The Manafort Lying Cards I’d Show if I Were Playing Presidential Pardon Poker

One detail from Paul Manafort’s status hearing yesterday did not surprise me: Andrew Weissmann said he was “ready to go immediately with his filing of details on Manafort’s alleged breach” of his plea agreement.  (Judge Amy Berman Jackson gave him a week, until December 7, to do so).

Weissmann plays coy about next steps

One detail surprised me a bit: Weissmann claimed the government hasn’t decided whether they’ll further charge Manafort.

Jackson asked Weissmann if the government planned to bring more charges against Manafort after noting that the report by prosecutors earlier this week repeatedly used the word “crimes” in describing new allegations against Manafort.

The “report seems to make a point with its vocabulary,” Jackson said.

Weissmann said they hadn’t made a decision yet, but that they did believe Manafort’s conduct would be relevant at sentencing on the charges he already pleaded guilty to.

It’s not really clear from the reporting precisely what the government would charge him with, either: either the hung charges from EDVA, those that had been dropped in DC, or something else.

I’m spitballing, of course, but the two details together suggest that while Mueller has a very specific story to tell about Manafort ready to go, they haven’t decided where to go once they tell that story — whether they plan to pressure him some more to provide evidence on the things he has lied about, or perhaps charge him in the case in chief. We’re not, then, getting the full Mueller report, but I expect we’ll get some fairly interesting accusations and — given past practice from this team — some primary evidence to back up those claims. Further, given Kevin Downing’s claim to be mystified about the substance of Manafort’s lies, I suspect the Manafort (and Trump) team will get specifics about what Mueller knows that they’re not yet aware of.

Mueller’s slow reveal

When they’ve laid out such details in the past, the Mueller team has significantly advanced the long slow process of getting Manafort to describe what really happened in 2016. Early on, they used a redlined copy of an op-ed Manafort did with Konstantin Kilimnik to argue that Manafort had violated the gag in the case; while revealing that op-ed didn’t elicit sanctions on Manafort, it put Manafort in a weaker spot with ABJ. It also may have been how Manafort learned that the government had (probably in mid-August 2017, so in the wake of the raid on his condo) seized the content of the email account he used to communicate with Kilimnik.

Then, for months, the government let Manafort submit one after another attempt to make bail. And only when he had finally done so, they moved to revoke bail by slapping on two additional obstruction charges. To substantiate those charges (in yet another speaking indictment), they not only revealed that Manafort and Kilimnik had tried to convince witnesses to lie about past work with Manafort, but in the process they revealed they had collected and parallel constructed both men’s WhatsApp and Telegram chats (and had, presumably, parallel constructed Manafort’s communications with Kiliminik going back over two years, importantly for our purposes, including the entire time period Manafort worked on Trump’s campaign).

Given all the discussion Friday about further indictments, it’s instructive that rather than just submitting a motion to revoke bail last June, the government had the grand jury indict those two new charges, with the effect that they didn’t have to call the Hapsburg witnesses publicly to describe the attempts to suborn perjury.

I’m not saying it will happen again. But it could.

In any case, that move had the result of getting Manafort thrown in the pokey (he got put in a nice one, at that point), adding pressure to flip.

The next month, as Manafort made an ill-considered attempt to move his trial to Roanoke, Judge TS Ellis instead moved him to the crummier Alexandria jail. In fighting both those moves, the government revealed several new details about how they were collecting his ongoing communications, both that they had heard him say damning things on a call to his spouse, but also that they heard him explaining that “he reads and composes emails on a second laptop that is shuttled in and out of the facility by his team.”

To sum up, thus far: over the course of the 400 days since Manafort was first indicted, the government has made Manafort disclose everything he was willing to put up for bail (that is, the liquid and legal stuff), while repeatedly providing hints about how they continued to thwart his counter-surveillance (and shitty opsec) methods, while providing mere snippets about what they were learning as a result. Meanwhile he has been sitting in increasingly shitty jail cells for over five months.

And now the government has a set of accusations about his lies all wrapped up with a bow, or maybe they’ll just roll out another indictment.

If we’re playing another round of poker

As I noted above, when we were at this stage in June, the government just indicted as a way of making it far easier for ABJ to revoke bail. Here, getting a grand jury to agree they had probable cause that Manafort lied to the FBI would even further surpass the good faith standard Mueller needs to deem Manafort in violation of his plea deal.

But let’s assume, for the moment, that they’re not going to do that, that they’re going to submit a declaration laying out Manafort’s lies. What lies would Mueller disclose to ratchet up the pressure on Manafort more?

It seems there are several potential lies that would continue to wear away at Manafort’s efforts to protect Trump.

Kilimnik on a boat

A year ago, Mueller made clear he knew what Manafort was clandestinely up to with Kilimnik. In June, Mueller made clear he knew what Manafort was clandestinely up to with Kilimnik. Just weeks before Manafort purportedly flipped, Mueller made it clear, with the plea deal of Sam Patten, he knew what Kiliminik was up to.

Are you sensing a theme here?

And since Mueller deemed Manafort in violation of his plea agreement, WSJ has reported that one thing Manafort lied about was Konstantin Kilimnik. That includes whether Manafort — at a time he was dead broke and setting off on a crime way to hide that fact and his ties to Russia — hopped on a yacht with Tom Barrack (the guy who got him the job in the first place) and Kilimnik.

He has questioned witnesses about a boat trip that Mr. Manafort took with Tom Barrack, a longtime friend of Mr. Trump, after Mr. Manafort was ousted from the Trump campaign in August 2016, say people familiar with the matter. Witnesses believed investigators were seeking to determine whether Mr. Manafort ever met with Mr. Kilimnik on that trip.

Particularly given that Mueller has two cooperating witnesses who were close with Kilimnik in this period, I assume we’ll get more — possibly substantially more — details about how the suspected GRU spy Kilimnik served as the handler for Trump’s campaign manager during a period when GRU was rolling out its stolen emails.

Hidden stash

I noted on Pod Save America the other day, Manafort’s calculations look idiotic if Mueller is about to seize the last of his ill-gotten gains, $46 million in forfeitures. It looks a little different if he’s got $100 million stashed in Cyprus that, if he is pardoned, he can go live off of.

That’s another thing the WSJ reported that Manafort lied about.

In his conversations with Mr. Mueller’s team, Mr. Manafort also allegedly misrepresented information about payments he received related to his lobbying work, the people familiar with the matter said.

Particularly given that Manafort hadn’t paid his mortgage on his Trump Tower condo, Mueller has permission under Manafort’s plea deal to replace that forfeiture with another. So after spending 6 months making Manafort identify the last of his liquid and legal holdings in the US, Mueller could go after whatever else Manafort has.

If Mueller not only proved Manafort was lying, but proved he had the funds to replace the forfeitures that he hadn’t actually owned, that would further constrain his finances going forward.

Trump’s pardon dangles

Between Michael Cohen and Mike Flynn, we’ll have sentencing hearings for two people known to have been floated pardons by Trump for their lies. Admittedly, both the public reporting based off leaks and Cohen’s language about pardons in his sentencing memo stops short of offering a guarantee — or, indeed, any direct conversations with attorneys.

He took these steps, moreover, despite regular public reports referring to the President’s consideration of pardons and pre-pardons in the SCO’s investigation. See, e.g., Sharon LaFraniere and Nicholas Fandos, Trump Raises Idea of Pardon For Manafort, N.Y. Times, Nov. 28, 2018, at A1; Carol D. Leonnig and Josh Dawsey, Trump Recently Sought His Lawyers’ Advice on Possibility of Pardoning Manafort, Giuliani Says, Washington Post (Aug. 23, 2018, He took these steps, moreover, despite regular public reports referring to the President’s consideration of pardons and pre-pardons in the SCO’s investigation. See, e.g., Sharon LaFraniere and Nicholas Fandos, Trump Raises Idea of Pardon For Manafort, N.Y. Times, Nov. 28, 2018, at A1; Carol D. Leonnig and Josh Dawsey, Trump Recently Sought His Lawyers’ Advice on Possibility of Pardoning Manafort, Giuliani Says, Washington Post (Aug. 23, 2018,


He could have fought the government and continued to hold to the party line, positioning himself perhaps for a pardon or clemency, but, instead – for himself, his family, and his country – he took personal responsibility for his own wrongdoing and contributed, and is prepared to continue to contribute, to an investigation that he views as thoroughly legitimate and vital.

According to ABC, pardons are one of the topics Cohen cooperated on.

So Mueller probably has evidence that Trump systematically offered pardons, and may have more than that.

If Mueller has proof that Trump offered Manafort a pardon to keep quiet (or that Manafort believed he had) and Manafort denied it, disclosing that now would be devastating, not least because it would force a judicial decision about whether that had actually happened.

If Mueller can present evidence, now, that Trump promised to pardon Manafort and then Manafort lied about it, then it would make it far harder for Trump to follow through on what was probably not a promise in any case without it being an obviously impeachable offense, if not worse.

And proving that lie might, in addition, change Manafort’s calculus about holding out for a pardon.

June 9 meeting

Finally there’s any number of key disclosures involving Trump about which Trump — as well as Manafort — have already submitted sworn statements. The key one of these involves the Trump Tower meeting. Trump’s lackeys have already made it clear he denied knowledge of the meeting.

President Donald Trump told special counsel Robert Mueller in writing that Roger Stone did not tell him about WikiLeaks, nor was he told about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting between his son, campaign officials and a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

One source described the President’s answers without providing any direct quotes and said the President made clear he was answering to the best of his recollection.

Given that Trump has made this clear, he must believe his answers match Manafort’s on this point.

But if Mueller has solid evidence — perhaps in the form of both witnesses and communications — then revealing that would undercut all the President’s claims about this meeting.

An even crazier possibility is if Mueller has found evidence — perhaps on those iPods I’m so obsessed about — that Manafort not only has proof to the contrary, but that Manafort was keeping records for his handler Kilimnik.

A big reason Trump seems to have turned on Cohen is that, in the course of reviewing the stuff SDNY seized from Cohen’s home, he discovered how much incriminating evidence Cohen was sitting on, whether intentionally (in the form of recordings) or not. Trump hasn’t gotten the same visibility on how damaging the materials seized in the Manafort raid were — though in the immediate aftermath, John Dowd panicked in the same way (though perhaps not as acutely) he did when SDNY raided Cohen. Heck! Who knows? Maybe there’s even hard evidence of a pardon dangle that was in Manafort’s condo by the time he was raided in July 2017, when the Trump people were trying to minimize Manafort’s awareness of the meeting.

The point being, if Mueller can provide evidence, it would be useful both to show that he has proof that Trump knew about the June 9 meeting (though that’s only the most obvious example) and that Manafort kept evidence showing that proof (as Cohen did, of other incriminating activities). The former would undercut the President’s relentless claims there was no collusion. The latter would lead the President to believe Manafort had betrayed him, like his former lawyer.

Mueller is sitting on a great deal of evidence right now, and neither Manafort’s nor Trump’s team seems to know what to expect. If they have the evidence to do so, it seems it would be very easy to replicate the betrayal that happened with Michael Cohen.

Update: I’m going to note that the outlets that have captured Weissmann’s comments differ in their quotes. ABC uses the passive voice.

“That determination has not been made,” special counsel prosecutor Andrew Weissman said, leaving the matter of a second trial open for consideration.

So does NBC.

“That determination has not been made yet,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Weissmann said when asked if the special counsel would lodge more charges.

But WaPo uses the first person plural.

“With respect to whether there will be additional charges, we have not made that determination yet,” Weissmann said.

Sometimes, especially when they’re in a media room (where they can talk to each other while things are proceeding), journalists can reinforce the wrong transcription. But I’m interested in the passive voice, if Weissmann actually used it, because it might leave open that Mueller’s team had decided, but the grand jury had not yet.

118 replies
  1. Susan Justin says:

    Thank you for all your excellent discussions here. Started with early Daily Mos as grannyj then moved to FDL. Learned quickly to follow your posting and incite. Thanks

    • obsessed says:

      >I’ll be sleepin’ like a baby tonight, thanks to you and your continued excellent insights.

      We all seem to be having the same thankful thoughts about EW’s heroic efforts to untangle this and keep us all sane. These posts are not only keeping me intellectually engaged, but keeping me from losing faith in humanity through this really dark period.

      • NorskieFlamethrower says:

        “These posts are not only keeping me intellectually engaged, but in humanity through this really dark period.”


  2. Rusharuse says:

    High, high, high anxi, high anxiety.
    What to do tween now and Dec 7 then Jan 3? Clean house, wash hands, wash hands again . .

  3. I Felt Mark says:

    How can Mueller be so certain that Manafort is lying about his business dealings and a potential secret meeting with Konstanin Kilimnik? It’s possible it could be Rick Gates. But recall that anything Gates told Mueller would’ve been revealed to Manafort and his lawyers during his EDVA trial. And unless KK flipped, there’s only one other party who would have such knowledge: Tom Barrack.

    It is my belief that Barrack has become a confidential informant for Mueller. Why would Barrack be a confidential informant, you ask? He seems to be embroiled in with a few different scandals simultaneously.

    – Barrack recommended Manafort to Trump as campaign chairman.

    – Barrack was chairman of the inaugural committee, currently under investigation for accepting foreign contributions (Source:

    – Barrack hired Elliot Broidy as his vice chairman on the inaugural committee. Both men paid Gates consulting fees in 2017 from their respective companies to the tune of $20-$25k a month even while Gates/Manafort were under investigation. (Source:

    – Barrack introduced Trump to his Saudi money men and helped reset Middle East policy (specifically SA and UAE). Colony Northstar, the same company that paid Gates, has profited handsomely as a result (Source:

    As a reminder, Barrack has already met with the Special Counsel this year (Source:

    If, as I suspect, Barrack is acting as Mueller’s CI, the consequences would be earth-shattering beyond Manafort. Recall that Barrack is one of about a dozen friends and family members who are cleared to speak directly with Trump. (Source:

    Trump may not use email but the guy loves to Tweet and talk on the phone. And if Barrack is looking to save his own ass from the federal penitentiary, you can bet your ass he’s got more tapes than Linda Tripp.

  4. Kevin says:

    Doesn’t Manafort likely lying about June 9th imply he didn’t have any hard evidence related to it in his condo/storage unit? I can’t imagine even Manafort thinking he could get away with that.

    If so, you’d have to imagine there is an explicit pardon deal that’s been agreed to.

    • BobCon says:

      It’s possible Manafort doesn’t want Trump to know what evidence the Feds have in order to preserve his chances of a pardon, and it’s also possible the reason Trump hasn’t issued one is that he doesn’t trust Manafort

      One theory given here for Manafort stringing out the process is that Trump’s lawyers want to find out what info Mueller’s team has. But they may also have doubts about things Manafort told them about what was seized, and they may be waiting to find out if Manafort lied to them about a lack of evidence. The fact that Mueller hasn’t played certain cards yet doesn’t mean he doesn’t hold them in his hand, and Trump can’t see all of Manafort’s cards either.

      • Kevin says:

        But if Manafort had June 9-related hard evidence seized during the raids that implicated himself and Trump, would he really still think there was any way for him get away with lying about it? How would he expect it all to play out if not for the government to just produce the proof he was lying (which would also be proof he was holding onto evidence damaging to Trump, torpedoing his chance of a pardon)?

        • BobCon says:

          I don’t think he had any good options by the time of the raid. But if he was playing for a pardon, I think telling Trump that the FBI had seized all kinds of incriminating evidence would pretty much doom any chances he had.

          Manafort would have had to lie to Trump to keep his hopes alive, and then gamble that Mueller would want to keep as much evidence hidden from Trump as possible until it could be revealed at the worst possible time for Trump. That might give Manafort time to con Trump into a pardon.

          I’m completely willing to say that is just a hypothetical — we don’t even know about most of what the FBI seized from Manafort’s house and storage, or what else they might have from other intelligence gathering. But it seems like a possible scenario, given all of the unknowns.

          • Kevin says:

            Yeah, I think that’s the plausible scenario where the iPods have June 9-related material.

            Most damaging for Manafort/Trump (and probably not anticipated by them) would be a scenario where a well-placed Russian is cooperating, but I doubt we would see evidence of that until the climax of this whole thing (and not sure how likely I think it is).

            I’m going to predict this filing will have some tantalizing bits that advance the story but no “collusion” bombshells. Seems to be the SCO modus operandi so far.

      • Kevin says:

        I suppose it’s possible he didn’t lie to the SCO about the contents of the iPods specifically, but that the team still reveals their existence, which would hurt his standing with Trump.

        • Drew says:

          One thing is that Manafort is sloppy & naive about technology. So he doesn’t necessarily know what is recoverable and what is not on his various ipods, for instance. [for instance: he makes a recording, then either passes it on to someone else or another encrypted, hidden, secret format, or doesn’t. Then he erases the recording on the ipod.  But he is not expert at scrupping digital media and this is too secret to ask for advice, so the FBI can put it back up. He could have done the erasing either as the investigation was heating up, or earlier when he transferred the recordings. If earlier, he might have forgotten them.]

          Just a sample of many ways that an arrogant & sloppy crook could have left a lot of evidence lying around without really being aware of all its implications.

            • BroD says:

              It’s easy for folks who are tech-savvy to over-estimate the sophistication of those of us who are not.   There’s no reason to assume just because Manafort, Cohen etc demonstrated some degree of competence in some areas of their nefarious enterprises that they were super-competent in managing the technology they were using.

              • Kevin says:

                Right, but the question is whether he would have figured out by now that the SCO can recover things he has deleted from his devices, whether he knew that initially or not. I suspect that he has.

  5. pseudonymous in nc says:

    Another way to think about it: what kind of things might Manafort have lied about to his lawyers — and been able to sustain those lies during the period of “cooperation” — because telling the truth would have either made it impossible for Downing and co. to keep representing him or because they lacked the evidence to know he was lying?

    For now, I’m leaning towards the witness tampering being more extensive and more relevant to the conspiracy-in-chief than the Kilimnik / Habsburg stuff. With whom, over what timeframe? Dunno.

    • Kevin says:

      I don’t think we know for sure that his lawyers were present for every session. He waived his right to have them there in the plea agreement.

  6. Rusharuse says:

    I suspect Manaforts lawyer is headed to the refurbished Alcatraz Hilton along with the rest of these shitbags.

    • fishmanxxx says:

      It’s my understanding that the AG would be dealing with lawyer discipline, and I posted recently that perhaps the current AG might not be so inclined??????

      • bmaz says:

        The AG does not deal with lawyer discipline outside of his own office, and even that is mostly handled below his level.

          • bmaz says:

            Well, Corsi specifically said he was submitting his “criminal complaint” (which is asinine, he cannot file anything criminal) by which he is referring to a dime a dozen pedestrian citizen ethics complaint, and was doing so to OPR and the IG. The first is going nowhere, and the IG does not particularly have jurisdiction over attorney conduct. This is a load of horseshit for the Fox masses.

  7. Barry says:

    I never expected Manafort to cooperate because I assume he knows too much about Russians and I also assume knowing too much about Russians and talking about it to Mueller could be life threatening, either to Manafort or his to family members, and either now or more likely 5 years from now. So I was very surprised when Manafort supposedly struck a deal. But now that this deal has collapsed, I’m back to my starting point which is that it’s one thing to snitch on Trump, but it’s multiple orders of magnitude more dangerous to snitch on Russians. Don’t you think?  I know I wouldn’t risk it, though fortunately, and just to make it clear to the Russians listening out there, I know nuttin’ about Russians.

    • BobCon says:

      I don’t buy the theory that Manafort fears the Russians. First, that’s a gigantic risk for Putin, much bigger than killing random defectors and journalists. It would be a Kashoggi level error.

      Second, if the risk was serious, Manafort would be driven into FBI protection, not away from it. When motivated (and they would be in this case) they’re very good.

      Finally, Cohen is cooperating, and while you can argue whether he has less exposure than Manafort, he has a lot. He has a lot more time ahead of him too, and he seems to have more identifiably human feelings toward his family than Manafort. does towards his. Cohen is still OK with talking to Mueller.

      • Trip says:

        I would add that Cohen feels outright scorned. He actually believed he had some type of emotional connection to or genuine relationship with Trump, (is what I gather from his laments of disloyalty).

        • Trip says:

          Editing timed out, but Cohen is the cautionary tale for every sucka who thinks Trump will have his back. Note to Junior*.

        • pseudonymous in nc says:

          If you look at Josh Marshall’s stuff on Cohen’s early years around the ex-USSR emigre community in Brooklyn, into which he married, it’s easy to get the sense that those years shaped his definition of loyalty.

          • Jesse says:


            Glad to see you mention this dimension to Cohen. It’s been swirling in the back of my mind as to why Cohen went from hard edge bluster of “Says Who!?” and defiantly smoking stogies with his shady pals outside the hotel into a direct pivot to cooperator and rebranding as “American Hero” via Lanny Davis’ crafty work. I don’t recall a single day of morphing from one extreme form to the other.

            I don’t think it’s a good typical good-natured loyalty to his blood family and community values; but rather the deeper sinister and ugly mob type values which fuel that brand of “loyalty” (more like fear and fealty, no?) of his interwoven family of criminal and criminal adjacent relatives, friends, and associates.

          • Trip says:

            Likely why he didn’t take a full cooperation agreement, where he’d have to tell tales of crimes related to “others”, not named Trump.

            • chromiumbook0000 says:

              When C*hen’s cooperation was first announced, i couldn’t for the life of me figure out why he & Lanny Davis were needing to signal, via the media, a desire to meet with Mueller’s team (unless as PR tactic); or why the Southern District settled for what they did so quickly (unless part of larger chess strategy).

              While i don’t pretend to know how this is going to play out, two things that i feel pretty confident about (which i suppose are stating the obvious): (i) there’ll be a dance/negotiation involving using Trump “Org” dirt to get Trump “Pres”; and (ii) there are some influential people (including some who want Trump gone) who want to see as little of the full-story about the former being made available in the process of trying to accomplish the latter.  The more clean the Trump Tower meeting details, the easier it becomes to accomplish both (i) and (ii), but there are obviously a lot of powerful forces, Trump himself obviously included, that don’t want any of the above to happen either. Hence, why i think we’re witnessing this high-stakes game of “cat + mouse” meets poker/chess slowly play out.

              I mention all of the above in the context that there ends up being some gaps to the “logic test” when attempting to reconcile certain people’s roles w/(in) the organization over the last decade+ with what’s been the the publicly disseminated status of their respective co-operations. I think some of the people involved are extremely savvy traders of information, Cohen included, which in tandem with (i) above, may partially explain his strategy vs the pardon strategy.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I think that underestimates the ability of the Russian mafia to get their man, in or out of prison.  Unlike Trump, the deniability would be substantial and plausible.

        It also ignores the indirect pressure a mobster might bring to anyone or anything Paulie cared about: his wife or children, for example.  It might also trace and make disappear any assets Paulie might have hidden.  The power to do that needn’t only be physical: a significant Russian money launderer might force the holder of any of Paulie’s hidden resources, if any, to play ball or face similar acts of displeasure.  Those might include no longer doing business with them and encouraging other launderers to do the same.

        The Russian state, oligarchs or mobsters might also acquire or release dirt on Manafort’s decades of illicit activities, some of which might be recent and of interest to federal prosecutors.

        All in, I continue to think that Paulie could reasonably fear some of his former clients more than he does Bob Mueller.

        • Drew says:

          My mother at one time had an office in a Federal building and in a nearby office was the guy who had local responsibility for Federal witness protection. The thing is, he was often out of his office and he had an answering machine that was loud and in which the messages came out over the speaker as they were left. She remembers hearing this guy’s clients leaving messages. One guy in particular being very explicit in his complaints about his housing etc and grousing about how a protected witness deserved better, etc.

          That was decades ago & maybe Paulie would get better treatment–but these folks also have their ways.

        • BobCon says:

          I guess I disagree. To break through a serious FBI protection effort, they would need to send serious assassins, and the risks of getting caught would be huge. I think you need to look at Khashoggi to get a sense of how the intelligence community will not always go along with a political coverup when they’re sufficiently motivated, and I think screwing with a major investigation by killing a key witness is one of those things that would get the FBI and career DOJ extremely upset.

          I think the second risk you note is more realistic — the Russians almost absolutely have the potential to release information that would trash his pardon hopes, and they may well hold the keys to hidden assets.

          • chromiumbook0000 says:

            I imagine it is the “unusual circumstances” scenario  happening 5, 6, 7 years down the road, after memories have started to fade, that concerns Manafort.  For the reasons you mention, I doubt he is worried about a Khashoggi-type hit.

      • NorskieFlamethrower says:

        “I don’t buy the theory that Manafort fears the Russians.”

        I didn’t either until I saw Putin and the douchebag Saudi prince dancin’ a jig and doin’ high fives for the cameras. If he doesn’t fear the Russians then he’s dumber than a whole bunch of boxes of rocks.

  8. Hops says:

    What the iPods referenced in the post? Should that be iPads?

    Also, I’ve noted a tendency here to assume that the only evidence Mueller has is testimony, possibly false testimony from proven liars. But this is the FBI we’re talking about. We know they scooped up a lot of evidence in raids, and I would think that before they raided a place they were monitoring conversations with listening devices, tracking people’s movements, etc. If they’re telling a judge someone lied, I’d bet they have hard evidence. What someone like Manafort tells them is probably just followed up as a lead.

    Great blog.


    • bmaz says:

      There were numerous devices seized from Manafort. Yes there were a couple of iPads, but also several iPods that he used as data storage devices. I don’t think anybody here misunderstands the immense amount of documentary and other evidence Mueller possesses, including that collected under the CI investigation. Welcome to Emptywheel.

  9. IANAL on UWS says:

    Long-time reader, first time commenting. Thank you to EW, other contributors and all who comment for this thoroughly informative site.

    IANAL and OT so please indulge this 101 question: Must all sealed indictments be unsealed? Is it possible to withdraw a sealed indictment, or leave it filed and unopened permanently?

  10. gedouttahear says:

    Perhaps this is what will happen: The SC will hand everything off to the SDNY. Then on New Year’s Eve, the ball drops in Times Square and when it lands it opens to reveal indictments naming every one of these mother-fuckers! Hail to the creeps! (In Moscow it will be 8 in the morning so they can watch the proceedings during breakfast. Some of them will say ‘my porridge is too hot.’)

    • BobCon says:

      Times Square has too much historical connection to the NY Times, and I’m guessing Mueller’s team is not too fond of those people right now. Haberman, Schmidt, Baquet, Bennet and Pinch Sulzberger would completely misinterpret the snub, of course, and see it as vindication.

      • gedouttahear says:

        Good point. I thought of that connection to The Times, but it has since moved its headquarters over to 8th Avenue, so I like to view the upcoming rollout of the indictments as ‘we don’t need no stinkin’ NY Times.’ Maybe Dick Clark could come back for the occasion. Too bad it’s cleaned up now, but a great place to put the defendants under arrest would have been the passageway under  42nd Street between the 7th and 8th Avenue subways,  the IRT and the IND.  Put em up against the wall, frisk ’em and cuff ’em. The street people would love to watch.

        • BobCon says:

          I’m not familiar with that passageway, but I did have to catch a late night bus at the Port Authority Terminal a while back, and it had a strong Taxi Driver vibe. And it was probably one of the less unsavory late night spots in the area.

          Maybe they could recreate the area for one night just for a perp walk. I’m sure DeNiro would be happy to shave his head for the occasion.

          • gedouttahear says:

            Yup. Same ambience, but the space was a bit more constricted. Not sure if it’s true, but I heard the cops did not like to patrol there.

            “You tweetin’ to me?”

  11. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceedingly small; Though with patience He stands waiting, with exactness grinds He all.

    The key words often associated with that quote from Longfellow are patience and retribution, which is not payback or revenge but a curing of justice delayed.

    It seems likely that a guy with Manafort’s decades of highly-paid work for some of the dirtiest pols on the planet would have millions stashed offshore, away from any taxman, spouse or sometime partner or creditor.  He would be hiding his association with some of his work as well as trying to avoid paying tax on the proceeds for it.  It’s also a pattern he would have fallen into early and stayed with.

    The US taxes global revenue – not a universal approach – which would make those stashed millions proceeds of felony tax evasion and subject them to seizure.  How appropriate it would be if Mueller finds them and deposits them in the US Treasury, depriving Paulie of his expected comfortable retirement.  Then he can join many of his countrymen in having to eat cat food and choose between paying for food, rent or medical care and drugs.  Karma, Paulie, Karma is a relentless bitch.

    • timbo says:

      If only his right hand guy hadn’t got caught embezzling large chunks of it, eh?  Can’t trust a crook they always say…

  12. Jenny says:

    Thanks Marcy.  Again, you dissect and assemble the material.

    An article about Manafort’s daughters hacked email, Nov 2017.  HIGHLY telling about their father’s character and his relationship with Trump.

    Quotes: “Him and Trump are perfect allies.”  And “Dad and Trump are literally living in the same building and mom says they go up and down all day long hanging and plotting together.”

    Thick as thieves then and now?  More to be revealed …

    • Trip says:

      In context: He was stationed in Bahrain, where Saudi Crown Prince MbS has been receiving support, for its own financial or political gain.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Sad news for a lot of people.  Stearns’s cv was nearly perfect, which generates its own stress.  Notre Dame, Navy, flight school, F-18s, Top Gun and TG instructor, a slew of line and command slots, three stars.  This is a guy who ate stress for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

      In his current post, and as former director of operations for CentCom, he would have known where a lot of bodies were buried.  Let’s hope the Navy’s investigation is as perfect as Stearn’s service record.

      • allison holland says:

        if he ate stress for breakfast why kill himself ?  i have been unsettled not because of the death itself but because of its location.  would such a man kill himself on foreign soil ?

      • Rugger9 says:

        I would agree as a former USN officer myself.   I am not convinced it was a suicide either at that level unless there was some other factor involved (i.e. personal issues or ridiculous orders like the one demanding the CO of the USS Cole stand down on ship security in Aden to avoid offending the locals, only a couple of years removed from Aden being a Soviet satellite state) that was beyond his control (maybe something financial?).  Since he was CentCom, he had far more resources to handle problems and more staff willing to help him with the SLJs.

        With that said I do not put much stock in the NIS unless they have improved their investigation skills since I was in (TV shows notwithstanding).  They had a rep for being Clouseaus in training, as evidenced by their attempt to smear Petty Officer Clayton Hartwig for the USS Iowa explosion due to poorly stored gunpowder (in order to cover for the Dahlgren commander who let it happen on his watch).  That was one of several examples.

        But then, maybe they got better.  One can hope for VADM Stearny’s sake.

        • Rugger9 says:

          One good question to ask for the tinfoil brigade is why did VADM Stearney need to go now?  I have no doubt he would be replaced as CentCom by someone just as professional, tough and committed to American interests.

          At the flag level there is going to be political elements as well, but not there in a war zone.  That tells me that if one believes this was linked to something (or someone like MbS) this would be something specific to this CentCom commander and no one else.

    • scribe says:

      Wouldn’t be the first time.  See, e.g., Jeremy Boorda.


      • Trip says:

        Of course it happens, and within the general population, no stature or wealth is exempt. Because there have been assassination attempts, some being successful, my point is that is why the mind goes there.

        And I’m adding this in case anyone reading may need it:

        National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

  13. chuck says:

    A note on the limits of 5 eyes collection re: Manafort, there likely aren’t any. Conversations with KK would have been preserved and the initial guilty verdict being set 7+ years ago AND having to do with spying opens up all the rest.

    Plus the head of house here knows how well those eyes perform at keeping records to an 8 year limit.

    Snowden flagged Poitras since her cross-border activity made her a preserve target—unjustly in his mind. The same can not in taste, and in jurisprudence, be said about Paulie.

  14. Jonb says:

    The mention of Barrack as a source is interesting. Is he facing serious charges as a result of mueller investigation? or a peripheral player..More please. thanks for great reporting …Again

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Mike Pompeo demonstrates again why he is the perfect foil for Trump and, before that, the Koch network.  He’s almost certainly following an agreed meme – like the GOP’s nomenclature for Mickey Cohen’s “process crimes” – with his recent dismissal regarding the Kashoggi murder.  But he delivers it with the practiced hollow ring of a tobacco lobbyist.

    “I have read every piece of intelligence that is in the possession of the United States government, and when it is done, when you complete that analysis, there’s no direct evidence linking [Prince Mohammed] to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. That is an accurate statement, it is an important statement, and it is the statement that we are making publicly today.”

    Pompous Mike did a nice double Pence there, but without the water bottle.  He implies the US has all the evidence.  What he really says is that his review was limited to the evidence in the possession of the USG.  That eliminates evidence in UK, Dutch, Turkish or other hands that he may have seen, but which is not in the USG’s “possession.”  That’s a fair bit of wriggle room.

    He gives himself and the Don more wriggle room when he limits his conclusion to “direct evidence.”  As a West Pointer and HLS grad, he knows that not all highly credible evidence is “direct evidence”.

    His statement is an obvious dodge.  So, he feels compelled to mimick Trump, and over-egg the pudding as it were, by saying that his statement is “accurate” and “important,” and the one “we are making…today.”  Publicly.  As the American Secretary of State, however, that either goes without saying or no saying of it will fill the credibility gap that he and his boss carry around with them.

    • Tom says:

      Also, if the CIA were to be asked to analyze the rising and setting of the sun, they would report “with high confidence” that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.   So the CIA’s conclusion “with high confidence” that MbS ordered Khashoggi’s murder is about as definitive an answer as to the Saudi Crown Prince’s responsibility as anyone can reasonably expect to receive.

  16. earlofhuntingdon says:

    At the G20, the Don walks on stage and then off, avoiding a photo op with the Argentinian president, while mindlessly waiving like a bobblehead doll.  Growing dementia, perhaps.

    Will the Don save everyone a lot of trouble, go walkabout from the White House, and not return?  Then the GOP could beatify him en route to his canonization.  Or is that no longer needed before joining the pantheon of GOP divines, along with St. Ronald?  His required miracle would be becoming president.  Notice of his divinity would be his mugshot on the $3.00 bill.

    As for the GOP claim that the Dems want to “destroy” St. Donald by publishing his tax returns, if that’s all it takes, the Don is just a felon on the loose, waiting for the 3 am knock on his door.

    • BobCon says:

      We still haven’t had a reliable report on Trump’s medical state, and why he seems to have, uh, issues. I wouldn’t rule out prescription drug abuse as an alternative to dementia, but we don’t really know anything, and his previous two doctors have been hacks with at least one of them a fingerprint-free pill source.

    • orionATL says:

      earl of h writes:

      “…Then the GOP could beatify him en route to his canonization.  Or is that no longer needed before joining the pantheon of GOP divines, along with St. Ronald?  His required miracle would be becoming president…

      it is one of donald trump’s distinguishing characteristics that he has been singing the martyr’s song, drumming the martyr’s rhythm, since he took his hand off the bible – a cocky, sloppy crook mewling about a witchhunt of a criminal investigation whose essence is the discovery of his betrayal.

      just the sort of character required for another republican saint.

  17. Tom says:

    In Woodward’s book, FEAR: Trump in the White House, he quotes John Dowd as concluding that the President is “clearly disabled” (p. 346) due to his inability to give a straight answer to almost any question. Hearing Trump on NPR the other morning discussing the new NAFTA agreement, he sounded like a tired, old man.

    • orionATL says:

      another of trump’s outstanding personal characteristics is that he is a bully. in the matter of his election shananagins he has been badly beaten up and can see there’s more to come. now, as you listen to his conversation you will hear him sounding retreat.

      i’ll be surprised if he lasts another year in the white house. that’s really too bad, because trump has done an excellent job of getting millions of citizens who had become too comfortable with their “values”, or with their material success in life, to get off the fence or climb over the fence and vote democratic.

  18. Vern says:

    @Earl and Trip (reply not working) re your comment on Adm Stearney: “… as former director of operations for CentCom …”

    The Admiral may have been fingered in the Fat Leonard scandal?

    As a former Navy civilian executive I was shocked at the high level and well known Naval Officers involved (and how tawdry the bribes and compromises were). He is likely to have been at least tangentially involved since intelligence on ship movements was at the heart of the scandal.

  19. Dr. Bob says:

    Thank You for what you have done, and what (I am sure) will continue to do! Our media would do our country and our people a GREAT SERVICE to follow in your tracks!

    • Trip says:

      I started to read it, but he was so piqued, seemingly reaching a crescendo of hysteria, I quit. I rarely read comments there, but this time I did, and there wasn’t a tiny bit of support.

      Before he was Epstein’s defense lawyer, he was very close to him. He told a magazine (paraphrased) that he loved Epstein so much (aside from riches), he’d still be his friend, even if he only ran a hotdog stand.

      Side note, while the journalist visited Epstein’s NYC house, on an empty desk, the only thing displayed was a copy of The Misfortunes of Virtue by Marquis de Sade.

      • Trip says:

        Last thing I’ll post on the subject, this excerpt from the Miami Herald article:

        Vasquez worked as a bookkeeper for Mc2, owned by Epstein associate Jean-Luc Brunel. He employed scouts in South America, Europe and the former Soviet Union to find him models to bring to the United States, Vasquez said in a 2010 sworn court deposition obtained by the Herald. Vasquez stated in the deposition that from 2003 to 2006 she handled all the finances and payroll for the agency, including a bank transaction involving Epstein. She said Epstein invested $1 million in Mc2.
The models were often very young — 13, 14 and 15 — and some of them were housed in apartments at 301 E. 66th St. in New York, a building that she said was owned by Epstein, the deposition said.Epstein didn’t charge the girls rent, Vasquez said, but Brunel charged them $1,000 a month, with four of them at a time sharing one apartment. The girls who were the youngest and most beautiful stayed at the 66th Street apartments, which were more luxurious than the other apartments that were used to house models who were not as young and desirable, she said…Vasquez said that even though the agency employed 200 to 300 models, the company didn’t make any money and Brunel was always broke. Brunel would later sue Epstein, alleging that the financier’s sex scandal had caused his business to fail, but the suit was eventually dropped. Vasquez testified it wasn’t unusual for the agency to send girls to an assignment with a wealthy client for $100,000 or more, but the girl wouldn’t be paid the full amount — or anything at all — if she refused to be “molested.’’

    • Trip says:

      At least they’re in their 20s now?

      The busy life of Jeffrey Epstein

      The women photographed at the house are a group of friends that mostly work as models, all of which are social scene regulars…All of the ladies also appear to be in their early twenties…The pair’s friend, model Svetlana Pozhidaeva, was also spotted leaving the house, while eating a whole avocado. The brown-haired, blue eyed beauty – who often goes by ‘Lana’ – is represented by MC2 Model Management in New York, and Elite Model Management in Milan. According to a social media account, Pozhidaeva obtained a politics degree in Moscow before moving to the US. 
      ———————————————————————————————————–Speaking in an interview with the New York Times Alan Dershowitz, the attorney who lead Epstein’s aggressive defense team – whose tactic was to destroy the girls’ credibility – admitted that he had initially had doubts when Epstein first asked him to take the case.
      He said: ‘I said, “Look, you know Jeffery, we’re acquaintances, maybe that’s not such a great idea.” He said, “No, no, no, I really need you to do this.”’

      Agency boss allegedly gave Epstein models for orgy

      Jean Luc Brunel — credited with discovering Christy Turlington, Milla Jovovich and other famous faces — is accused of recruiting aspiring young models for sex with his powerful pals, The Times of London reported on Friday…Brunel scored US passports for girls as young as 12 — then passed the minors off to pervy pals like Epstein, according to court documents…Roberts claims Epstein forced her to have sex with Brunel, co-founder of MC2 Model Management, at his home in West Palm Beach, Fla., in New York, California and several other spots…When Epstein was tossed in jail for soliciting sex from a minor, Brunel allegedly visited him 67 times.
      Brunel co-founded MC2 Model Management in 2005 after launching his fashion career in Paris in 1976.

    • Trip says:

      Jeffrey Epstein, sexual abuser of dozens of girls, settles case, apologizes. Now what?

      A trial that could have allowed the victims of serial molester Jeffrey Epstein to finally tell their stories from a witness stand was aborted Tuesday when it was announced in court that the case had been settled.
      It ended with an apology — not to the dozens of women who were sexually abused by Epstein as underage girls, but to the lawyer who represented them. There is also a monetary settlement, which is undisclosed. The lawyer who took Epstein to court, Bradley Edwards, said he remains determined to give the women, now in their late 20s and early 30s, their day in court…That opportunity could come in separate litigation that seeks to undo a controversial non-prosecution agreement that was negotiated in secret 10 years ago between the Palm Beach multimillionaire’s lawyers and the U.S. attorney for South Florida, Alex Acosta.

  20. Barry says:

    As to the possibility that Mueller is still holding secret cards, I’m still hung up on Team Trump’s audacious gambit to fire Sessions and install unqualified, un-Senate approved, loyalist Whitaker as Acting AG.. This still seems to me a potentially very big deal even though it has quickly fallen off the news-of-the-day radar. Unless the Supreme Court decides to reject this ploy, it may stand as the legal ploy that saves the bacon for the Conspirator in Chief.

    So I’m still wondering, and haven’t heard anyone suggest an answer, as to how much detail Whitaker can legitimately ask to see and can legally ( though not ethically) pass on to the WH? Perhaps there is no clear answer. Maybe this is unknown territory even for Mueller and Whitaker. So maybe it’s an awkward dance playing out behind the scenes, though it still seems to me to be a very important dance.


  21. Gwen says:

    Question about Manafort I’ve not seen addressed: why do you think that he waives court appearances and prefers to stay in jail? The not wanting to travel excuse seems flimsy. Thanks!

    • bmaz says:

      It has been addressed repeatedly here. It is not a flimsy “excuse” in the slightest. When you are in custody at a remote facility, transport to court literally consumes the entire day. They roll you up early, before dawn, throw in a holding cell in the courthouse, and don’t return you to the facility until the end of the day, likely after it is dark. All so you can can do a fifteen minute court appearance at which you say and do nothing. And the public sees you in an orange jail jumpsuit looking like a criminal. He simply is not needed for many appearances, so why not waive them? It is very common to do so.

  22. Tracy says:

    Thanks for breaking it down and helping us understand all of this, Marcy! Looking forward to what transpires this week!

    Seems that Matt Whittaker is not overseeing the investigation as of a few days ago (per a report quoted on Maddow the other night), and I think Marcy’s own note that the WH did not learn of Cohen plea till night before, and only learned details the morning of (according to reports). This is always of interest since there is the fear he can quash future indictments or Mueller’s actions. Neal Katyal was also saying on (someone’s) show the other night that for that Cohen plea to come through means one of two things: 1) Whitaker is not overseeing the probe currently (ethics dept blocked him), or 2) even if there is a stooge in the ethics dept and they’ve cleared Whitaker to oversee the probe, if he let this come out he’s not quite the stooge for Trump that Trump thought he’d be. I prefer to think that the former is going on, since I don’t want my hopes resting on shady, unqualified Matt Whitaker. Makes me hopeful, anyway!

    I look forward to reading others’ insightful comments, too!

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