover on the bench was ever increasing – so, if you were interested enough in exploring those then ‘new’ tools that you were willing to put in the time and effort to understand them and make them work, and thick-skinned enough to put up with the inevitable crap, you stood a decent chance at getting their rewards.

      And that ‘movement’ found a particularly dominant home in each the biggest, busiest U.S. attorney’s offices – such as those in which Mueller himself ‘grew up’ as a criminal trial prosecutor.

      But dissertations … those are more of the academic world, not practice. Dissertations tend only to get ‘peer reviewed’, not market tested. Mueller’s a practitioner, not a theorist – a trial prosecutor, not a report writer.

      If it turns out that a report is ‘All We Get’, well then: better than nothing; but it’s by no means or measure optimal.

      • Bay State Librul says:


        You convinced me. I’ll take Mueller’s soliloquy in the form of a “Talking

        Indictment” although a simple Haiku will do.

        I just want Don the Con to spend his time in federal prison and his election retroactively swiped away.

        I want a parade, a duck boat parade, with fans happy, and joyous, cheering that the Con artist has reached the nadir of his career.

        Whitey is dead and lives in infamy.

        Trump is alive but I want a catharsis, a reckoning, a sonnet to his days behind bars.

  4. BobCon says:

    That’s a great New Republic piece. My first reaction is wondering why other media outlets haven’t done anything with the same quality and depth…. well, beyond the usual excuses they have.

    Other thoughts —

    Trump has similar problems with SDNY investigations, and very possibly others at DOJ. I’m guessing a riddle he’s having trouble solving is whether he can kill two (or more) birds with one stone, because the politics of shutting down Mueller may make shutting down SDNY harder. I suspect the path will be to replace Sessions first, see if it’s possible to curtail Mueller and SDNY without raising too much alarm, and keep firings in his back pocket if other options fail. I don’t know if he has the patience for that, though.

    Trump has tax issues looming even if there are no serious IRS or DOJ investigations right now. He’s going to fight unmasking of his tax records by the House (if it changes hands, knock on wood), but that’s a tougher fight than some other fights on his plate. Gingrich has said it will be a test of Kavanaugh, but I suspect there’s a reluctance at the Supremes to make this the hill they fight on. Again, doesn’t mean it won’t happen, but it’s a hard fight.

    Likewise, I think it’s worth thinking about what other House committees can do (if, fingers crossed, the Democrats win). There is a whole slew of corruption waiting to be dug out, and there is a decent chance that revelations will put Trump — and his donors — on the defensive. There’s an argument for the Democrats to open enough fronts against Trump and his cronies so that they don’t have the bandwidth to screw with Mueller very much.

    That raises some issues for the Democrats — they need to be smart about controlling the narrative so that the media doesn’t get sidetracked looking into minor purchases by Ben Carson. And Trump is capable of throwing up a whole lot of dust on his own, which may sidetrack the media or put pressure on the Democrats to chase chimeras. They need time to staff up with investigators, and that takes a while. They need to coordinate all of the different investigations and settle turf battles, which is a reasonable argument for keeping the current leadership largely intact, for now at least.

    Presidential politics will loom. If the Democrats draw blood, does Trump manage to stave off a primary challenge? He has no prospect of one now, but I think he knows that someone like Romney has a chance to hit him hard if his support in the base drops by, say, 5%. Trump’s mandate among the GOP is broad, but thin in enough places that he may end up breaking up like the old Soviet state did when a few unpatchable cracks finally emerged.

    I think it’s fair to say 2019 will be even more nerve wracking than 2018.

  5. Peterr says:

    Great pieces, Marcy – both here and at TNR!

    The key figures, as I read it, would be Judge Beryl Howell and the other judges on the DC Circuit. Sirica gave Archibald Cox and Leon Jaworski room to operate and also appropriate legal cover when they ultimately did so.

    I could easily see Trump going to the DC circuit to demand that no such reports be provided to Congress, especially if Mueller is removed because of a . . . ahem . . . Trumped-up charge of misconduct or conflict of interest. Would Howell necessarily be the judge to hear that argument based on her oversight of Mueller’s grand jury, or would it be seen as a de novo case that would be assigned at random to whatever judge’s name comes up?

    If it’s the latter, I fear that there are plenty of judges on the DC bench that would not only decline to be a new Sirica but would actively find a way to ignore what Sirica wrote in the 1970s.

    As Avattoir noted above, “who is it who decides this question?” is  critical.

    • BobCon says:

      I am also curious what the appeals process would be if a ruling comes down in favor of Trump. Who gets to keep Mueller’s side of the dispute alive, if anyone, and under what circumstances?

      I think another question is going to be the election. If this was 2017, Trump’s strategy may well have been to string things out as long as possible. And if he thinks he has a winning hand for 2020, that may still be the case. But if his political position is weak, he has to wonder what happens if legal fights are alive after he’s out of office and his power is greatly diminished.

    • emptywheel says:

      Right. But Beryl Howell has already been closely involved and is on the Road Map FOIA too.

      So yeah, it’d have to be at the DCC. Maybe Merrick Garland will have the last laugh.

  6. Trip says:

    Hahaha! Those trying to do a hoax within a hoax are now being investigated by the FBI

    Scott Stedman‏ @ScottMStedman

    Peter Carr, Mueller’s spokesman: “When we learned last week of allegations that women were offered money to make false claims about the Special Counsel, we immediately referred the matter to the FBI for investigation.”

      • harpie says:

        Inside The Crazy Cabal Trying To Smear Robert Mueller A Seth Rich conspiracy pusher and fringe online figures appear to be working behind the scenes. Lachlan Markay, Will Sommer 10.30.18 2:57 PM ET 

        […] In his efforts to dig up dirt on Mueller, Burkman appears to have enlisted outside help. Jacob Wohl, a right wing Twitter personality and a self-described friend of Burkman, said Burkman had told him he had hired Matthew Cohen, who is a managing partner at the private investigations company Surefire Intelligence, to assist with the investigation. […] 

      • Trip says:

        I wonder who financed this clusterfuckery. Another Fox News contributor? Unless the bribe money offered was bullshit too. But then they ran the risk of “witnesses” recanting and talking about the plot.

        Remember this?
        The wealthy Republican donor at the center of explosive Fox News lawsuit

        Butowsky’s role in the saga has been known for some time. After Fox’s story lit up pro-Trump media in May, the Rich family revealed that Butowsky was subsidizing Wheeler’s investigation into the murder, which Washington, D.C. police have blamed on a botched robbery.
        But the Rich family was, according to a spokesman representing them, taken aback when they learned that Butowsky has ties to Steve Bannon, the White House strategist and former chairman of Breitbart News.
        Butowsky has appeared on Breitbart News Radio multiple times over the years and has described Bannon as “a friend and a very nice man.”

        It makes me wonder whether some of the discussions with Bannon were not only about the campaign, but these ratfucker schemes as well.

    • harpie says:

      Here’s a photo of Jacob Wohl with Trump.

      From the “Crazy Cabal” article linked above:

      The [Surefire Intelligence] website lists offices in Los Angeles and nearby Irvine, CA, Washington D.C., New York, Tel Aviv, London, and Zurich. All of the U.S. phone numbers are Google Voice contacts that redirect callers to a single phone number with an area code corresponding to Orange County, CA. Repeated calls to that number were not returned. // Wohl’s family also hails from Orange County, and Surefire’s website domain data lists an email address bearing Wohl’s name and that of a legally suspect financial firm he led. Wohl, whohinted at the Mueller allegations on Monday night, denied any knowledge of or involvement with Surefire. // “Dude,” he told The Daily Beast in a Twitter direct message, “I work for an influence marketing company in L.A.” // Shortly after Burkman announced his press conference, David Wohl, Jacob’s father and a conservative pundit, amplified the news. “Uh oh,” he wrote. “The Witch Hunt is in jeopardy!”

      You know who else “hails from Orange County”? Dana Rohrabacher.

    • harpie says:

      From the “Crazy Cabal” article linked above:

      The website lists offices in Los Angeles and nearby Irvine, CA, Washington D.C., New York, Tel Aviv, London, and Zurich. All of the U.S. phone numbers are Google Voice contacts that redirect callers to a single phone number with an area code corresponding to Orange County, CA. Repeated calls to that number were not returned.

      Wohl’s family also hails from Orange County, and Surefire’s website domain data lists an email address bearing Wohl’s name and that of a legally suspect financial firm he led. Wohl, who  hinted at the Mueller allegations on Monday night, denied any knowledge of or involvement with Surefire. 

      Know who else “hails from Orange County”? Dana Rohrabacher

    • orionATL says:

      keep in mind –

      this mueller “trick” (and there may be others) is likely a diversionary tactic to entice the media, and hence voters, away from coverage of and concern about the pittsburg savagery, bomber guy, and the real donald j. trump

      • Trip says:

        The Pittsburgh protests were covered and were quite moving. Trump was rejected outright, wouldn’t denounce white supremacy, but crashed a town in mourning that didn’t want him anyway. He always does the wrong thing. It will still be covered, as it should be.

      • orionATL says:

        but i really can’t knock the guardian that much because they seem to get to the heart of the matter more often than not.

        here is a historian talking about the national socialist workers party’s use of the word “lugenpresse”, translated here as “fake news”, almost a hundred years ago:

        nothing answers contemporary pokitical manipulation of words and ideas better than a historical recounting that places such political behavior in a context so different from the present that it gives even extreme partisans cause to reflect.

        • Trip says:

          Ex-KKK member Derek Black says President Trump’s policies in step with white nationalist groups

          I don’t know why we have moved on to the euphemism of “nationalist”. Really, it’s white supremacy, masked in something about country. Remember when the media was calling these racists the “alt-right”, as if that spin somehow distanced them from the ugliness?

        • orionATL says:

          that is a very important point. it is indeed white supremacy.

          i don’t know why we had to start using the more abstract and vague word “nationalist” –
          maybe borrowing fron european political commentary. or perhaps it’s due to our american media’s longstanding fearful genuflection to the nation’s homegrown, rough-and-ready, righwing thugs.

          from now on i write “white supremacy”, with “nationalism” in parens just to retrain the media.

        • harpie says:

          Kyle Griffin reported this morning that:

          7:30 PM – 30 Oct 2018 Judiciary Dems are demanding that Republicans hold emergency hearings on hate crimes and domestic terrorism: [screenshot of letter]

          “It is our responsibility to respond to this madness … Please, let us set aside the politics for however long it takes for us to address this extraordinary threat.”

          More from the letter:

          “ […]  “We should not waste time trying to discern the minor differences in these small but dangerous worldviews. Whether it manifests itself as racism, anti-Semitism or xenophobia, white supremacy is white supremacy. In it’s modern form, it motivates a fluid and particularly virulent form of domestic terrorism. It must be stopped. […]

  7. Barry says:

    I imagine myself to be a close Trump buddy who gets a 3 AM call from the President asking for my advice re: Mueller. And I imagine myself saying the following:

    Mr. President, I strongly suggest you ask one of your staff who reads stuff, not Rudy, to summarize for you what emptywheel has deduced about where the Mueller investigation is headed. What you will hear is that it is highly likely that it is headed towards indictments of Americans who knowingly participated in conspiracy with the indicted Russians to illegally influence the 2016 election in your favor. This will almost certainly include Jr, and you, Mr President, may well be named as an unindicted co-conspirator – unindicted that is so long as you’re President.  If, Mr. President, you believe this to be accurate, then I think you really have no choice but to stop this witch hunt investigation whatever the political price, and I suggest, as I’m sure others have, that you do right after the mid-terms. As to how to stop it, I think you should avoid firing Mueller or Rosenstein. Instead I think the best option, and the best optic, is to go after the weakest link – Sessions –  and appoint a loyal Acting AG as you have every right to expect. If there is some way you can force Sessions to resign, that of course would be best. But if he disloyally refuses, then I think you just bite the bullet and finally fire him. Won’t that feel great! Yes, firing him does legally complicate appointing an Acting AG, but that’s a complication that you will have to live with. If this technical issue makes its way to the Supreme Court,  you’d have a very good chance of winning there. if not, then you go in another direction. Once you appoint a loyal Acting AG, he will immediately take over supervision of Mueller and his investigation. So the first thing the new AG does is to tell Mueller and Rosenstein that, I am ordering a temporary pause to any further indictments and investigations by the Special Counsel until I have had the opportunity to review the investigation up to this point”.  You might want to check with your lawyers on this, Mr. President, but I think by only “pausing” the investigation, it is not “concluded”, and it is only upon conclusion that a report is to be written. And most importantly, this pause stops any imminent indictments or even further investigations. How long could this “pause” last? Again, given the risk of not “pausing”,  I think you and the Acting AG can find a multitude of procedural and fiscal maneuvers that effectively maintain the pause for as long as you are President of the United States. And after all, no one in the world is better than you at PR. You can manage it politically. Yes, you will have to put up with investigations from a Dem House, but again, that will happen anyway if they win on Nov 7. But so long as you can keep your base, and I know you can, you can ride out any political flak that results from these legal and necessary executive actions.  So good luck Mr. President, and try to get a bit more sleep.

  8. Mo says:

    I cannot believe a DIRTY TRICKSTER – GOP lobbyist Jack Burkman is going to unveil false sex assault claims against the Special Counsel on Thursday!

  9. Michael says:

    How do you guys think Mueller is going to handle the post-election indictments? The grand jury usually meets on Fridays. Is he going to do a sealed indictment on November 2nd and unseal it on November 7th  or do the indictments on November 9th?

  10. Kansas Watcher says:

    Chances are very high that your dead on Marcy.

    furthermore that report will hit the street no matter who wins what.   Trump will never submit answers to any questions in any form….  if he has at least 2 working brain cells.

    November 19th stone get indicted.

    November 20th 150 or grand jury actions are taken….(sarcasm a bit)

    nov 21 the deep state poisons Poisons POTUS by turning his coke not Pepsi and he is forced to resign for medical reasons.

    mike pence is left to answer the questions “did you know?” Or are you that stupid?

    and then…and then who the hell knows.

  11. Trip says:

    bmaz‏ @bmaz

    This story really should be getting a LOT more attention.The Saudis are just awful. And the US and Trump just stands by: Authorities probing immigrant Saudi sisters’ mystery deaths

    From AP:

    Police are investigating the mysterious deaths of two sisters from Saudi Arabia whose bodies, bound together with tape, washed up on New York City’s waterfront last week….Their mother told detectives the day before the bodies were discovered, she received a call from an official at the Saudi Arabian Embassy, ordering the family to leave the U.S. because her daughters had applied for political asylum, New York police said Tuesday.

    We haven’t forgotten about Khasshogi’s gruesome death either. Nor the starving babies in Yemen.
    We haven’t forgotten about the bombs sent to dissidents, the murders of innocent black folk and the massacre in Pittsburgh.

    Trump has so much blood on his hands.

    Trouncing healthcare and social security
    Tearing families apart
    Talking in dogwhistles

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Trump must wish all countries were so unrestrained in dealing with would be seekers of asylum in America, the land of hope and plenty. Assuming, that is, that state action is involved in their deaths.

      Missing since August, the sisters’ immersion in water will delay determining their cause(s) of death and when and where they occurred. But it’s not easy or quiet to move and manipulate two bodies: confidence and resources would have been required.

      The science and mechanics of disposing of bodies is something the world’s security services have studied in detail.  Barry Eisler didn’t invent John Rain’s knowledge of it out of a hat.  If the Saudis did this or had it done, and wanted the bodies to disappear, they would not have washed up, taped together and facing each other, with no obvious signs of trauma or cause of death.  That they did may be a warning to others, as the French so blithely put it, pour encourager les autres.

      • Trip says:

        For people (GOP/Trump) who condemn “globalists”, they seem to find global hit squads, entering ‘sovereign’ nations to assassinate dissidents, highly acceptable. Funny that.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Yea, funny exception to the unqualified state sovereignty they usually espouse (except when it comes to things that affect their pocketbook, like tax evasion and money laundering). 

          And “globalist” in their parlance is usually a reference to a longer, less politically correct phrase, such as global Jewish banking conspiracy, just as “nationalist” is shorthand for white nationalist racism.

        • Trip says:

          Yes, I know. I was simply acting as if I was deeply ignorant and took the term at face value.
          A bit of snark. :D

    • Trip says:

      Local NYC news: Running theory is that it was a suicide. WhoTF kills themselves by tapping themselves together and jumping in the Hudson, after going missing for 2 months?

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Must be the same reporting team that concluded Roberto Calvi committed suicide.  The former head of Banco Ambrosiano was found hanging underneath Black Friars bridge in London in 1982 with fifteen thousand pounds and several bricks in his pockets.  No word on whether his necktie was of the Sicilian variety, notwithstanding his intimate ties with the Vatican and the Mafia.

        Only decades later did investigators point out the obvious flaws in the suicide argument – virtual absence of supporting forensic evidence –  and a murder inquiry was opened.  That case, too, remains unsolved.

        Oh, and non-local news has it that the sisters showed none of the trauma that would have been apparent had the pair jumped from a roadway bridge into the Hudson. It’s rather like the 1950s, when various CIA-related deaths were put down to suicide. Defenestration and what not.

        • Trip says:

          (First, I meant taping, don’t know what happened there.)

          It’s possible they were weighted down and tossed in? I don’t know. The suicide angle just doesn’t sound right, at all @earl.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Oh, no, the suicide suggestion makes no sense.  Taping themselves together, then, say, killing each other is virtually impossible to achieve.  The absence of obvious trauma would mean poison or that they were pitch perfect in doing themselves in, despite the supposedly self-imposed limitations on their movement.  But what self-poisoners have time and the need to hide the poison, tape themselves together, then throw themselves into the oh-so-American Hudson River.

          No, the manner in which these two women were found strongly suggests murder intended to send a message.

          It could not be a coincidence that their family was approached by the Saudi state, on the one hand, warning the sisters against seeking asylum in the US, and on the other, offering condolences and help in finding their missing daughters.  The mixed message is a form of abuse, the kind captors engage in when toying with their victims.

        • Trip says:

          I agree @earl. Interestingly, another station, on later local NYC news, mentioned that investigators were moving away from the suicide angle. I guess they realized how preposterous it sounded.

  12. Trip says:

    A quiet, somber, peaceful, diverse, and sometimes religious songful, respectful procession of protestors and mourners (of the 11 murdered neighbors) filled the streets in Pittsburgh yesterday.

    But never mind that, the orange turd got his fee-fees hurt by the press reporting on it, and that’s what really matters. #priorities

  13. Trip says:

    The Oxygen of Amplification:

    …As more than one reporter asserted, this push for impartiality holds particular sway in the US. “In the UK,” one US-based reporter for The Guardian explained, “people don’t pussyfoot around whether something is a fact or not, and those facts don’t get swept up into culture wars like they do here. They’re just facts.” In the US, in contrast, facts are often framed as one side to a story, with a contrary side included as a counterpoint—a point of great consternation for reporters. ..I honestly think it’s a bastardization of what a nonbiased media is supposed to achieve. It’s like making a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy.” She said that when journalism first emerged as a profession, the goal was to present facts and help people understand the value of those facts……. Not only did “both sides” framings place fringe positions on equal footing as consensus positions, they helped to legitimize hateful, dangerous, or simply factually untrue claims. The opinion, for example, that it’s perfectly acceptable to be a flag-waving white supremacist is not the same as the fact that white supremacy poses a direct threat to public health, and to democracy as a whole.

    This is only a very small excerpt of the report. I’m sure the authors would consider it fair use. CNN and certain TV personalities on MSNBC like Chuck Todd are often guilty of this amplification. All cable news programming tends to amplify the most sensational and worst utterances of Trump, running them on a virtual loop, and then inviting his speakers on who, even if they were relatively honest (Giant leap of devil’s advocate here), they all have signed NDAs, which makes for useless and incomplete commentary, anyway.

    • Trip says:

      This is the very way that GOP gets a pass, silently condoning Trump’s rants, racism, incitements and white supremacy. They are permitted to say they like what he is doing with the economy (as if that absolves them of everything else happening, including massacres). Putting this in some historical context, would Hitler’s methodology be completely acceptable because it worked for the wealth of some, at the expense of others?

      We never seem to get hard follow-up questions asked. The story dies right there, as if tax cuts (for billionaires) is justification for ongoing persecution of “others”. They may not be racist, homophobic, misogynist, etc, etc., but they sure are racist-homophobic-misogynist-etc-etc-adjacent, and supporting anything within this framework is an endorsement of fascism and white supremacy. The most leeway one could give is stating that they are, at the least, indifferent. Those are the facts. Splitting hairs, to make it seem palatable, is a lousy parlor trick. They can’t have it both ways. That is, if the press reports facts, versus ‘but here’s their side of the story’. You can’t compartmentalize that very very dangerous element from the other.

  14. Anne says:

    Marcy’s piece in TNR is brilliant.
    The scariest part is “Democrats don’t have Mueller’s Investigative Prowess.”
    Question 1: does Mueller’s kick-ass team of prosecutors get shut down if Mueller is fired?
    Question 2: if so, the House could hire his team. Do they have the budget? the authority?
    Question 3: what happens to the server and/or file cabinets with all their raw material? Hope there are secret illegal off-site copies in case Session’s successor locks the room.
    Question 4: the House will need access to the NSA FBI etc to get electronic communications info. Do they have the authority? If so, will they get collaboration or will Trumpy administrators of such agencies slow them?

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