Hal Martin Manages to Obtain a Better Legal Outcome than Reality Winner, But It Likely Doesn’t Matter

I’d like to comment on what I understand happened in a Hal Martin order issued earlier this month. In it, Judge Richard Bennett denied two requests from Martin to throw out the warrants for the search of his house and cell site tracking on his location, but granted an effort to throw out his FBI interrogation conducted the day they raided his house.

Hal Martin did not tweet to Shadow Brokers

The filing has received a bit of attention because of a redaction that reveals how the government focused on Martin so quickly: a Tweet (apparently a DM) he had sent hours before the Shadow Brokers files were first dropped on August 13, 2016.

The passage has been taken to suggest that Martin DMed with Shadow Brokers before he published any files.

That’s impossible, for two reasons.

First, it is inconsistent with Shadow Brokers’ known timeline. Shadow Brokers didn’t set up a Twitter account until after the first batch of files were initially posted. And both the Martin warrant — dated August 25 — and the search — which took place the afternoon of August 27 — preceded the next dump from Shadow Brokers on August 28.

But it’s also impossible for how Bennett ruled.

While the underlying motion remains sealed (like virtually everything else in this case), Martin was arguing the warrant used to obtain his Twitter content and later search his house was totally unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment. It’s clear from a letter Martin sent the judge asking for his social media accounts as they actually appeared that he believes the FBI read the content of his Tweet out of context. And the judge actually considered the argument that the search was unreasonable to have merit, and in ruling that the FBI did have substantial basis for the search warrant, conceded that in another context the Tweet would not appear to be so damning.

Significantly, the Fourth Amendment exclusionary rule does not bar the admission of evidence obtained by officers acting in reasonable reliance on a search warrant issued by a magistrate later,found to be invalid. United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897,913-14 (1984). The evidence will be suppressed only if (1) the issuing judge was misled by information that the affiant knew or should have known was false, (2) the judge “wholly abandoned” her neutral role, (3) the affidavit was “so lacking in indicia of probable cause as to render official belief in its existence entirely unreasonable,” or (4) the warrant is so facially deficient that no reasonable officer could presume it to be valid. !d. at 923 (citations omitted).

[snip]

In this case, there was a substantial basis for the Magistrate’s fInding of probable cause to issue the search warrant for information associated with the Defendant’s Twitter account. See Upton, 466 U.S. at 728. The affIdavit provides that the Defendant’s Twitter messages [redacted] in which he requested a meeting [redacted] and stated “shelf life, three weeks” – were sent just hours before what was purported to be stolen government property was advertised and posted on multiple online content-sharing sites, including Twitter. (ECF No. 140-1 ~~ 14-23.) Further, and signifIcantly,the affIant averred that the Defendant was a former government contractor who had accessto the information that appeared to be what was purported to be stolen government property that was publicly posted on the Internet. (Id. ~~ 25-27.) Thus, although the Defendant’s Twitter messages could have had any number of innocuous meanings in another setting, these allegations regarding the context of Defendant’s messages provide a substantial basis for the Magistrate’s conclusion that there was a “fair probability” that evidence of the crime of Theft of Government Property, in violation of 18 U.S.c. ~ 641, would be found in information associated with the Defendant’s Twitter account. See Gates, 462 U.S. at 238.

You would never see language like this if Martin really were tweeting with Shadow Brokers, particularly not given the timeline (as it would suggest that he knew of Shadow Brokers before he ever posted). The warrant would, in that case, not be a close call at all. Indeed, the language is inconsistent with Martin’s interlocutor having anything to do with Shadow Brokers.

What appears to have happened is that the FBI totally misunderstood what it was looking at (assuming, as the context seems to suggest, that this is a DM, it would be an account they were already monitoring closely), and panicked, thinking they had to stop Martin before he dropped more NSA files.

Hal Martin got a similar FBI interrogation to Reality Winner’s thrown out

The sheer extent of FBI’s panic is probably what made Martin’s effort to get his FBI interrogation thrown out more successful than Reality Winner’s effort.

Their interrogations were similar. Ten FBI Agents came to Winner’s house, whereas nine SWAT team members, plus eight other FBI Agents, and a few Maryland State Troopers came to Martin’s. In both cases, the FBI segregated the NSA contractors in their home while Agents conducted a search. In Winner’s case, they also segregated her from her pets. In Martin’s case, they segregated him from his partner, Deborah Shaw, and when they did finally let him talk to her, they told Martin “you can’t touch her or any of that stuff.” When the NSA contractors wanted to get something from another part of their home, the FBI accompanied them.

Aside from the even greater number of FBI Agents and that Martin had a partner to be separated from, the biggest difference in Martin’s case is that that they set off a flash-bang device to disorient Martin, and the FBI originally put him face down on the ground and handcuffed him. Those factors, Bennett judged, meant it was reasonable for Martin to believe he was under arrest, and therefore the FBI should have given him a Miranda warning.

That is, on the afternoon of the interrogation, approximately 17-20 law enforcement officers swarmed the Defendant’s property. The Defendant was initially approached by nine armed SWAT agents, handcuffed, and forced to lay on the ground. During the four-hour interrogation, the Defendant was isolated from his partner, his freedom of movement was significantly restricted, and he was confronted with incriminating evidence discovered on his property. In this police dominated environment, a reasonable person in the Defendant’s position would have believed he was not free to leave, notwithstanding the agents’ statements to the contrary.

So unlike Winner, Martin will have his interrogation (in which he admitted to taking files home from his job as a contractor and explained how he did so) thrown out.

But it probably won’t matter.

As a reminder, the FBI charged Martin with taking home 20 highly classified files in February 2017, but they included no allegation that he (willfully) served as a source for Shadow Brokers. It’s possible they know he was an inadvertent source for Shadow Brokers (unlike Nghia Pho, who was likely also a source for Shadow Brokers, they charged Martin for 20 files, larding on the legal exposure; they charged Pho with taking home just one file, while getting him to admit that he could have been charged for each individually). But an earlier opinion in this case ruled that the government only has to prove that by taking hordes of files from of his employers that included National Defense Information, he knowingly possessed the ones he got charged for.

In any case, Martin has already been in jail for 28 months, almost half the amount of time that Pho will serve for doing the same thing, and his trial is not due to start on June 17, a full 34 months after he was arrested. As with Winner, the delay stems from the Classified Information Protection Act process, which ensures that — once the government successfully argues that the secrets in your head make it impossible to release you on bail for fear a foreign intelligence agency will steal those secrets — you serve the equivalent of a sentence before the government even has to prove your guilt.

Again, it may be that Martin unwittingly served as a source for Shadow Brokers. But if he didn’t, then the heavy hand they’re taking with him appears to stem from sheer embarrassment at fucking up with the initial panicked pursuit of him.

Update: Corrected the post to reflect that the search actually preceded the August 28 dump.

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61 replies
    • emptywheel says:

      Sorry–I guess I should have provided that context. I’ve been covering this from the start but newer readers would be lost.

    • Rapier says:

      Booz Allen strikes again. Of course the entire model of independent contractors run amok in the vast NAS databases is a counter espionage black hole. It’s guaranteed to fail. I don’t know if Martin was operating for fun or profit, or principal like Snowden, or for state actors as pure espionage.  One can only assume the latter is where the real breaches are but we won’t hear of them.

      I will retell this tale. After Snowden flew the coop Booze borrowed a billion dollars. They then paid every penny out as a special dividend. Their majority owner at the time was Carlyle Group. 75% as I recall. Carlyle is the insiders insiders.  Subsequently Carlyle sold all or most of their interest in Booze.  On it’s face buying a company with a brand new billion dollar liability and a proven record of counter espionage failure would seem to be a bad investment.  I am sure it has worked out fine and the tingle that must run up the legs of the owners of Booz as they contemplate owning all the secrets must be a powerful aphrodisiac.

      And the poor schmuck FBI guys are left rousting the Martin’s of the world out of their beds. For what, $90K a year and the Carlyle guys are probably making 30% margin and $XXX billion in NSA contracts a year.

      • e.a.f. says:

        buying a company which specializes in “secrets” is a very good investment, especially when you can “sell” those secrets, unbeknown to any one.  Makes perfect sense to me to put up the billion.

        Why they use contractors is beyond me.  Just a big waste of money.  Its usually to do work, “in house”.  Of course given this is the U.S.A. having “contractors” spreads a lot of money around, which eventually comes back to politicians via political contributions.

  1. bloopie2 says:

    OT, but I’m wondering if our intrepid economist Ed might weigh in on this point.  Apparently Apple is hitting price resistance with its newest iPhones and is therefore considering cutting its costs by making (rather than purchasing) more of its high value components (display, e.g.)–just as some of its major competitors already do.  That’s vertical integration?  Is such a thing “good” or “bad” in an anti-monopolist universe?  Are consumers entitled to lower priced (lower profit) smartphones)? And if that’s what it takes to give us affordable iPhones (which, admittedly, are great products), is that okay?
    PS:  If we want to talk about Music (no segue there), how about John Denver’s final verse in Leavin’ On A Jet Plane, in which he uses fewer words and more pauses (“one more time (beat), let me kiss you, (beat beat) then close your eyes, (beat beat), I’ll be on my way”) in contrast to earlier verses that share the same instrumental background.  It comes off as the singer/protagonist talking directly to the listener who is the subject of the song, rather than as someone singing to whomever.  Is this a standard composer’s trope?  Even if so, how can someone create something that is still so beautiful fifty years later?  NSA/FBI or not, there is so much good in this world that we must needs support and encourage.  A good resolution for the New Year!

  2. Kevin says:

    Do we have a guess for who he was messaging, then? It’s clearly someone the government thought could be connected to TSB.

    • Ken Muldrew says:

      It’s sort of like you or me going into an airport and announcing that we are carrying a bomb. Everyone has a good chuckle, we admit the jest may have been in poor taste and apologize for it, no other consequences follow. Right?

      • Trip says:

        You can hang me in a bottle like a cat
        Let the crows pick me clean but for my hat
        Where the wailing of a baby
        Meets the footsteps of the dead
        We’re all mad here

  3. Trip says:

    Opinion piece by Steinberg. I hope he is wrong. His line of thinking is a reward for the Trumps, the GOP and Pence for all of their prior shitty behavior.

    Ex-Bush and Whitman adviser: Trump won’t be impeached, but he will leave the presidency in 2019

    Trump will not be removed from office by the Constitutional impeachment and removal process.
    Instead, the self-professed supreme dealmaker will use his presidency as a bargaining chip with federal and state authorities in 2019, agreeing to leave office in exchange for the relevant authorities not pursuing criminal charges against him, his children or the Trump Organization.

    https://www.nj.com/opinion/2019/01/ex-bush-and-whitman-adviser-trump-wont-be-impeached-but-he-will-leave-the-presidency-in-2019.html

      • Peterr says:

        “I’m a Reaganite conservative republican” says Steinberg to open an op-ed saying he would be voting for Hillary. The same op-ed approvingly quotes Ross Routhat. The bio blurb at the end says “Alan J. Steinberg served as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 2 in President George W. Bush’s administration and as executive director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission under Gov. Christie Whitman.”

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Steinberg’s bio reveals considerable potential bias that should be considered in evaluating his opinion.  IMHO, his take is precious and unlikely, as well as too protective of a Republican Party that should pay a heavy electoral price for following Donald Trump down his peculiar rat hole – and making the country follow them.

      Steinberg is right that Nancy will not impeach him.  She will investigate the hell out of him as an alternative way to shut him down.  Nor would this Senate act on an impeachment.  The Senate GOPers would, instead, use it to viciously attack the Democrats for doing their job.  Investigating his crimes is a better move against the Trump family and Org, and prevents Pence from taking over and making matters even worse and improving Republican chances in 2020.

      Steinberg is most off base in thinking that Trump would ever acknowledge wrongs sufficient to justify his premature departure from office.  It’s an impossible task for his ego.  He’s never listened to good people or good advice before.  In extremis, he’s not going to start now.

      Among other things, Trump is not likely to believe, for example, a government promise not to prosecute him, his family or his businesses in exchange for his resignation.  He knows what his promises are worth and assumes everyone acts as he does.  Besides, any government promise should also be dependent on binding commitments regarding Trump’s future behavior.  No one, including Trump, believes he could keep such commitments.

      Trump is a burn-the-house-down kinda guy.  He’s not gonna change now.

    • BobCon says:

      By the end of this year, why would federal prosectors take that deal? Why would the state of NY and anyone else with a case, criminal or civil, take that deal?

      For that matter, what situation is tolerable enough that the Senate GOP maintains faith, but so bad that Trump feels the need to resign?

      Why does Trump trust Pence to pardon him if Pence risks taking a major political heat? Why does Trump suddenly start succeeding at complex negotiations?

      This really sounds like nothing more than wishful thinking by a guy without a good grasp on where we are.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        One clue to the OpEd’s purpose might be that a non-prosecution agreement – in exchange for a resignation that leaves ultra-conservative Mike Pence in his stead – which protects the Don, his family and his companies would be the deal of the century.  Steinberg did say he was a radical conservative.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I suspect Steinberg has an excellent grasp on the political realities here, but desires a specific outcome: protecting the Don, which necessarily protects the GOP.

        If the Dems self-destructively again look forward, not back, there would be no public documentation or prosecutions regarding what might be a lengthy list of crimes committed by the current first family, before and during its occupation of the White House.

        The Trump family would effectively get away with it one more time and increase their post-governance power by having done so.  The precedent would permanently change American politics and governance for the worse.

        Avoiding a public reckoning would greatly damage the Dems as much as it protects the GOP.

    • e.a.f. says:

      don’t think he cares enough about his children or anyone else to make that sort of a deal.  anything to make more money and any deal such as you describe might include returning “unlawfully” gained money.

      Nancy Pelosi is a mother and grandmother.  As such she has great experience in dealing with toddlers.  Trump is a toddler, emotionally.  At some point he will realize he can’t get past her and will walk away in anger.  Its the only way out for him and retain his “admirers”.    He can’t live without adulation.

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Donald Trump’s capacity for irony knows no bounds, as does his lack of self-knowledge and general ignorance.  This example is unlikely to make him friends among the officer corps, let alone the Society of Cincinnati.  From ew’s twtr here, the scare quotes are from Donald:

    “General” McChristal got fired like a dog by Obama.  Last assignment a total bust.  Known for big, dumb mouth.  Hillary lover!

    The jokes write themselves.

  5. Cathy says:

    @Trip says:
    January 1, 2019 at 11:59 am

    Interesting. For a while now, Trump’s political story has reminded me more of Spiro Agnew’s than Richard Nixon’s.

    • Trip says:

      There’s no way he should just get to walk away. Aside from what other criminal/corrupt acts he may have committed before, during or after the election, he has turned everything to garbage for the public, while enriching himself in office.

  6. Vern says:

    OK, now that we’re speculating about the Trumpsters’ fates, here’s a thought:

    What if Trump’s not the “big fish”?  What if he’s just a (witting/unwitting) player in something bigger / more important to the Government?

    Consider:

    1.  There is and was much in the public record that indicates Trump (and his scions) should have been in an orange jumpsuit decades ago and certainly now.  Why not?

    2. Felix Sater is a well known FBI/CIA asset.

    3.  The Trumps are surely not the only real estate “tycoons” who are up to their necks in laundered foreign money.

    It doesn’t make sense to me that the Feds and NY AG would just ignore the obvious corruption, Russian ties and money laundering over many years.  Who or what are they protecting?

    Sam Seder was talking about this the other day on his podcast:

    Would love to see what folks here think.

    • P J Evans says:

      (1) Money delivered to the right person in the right amount will get you out of a lot of stuff.

      (2) You may need a citation to back up this statement.

      (3) Probably not the only ones, but when you get into the White House, you’re under a floodlit microscope, and if there’s anything shady in your past, you probably shouldn’t be in national politics.

      • e.a.f. says:

        ah, point 3, “you shouldn’t be in national politics”.   that doesn’t make sense.   Its how you get up to “national politics”.   The amount of money involved in American politics is amazing.  As a Canadian I some times wonder where it all comes from.  I realize there are a quite a few billionaires and a lot of millionaires but still, a senator’s position costing $50M in an election.  No wonder the country can’t afford government health care.

        My opinion, the various nefarious acts are all separate and separated.  One incident is paid off, then they move on.  things are forgotten, the press doesn’t always dig that much and then there is the press–the corporations, etc.   Its easy to be a “crook” and move along in American politics quite nicely.   Its always interesting to watch politicians enter politics in one economic strata and leave in a whole other one, and that goes for senior government workers also.

    • bmaz says:

      Trump is currently the President of the United States. There really are not any “bigger fishes”. Unless you believe in Klaatu or the Krell.

      • new-radical says:

        I think it is possible that we might be guilty of committing what Gilbert Ryle called a category mistake.

        Donald Trump is a petty criminal who by dint of a whole raft of reasons (Russian political/money. The stultifying inanity that Theodor Adorno described in The Culture Industry, evidenced by ‘The Apprentice”…) was elected to be President for four years. He seems to be in breach of his oath of office.

        The Presidency, is a different category, rather longer in the tooth than Donald. The big question seems to me to be whether the American political/legal system is robust enough to separate the two categories (the person and the institution) as they always have in the past.

        That we have come so far, with everything in plain sight is the problem of our age. That the Supreme Court may already be corrupted and Congress subject to something less than ‘one person, one vote’ are symptoms of a system under great stress.

      • e.a.f. says:

        oh there are a lot “bigger fishes”.   The President is just some person.  The Presidency, yes, there really isn’t much of a bigger fish.  However, the President, as in the case of Trump, is a several times over bankrupt individual, with some what, in my opinion, unsecure moral compass.   He went into it to increase the brand’s recognition and make money.  its working for him and there isn’t anyone in the Republican party to stand up to him.  He loves almost every minute of it.  How did such a fuck up get to be president of the U.S.A. is beyond me.   Once he opens his mouth he can’t stop himself.  Its like watching a drunk at a new year’s eve party carrying on about how great he is.

    • Rusharuse says:

      Agree! Trump must have been on the IC radar for decades, and what about Sater, FBI guys that joined Trumps security team . . ect. I get no-one thought Trump would win the election but what about the last 30 yrs? Maybe we’ll find out soon. Comey, McCabe, Stozek and every other public protector fired by Trump all seem to have a confident/knowing air about them.

  7. new-radical says:

    Trump opened the cupboard and there is a great deal to see. There are some solid clues to be found that can start to unlock the secrets of this system and Trump is but a tiny, tiny part.

    But the system is Complex. It will be difficult to interpret the contents by using simple inductive logic to find linear causal relationships. There will be way too many to pursue.

    Look for the architecture of the System and you will start to see the fundamental linkages. I proposed six elements of the architecture in a previous post, just a trivial look. But there are many more and their relationships can be explored. The question is really whether there is the will or the incentives to really look for the deep seated corruption that underpins western politico/economic culture.

    I suspect the power elites, who profoundly benefit from the current linear thinking, will ensure that only the peripheral parts will be scratched but the system will continue to self-adapt. The pressure will build and a phase transition will occur. Its not far away, the system is providing signs.

    Resource depletion in the next 70 years will be significant. Population will continue to grow, but when the population stops growing, there is no economic model that can explain prosperity without constant growth. Climate change will bring sea level rises. Welcome to the East Coast.

    Clearly Trump does not give a fuck, and he has said so. But do none of the power elites have grandchildren whom they love.

  8. Drew says:

    @Earl of H. I agree with you on your evaluation of Steinberg, etc. I do think that there comes a point at which McConnell et al. conniving w/Pence calculate that getting rid of Trump early is their best electoral bet. Of course, they will vilify the Democrats insofar as possible & make them do the heavy lifting of the investigations, etc. I’m not predicting the manner in which they will give Trump the foot in the ass or what consequences he & his spawn will reap, except that it will be in the style of Sanctimonious Mitch & his equally sanctimonious sidekick Mike Pence.

    They could criticize all the “partisan” “Democrat” investigations and all of those things and then based on “confidential briefings from law enforcement” “suddenly discover” things that would lead them to take actions to encourage Trump to leave.

    Trump is indeed a “burn it all down” kind of guy, but he is not brave, not at all. When sufficiently cornered he will truculently take the only way out, raging all the way. [faced with the certainty of U.S. Marshalls leading him away from the 2021 inauguration in shackles, he might settle for home detention in one or more of his homes-or perhaps a beach house in Crimea]

    • BobCon says:

      I don’t see House Democrats as being in any rush to take impeachment to the floor, and the Senate GOP can’t act until they do. Pelosi has pretty much said that they want full investigations, and even if they have a smoking gun for a relatively small felony, they will be unlikely to move until they can hit him with everything that can be proven. The longer they go, the less pressure the GOP can wield with Trump.

      Also, the exposure of the Trump businesses is something that will be very hard for the GOP to stop. In part, there is the risk of state action. Furthermore, even if Pence pardons Trump, his family, and all key employees and corporations, on federal charges, I suspect fraud is so baked into his businesses that they will be committing new fraud the next time they file taxes, and the exposure starts again, except without the opportunity for pardons. He won’t want to turn to cleaning up that mess any sooner than he has to.

      Also, my gut instinct is that negotiating Trump’s resignation has too many moving parts for Trump to manage, and requires too much discipline from him. It will require a quadruple bank shot, and right now it’s asking a lot of him just to make contact with the cue ball.

      • P J Evans says:

        It appears to be increasingly difficult for Himself to even recognize which ball the cue-ball is, and which end of the stick to hold, as well as what to do when it’s his turn.

        • e.a.f. says:

          Agreed.  I don’t think he has it in his DNA to negotiate his own exit.  Some one may have to do it for him, but who.   His off spring will head for the hills and hide with their assets somewhere they can’t be touched.  It is doubtful the man has true friends.  His wife, will head for the first exit with her son.  there may not be enough money left for her to care.  The pre nup wasn’t great for her.  So what ever she gathers between now and then will be what she has.  He doesn’t trust her or anyone enough to put his assets in their name.   Have seen this on a smaller scale, those who are untrustworthy, think everyone is like them.   Perhaps he’ll go live in Brazil with his new friend there, father another child and he can’t be deported.

  9. Cathy says:

    @Trip says:
    January 1, 2019 at 1:27 pm

    A coda on Agnew’s public life included a Maryland-based civil case that addressed the underlying activity the DOJ declined to prosecute…a case apparently made possible by Agnew’s inability to keep his mouth shut after his resignation.

    Similarly, I won’t be surprised to learn of multiple opportunities for legal remedy for Trump’s activities, in and out of office.

  10. Vern says:

    Reply @bmaz / PJ:

    Of course Trump is the Biggest Fish right now. But where were the Feds and others all these years? Did his election “complicate” something on going? It’s a Shit Show — If there really was a Deep State, you’d think they would have dealt with him by now.

    Sater: I highly recommend this documentary by Dutch TV, Zembla, The dubious friends of Donald Trump. It’s about a year old. Here’s a link:

    Also, too: Craig Unger:

    https://newrepublic.com/article/143586/trumps-russian-laundromat-trump-tower-luxury-high-rises-dirty-money-international-crime-syndicate

    • BobCon says:

      There is no secret why Trump and much bigger oligarchs than him have avoided prosecution for years. The GOP has made it a priority to defang the IRS, FEC, SEC and others focused on white collar crime. Among the Democrats there have been enough allies and people unwilling to see the problem to ensure that little happened even when the Democrats had power.

      There’s a greater awareness among Democrats that simply handing over the power on these issues to the GOP is a mistake — that it not only lets the guilty walk, it enables them to fund the antidemocratic measures that threaten the existence of the Democratic party. We’ll see if that awareness lasts.

      The thing is that these issues are primarily political rather than legal. The IRS will never start cracking down on Trump-style tax evasion until they get their budget and staff back. If a Democrat is elected in 2020, it is probably going to take grassroots pressure to ensure that the new president makes white collar crime a priority at DOJ. Mueller can add a bit to the debate — he already has in the area of foreign lobbying by going after Manafort and putting pressure on violations of FARA. But there is a limit to what he can do by himself.

  11. Eureka says:

    @ BobCon says:January 1, 2019 at 6:45 pm

    Relatedly, I am looking forward to more of Pelosi’s strategic silence. Her long game on this mess is unfolding beautifully.

    • BobCon says:

      She was in office when the GOP botched the Clinton impeachment effort, and she understands that you need a powerful public endorsement to win.

      She also knows that you won’t get that public support if you don’t have the evidence to back it up. Gingrich and Starr pushed for the minimum case necessary to win over the rabid right wingers and nobody else. They ended up strengthening Clinton when they could have weakened him.

      If Mueller were to drop an indictment of Trump tomorrow saying he was threatening US security by selling nuclear secrets to Azerbaijan, I am sure she would unleash impeachment right away. And if the evidence coming out of Mueller’s work and House investigations is damning enough, it’s possible the timeline may be accelerated. But I have a hard time seeing Pelosi as moving forward except in a way which puts the most pressure possible on the Senate GOP to either toss Trump or take full responsibility for every politically damaging piece that emerges.

  12. Rusharuse says:

    Looks like Mitt is BACK (what a smooth guy). Who could the Dems put up to match him? Maybe Robert Redford from 30 yrs ago . . or 40 yrs ago . . 50?

  13. Trip says:

    I’m late to the party on this, but…
    McKinsey Got Entangled in a Bribery Case

    McKinsey says it advised Boeing of the risks of working with the oligarch and recommended “character due diligence.” Attached to its evaluation was a single PowerPoint slide in which McKinsey described what it said was the potential partner’s strategy for winning mining permits. It included bribing Indian officials.

    The partner’s plan, McKinsey noted, was to “respect traditional bureaucratic process including use of bribes.” McKinsey also wrote that the partner had identified eight “key Indian officials” — named in the PowerPoint slide — whose influence was needed for the deal to go through. Nowhere in the slide did McKinsey advise that such a scheme would be illegal or unwise. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/30/world/mckinsey-bribes-boeing-firtash-extradition.html

    • Trip says:

      Just a recap on Firtash:

      Michael Cohen, Lanny Davis and the Russian Mafia
      For the past four years, Davis — a 72-year-old former special counsel to former President Bill Clinton — has served as a registered foreign agent for Dmitry Firtash, who has been fighting to avoid extradition to Chicago, where he faces charges of international racketeering and money laundering. In registering with the Justice Department as Firtash’s foreign agent, Davis said his firm was being paid $80,000 a month — or about a million dollars a year — by a man described by prosecutors as an “upper-echelon” associate of Russian organized crime. The case against Firtash “seeks to protect this country, its commerce and its citizens from the corrupting influence and withering effects of international organized crime,” prosecutors wrote last year.
      https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/michael-cohen-lanny-davis-russia-716413/

      More connections….

      The court documents detail how Manafort controlled a shell corporation that allegedly was part of the machinery that pushed money into real estate on behalf of Firtash and their mutual partners, with Firtash in one case laundering some $25 million in a deal involving the Drake Hotel. Manafort also allegedly used one of the shell companies he set up—cited in the Mueller indictment—to make a cash purchase of a $3.675 million Manhattan apartment in 2006, an apartment that was in, of all places, Trump Tower.
      https://www.newsweek.com/manafort-trump-firtash-ukraine-putin-gates-collusion-russia-2016-presidential-704621

      • Trip says:

        Bit of additional trivia in re to “Skeletor” aka Chertoff:

        The Firtash octopus
        Agents of influence in the West (2015)

        …while Lanny Davis openly acts as Firtash’s public lobbyist, some of his US lawyers have not declared the oligarch as their client. Another influential lawyer, Michael Chertoff, former secretary of homeland security in the second administration of George W. Bush, is a case in point.
        Chertoff was recruited as Firtash’s defence lawyer by Paul Manafort, an American political consultant who had spent over ten years helping the Party of Regions and Viktor Yanukovych stay in power. While working for Yanukovych, Manafort was in frequent contact with his chief of staff Sergei Liovochkin who, in turn, is Firtash’s political and business associate.
        https://www.eurozine.com/the-firtash-octopus/

      • Trip says:

        Aside: Chertoff was also elected as Chairman for BAE Systems for a three year term in 2012. Aside/aside: Boeing BAE collaboration in India.

  14. di says:

    incompetency, injustice, negligence everywhere. what are the implications from this news below? journalists’ hands are being tied, words muted and a manipulated public. good way to deflect from real white collar government military industrial complex criminal crimes.

    3 Trends to Watch in Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Requests for 2019 Keep an eye on the increased scrutiny of public officials’ and government agencies’ business conduct, slow responses to FOIA filings, and a growing awareness of privacy and cybersecurity topics.
    https://www.law.com/legaltechnews/2019/01/02/3-trends-to-watch-in-freedom-of-information-act-foia-requests-for-2019

    The Trump administration has taken steps to shield the Interior Department from public scrutiny, proposing rule changes that would allow it to deny Freedom of Information Act requests it considers too large or “unreasonably burdensome.” The Interior Department’s proposed rule changes were filed in the Federal Register on Friday—just two weeks after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was forced to step down amid 17 federal investigations into his suspected ethics violations and corruption.

    https://www.democracynow.org/2019/1/2/headlines/interior_dept_tries_to_limit_foia_requests_after_ex_secretary_zinke_ethics_scandals

    • e.a.f. says:

      Bolsonaro is very dangerous right now because of his willingness to destroy the Amazon.  Some one must have paid him a great deal of money.  However, his openness to start a race war in Brazil may end very quickly when some one kills him.   Brazil is in south American and they have a real history of killing their leaders and/or over throwing them, with a military.   Some how I suspect Bolsonaro won’t be in his position too long.

      • Trip says:

        Exactly. The rain forest is critical in regulating worldwide climate. Aside from his blatant racism, his threat of death is to all species on Earth.

        About Bolsonaro and other horrid creatures, I think of this quote:

        “All men have an emotion to kill; when they strongly dislike someone they involuntarily wish he was dead. I have never killed any one, but I have read some obituary notices with great satisfaction.”

        ~Clarence Darrow.

        I certainly would not shed tears reading his obit.

  15. e.a.f. says:

    What I find so amazing is that all this “secret” material, highly classified, etc. is being dealt with by “contractors” and not actual government employees.   Of course it is the American way, from what I can conclude to provide as much work as possible for “contractors” who donate to American politicians.   If the americans were truly concerned about “security” they might want to eliminate “contractors” and hire staff directly over which they would have much more control.   A lot of these contractors the American federal government has seem to be out of touch with the regulations or perhaps that is the intent.  At arms length, deniability, etc.

    • P J Evans says:

      Outside of government, contractors are how companies do projects where they aren’t going to need those people and their skills afterward…they think. (Sometimes those people end up being very good to keep around: they have more knowledge of How Things Work than a lot of regular employees, as well as being a form of institutional memory: “this is how we did it and why”, when all those who made the decisions are long gone, and possible long dead.)

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