The Manafort Election Season Lying Bonanza Stall

I’d like to look at the timing laid out in Mueller’s filing arguing that Paul Manafort breached his plea agreement.

Manafort lied about his handler and his bankers

As the government lays out, Manafort lied about several things.

  • His communications with Konstantin Kilimnik: He appears to have denied his ongoing reporting to Kilimnik during the campaign, and (as WSJ reported), he appears to have hidden details about a boat trip he made with Tom Barrack after being fired from the campaign. There’s one more instance of a Kilimnik contact he’s lying about.
  • Kilimnik’s role in witness tampering: This one is frankly remarkable. As part of Manafort’s plea, he agreed that Kilimnik helped him attempt to witness tamper. Then, after that plea, he denied that very thing. Then, “when asked whether his prior plea and sworn admissions were truthful, Manafort conceded that Kilimnik had conspired with him.”
  • Payment to a firm working for him: Manafort lied about someone — it doesn’t say whom — paying off a $125,000 debt for him. Maybe this explains who is paying his spox, or maybe it even pertains to legal fees (though the amounts don’t come close to the fees covering the latter he must have incurred).
  • Another DOJ investigation: After proffering information that would help another investigation before his plea, Manafort told an exculpatory story after he signed his plea agreement. I suspect @liberty_42 is correct that this investigation pertains to the mortgage Manafort got from Steve Calk, especially given that his bank is (remarkably) contesting the forfeiture and the charges pertaining to him are among those Mueller seems to be considering retrying.
  • Contact with the Administration: I said in this post that if Mueller has evidence that Manafort discussed pardons with the Administration, now would be a good time to show it. In the passage describing Manafort’s lies about contacts with the Administration, it records him making a blanket denial; he had “no direct or indirect communications with anyone in the Administration while they were in the Administration” [my emphasis], but then goes on to suggest that Mueller had interest in “certain individuals.” Manafort claimed he had only spoken with those “certain individuals” before or after they worked for the Administration. This is kind of a dumb lie by Manafort to begin with, as there’s reporting of him talking to people like Reince Priebus. But Mueller’s invocation of a text from a specific date — May 26, 2018 — as well as what appears to be Rick Gates’ testimony that Manafort remained in communication with a senior Administration official up until February 2018 (when Gates flipped), suggests Mueller not only knows that Manafort had these discussions, but knows what was discussed. And I’m betting that involves pardons. If I’m right, then it would mean that Amy Berman Jackson will soon review whether Manafort lied about asking for a pardon.

June 9 lies are not alleged

There are a few things to conclude about the substance of Manafort’s claimed lies — aside from the fact that he really doesn’t want to tell the truth about Konstantin Kilimnik, whom the government alleges has ties to GRU.

First, the government notes that “at four of the post-plea meetings, prosecutors from other Department of Justice components attended.” If Manafort lied about Calk, that makes sense, because Calk would be prosecuted in NDIL or SDNY (where Mueller referred everything else). Konstantin Kilmnik’s other business partner, Sam Patten, is being managed out of DC, so prosecutors from there may have sat in. It may just be that National Security Division lawyers attended because all this involves counterintelligence. But the presence of outsiders at almost half of the post-plea meetings suggests that the Mueller investigation was not the prime focus.

And in spite of CNN’s scoop today that the June 9, 2016 meeting did come up with Manafort, it’s not mentioned here. That seems to suggest that while Mueller did get Manafort on the record on certain subjects relating to the election, aside from lies about his handler Kilimnik, Mueller is not including those lies here.

But Mueller did put Manafort before a grand jury on two occasions, after what must be weeks of lying, but right before the election, on October 26 and November. Significantly, that was a key time for Mueller’s Roger Stone investigation, especially November 2, when other Stone witnesses testified. We know that Mueller did ask Manafort for information about his lifelong buddy Roger Stone even in the time period leading up to Manafort’s grand jury testimony.

Still, aside from lying about his handler, Mueller doesn’t lay out any of Manafort’s lies on these subjects, if he did tell lies.

Immediately after the election Mueller started to deal with their liar

Here’s the timeline of what all this lays out.

Prior to September 14: Three proffers that presumably matched what prosecutors knew

September 14: Manafort pleads guilty

October 14: Based on CNN’s accurate count, end date for regular meetings between Manafort and Mueller

October 22: Rudy mouths off about continuing to get reports from Manafort

October 26: Manafort testifies to the grand jury

November 2: Manafort testifies to the grand jury

November 8: The government informs Manafort he has breached his plea agreement; Trump’s people work the press suggesting he may not respond to Mueller’s questions

November 13 [one day after return from France]: Trump initially promised to turn in open book test

November 15: Blaming leaked Corsi plea, Trump balks on submitting his open book test

November 13-16: Manafort’s lawyers argue he didn’t lie

November 20: Trump turns in his open book test, having refused to answer questions on the transition

November 26: Manafort’s lawyers argue he didn’t lie; Mueller refuses another extension to continue that effort

Thanks to CNN’s stakeout journalism, which accurately reported 9 meetings in the post-plea four weeks, we know that it’s not like Mueller suddenly realized at the end of all this that Manafort was lying. Because all the meetings they counted predated Manafort’s two grand jury appearances, we can be virtually certain that Mueller knew by that point Manafort was lying, and lying about silly stuff to which he had just pled guilty. Mueller gave Manafort nine post-plea changes to tell the truth, put him before the grand jury twice after that, and then less than a week later (the day after Sessions got fired and the first day that Matt Whitaker would have been Acting Attorney General, and on the very day Trump publicly balked on whether he was really going to turn in his open book test), Mueller for the first time told Manafort he had failed to meet the terms of the plea agreement.

Then starting again on the day when Trump said he maybe kind of would turn in his answers after taking a day to recover after his Paris trip, Manafort’s lawyers started to argue that their client hadn’t lied. That argument continued until the day after Trump balked again and the government got a 10-day extension on the status report on Manafort. Finally, after using that 10 day extension to … apparently do nothing, Manafort’s lawyers made one more try to argue their client didn’t lie.

In the interim period, Trump turned in his open book test.

Throughout this period, at least according to the government, Manafort’s lawyers didn’t advance any argument to refute the government claim their client lied. “In none of the communications with Manafort’s counsel was any factual or legal argument made as to why the government’s assessment was erroneous or made without good faith.”

Who was stalling whom?

I have argued that by entering a pardon-proof plea deal with a known liar while Trump pondered how to answer Mueller’s open book test, Mueller may have lulled Trump into answering those questions. The record doesn’t entirely support that case (though it is not incompatible with it), as Trump knew before he handed in his open book test that Mueller had branded Manafort a liar. Plus, because Mueller doesn’t allege that Manafort lied about some of the big questions — and because Mueller seems to have been tending other investigative priorities, like Steve Calk — we can’t tell (aside from the public report that Manafort got asked about his buddy Roger and Rudy’s claim Mueller’s prosecutors told Manafort Trump was lying about June 9) whether Mueller asked questions about key events like the June 9 meeting and Manafort lied, whether he just didn’t pose them, or whether he doesn’t have the other credible sources to present to Amy Berman Jackson.

So it’s unclear how Mueller approached the aborted election season plea deal.

But if Mueller’s claims that Manafort lied hold up — and his lies look really contemptuous — then it appears clear that Manafort is either hopelessly pathological and/or he used the plea deal just to buy time, presumably for Trump.

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. 

77 replies
  1. oldoilfieldhand says:

    To the best of my recollection, I was lying then, and I’m foggy about this, but I’m pretty sure that I’m not lying now. Ipods, iPhones, computers and servers are lying…lying in wait for the big day. Can the Masters of the Universe arrange an EMP powerful enough to wipe the evidence? Will it help if there are already transcripts?

    Who cut the deal to stay out of prison? Don Jr has no personal experience with being on the inside, but Jared would remember visiting dad in the big house. Is there a first class lounge for upper class white collar criminals? Will there be a heliport for visitation convenience? Will Jared take the kids to visit Ivanka, Grandpa and Uncle Don if they have to mix with the unwashed masses? Will Ivanka take the kids to visit Grandpa, Uncle Don and daddy? Will Eric be able to keep the empire afloat or will all be lost? And who is going to protect the remaining rich and powerful from the Russian mob?



  2. Wm. Boyce says:

    “Maybe this explains who is paying his spox,…”

    EW, please define spox, haven’t a clue what that is.

    Thank you for your analysis.

  3. Ppmax says:

    All the time stalling implies another possibility which is that there was some backchannel to trump helping him to answer question from mueller “correctly”

    No wouldn’t that be something

  4. Michael says:

    I assumed the other investigation was Tony Podesta, although I don’t know why Manafort would lie about that.

  5. oldoilfieldhand says:

    All of our lives we’ve been told the United States is a nation of laws; that all are equal under the law is the foundation of this experiment in democracy and that no one, regardless of their social station or wealth, is above the law.

    Today we found out with 100% certainty that the US Department of Justice believes the Presindebt is a criminal. But all the lawyers and judges in the DOJ also believe that the man in the White House (Individual 1) is above the law. Any other person in the USA, politician, preacher, teacher, student, postman, CEO, cop, lawyer, judge, Senator, Congressman or woman, sanitation worker, doctor, etc., would be indicted and charged with a felony. Not the Presindebt.

    Now,  the media is tasked with convincing the populace that only Republicans in the Senate can offer a political remedy to this criminal activity, since there is no legal recourse for a criminal Presindebt. No wonder the worst president in history thinks he can continue to get away with illegal activities and his friends can get away with murder if they drop a bag of cash in his lap.

    Without reprimanding me for being a simpleton (I don’t seem to be able to find that presidential protective clause in the United States Constitution), can one of the lawyers here give me hint where to look? We’re either a nation of laws or we’re not. Starting to look like we’re not…


    • Alan says:

      The laws that apply to the President are found in the US Constitution, Article II Section 4, Article I Section II para 5, Article I Section III para 6, and Article I Section III para 7, and the Law referred to in Article I Section III para 7.

    • Three says:

      @oldoilfieldhand, here’s DOJ’s reasoning on why the President can’t be indicted or criminally prosecuted:

      • oldoilfiledhand says:

        Thank you. Looks like I’ll be busy for a while now, but does DOJ’s reasoning resulting in a conclusion not authorized in the Constitution, following discussion among chosen few outweigh the written law? Judicial activism or Judicial recidivism? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought only the president could enact executive orders. Are we to believe that the DOJ or the OLC has been deeded the same authority?

      • oldoilfiledhand says:

        Thank you! Interesting reading.

        So, the OLC, who incidentally works for the Executive, by virtue of the Electoral College selection of a man to be President, determined  “that the duties of the president are so onerous that a President may not be able fully to discharge the powers and duties of his office if he had to defend a criminal prosecution.”

        Perhaps we could limit the defense of criminal prosecution to “executive time” on the Presindebt’s schedule,  giving the White House occupant sufficient time for his defense of a criminal prosecution,  thus providing the Presindebt adequate time to continue to run the country perfectly while also defending himself. Surely a stable genius can walk and chew gum simultaneously.

        • oldoilfieldhand says:

           Can a sitting president be indicted for criminal activity in the presence of irrefutable evidence?

          Agnews laywers:

          “The vice president should have the same immunity as the president, they wrote, because he “must maintain himself in a state of constant preparation to replace the president.” And as the official with responsibility for initiating the 25th Amendment removal process, he must “continuously … monitor the ability of the President” to discharge his duties. These responsibilities, they argued, were incompatible with being a defendant in a criminal case. ”

          Agnew copped a plea to avoid prosecution.

          Jaworski’s experts:

          The attorneys in the Office of Watergate Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski concluded that there was no legal bar to indicting a sitting president and that the office should recommend either that the grand jury indict President Nixon or that criminal charges against him be incorporated into a formal grand jury presentment. Jaworski concluded that the best course, with impeachment proceedings in the offing, was to include Nixon as an unindicted co-conspirator in the indictment of the other Watergate defendants. 

          As we understand it, the conclusions regarding indictment of an incumbent President reached by the Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorney’s office, and this office, are all consistent: there is nothing in the language or legislative history of the Constitution that bars indictment of a sitting president, but there are a number of ‘policy’ factors that weigh heavily against it.

          Nixon resigned because the Senate Republicans told him he would be convicted.

          It seems that the United States is not so much a nation of laws as a nation of innovative legal opinions run through a rubric’s cube policy thesaurus: The very rich and very powerful can afford to have favorable interpretation of any legal opinion entered as evidence of guilt or innocence as applicable. Crimes against the people can be settled by the VR and VP with no admission of guilt, therefore no record of criminal activity, and the payment of a small percentage of ill gotten gains in restitution and fines becomes a part of doing business, kinda’ like legal fees. What could possibly go wrong? I’m glad you asked…

          Corporations are people, GHW Bush was a statesman, Social Security and Medicare is bankrupting America, assisting the poor and sick is socialism, disability is money for deadbeats, SNAP is welfare cheats, teachers are overpaid hacks, evolution is an offense against the creator, torture is enhanced interrogation, kidnapping is extra-judicial rendition. purchasing elections is free speech, fraud and money laundering is creative accounting, bribery is campaign contributions, lying is alternative facts, obfuscation is inability to recall, obstruction is fighting back, murder is justifiable homicide, slander is counterpunching, culpability is plausible deniability, etc.

          I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!

  6. TravisV says:

    Thanks Marcy!

    Note the typo……..

    ”Mueller gave Manafort nine post-plea changes to tell the truth, put him before the grand jury……”


  7. orionATL says:

    re the $125k who knows, but manafort did have a mistress and judging from trump dalliances that seems about the going price for silencing “darling for a while”.

  8. Erica says:

    Im starting to think picking Pence was a test. Maybe Manafort told the Kremlin, pick the VP you want, to prove his value to the Kemlin. They submit Pence and Manafort made it happen! Is their any government body or person that can overrule a non indictment of a president policy? This sounds ridiculously absurd. He can damn near run a full blown criminal organization and not be indicted, then pardon himself

  9. Rapier says:

    Manfort’s stalling, if that is what it was, served no purpose for the election. The chances that 1 in 100,000  voters would vote D instead of R because of something he told the SC, revealed at that late date is near zero.

    I suppose in his mind he could create a sort of noble story about himself then, protecting R’s, somehow. Let’s call that sad. Then again he was surly unfamiliar with nobility as his life was about status, winning the game, money.  He has already lost it all so he took a stab at nobility then.  As if anyone gives a rats ass about Paul Manfort.

  10. pseudonymous in nc says:

    we can be virtually certain that Mueller knew by that point Manafort was lying, and lying about silly stuff to which he had just pled guilty. Mueller gave Manafort nine post-plea changes to tell the truth

    Or, perhaps, to try and establish which lies he was willing to repeat multiple times, which ones he was willing to modify, and which ones he was willing to recant. Sometimes lies can tell you more than the pencil-sketch of the truth you’ve established from other sources. So if Paulie was stalling, it still created a window to taxonomise the lies.

    • Avattoir says:

      Maybe lie ‘taxonomy’ holds a certain amount of virtual water somewhere, but you won’t get far trying to run it past 12 jurors or 63m MAGAheads many basking in gerrymander.

      OSC’s going to need another water carrier for the Trump Tower conflab. So have the stakes in Son vs Son in Law become grossly elevated, and, if, so will Kushner DNA traits hold?

  11. Barry says:

    I’m not surprised Manafort is lying and withholding info about his dealings with Kilmnik. My surprise was, and is, that he agreed to cooperate in the first place, and I have yet to read a plausible explanation why he would have done so. If it is true that Kilmnik is GRU and connected to Russian oligarchs, then why would Manafort dare to spill the beans on these very dangerous, well-connected thugs?  Or for that matter why dare spill the beans on the Thug in Chief when all your potential billionaire benefactors are loyal to this thug?  I wouldn’t. Would you? Especially if there’s still a chance of a pardon down the road. I have no sympathy for Manafort, but I think he really is caught between a very big rock and a very hard place.

    • Avattoir says:

      I very much doubt that you or I or anyone here is capable of working out the pathways inside Paulie Rugs’ brainpan.

      This is a phenomenon with which criminal trial lawyers & law enforcement are familiar, of which we’re pretty much all to some degree in awe, and which many of us find not a little disturbing: It seems like in just about every decent-sized municipal homicide or violent crimes or sex crimes units, there’s this one investigator, or one partnership, that’s made a serious & seriously dark investment in trying to think like a criminally-inclined psychopath.

      I’ve spent some time with a few of them (All who I know or know of are men; I don’t suggest there’s any sound basis for thinking it’s impossible for women to go there, but it does seem to me to fall under the sorts of things that near-categorically give all of us the willies about males animals.). Every single one I’ve spent time with, met or just know of, is clearly smarter than I am, smarter than almost every attorney I know, smarter than any company they keep. But overall it also seems to me they’re at high risk of appearing to most to be weird, becoming isolated even ostracized as weird, and spending serious downtime with  mental health professionals.

      Mueller’s managed to build an OSC that features a pretty darn fabulous team of top level criminal law attorney talent, but I don’t see any one of them possessing the special ‘gifts’ necessary to get a true read on someone whose mind hops about quite like Paulie’s. Charlie Black has said Manafort was unquestioning the ‘brilliant one’ among the high achieving rat fuckers in Atwater, Black, Manafort & Stone, and even Stone has expressed awe of Manafort’s brain.

      • BobCon says:

        They have access to a lot of them in Quantico or wherever, though, right? I have to think they’ve had a couple in a room while interviews were going on, or else they’ve shared videotapes of interviews, used them to help develop lines of questioning, things like that.

        When the head of the whole conspiracy is clearly a lunatic, they must be approaching this crime spree the way they would investigate a cult. The big danger I see is whether they bring in the wrong psychologists, the way a bunch of charlatans were consulted by others in the government to try to “understand” (i.e. terrorize and humiliate) Muslims. I think there are good professionals who can provide genuine insights, but there are also a lot snake oil salesmen.

        • Avattoir says:

          There’s a lot more compacted inside your comment than (I suspect, with respect) maybe you know.

          In my experience, the category of the type of folks on the law enforcement side which I tried to describe is, indeed, filled with not just a few bogus, got-lucky-once-or-twice, egotists & borderline wacky seers a lot of whom float between self-deluded & fake.

          That’s certainly no less the case with those you envision piled up in some corner of a wing at Quantico like experiments in goat control.

          If it’s not already apparent, I’m in something of a struggle trying to describe what’s up with cooperators, partly because I haven’t dealt with all that many of them, and, to an extent I can’t begin to quantify, partly because for whatever reasons, I have a strong bias towards thinking each one is highly prone to being unique & requiring unique handling.

          AOT, my bias inclines me to the view that dealing with characters like Cohen & Manafort inherently isn’t a short-term thing and instead can be a very long term special project. Cohen, I’m guessing, is someone easily underestimated, but the easier case (indeed, he appears to have, uh, ‘honestly’ drawn clear lines around certain subjects, which, having done that, categorically disqualifies him from cooperator status – yet nonetheless has carved out some position he at least thinks of as honorable … which, I think most would see as classic mob fodder.

          But establishing any useful purchase on a case like Manafort, in my view, would require deploying exponentially greater resources and necessitate something more along the lines of a dedicated, long-term – I mean, into the years long-term – project. It’s as if he’s a creature mutated over generations by Darwinian evolution in the permanent conflict between predators and food.

          • BobCon says:

            I think where good psychological experts can help is in narrowing down the range of possibilities. They could be helpful, for example, in figuring out whether Manafort had any genuine love for his family, and if offering them a break had any value as a negotiating tool. They’re not going to do any kind of TeeVee magic.

            The damage a bad expert can do could be substantial, of course. The jackals who designed the torture interrogation programs didn’t just screw up in the particulars — snarling dogs aren’t an especially effective tool against Muslims compared to the effect on people observing religions without the same views on dogs.

            The dirty psychologists screwed up in the larger issue which was they reinforced the idea that any kind of torture would be effective.

            • Trip says:

              Ulggg, that swishy tongue/lip sound Hopkins made is one of the creepiest moments in a film (of all time).

          • Valley girl says:

            Avattoir- I found your comments above fascinating and thought-provoking.  I ended up calling a friend who is a professional actor (we met long ago when he was a scientist, like me).  In a way, actors can be viewed as professional liars- in that they- imo- the best actors- become the character they are playing when they are on stage or on camera.  But that is only then, in the moment of performance.  They, and certainly my friend, can step off “the stage” and revert to being who they really are.

            As it turned out, my actor friend has been following the Manafort saga.  fwiw, he and I were on the same page.  A pathological liar like Manafort has no core recognition of “the truth”.  No anchor in the truth.  Whatever he says, when he says it, is what he sees as the truth at that moment.  He doesn’t think that he is lying- no self-recognition that he is lying.  If he later says that yes, he lied when he said such and such, that is just another lie, one that he totally believes when he says it.

            Thus, I’d say that such a person would be totally crazy-making for anyone who believes that there is some core to the person, which can eventually be sussed out, and thus predict or understand their lies.  (No, not exactly what you were saying, I know.)

            I hope this makes some sense.  I’ll stop now, lest I am digging a hole for myself.  But again, thanks for the thought-provoking comment.

            • posaune says:

              Avattoir,   I found your comment thought-provoking as well.   It made me think of Robert Hanssen, who when finally arrested (after 14 years?) said, “what took you so long?”

              Imagine what Manafort could have done if he had acquired some real tradecraft.   Of course, Manafort seems a different animal from Hanssen, who was disciplined and patient (professional) in his tradecraft.   It would be interesting to see a comparative analysis.  I would wonder if Manafort (vis a vis lying) employs a self-triggering dissociation for lying — is able to track his own lies?


    • timbo says:

      How about the President’s lawyers ask Manafort to find out what Mueller knows and get that info back to President’s counsel?  If the idea of a pardon is in the works then this sort of thing would be kind of a no-brainer for Manafort to agree too…heck, it’s an excellent carrot-stick thing, particularly if this sort of communication is not reported by counsel or the President and there’s evidence that it once did occur, or more likely more than twice did occur. There’s a reason that Mueller’s team have put Manafort in lockup at the moment, and perhaps the President’s men are sweating as… no more primo info flow on the down-low.  But, see, this is where it makes sense for Manafort too—he wins if they get the info (loyalty) and if there’s evidence of the communication that the President’s men fail to mention to, you know, investigators, Federal judges, that sort of thing.  What is: a verbal only joint defense agreement…

      • timbo says:

        That is, Manafort is the devil and the President’s counsel are dupes and charlatans that have little clue as to how crazy the devil can be.  Oh, that devil, fulfilling your wishes and then threatening to turn on you… somethings gotta give.  The devil benefits if there’s a pardon…that’s the one thing the devil wants above all else…

    • Trip says:

      Maybe to retain a portion of property and assets for his wife (so in good faith they wouldn’t take all of it?) Then as timbo said, hoping for a pardon by playing double agent? There is also the other option where he really thought he was so skilled and intelligent (but really arrogant) that he could outsmart everyone. Part of the reward for his kind of games, I imagine, is the adrenaline rush, and the egotism of getting away with shit, being above law.

    • Alan says:

      Manafort may have done the cooperation agreement because he didn’t want to keep wasting money paying attorneys, and to get insight on the investigation to help Trump.

      • timbo says:

        Good point about the finances  side.  The thing is that Manafort is basically screwed-screwed if he doesn’t get a pardon or some sort of blanket immunity.  You can bet Congress wants to hear all of Manafort’s dirty.  The question is whether they need to hear it or not.  Hopefully Mueller has a good sense of that by now and can advice the House on this.  Note that the Senate could take up the question as well, that is the GOP senators could immunize Manafort and let the chips fall where they may.  Oh, June, you will be so interesting this 2019…

  12. Charles says:

    Throughout this period, at least according to the government, Manafort’s lawyers didn’t advance any argument to refute the government claim their client lied.

    At what point do the lawyers start worrying about being charged with obstruction of justice?  If lawyers know their client is lying and that the lying will further a fraud, they would seem to have (IANAL) an absolute ethical duty to withdraw and, if they failed to do so, could be brought before a grand jury to determine whether they participated in the crime. If it appeared to the grand jury that they had participated in it, well, I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes.

    • Alan says:

      > If lawyers know their client is lying and that the lying will further a fraud, they would seem to have (IANAL) an absolute ethical duty to withdraw

      Not exactly.  An attorney has to avoid assisting or participating in a client’s criminal conduct.  The attorney is only *required* to attempt to withdraw if that is the only way to avoid assisting or participating in a crime.  Otherwise, attempting to withdraw may be an option but would not be required. Note that once an attorney enters an appearance in court on behalf of a client, the attorney can only withdraw with the permission of the court, which the court will generally be very reluctant to grant in the middle of the proceedings.

  13. Vinnie Gambone says:

    Anyone else’s noticing Trump’s bald spot seems to be showing more and more through his tinsel? He has the biggest lie of his life sitting on his head and he gets away with it. No wonder he thinks he can get away with anything.  We are talking the red skin on his scalp showing through . And if we can see it, he can see it. It is  bothering  him as much as a woman would be if her mascara was running. Increased shots of Trump’s dome  will do more  to unravel him than any indictment.  The cover up on his head is disappearing at exactly the same time his coverup(s) about the  Moscow deal  and Russian  election sabotage are  disintegrating. Nice.

    No secret either that  the pomp of Bush’s funeral show’s ratings  are bothering Trump too . Perhaps it got him thinking about his own death, his own funeral,  pondering possibly  for a second about his own presidential library,  how magnificent it will be  located in the Trump Tower Moscow lobby between the elevators  and  the gift shop that sells the Donald Trump Bobble heads  the Fake News My Ass T-shirts.

    On a serious note, could it be Cohen’s refusal to cooperate fully is a smart  tactic  on his part to avoid opening the door to more serious charges, perhaps RICO charges, charges for which it would not be unreasonable to think certain parties might want him dead?

    I think he thinks he can do the four years, that he  is thinking he has only ratted out the Money Launderer in Chief and no american based russian gangsters. He’s thinking this fact will protect him in prison. Who knows?

    One hopes the  Justice Department, like  us, is interested in any information Cohen has about the “disproportionate” percentage of  Trump’s investors around the world being  Russian, and whether or not the practices of the Trump organization met the predicates for a continuing criminal enterprise.

    That and  information on who gave the Russians the electorate targets for the the active measures campaign.

    When and where does the russian professor who stole the Facebook data come back into the picture? Connect Trump to that scheme. Whoever facilitated the use of that data to accomplish russia’s aims  helped sabotage our election.  A bloodless coup. Let’s hope not an unpunished one.



    • Valerie Klyman-Clark says:

      Sir, THIS. is inspired . . . bald spot showing through his tinsel . . . I salute you. I really needed a good laugh.


      Many thanks.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      That and  information on who gave the Russians the electorate targets for the the active measures campaign.

      RNC and RNCC would have given electoral targets, which implicates Priebus, Spicer, Paul Ryan.  Not sure how McConnell fits in.  In addition, Bannon, Mercers, and KellyAnne were coordinating with Cambridge Analytica (now also linked to similar electoral shenanigans with Brexit, which was probably a dry run for US 2016 federal elections).   One wonders how many canaries can litter the floor of the GOP-RNC (clean energy!) coal mine.

      AFAIK, we’ve never been told how much retail, credit score, demographic, or other ‘psychometric data’ were used in the CA analyses.  IOW, there may have been additional private interests and/or lobbying groups contributing  data; it seems quite likely the NRA would have offered their databases to the ’cause’ of ‘election analytics’ for the purpose of electing Trump.

      It’s unclear how Murdock-FoxNews links in, but given their echo effects, it’s a topic of curiosity.  If anyone has good info on what McConnell and Murdock discussed 11/8, to say nothing of why Murdock would deliberately be seen in a public venue at McConnell’s DC office, please drop the penny.  Weirdly, Matthew Whitaker was appointed Acting AG the same day (11/8): perhaps it was merely a post-election coinkydink.

      • Mulder says:

        I swear if I had to choose between Trump or McConnell being destroyed, I think I would choose the Turtle. El Jefe Cheeto is hamstrung politically for two years and would be even more so without ol’ Mitch.

        What did Mitch know, and when did he know it?

    • Avattoir says:

      A gentle reminder that this is a RICO free site, adhering, as we do, to the precepts of Popehat.

      (IOW, ix-nay with the ICO-Ray. It flies not.)

    • flatulus says:

      Yo Vinnie, I totally agree with your theory on T’s hair. Let’s hope it all blows away on a cold windy day, in public.

      I personally think linking T with “The Anti-Christ” will be the only thing that costs him support from his base. After all, the Ruskies first infiltrated the RNC through the Evangelicals.

      Trump as Satan!

      • Trip says:

        I have noticed, in the past, that when he’s having a particularly rough day, his contraption hair is more fucked than usual. It turns into a flat canopy. And the color even seems to change.

  14. chuck says:

    Anyone leaning more towards a Mueller indictment of the conspirator-in-chief? Odds are Trump will be found to be the head of a criminal conspiracy while a private citizen (Trump Foundation, et al), head of a criminal conspiracy while running for election (this case in point post), and then the criminal conspirator in chief as far as obstruction and attempted quid pro caviar-flavored quo…

    Indictment with delay of judgment seems pretty practical with all that precedence.

    • timbo says:

      I’m leaning towards Mueller being cautious and maybe counting on the Congress to take an obvious path, a clearly spelled out procedural path in the Constitution, without him, Mueller, having to settle the issue of whether or not a President can be criminally indicted.  I’d say that the Dem incoming House has put a halt to any such explorations of indicting individual 1 until at March at the earliest.  Mueller’s team will wait and see what the new Congress does.  Heck, Mueller’s team has been giving the 2019 Congress all sorts of clues as to where to look and who to ask under oath…

      • chuck says:

        I agree that Mueller is cautious in the sense of being by the book, but with Trump’s central position in the conspiracy—and his enterprises operating so heavily from its foundation—not indicting him weakens the very book Mueller is following.

        EW linked to it previously, but here it is again from Lawfare Blog:

        And in Trump’s case he’s going to have two of three criminal conspiracies taking place when he was a normal citizen. Even Nixon’s “unidicted co-conspirator” standing was questionable at the time, but mooted by his resignation. Trump’s resignation would only dampen one third of the conspiracies, and waltz him right into state level conspiracy charges—even if pardoned by Pence.

        This is why I get more and more of a feeling that the short hand on this is going to be: he conspired before the election, during, and since. And Mueller would rightly throw the book at him, just recommending to wait on letting it hit him in the head when he’s no longer president.

        • BobCon says:

          He also faces a damaging fight with the House over his taxes and the exposure of his company finances. If he is still committing the fraud he committed a couple of decades ago, as revealed by the NY Times, it’s coming at a terrible time.

          I think fraud is baked into his business model, in terms of taxes, accounting and money laundering. The Trump Foundation may well be just the beginning, and it’s hard to see him being so crooked in the past and completely clean within the past five years.

          Mueller probably has a good idea, and I think it’s worth thinking about how this exposure may be playing into Mueller’s moves on the Russia crimes.

  15. Willis Warren says:

    Rudy being so dumb really complicates this unnecessarily…

    I doubt Paul had a master plan, and stalling seems like a thing to do when you have no plan more than stalling for a plan. The timeline could be affected, yes, but trump would get word that he wasn’t talking about this or that, then trump being trump would want more info about certain questions.

    I don’t see this as a chess game, it’s more of a grade school game of telephone. I think all of the evidence suggests that Paul is more afraid of the Russians than he is Mueller, pardon or not.

  16. Trip says:

    Delays on sanctions, and this has to be hanging over his head, black caviar jar holder:

    U.S. Delays Rusal Sanctions as Talks With Deripaska Continue

    The U.S. Treasury Department delayed imposing sanctions on Russia’s largest aluminum producer, United Co. Rusal, for the fifth time, as it seeks to strike a deal that would allow the company to escape the penalties…Treasury said in a notice Friday that licenses allowing Rusal to continue doing business would be extended to Jan. 21 from the prior Jan. 7 expiration. The extension gives Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska more time to give up control of Rusal, the world’s largest aluminum producer.

    Oligarchs being above consequences.

    • Avattoir says:

      .. where “give up control” = give off the appearance of having given up control to extent necessary to pull off the heat

      • Trip says:

        Exactly. I remember reading months back on either on Medusa or Moscow Times that he gave up control, or was in the process. The old magician’s disappearing act, where the lovely assistant is just spun around in the box.

  17. Dc says:

    Is it possible manafort entered the plea agreement to raise the stakes for his paymasters and secure pardon and funds?

  18. steppy says:

    In the last section, “Who was stalling whom?” I will say that we also don’t know whether Mueller asked Manafort about June 9, Manafort lied and Mueller chose not to show that particular card. Mueller had, after all, sufficient evidence of lies on other fronts to prove his claims that Manafort had breached the plea agreement. I still think it’s as likely as not that Individual 1 cribbed his answers from Manafort’s paper and Mueller allowed it, knowing that those answers were wrong.

  19. orionATL says:

    since we are playing a guessing game, i can think of a lot of reasons manafort might have lied as he did (“silly lies”), but one very simple one is that by behaving as he did he avoided the danger and expense of an immediate second trial.

    where does that trial date stand now?
    not yet
    i’ll bet 😁.

    • bmaz says:

      Yeah, maybe, but I doubt it. Manafort’s plea, entered and accepted on the record, still stands even if any obligation of the government as to cooperation/downward departure does not. The plea is still in effect and done, as is his waiver of right to appeal. That is what makes Mr. Manafort’s actions so curious.

  20. John says:

    At what point do we see a NY State indictment against Manafort? Seems like that would be a good way of driving home to him that a Trump pardon is not his salvation.

  21. Vinnie Gambone says:

    How many people can Trump pardon before the country says come on now, what the heck. He ain’t pardoning nobody before or  until he finds out whether his kid is going to need one. Cohen thinks he’s going to be safe in jail. Manafort knows Shiv is not a village in the Ukraine.

  22. I Never Lie and Am Always Right says:

    Timing -wise, any NY indictment will come after the Supremes issue their ruling in the Gamble case, which was argued this past week. Scotusblog prognosticators predict a win for the government, based on the oral argument.

    • bmaz says:

      The potential impact of the Gamble case in SCOTUS is one of the most overblown, and stupidly cited, things ever.

      Seriously, it does not have jack shit to do with elementally and factually different charges. Mueller has acted accordingly. Adding: I see no reason from oral argument that SCOTUS (Soto was particularly, and curiously, dubious) is particularly inclined to grant the relief Gamble seeks, even though as a criminal defense practitioner they really should. In short, If you think Gamble is determinative here, you are wrong.

      • I Never Lie and Am Always Right says:

        I’m standing by my comment regarding the timing of any NY State indictment, although I’m not disagreeing with you that the potential adverse impact of Gamble is significantly overblown and misunderstood.  Unfortunately, we live in a world where “overblown, misundertood bullshit” gains traction with some people. Some people think that Rudy Guiliani is a brilliant attorney and an effective spokesman. Some people think highly of  Corsi and Stone. Some people think Donald Trump is something other than a self-centered financial predator and opportunist.

        So if I’m a NY State prosecutor who wants to indict Manafort, I’m going to wait until the Supremes decide Gamble before I indict Manafort, if I’m able to do so, because I am likely to have an opinion in Gamble that helps me deal with the bullshit that will come from Team Trump and its affiliates after I indict Manafort. I know from oral argument that Gamble is likely to lose, and I know I’m going to have the opinion in my hands next spring.

        • bmaz says:

          Not sure I disagree with that at all. But Gamble was never what it was painted by some to be. And, frankly, I would be in favor of Gamble being granted as to the purpose. Alas, that is not the read of the Justices I got off of friends who were there for the argument. My only real point is that it is really not dispositive, as argued, on Trump pardons. It is easy to see how people think it is until you drill down into the briefing arguments and facts of the case history, but nope.

  23. orionATL says:

    and the hits just keep on coming, as the dj used to say (but did he mean (THIS)?

    O.T.   noted and cited by jane mayer on twitter:

    don’t know “the trace” but here it is allied with mother jones. i’d guess this could involve butina, whose situation has been discussed by emptywheel several times here.

    leave it to the republican cockroaches to crawl thru every available crack to put their minority party in power and keep it there.

    • timbo says:

      Very interesting.  See, this is something that the incoming Congress could look at in an attempt to get a handle on how modern campaigns might be coordinating to get around existing Federal campaign legislation.  Please bring this to the attention of your Congressperson, particularly if they are trying hard to be clean.  Let’s hope the House investigative committees (if any) look into this closely.  It does appear to be a violation of some sort, possibly multiple if it involves money laundering…


      Also of interest is the amount spent by the NRA and the amount donated to the NRA by Russian sources… intelligence services also “follow the money” that they infuse into political networks if they can.  It lets one know where money is going, accruing, being syphoned off, etc, hence where there are key nodes that might be compromised or some how shutoff.  Social control of sub-cultural norms is something big intelligence services are keenly interested in… layers…

      • Tech Support says:

        OT but this:

        Social control of sub-cultural norms is something big intelligence services are keenly interested in… layers…

        reminds me greatly of the old satirical Illuminati card/board game. “I use the International Cocaine Smugglers to take control of Comic Books”

  24. Jenny says:

    Remember these red flags about Manafort.

    Interview with Norah O’Donnell from CBS.

    His daughters hacked emails: or

    Manafort Quotes:

    “I’ve never dealt with the Russian government, I’ve never had a relationship with the Russian government.”

    “I’m always careful what clients I take.”

    “As an opinion manager, a campaign consultant, fixing personality negatives is a lot easier than fixing character negatives.”

    • timbo says:

      Ah, but has the Russian government dealt with him—there’s the rub.  This is the reason there are lobbying registration laws fer instance…

      Careful with clients, shoddy diligence elsewhere.  Mike Meyers, Peter Sellers, someone, please do a movie about this guy!  The characters already appear to be fixing themselves…

  25. Jenny says:

    Manafort has made crime an art form for years. Lying seems to be his way of surviving.  For him, crime paid until caught.

    Stone played a major role in convincing Trump to hire Manafort as campaign chairman.  Why?  Because he did it for free?  Was Christie a problem with Jared having locked up his father for fraud in NJ?  Apparently, Barrack, Jared and Ivanka were all on board to hire Manafort.

    Stone and Manafort have known each other since the 1980s.  Once Manafort was on board, his choice for VP was Pence.  Why?  Because Pence is a Christian right evangelical?  He would be the butler for Trump?

    What was Manafort’s motive considering he did not have money or was in debt when he become campaign chairman?  Was it to align with Trump and the Russians to eventually make money?

    All of these players are front and center, Trump, Manafort, Stone, Barrack, Jared and Ivanka plus so many more.  Conscious streaming with more questions than answers.  Of course, more to be revealed.

    • Trip says:

      Trump knew Manafort since the 80s. He also owned a residence at Trump Tower. By all appearances, Manafort was being funded by Deripaska. Manafort didn’t get the turnover of Ukraine wholesale, like what Deripaska bargained for. Manafort began working with Trump to make Deripaska “whole”. And now with the sanctions against him delayed again, Manafort may actually pull off his end of the deal.

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