Robert Mueller Finally Found a Way to Get Paul Manafort to Keep a Secret

Update: Or not. Manafort’s lawyers did submit a filing, with all their redactions easily reversed, showing that Manafort lied about his cooperation with his Russian handler Konstantin Kilimnik. I’ll do another post on that filing.

On one of the last days of last year, Rudy Giuliani repeated a refrain he made in August, dick-wagging Mueller to “put up or shut up” and release the report that Rudy has spun fables about. That taunt happened ten days after the House Intelligence Committee voted to release Roger Stone’s testimony transcript to Mueller. It happened eight days before Paul Manafort failed to submit a filing (at least in unsealed form) explaining whether it contests the government’s claims that he lied while purportedly cooperating with the Special Counsel. In between, Sam Patten submitted a status report in his own cooperation agreement — cooperation that would surely have covered some of the same questions about his Russian partner Konstantin Kilimnik that Manafort lied about — under seal.

I raise all these together because — while it’s a safe bet that something happened at some point with Manafort that remains under seal — any explanation about what that might be may have as much to do with Mueller’s request for Stone’s transcripts as it does Manafort’s own actions. After all, Adam Schiff has already committed to releasing all the HPSCI transcripts to Mueller; it’ll be only a matter of days until he constitutes the committee and has the new Democratic majority on it vote that through. So something has to explain why Mueller couldn’t wait — why Mueller needed Stone’s transcript on December 20 and not January 10.

Back when he was pretending to cooperate, Manafort did get questions about his lifelong buddy Roger Stone. Mueller put Manafort before the grand jury twice after that, possibly locking in the lies he had told. Notably, however, lies about Stone were not among those Mueller publicly aired (in heavily redacted form) last month. For that matter, neither were any responses Manafort made about Trump’s foreknowledge of the June 9 meeting, which we also know came up between Manafort and Mueller.

If I’m right that this is all connected, that still leaves several possibilities. Perhaps Mueller — as Andrew Weissmann suggested they might — charged Manafort for these additional lies or perhaps charged him in the conspiracy-in-chief, finally. Perhaps Manafort made yet another deal with prosecutors, proffering answers to the questions about Stone and Trump they really need him to answer for them, in an attempt to limit his own punishment for that conspiracy in chief.

Whatever it is, it has produced unusual silence from Manafort’s camp.

Whatever it is, we may find out in the next month. Sam Patten’s status report was extended for just one month. Perhaps we’re waiting on SCOTUS’ response to the Mystery Appellant’s plea. Perhaps we’re waiting on the DC Circuit’s response to Andrew Miller’s challenge.

Until then … silence.

As I disclosed last 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. 

50 replies
  1. jonb says:

    interesting to me is that Manafort didn’t believe his lies to Mueller would be exposed… or just didn’t care.If its the former , than SCO has far more facts than Manafort/trumps lawyers expected. If he doesn’t care, then life in jail it is..

    • HRHTish says:

      According to Manafort family members and business associates, he’s a profligate and very smooth liar, as one might see in a narcissistic sociopath.  These kinds of people think they’re smarter than everyone.

    • SomeGuyInMaine says:

      Manafort also could have been playing for time with his lies. Not sure why, but its possible.

      Timing seems important to me.

  2. Trip says:

    Dumb question, sorry in advance, bmaz: But if anything had been filed, even some sort of status, wouldn’t it be listed as something filed but sealed? Or is it possible that all of it remains virtually invisible?

    • chicago_bunny says:

      Lawyer here.  It is somewhat surprising there is no motion from the defense asking for permission to file under seal, but perhaps that was addressed previously by the court through a standing order.  Setting that aside, if a party files a document entirely under seal, it is in my experience the role of the court clerk to note that on the docket.  That’s generally not an urgent task for the clerk, so it may not get logged on the docket until some time has passed – usually the next day in my experience, but not immediately after the court opens.  (Clerks are usually busy with other things early in the day, as that is typically the most high traffic time in the court house.)

      • bmaz says:

        Hey Chicago Bunny, can you elaborate on exactly why this is “surprising”? I’d love to hear that.

        And if you think that early morning is the most “high traffic” time in a clerk’s office of a court house, how many have you actually been in? Because, prior to ECF and similar state filing allowances, the “high traffic” time was always between 4-5 pm. By what I see, it still is, because process servers collect up for the day and then file at the end of the day. Still. So, can you back up your claim? Because it is 180º different from my experience.

        • chicago_bunny says:

          I am a civil attorney.  I spend a lot of time in court, and my observation is that morning is the busiest time.  Here’s why I characterize the start of the day as busier: because of ECF, there have been many filings since court closed the day before which clerks must attend to; there’s heavy traffic as lawyers are coming in for the morning calls; judges and their in-court personnel are getting ready for those calls and the other activities that will follow during the day.  I observe foot traffic to the clerk’s office before and after the calls, since lawyers are in the building.  You make fair observations about the end of day rush, but my perception is that has diminished with the availability of efiling.

          The “somewhat surprising” thing I referenced was the lack of “motion from the defense asking for permission to file under seal,” but I noted that the court could have addressed elsewhere.  That has been answered now, as it has been revealed that the defense lawyers filed that motion under seal as well.

          Interesting that the defense lawyers filed a “redacted” brief that was so clumsy the ommitted portions are easily read via cut and paste.  There doesn’t seem to be anything there that would warrant filing under seal.

    • Trip says:

      This seems like a weird charge:

      The indictment says Ms. Veselnitskaya had secretly cooperated with a senior Russian prosecutor in drafting the Russian response, which was filed in federal court in Manhattan. “In doing so, Veselnitskaya obstructed the civil proceeding,” the indictment charged.

      Another dumb question from me, but she is a lawyer, right? How can it be obstruction to file a response?

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        The charging document says that Veselnitskaya collaborated with “the Russian prosecutor” to draft a response and then create a bullshit legal bottleneck in Moscow, and then claim that she went through formal legal channels to obtain the response.

        • Trip says:

          But it’s ALL a bullshit bottleneck in Moscow. We don’t extradite the indicted, they don’t either, etc. It’s not as if there is otherwise great cooperation between the countries in aiding each other in handling criminal cases. That’s what I don’t get. What escalates her fuckery above the normal fuckery, in other words?

          • Trip says:

            This should make Junior worried about what other Veselnitskaya communications they hold :

            southpaw‏ @nycsouthpaw 44m44 minutes ago

            The government is disclosing in this indictment that they’ve got access to Veselnitskaya’s communications with other Russians, including the Russian prosecutor general’s office and Petr Katsyv.

            • Troutwaxer says:

              VEselnitskaya’s behavior should be good for half-a-dozen indictments, and you’re right – this one discloses that they are listening to communications inside Russia. Are they sending a message or shaking the tree?

              • BobCon says:

                Some of both?

                Earlier jonb suggested that Manafort may not have had a good grasp on all of the evidence that the government might have. This is a reminder that this kind of underestimation may be a chronic issue for the conspirators.

  3. Crack of Don says:

    Supra-topic not entirely off topic. .Years long grateful lurker. The theme in this post increases my frustration with the Special Council. Marcy wrote months ago that big fish often ‘swim’ in criminal circumstances. Agreed. It is important to remember that the USA has a two-tier justice system and not pretend otherwise.  The Office of Special Council smells fishy.

    If a poorly connected nobody had cooperated with Muller as did Flynn and faced the same potential consequence as Flynn, said rube would be sharing some years of confinement with Reality Winner watching the comings and goings of General Petraeus on the communal teevee set. Meanwhile, a cell waits in reserve for Edward Snowden who, to this day, is refused a fair trial. Don’t get me started on the certain government-facilitated assassination of Michael Hastings for reporting truth.

    I can’t get over Mullers’ leniency guidance regarding Flynn- which so ruffled Judge Sullivan too. We know Flynn’s criminal actions are inexcusable, greedily selling our country’s sovereignty and pissing all over our ‘ethical moorings’. Being mere humans and subject to the same corruptions: ego, bribe, blackmail and threat; national leaders, business leaders and law enforcement officials have no particular sincere concern for ethics or morality, truth or respect for the law if there’s a legal or mental loophole within a country mile of the transgression.

    To the point: when Trump emerged from his one-on-one meet with Deputy AG Rod Rosenstien on Sept 27, 2018, I could not figure out why Trump was so happy and cordial with Rosenstien while we were all chewing our fingernails to the quick worried that he would be fired so a Trump flunky could then fire Muller. Now, after watching this Flynn charade and continued secret shuffling observed today that I am convinced that during his (Trump’s) meeting with Rosenstien, Trump was reassured that, ‘Don’t worry boss, the ‘fix is in’ with Muller.’ The optics looked like it at the time in contrast to the emotional trepidation for Rosenstien’s job security. Muller practiced true integrity in his military service but that was ‘way back when’.

    Muller’s shared his secret paperwork with Judge Sullivan. Unless Muller is hiding evidence FROM Judge Sullivan provided BY Flynn, then Muller is prepared to let Flynn swim away in exchange for Flynn’s comparatively small fish business partners; using those partners to create the appearance that Justice is somehow, mysteriously, served to Flynn by charging his partners for Flynn’s part in dirty FARA deeds.

    Does Muller not have the goods on Flynn’s partners anyway without Flynn’s testimony against them?

    This ignores whatever other nefarious and criminal conduct is documented against Flynn such as lying to the FBI and his conspiring with Kislyak. Flynn was right to assume the ‘fix was in’ regarding presumed impunity for lying  to the FBI, though, was double-crossed by the FBI and criminally charged, resulting in the war on “not an FBI team player” Strok.

    Maybe Muller, in his secret plea deal text he presented to the court, is so wily and upright that he purposely excluded some smoking gun(s) against Trump because those judges can’t be trusted with the truth for fear that those court officials might have loose lips. And Muller will wheel out this evidence (SURPRISE!) against the president later. Mmmm, not likely.

    Unless Donald J. Trump has been a very stable genius FBI informant all these decades and not a simple grifting, cheating, money laundering, scofflaw, felonious, amoral, pathologically fibbing, corrupt and treasonous criminal, then the appearances in the case of ConFraudUS renders Muller as corrupt. These ubiquitous problems are woven into USAfraudcon and render ConfraudUS as theater for the rubes.

    • bmaz says:

      You are lying, and you are full of shit. Also, please try to learn how to spell “Mueller” if you are going to attempt to troll this blog. Otherwise, get out and stay out

      • Crack of Don says:

        Thanks for allowing the post Bmaz. Not trolling have read every post here for years (except yours, nothing personal, I don’t do sports but do appreciate your nod to motor sports). Anyway, it will be years more before I get the steam up to post again. No worries.

        • bmaz says:

          I honestly do not give a damn what you purport to do “Crack”. But if you think I only post on sports, it proves you are lying through your teeth about having “read  here for years”.  Thanks for playing.

          • Crack of Don says:

            I apologize for my incomplete response Bmaz. Of course I have read your posts that aren’t Trash Talk. I also have read each and every comment on each and every blog post contribution for years now be it Rayne, you, Marci and Ed.  I feel I know you pretty well, that’s why my panties aren’t up in a wad by your responses. Some days you just need to double up on the meds. Me too.

            • bmaz says:

              Oh, I apologize too “Crack”.

              But, you know, not really, because I can track what happens here. Again, thanks!

              And, take your own meds jackass.

              • Crack of Don says:

                You shouldn’t be poking that sharp stick at lonely old man with nothing better to do. I can’t afford the $40. co-pay to get the doctor to call in the order.. Therefore I live without. So please appreciate the puny donation I did make.

                I deeply admire the analytical skills of Marcy. I love Ed for his compassion. I wish I could corner Rayne with a bottle of Rebel Yell. And like that rough whiskey, you take a little getting used to but leave a wonderful buzz with your lawlerly knowledge and expertise. Not you mention your endearing junkyard dog approach to strangers. :)

              • salient green says:

                Thank you bmaz. I looked up the journalist crack of con was referring to. It took me down the rabbit hole and though I climbed up and out quickly and back out into the light it was so nice to feel the warm rays of a good smack down. thanks. your a little scary.

              • Danzbe says:

                But, you know, not really, because I can track what happens here.

                Looks like (as EW says) Bmaz has the receipts! Release the report!!

  4. pseudonymous in nc says:

    Jason Maloni — the spokesbot who is still somehow getting paid to spokesbot — says that there was a filing under seal yesterday. It’s not on the docket yet.

    It does feel as if there’s a lot of activity below the surface, and perhaps it involves Whitaker as the ostensible sign-off on indictments. (Given that his “acting” position still doesn’t have any formal basis in public other than a tweet.) If Mueller finds lies in the Stone HPSCI transcript, is there a route to inform the committee outside of formal charges?

    • BobCon says:

      Can anyone clear up what the House can and cannot obtain from Mueller?

      Obviously Flynn’s testimony before the Grand Jury is off limits. And I assume it’s possible Mueller has seen top-level secret information which could only be shared with a few members in the most confidential setting, and presumably would never see the light of day.

      But to what degree is Mueller (or other prosecutors) allowed to testify about other evidence that has been gathered? I assume there is a lot which the FBI has found which has a major public policy impact, and possibly even worth exposing to kickstart a House investigation, but is also only a tangent to Mueller’s investigation and has never been submitted to the Grand Jury. I’m not sure what opportunity Mueller would have to share any of this with the House.

  5. SomeGuyInMaine says:

    Does the Veselnitskya Indictment provide a path to unwind the Prevezon Holdings settlement?

    If so, that could be quite interesting.

    • bmaz says:

      That is hard to say, but now that the full court (including RBG, even if from home) is back to work, my guess is within a week or less.

  6. Strawberry Fields says:

    I dont understand what the Russian lawyer indictment means for future court cases, does it suggest that she works hand in hand with the russian government because she was able to craft the governments responses and legal maneuvers to benefit her client? Does it mean something else? Halp.

  7. Willis Warren says:

    NEW: Paul Manafort’s attorneys failed to properly redact their filing. They reveal that Mueller alleges Manafort “lied about sharing polling data with Mr. Kilimnik related to the 2016 presidential campaign”. Konstantin Kilimnik has alleged ties to Russian intelligence.

    Manafort attorneys also accidentally reveal via failed redaction that Mueller says Manafort was in contact with “a third-party asking permission to use Mr. Manafort’s name as an introduction in the event the third-party met the President.”

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I’ll join the chorus that thinks that Manafort’s lawyers accidentally on purpose failed to redact information.  In attorneys of their rank, that’s negligence.  I would say they are signaling while trying to claim they’re not.

      And cooperation “to the best of Mr. Manafort’s ability” is a hole big enough to drive an F1 race through.

  8. Rusharuse says:

    Download Manafort response pdf, copy redacted bits, when pasted . . wallah!

    I’m sure we will see expert analysis here . . Soon!

  9. Rugger9 says:

    What is apparently incompetence may actually be a signal for where Mueller is in his investigation for the Palace and Kaiser Quisling. I’m sure it’s not the first time these guys have filed under seal or redacted information, so why did they screw up now?

    Cui bono from the knowledge that the OSC is looking at Kilimnik?

  10. NJrun says:

    Crack of Don has a such a wonderful command of stilted English. And he admits he’s studied the ways of his adversary for many years before getting the courage to spout propaganda … err make a comment. Makes me wonder how many trolls are assigned to read this site on a daily basis.

  11. Trip says:

    I agree with Marcy. I think the Manafort unredacted-redacted bits were done accidentally on purpose.

  12. J R in WV says:

    Redacting a court filing without actually redacting it at all is something that was actually common, years ago. Before people understood how electronic documents worked. But that was then, and this is now!

    Not properly redacting a court filing seems like a, well, a really major mistake… showing incompetence by the legal firm.

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