Peter Carr Speaks

Yesterday, Mueller’s spox Peter Carr issued a statement vaguely denying Thursday’s Buzzfeed story claiming that Trump ordered Michael Cohen to lie.

BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the special counsel’s office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s congressional testimony are not accurate.

Clearly, there are parts of the story that are correct, in that they provide specific details that match the vague ones Mueller himself has released.

The new details in the story include a price tag for the Trump Tower detail: Trump, “hoped could bring his company profits in excess of $300 million” (Mueller’s sentencing memorandum stated that the deal might be worth “hundreds of millions of dollars from Russian sources in licensing fees and other revenues”).  It quantifies how many times Trump and Cohen spoke about the deal: Trump, “had at least 10 face-to-face meetings with Cohen about the deal during the campaign.” It also confirms that Don Jr and Ivanka were the “family members” described in Cohen’s allocution who were apprised of the details.

That, by itself, suggests that Buzzfeed’s sources have direct access to some of this evidence.

But one thing Mueller is almost certainly responding to is a claim that puts blame for the lies Cohen told to Congress on Trump. Michael Cohen is under oath saying not that Trump ordered him to lie, but that he lied to match the messaging that Trump was using.

By 2017 I was no longer employed in this capacity, but continued to serve on several matters as an attorney to the former CEO of the Trump Organization and now President of the United States, who is referred to as Individual 1 in the information.

As I had in the years before the election, I continued in 2017 to follow the day-to-day political messaging that both Individual 1 and his staff and advisers repeatedly broadcast, and I stayed in close contact with these advisers to Individual 1. As such, I was aware of Individual 1’s repeated disavowals of commercial and political ties between himself and Russia, his repeated statements that investigations of such ties were politically motivated and without evidence, and that any contact with Russian nationals by Individual 1’s campaign or the Trump Organization had all terminated before the Iowa Caucus, which was on February 1 of 2016.

In 2017, I was scheduled to appear before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence as well as the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence concerning matters under their investigation, including principally whether Russia was involved in or interfered in the 2016 campaign and election.

In connection with my appearances, I submitted a written statement to Congress, including, amongst other things, a description of a proposed real estate project in Moscow that I had worked on while I was employed by the Trump Organization.

That description was false — I knew at the time — in that I had asserted that all efforts concerning the project had ceased in January of 2016 when, in fact, they had continued through June of 2016;

That I had very limited discussions with Individual 1 and others in the company concerning the project, when in fact I had more extensive communications; and,

Lastly, that I had never agreed to travel to Russia in connection with the project and had never asked Individual 1 to travel, when in fact I took steps to and had discussions with Individual 1 about travel to Russia.

And I would like to note that I did not in fact travel there, nor have I ever been to Russia.

I made these misstatements to be consistent with Individual 1’s political messaging and out of loyalty to Individual 1. [my emphasis]

That’s a point I made yesterday: Buzzfeed’s story materially differed from the sworn testimony in the case, and even if their sources were right that, in fact, Trump sanctioned Cohen’s lie, they should have explained why Mueller says differently.

Notably, Cohen’s allocution says that he “stayed in close contact with these advisers to Individual 1,” not that he was talking to Trump directly. It’d be hard (though by no means impossible) to have been ordered directly by Trump to lie if he was no longer in day-to-day contact with Trump.

Carr is also seemingly objecting to this characterization:

The special counsel’s office learned about Trump’s directive for Cohen to lie to Congress through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents.

That’s unsurprising. He’s denying that Mueller has documents and Trump Organization (which may be different from White House) witnesses that would make Cohen’s sworn allocution false. In any case, Trump doesn’t use email, so there’s no email where Trump ordered Cohen to lie.

My very strong suspicion is that this happened — and Mueller pushed back — for two reasons.

First, as I noted yesterday, Buzzfeed’s sources appear to have access to primary evidence, but their focal awareness of what Cohen said to Mueller appears to be limited to precisely what Cohen’s sentencing memo had. That is, Buzzfeed didn’t receive any of the details that would be more useful for understanding how the Trump Tower deal relates to any larger conspiracy between Trump and Russia, they received the details that made it into the sentencing memo.

Cohen’s sentencing went through SDNY, where his other guilty plea was, which means SDNY (both the US Attorney’s office and the FBI Field Office) would have visibility on that process. So it’s likely that Buzzfeed’s sources are there, which would be consistent with the two descriptions Buzzfeed provided for their two law enforcement sources.

two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter

law enforcement sources familiar with his testimony to the special counsel

If that’s right, it explains a big part of what happened. As I noted yesterday, there’s a stark difference in the way that Cohen allocuted his hush payments for Trump and the way he allocuted his lies for Trump. Regarding the hush payments, he says he acted at the direction of Trump.

With respect to the conduct charged in these Counts, Michael kept his client contemporaneously informed and acted on his client’s instructions. This is not an excuse, and Michael accepts that he acted wrongfully. Nevertheless, we respectfully request that the Court consider that as personal counsel to Client-1, Michael felt obligated to assist Client-1, on Client-1’s instruction, to attempt to prevent Woman-1 and Woman-2 from disseminating narratives that would adversely affect the Campaign and cause personal embarrassment to Client-1 and his family. [my emphasis]

Regarding the lies to Congress, he says he was just trying to advance Trump’s political messaging.

Michael’s false statements to Congress likewise sprung regrettably from Michael’s effort, as a loyal ally and then-champion of Client-1, to support and advance Client-1’s political messaging. [my emphasis]

Both these statements would have been written in consultation with the prosecutors running the case. So SDNY used a fairly aggressive frame to implicate Trump in the hush payments, whereas Mueller was much more circumspect about Trump’s role.

The difference may, in part, be that when Cohen made those hush payments he was still working directly for Trump, and so was in a position to get a direct order rather than speaking (as he said he was) with Trump’s advisers. But even if both cases basically show Trump making his intentions known and Cohen executing those intentions, there’s a good reason for the asymmetry on the description.

Cohen is not a cooperating witness for SDNY. While they continue to investigate Trump and Trump Organization for campaign finance violations, they’re not relying on Cohen to make that case. They’re relying on immunized testimony from Allen  Weisselberg and David Pecker. So SDNY (whether people in the office or FBI Agents assigned to the case) has no incentive to be exacting in their description of the evidence on the Trump Tower deal. They can go big, just like they did in the hush payment allocution.

Cohen is, however, a cooperating witness for Mueller. If and when they make a case that the Trump Tower deal was part of a larger election year conspiracy, they will likely need to be able to call Cohen to the stand and describe the truth of how he kept Trump and Don Jr in the loop on the deal, most notably to explain how it factored into Don Jr’s mindset when he accepted a meeting offering dirt in exchange for sanctions relief. They need Cohen to explain that Don Jr would have understood there was $300 million riding on that meeting.

Everything about how Mueller’s team has handled Cohen attests to that possibility. They didn’t need to charge him with false statements and the charge did not add any prison time to his sentence. They didn’t need to make him publicly explain, under oath, why he lied. But by doing that, they began to rehabilitate Cohen publicly. In spite of Cohen’s significant cooperation, they didn’t offer him a 5K letter at sentencing, meaning he’s still on the hook for cooperation; unlike Mike Flynn, for example, he’s not getting a sentence reduction before he takes the stand. But because of the way they handled it, they can mandate his silence about what he told Mueller, demand that Congress limit the scope of his testimony next month, and dictate any response Cohen made yesterday to the story.

The possibility they’ll put Cohen on the stand is likely one reason why Cohen’s allocution about the Trump Tower lies is so much more modest than the SDNY allocution: Mueller will need to be able to corroborate, with other documentary evidence, everything that Cohen will ultimately testify to. And so while they may have reason to believe Trump approved of the lies being told on his behalf — maybe even ordered people at Trump Organization or his spawn to do what they needed to sustain the lies (which might look to SDNY law enforcement as clear evidence that he was directing the lies) — Mueller is not going to set the bar for proof of Cohen’s statement anywhere further than they need for a possible larger conspiracy case. And they don’t need to prove that Trump had a role in Cohen’s lies. Rather, they need to be able to prove that Cohen kept Trump and Don Jr in the loop on the deal itself.

If all this is right, it — and not the magnitude of any errors in the Buzzfeed story (because there have been a number of other big stories where the errors were clearly just as significant) — explains why Carr issued a statement yesterday. First, to make it very clear that in Mueller’s mind, Cohen’s allocution was honest, that he wasn’t (for example) protecting Trump in taking responsibility for the initial lie. But also, to make sure the bar they very deliberately set for Cohen’s testimony remained precisely where they put it in his plea allocution. The last thing Mueller needs is a juror who thinks that unless they show an email with Trump ordering Cohen to lie, then Cohen’s testimony is false. And by making this unprecedented statement, Mueller will make it harder for any defense attorney to raise the bar on what Mueller needs to prove in this case.

There’s probably another reason why Carr made this statement. I don’t doubt that Mueller hates Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier for the way they got the financial transfer part of this story when no one else did, and more of the Moscow Tower deal story than others (which seems to be forgotten in the squawking about Buzzfeed’s loneliness on this latest story).

But I suspect Carr took this step, even more, as a message to SDNY and any other Agents working tangents of this case. Because of the way Mueller is spinning off parts of this case, he has less control over some aspects of it, like Cohen’s plea. And in this specific case (again, presuming I’m right about the SDNY sourcing), Buzzfeed’s sources just jeopardized Mueller’s hard-earned reputation, built over 20 months, for not leaking. By emphasizing in his statement what happened in “the special counsel’s office,” “testimony obtained by this office,” Carr strongly suggests that the people who served as sources had nothing to do with the office.

A couple more points. A lot of people are complaining that Carr didn’t more aggressively warn Buzzfeed off the story (though he did provide what sounds like Cohen’s allocution, which — if it had been reviewed by one of Buzzfeed’s superb legal reporters — probably would have led to the cautions I raised yesterday). I get why that would be nice. But I think people really misunderstand the degree to which Mueller knows that every single action they take will eventually be subjected to scrutiny courtesy of a Judicial Watch FOIA. And any hint at all that Carr provided any inkling about the case to journalists will be blown up by Trump and his lawyers.

Finally, the actions Carr took yesterday (and Mueller’s big-footing on Cohen’s testimony before the Oversight Committee next month) only make sense if Cohen might have to play a role in a possible trial, and not a report submitted confidentially to Attorney General William Barr. That’s what more likely explains Carr’s response than anything else: the discrepancy between what Buzzfeed reported and what Cohen allocuted posed a risk to a possible jury trial. And that may explain another reason why Mueller is a lot more modest about Trump’s role in Cohen’s lies than SDNY is.

Trump’s not going to be indicted by Mueller — at least not before he leaves office via election defeat or impeachment. So Mueller’s focus needs to be on the crimes of those he can charge, like Don Jr. That doesn’t rule out that the evidence he’s looking at shows that Trump oversaw a series of coordinated false statements. He did! With Mike Flynn’s lies, Don McGahn’s clean up of Flynn and Jim Comey’s firings, the response to the June 9 meeting, and yes, this Trump Tower deal, nothing explains the coordinated story-telling of multiple Trump flunkies other than Trump’s approval of those lies. It is, frankly, journalistic malpractice that the press hasn’t noted that, especially on the June 9 meeting, the evidence that Trump lied and ordered others to has already been made public. Trump’s tacit (and explicit, with the June 9 statement) approval of serial false statements, to Congress, to the FBI Director, to FBI Agents, and to Mueller, is an impeachable offense. Multiple outlets have gotten solid proof of that, they just haven’t stated the obvious like Buzzfeed did, perhaps in part because they’re relying on White House sources for their reporting.

But Mueller won’t need to allege that for his case in chief, at least not on the issue of the Trump Tower deal. Because the events that matter to Mueller’s case in chief — the events to which Cohen might have to serve as a witness — happened in 2016, not 2017 or 2018. And the guilt that Mueller would need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt if he does indict this conspiracy is not Trump’s guilt — except as an unindicted co-conspirator. It is Don Jr’s guilt.

So outlets that are suggesting that Mueller’s pushback backs off any evidence that Trump committed a crime make no more sense than the original Buzzfeed report (and ignore the actual evidence of how Cohen’s lies evolved, an evolution in which these outlets were active participants). The only thing that explains Carr issuing such an unprecedented statement is if Cohen’s ability to testify on the stand must be preserved.

Robert Mueller has the unenviable task of needing to sustain as much credibility for a bunch of serial liars as possible, starting with Michael Cohen. Buzzfeed’s story — whether generally true or erroneous on details about Trump Organization witnesses or totally wrong — threatened that effort.

And that’s why, I strongly suspect, Peter Carr finally publicly spoke.

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. 

101 replies
  1. Trip says:

    This makes so much sense. Thank you. You are incredible.

    (Forget anything I speculated.)

    *positions scrambled brains back inside skull*

    • Rayne says:

      Welcome back to emptywheel. Please be sure to use the same username each time you comment so that community members get to know you. Thanks.

    • LeeNLP says:

      You hit the ball outta the park, Marcy.  Thank you so much.

      (But my main reason for this post is to start using my new username, “LeeNLP”.  Someone else was using “Lee” so I had to find a new name.)

  2. Semanticleo says:

    Fortunately a request has been made for clarification on the muddy non-denial, denial.

    I certainly hope a response to Ghouliani/Trump dribbling is forthcoming.

  3. PSWebster says:

    Yes, good assessment.

    Would the SCO also troll Orange to see him (and spawn) make themselves more visible at obstruction. Jr tweeted what I think were laughing icons after the story broke. And Orange went off as well.

  4. BobCon says:

    Is there any sign that Mueller may be near to filing indictments of anyone else in the loop of Cohen’s false statements? I could see how that could be a factor in Mueller showing an atypical level of urgency in issuing the statement, but I’m obviously just speculating.

  5. Dave C. says:

    The word “characterizations” and “not accurate” in the Carr statement virtually cried out for this kind of careful analysis. Too bad so few people have the motive and/or attention span and/or chops to provide it. You do. Nice work.

    • Rayne says:

      Nice to see you at emptywheel. Please be sure to use the same username each time you comment so community members get to know you. Thanks.

  6. pseudonymous in nc says:

    Quick copyedit: Allen Weisselberg.

    And yes: the process of spinning off longer-reaching investigations (especially to the Sovereign District of New York) requires the Special Counsel’s Office to demarcate its scope and activity much more explicitly.

    It does set up a tension where that purview inevitably won’t provide the broader transparency that’s going to be necessary to take stock of the past three years, but the counterpart of Congressional oversight has to work around it for now. And EW is right that Judicial Witchhunt is going to FOIA the shit out of any formal communications on scope.

    In short, I’d be happier with the first oversight hearing hauling in the GSA people who looked the other way over the explicit Old Post Office lease terms and the emoluments clause than it be Michael Cohen.

    • emptywheel says:

      Damnit! I even looked up his name to make sure I got spelling of the last name right. Cut and paste of names is your friend.


    • Ed Walker says:

      On your last point, I completely agree. In the absence of any hint that Pelosi will move on impeachment, better to do things that will publicly build a political case for impeachment, apart from the Mueller investigation.

  7. Alan says:

    Maybe. I agree with the part about Carr wanting to defend the reputation of the SCO against leak suspicions. It also seems possible Carr may have been trying to (a) placate Trump and Whitaker so they don’t take further steps to interfere in the investigation; and/or (b) tamp down the frenzied and incorrect allegation that Trump “directed” Cohen to lie, so that Congress, the media and the public will wait for the Special Counsel’s next steps instead of racing down a counterproductive path.

  8. Dave says:

    Thanks for this Marcy.  When I first saw the BF article, I was so excited that there might be a light at the end of this shitty tunnel, that we might be free of this chucklehead soon.  When I saw you taking their article to task for some of its claims, my first reaction, to my shame, was to ignore you, because you were raining on the parade.  When Carr’s statement came out, my hopes crashed lower, and I went in search of understanding what it meant.  And I find you along with a lot of other respectable minds coming to this conclusion.  It’s been a lesson in not believing only what you want to hear that I thought I’d had a handle on.  Thanks for the level-headed takes on all of this stuff, and bringing your expertise to the masses.

  9. Michael Graham says:

    My reaction to any Trump/Russia “breaking news” story is to wait patiently until emptywheel sorts it all out. Thank you,Marcy, for your dedication and expertise.

  10. Mark says:

    Thanks for the wonderful insight, Marcy. All makes a lot of sense.

    Do you think there’s any possibility that an additional/alternative motivation to release a statement in this instance came from pressure within DOJ (knowing that there was room to dispute it)?

  11. Ed Smiley says:

    TYPO Slight usage note. It would be Trump or cutout who would *allocute*. It would be Cohen who would *allocate*.

  12. Mike says:

    The probability is that the two sources are SDNY. Why? Because they are the ones who raided Cohen’s properties and seized cellphones, computers, electronic and hard documents.

    Moreover, the SDNY is the entity that granted immunity and conducted interviews with officials from the Trump Organization.

    When you compare the SDNY charging and sentencing court documents with those from the SCO, you see a much tougher position taken by the SDNY than the SCO.

    In part, because Mueller has Cohen as a cooperative informant. Conversely, the SDNY has no mitigating factors that enter into its unvarnished truth.

    • bmaz says:

      That is pretty much what Marcy said. Do think it good to note that there is likely a distinction between the formal “SDNY” and the NYC FBI Field Office, they are technically two different things.

  13. J Barker says:

    Thanks for this careful and illuminating discussion, Marcy.

    Your analyses and predictions have– by far!– been the more accurate than those of all the various journalists, lawyers, and professional twitter speculators I’ve followed since the election.

    My new mantra: stay calm and trust Marcy Wheeler!

  14. Pablo in the Gazebo says:

    Thank you for speaking slowly so we can all understand.

    I had a friend at work who could explain physics and math (in superconductors) so that you understood what those little electrons and radio waves were up to.  EW has that knack.

  15. Worried says:

    Thank you Marcy. Your energy and attention to facts are amazing! Impossible to keep all the threads understandable without your guidance

  16. Ed Smiley says:

    Slight correction. You do use allocation correctly in most of the article. But allocution of hush money is confusing. Do you mean an allocution about an allocation of hush money? Hope I got past my spell checker. Great article though!

  17. bmaz says:

    Okay, couple of things:

    But I suspect Carr took this step, even more, as a message to SDNY and any other Agents working tangents of this case. Because of the way Mueller is spinning off parts of this case, he has less control over some aspects of it, like Cohen’s plea. And in this specific case (again, presuming I’m right about the SDNY sourcing), Buzzfeed’s sources just jeopardized Mueller’s hard-earned reputation, built over 20 months, for not leaking. By emphasizing in his statement what happened in “the special counsel’s office,” “testimony obtained by this office,” Carr strongly suggests that the people who served as sources had nothing to do with the office.

    Yes, this looks almost certain from where I stand. Wasn’t the only aim of Carr’s arrow on behalf of Mueller, but was a rather large one.

    Secondly, and more so to many media members/outlets more than here, clacking about how the proof of Trump directly telling Cohen to lie is the end all and be all as to necessity for discussion, that is just wrong.

    The record before the Buzzfeed article already established, through signed and accepted court filings, that Cohen indeed lied to Congress with the express intent of supporting the lies Trump was fostering. That is not in dispute at this point. As to whether Trump personally ordered Cohen to do so face to face (and there is still a decent shot of that being true, but we do not know), that is not the end of the discussion legally.

    First off, if those around Trump, (think lawyers and family), discussed and encouraged Cohen to lie to Congress, that is a huge problem for Trump. Let me remind people of one of the most basic definitional provisions in the criminal code, 18 USC §2:

    (a) Whoever commits an offense against the United States or aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces or procures its commission, is punishable as a principal.

    (b) Whoever willfully causes an act to be done which if directly performed by him or another would be an offense against the United States, is punishable as a principal.

    So,  all of the nonsense by Rudy Guliliani is simply nonsense. That is without even considering conspiracy law and implications thereof.

    So, sure, the SCO hit on Buzzfeed hurt the narrative in the press. Did it really hurt the narrative legally? No, not so much.

    Lastly, I would like to address the upcoming House Oversight Committee hearing Cohen is scheduled for on February 7. He was voluntarily appearing after restrictions Cummings and the Committee agreed to, purportedly, with Mueller. The ground has changed. Frankly,  I think the hearing this quickly was ill considered and premature grandstanding to start with, but now strikes me as nuts given the changed circumstances after the Buzzfeed piece, SCO brushback and Trump’s direct threats to Cohen’s extended family.

    The hearing should either be affirmatively postponed by Cummings or withdrawn from by Cohen personally. There is nowhere near enough good that can come from Cohen’s appearance, and a lot to lose for both him and Mueller given the shitshow that the GOP members will bring to the affair. Cancel that.

    • BobCon says:

      Can Mueller stop Cohen from testifying, or can he only try to convince him?

      I think a big problem at this point is that even if Cohen won’t talk about things Mueller tells him are out of bounds, nothing really stops the GOP members from posing leading questions that try to frame Mueller badly. And now they have a stronger incentive to go that route instead of just a general attack on Cohen’s credibility.

      Although I think it’s possible Jim Jordan and company are so incompetent that they screw even that up.

      • bmaz says:

        Exactly as to Jordan. And, while Cohen’s testimony is voluntary and not by subpoena, if Mueller told him to withdraw, he would in a heartbeat.

  18. Vern says:

    Maybe one other nuance:

    There were increasing calls for Mueller to release this bit of the investigation to the Congress for action / impeachment. Carr’s statement put an effective end to that.

    • emptywheel says:

      I honestly don’t think they care what Congress does, so long as it doesn’t hurt their efforts to put people in prison. I said recently that we’re going to hear a lot more about the role of Mueller’s congressional liaison going forward. That was not idle speculation on my part: Mueller has a notorious hardass serving as his liaison to Congress and I’m sure he intends to make sure nothing hurts his investigation.

      • bmaz says:

        As to Cohen, they should be concerned in that regard. Unless they are going to provide a “hardass” minder to sit next to Cohen and object as appropriate on February 7, it is idiotic to allow that clown show to go forward at this time. As you note, Mueller has an interest in keeping Cohen sanitized as a witness. February 7 does not comport with that thought.

        • emptywheel says:

          Oh, I absolutely agree Cohen’s Feb 7 testimony is idiotic. I’m pretty angry Cummings went there.

          And yes, if it does happen, I do expect they’ll have a minder there.

        • Tom says:

          And if the minder is seen to be frequently interjecting to halt a line of questioning, or if Cohen is seen to be having huddled conversations with the minder before answering, won’t Trump & Company cry foul and claim that Cohen is being prevented from providing testimony that might be exculpatory to the President, or that he is such a liar that he has to be constantly coached in order to stick to the Witch Hunt’s story line? And it probably won’t help that Stormy Daniels and Michael Avenatti plan to be in attendance as well.

        • pseudonymous in nc says:

          In political terms, it would be best for King Idiot to keep ranting about Cohen and his in-laws for the next couple of weeks — something I think will happen given that Mick the Prick has granted him free rein — and for Cohen then to say that he’s received credible threats against his family and go off the radar for a few weeks. “Credible” being one of those things that can be asserted somewhat subjectively.

      • Kick the darkness says:

        From 2017 Daily Beast.

        “We think he’s an asshole,” said a source from a Capitol Hill committee that works closely with the Mueller probe. “It’s unfortunate because the relations with Mueller’s legal team are otherwise strong. The lawyers on each side have worked in the same space for years.”…“Stephen Kelly is exactly who I would hire if I wanted to share as little information with Congress as possible”

        Is this the point of contact with congressional leaders through which the “off ramp” you wrote about earlier would be constructed?  If so, should one read anything into that with respect to how Mueller’s team views such an option? It kind of sounds like Mueller’s going “we’ve lined things up just the way we want them.  please don’t screw it up”.  Meanwhile, if the shut down keeps going, other events might obviously be playing out on a different time frame.

  19. Richieboy says:

    Some months ago, I made a one-off donation to support the work of EW. This excellent post reminded me that I wanted to do more, so I’ve now set up an ongoing (though modest) monthly subscription via PayPal. I encourage my fellow regular readers who have not already done so to follow suit. This site is essential and invaluable. Thank you, Marcy, and Empty Wheel team.

    • Cicero101 says:

      Indeed. I’m a very long distance geographically from all this, and not a citizen, but I chip in monthly.

      • xmidway says:

        I’m guessing many of us contribute monthly.

        I send a check every month which is probably a pain in the ass to Marcy, but at least she gets all of it.

        I think it, by far, the best use of my money these days.

        Thank you, Marcy.

  20. Ollie says:

    EW: I’m proud to say after I read the BF story, I came here immediately.  When you published your thoughts and facts, I felt okay, it’ll happen someday….but then I see trump took that and did the disgusting thing he does: started gloating over it.  That right there?  Is harder than anything to endure.  His nastiness that he’s been throwing at us since campaign (and prior) of gloating, lying, meanness, racists and did I mention lying?  Well that stomach ache is only made better by your clarification of the facts, your excellent time lines and your lack of theatrical drama to be the first.

    “your excellent time lines and your lack of theatrical drama to be the first….”  I know I don’t contribute much here.  I come here often every day  and check in to see what you’ve posted Marcy but also to see what Bmaz  and all the others are digesting and discussing.  Well you remind me of the style of Journalists of my youth: serious, dedicated and the facts first instead of the Hollywood.ish ‘be the first to break the story’…attention seekers.

    Also Marcy?  Is it possible to get notices prior to any appearances you make?  I don’t have a tv, I just use my computer and I still can’t find a link to your ALL IN appearance.  You’re really a ‘solid’ journalist Marcy.  I’m so grateful to this site.

  21. RLHall says:

    So I have a couple of questions as a non-lawyer. If the culture within a corrupt organization is to cover up and lie whenever there is trouble, taking the cue from what the leader is saying publicly, is it necessary for the leader to explicitly ask for a lie from his subordinates? Going further, if someone like Cohen compromised himself out of loyalty and desire to stay on the payroll, and modelled his lies after his boss’s talking points, is the boss legally responsible?

  22. Belacqua says:

    Chiming in with all the others to say that this is a typically terrific and illuminating post. Thank you.

    Also, on the subject of “Trump overs[eeing] a series of coordinated false statements,” I’d recall one other piece of evidence we have that shows him directly telling Cohen to lie: his three-tweet thread about this NYT story. Last April, Trump tweeted:

    The New York Times and a third rate reporter named Maggie Haberman, known as a Crooked H flunkie who I don’t speak to and have nothing to do with, are going out of their way to destroy Michael Cohen and his relationship with me in the hope that he will “flip.” They use….

    ….non-existent “sources” and a drunk/drugged up loser who hates Michael, a fine person with a wonderful family. Michael is a businessman for his own account/lawyer who I have always liked & respected. Most people will flip if the Government lets them out of trouble, even if….

    ….it means lying or making up stories. Sorry, I don’t see Michael doing that despite the horrible Witch Hunt and the dishonest media!

    I recognize, of course, that this is not legally incriminating, since Trump is explicitly telling Cohen not to lie or make up stories. But as Marcy notes, an indictment of Trump is almost certainly off the table, so I’m going to insist on my prerogative to read this message in the spirit in which it was intended, just as Cohen surely did. To the extent we’re trying to determine what’s actually going on, as opposed to what we might hypothetically prove in a trial that will never happen, it’s impossible to read these tweets as anything other than a direct instruction to Cohen to lie to the feds.

    (And lest we have any doubt about that, consider two later tweets, one from August of last year–“I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family. ‘Justice’ took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to ‘break’ – make up stories in order to get a ‘deal.’ Such respect for a brave man!”–and one from December–“Remember, Michael Cohen only became a ‘Rat’ after the FBI did something which was absolutely unthinkable & unheard of until the Witch Hunt was illegally started. They BROKE INTO AN ATTORNEY’S OFFICE! Why didn’t they break into the DNC to get the Server, or Crooked’s office?”)

  23. Jim_46 says:

    EW: “I honestly don’t think they care what Congress does, so long as it doesn’t hurt their efforts to put people in prison.”

    I am quite sure that is correct. And that rigorous professionalism on the part of Mueller’s team is both something for which we should have immense respect, and something that is a problem for all of us.

    Let me explain by drawing an analogy. After 9/11, there were some very wise voices urging us to treat that attack as an act of criminals. Instead, as many anticipated it would, our government treated 9/11 as an act of war. We are still living with the consequences of that fateful decision.

    The situation with Trump is exactly the opposite. Crimes have been committed, yes. But it is the mortal threat to our democracy and to our national security that is the greater concern. Like it or not, Robert Mueller must realize that he is not running another NFL probe. Absolute worst case, an actual agent being run by a former KGB intelligence officer, now the head of that rival state power, is the president of the United States, and in a position therefore to made decisions that jeopardize the lives and welfare of every U.S. citizen. In that scenario, convincing a grant jury to, say, indict Don Jr. is frankly immaterial. The questions are obvious: they’re contemporary versions of “What did the president know and when did he know it?”

    People here at EW who are a lot smarter than I will explain why it’s not Mueller’s job to yadda yadda. Sure, sure. But in the real world, the one that my family and I live in, there is urgency and there is peril. And so you’ll have to excuse me if I believe that protecting Cohen’s credibility, so that he can be an effective witness in trials of the capos of the Trump Family, is far less important than moving Congress toward action that it should have taken as soon as Trump fired Jim Comey to obstruct investigation of his connections to Russia.

    • bmaz says:

      Actually Jim, it IS Mueller’s job to “yadda, yadda yadda”. It is absolutely his job to protect the integrity and sanctity of his investigation, and the health of it. That is exactly the purview of a prosecutor, and especially so this one trying to prosecute a complex conspiracy.

      And if you do not understand that Cohen may be a valuable witness in that regard, and that protecting his credibility after taking clear steps to rehab it, I wonder how much you have been reading here.

      If you want the world and that of your family’s to be made better by this process, then you do NOT want half assed knee jerk bunk like the HOC February 7 hearing going off prematurely. That, sir, is “the real world” when it comes to complex criminal conspiracy investigations.

  24. big fan says:

    “Trump’s tacit (and explicit, with the June 9 statement) approval of serial false statements, to Congress, to the FBI Director, to FBI Agents, and to Mueller, is an impeachable offense.”


    Am I completely naive? But if a Republican congress is investigating whether a foreign adversary had attempted to subvert American democracy and a close associate – even lawyer – of the President gives false testimony under oath to Congress, in what universe is it not the duty of the President and his office to correct that testimony? When did it become normal for the President of the United States to take the position: “Run run as fast as you can, you can’t catch me, I’m the gingerbread man”?

    At this point it should not matter whether or not Mueller can bring more indictments. It is clear that Trump and his administration have knowingly obstructed a national security investigation by not cooperating. Not a day should pass without a headline, broadcast or column featuring the word “cover-up” and calls for resignation. Walter Cronkite would have passed out from nausea by now, on air.

    At least in a healthy democracy.

    • maskmethod says:

      Run run as fast as you can, you can’t catch me, I’m the gingerbread man

      Thanks for the laugh.  They’re hard to come by these day.

      (Thanks to everyone associated with the website.  The insights are quite enlightening for a political dilettante.)

  25. Hal Grossman says:

    I agree that Mueller’s office is keen on making it clear that Buzzfeed’s sources are elsewhere.  But I don’t understand the second reason for Carr’s statement, to preserve Cohen’s credibility at a trial.  How is Cohen testifying that he lied to Congress on his own more credible than that Trump told him to lie.  Cohen spent years being told what to do by Trump.  I find it more credible that Trump gave him a verbal order to lie.

    What am I missing?

    • Avattoir says:

      I’ve related this in a thread to a post here sometime last year, but I’m far from alone in having been involved, on both sides, of trials where the government didn’t bring any evidence at all of a specific instruction from the boss to his minions to lie or commit perjury. What happens is that juries are invited to draw the inference of an understanding existing among the members of the criminal organization, that such is simply expected, AND that the boss should properly be held criminally liable for it. I’ve heard of mixed results, and even seen once where apparently the jury wasn’t convinced beyond their view of reasonable doubt and (presumably so) acquitted. Regardless: any such specific criminal instruction, particularly in the context of a conspiracy charge, isn’t strictly required under law.

  26. Setlistthief says:

    Thank you, EW, for this wonderfully concise analysis. Likewise to all the commenters here, so nice to be in the company of a literate, intelligent, and witty community. And, no doubt, good looking too!

  27. Laura says:

    The entire SCO team must be looking forward to the day they can turn out the lights, lock the doors and return to a semblance of normal life.

    • Marinela says:

      And most of the US population I suspect wants to be back to the ‘normal’.

      But the pressure the SCO must feel, given what they know.

    • Avattoir says:

      We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;For he to-day that sheds his blood with meShall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,This day shall gentle his condition;And gentlemen in England now a-bedShall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaksThat fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

      My experience has been different than what you conjecture. Being a criminal trial lawyer is not quite the easy life that some imagine, and it can be extremely hard on family, but this is the life they’ve chosen for themselves, and few would wish to miss out on the action.

      • Laura says:

        @ Marinela
        @ Avattoir
        (edited for spacing)
        You know, when I wrote that comment, I was thinking of the media BS, and almost added something along the lines of, “I really hope the SCO work is rewarding enough to make up for having to deal with the relentless media coverage, political frothing, conspiracy theories, and ungrounded speculation.” But I was typing on my cell screen and got annoyed so I cut it short.

        That said, going after DJT pere et fils is probably gobsmackingly entertaining.  That family is a clusterfuck of corruption.  I have a challenging and often entertaining job, but nothing quite like that.

  28. Boy C says:

    To Hal Grossman:

    “the discrepancy between what Buzzfeed reported and what Cohen allocuted posed a risk to a possible jury trial. And that may explain another reason why Mueller is a lot more modest about Trump’s role in Cohen’s lies than SDNY is.“

  29. BobCon says:


    To expand on what Bmaz is saying, it’s worth noting that Mueller does not have the authority to investigate the majority of the problems of 2016. He cannot, for example, bring in Facebook and start probing their business model, and why they seemed to bend over backwards to give bad actors the ability to harvest information on users (and non-users, for that matter). Mueller cannot investigate US trolling outfits that most likely also worked with Trump’s campaign. He does not have a broad mandate to investigate campaign finance violations or voter supression efforts.

    The House Democrats have just gained that authority. But it’s worth noting that they’re chasing people who have a huge head start. The Democrats need to recruit and hire staff, and even when they do, their headcount is not that large — committees may have a few dozen actual investigators, if that.

    What that means is that it’s going to be an iterative process. The Democrats will go after some low hanging fruit, bring it to light, hold hearings, and with any luck be able to push DOJ to open criminal investigations. But even then, it’s going to be hard to get Trump’s DOJ to move.

    It should be noted that an impeachment investigation is also going to be narrower than what we really need. It will be focused on high crimes and misdemeanors, and not on shady but legal campaign spending by Koch-funded groups to stir up immigration paranoia, for example.

    Mueller’s probe is an important part of what needs to happen, but it’s important to realize that it’s going to take a lot of different things to make a change, everything from class action lawsuits, state AG investigations, media investigations, Congressional action, and more.

    • Rayne says:

      … He cannot, for example, bring in Facebook and start probing their business model, and why they seemed to bend over backwards to give bad actors the ability to harvest information on users (and non-users, for that matter). Mueller cannot investigate US trolling outfits that most likely also worked with Trump’s campaign. He does not have a broad mandate to investigate campaign finance violations or voter supression efforts. …

      Caution: SCO has the authorization to investigate

      (i) any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of the President Donald Trump; and
      (ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and
      (iii) any other matters within the scope of 28 CFR 600.4(a).

      If Facebook’s business practices and/or US trolling outfits and/or campaign finance/voter suppression proved to be contributory, organized by, in coordination with the Russian government and Trump’s campaign, Mueller’s authorization allows him to go there. He may elect instead to hand what he finds off to another district — Cohen’s case was handed off to SDNY and it was a campaign finance violation.

      What needs to happen is the passage of H.R. 1 through both houses of Congress on top of hearings to investigate and resolve what H.R. 1 won’t address. The problems gnawing at our democracy didn’t happen overnight; some have always been there and never fully addressed but H.R. 1 is a start.

  30. Rusharuse says:

    @bmaz 3:22
    “half assed knee jerk BUNK”

    bunk (n.2)
    “nonsense,” 1900, short for bunkum, phonetic spelling of Buncombe, a county in North Carolina. The usual story (attested by 1841) of its origin is this: At the close of the protracted Missouri statehood debates in the U.S. Congress, supposedly on Feb. 25, 1820, North Carolina Rep. Felix Walker began what promised to be a “long, dull, irrelevant speech,” and he resisted calls to cut it short by saying he was bound to say something that could appear in the newspapers in the home district and prove he was on the job. “I shall not be speaking to the House,” he confessed, “but to Buncombe.” Thus Bunkum has been American English slang for “nonsense” since 1841 (it is attested from 1838 as generic for “a U.S. Representative’s home district”).

    “Well, when a critter talks for talk sake, jist to have a speech in the paper to send to home, and not for any other airthly puppus but electioneering, our folks call it Bunkum.” [Thomas Chandler Haliburton, “Sam Slick in England,” 1858]

    The original “bunco” was a dishonest gambling game. Perhaps a variant of banco, from Spanish banca, which is a card game similar to “monte”.
    (Eventually the word evolved to mean swindling or fraud of any sort).

    Those policemen who investigate confidence swindles. ie Mueller.

  31. Joe says:

    I’d like to donate as well.  But I feel that I can’t donate enough for the great analysis and work that is done here.  Why not an email service that sends articles to users immediately upon publication?   $20 per person or “the value of early Trump/Mueller news to you.”  $1 a week?  What is the price for a reduction of Trump-anxiety?

  32. arbusto says:

    While my mind is fuzzy from continually taking my tranquilizers with tequila shots, it still chaps my giblets that the election was thrown in favor of and with implicit and explicit actions of Trump, his various corporations and LLC’s and spawn in coordination with Russia, multiple oligarchs, possible Middle Eastern potentates, Israel, NRA, multiple GOP operatives and politicians. If the election was illegal then the appointment of all Department Secretaries and all flow down appointments, their subsequent actions on policy and regulations and all bills signed by Trump are also illegal. Why some dumb ass OLC opinion that an illegally installed administration is above the law should be granted the status of Moses and the 10 commandments to modify or nullify parts of the Constitution and CFR’s and laws is fucking ludicrous. Hell, the comedy team of Yoo and Bybee’s skit for SNL that torture was quaint was tossed by their superiors and never made the big time. I don’t expect any political courage from our Congressional leaders, saying all illegalities committed by Trump before and during his reign should be part of an impeachment. I leave it to our legal beagles whether the Senate has the power to convict and imprison our dipshit it chief, I’m just really pissed anyone buys into an imperial Presidency immune form the laws of the land.

  33. Jenny says:

    Excellent!  Thank you Marcy for the explanation.  I appreciate you putting together the puzzle pieces.

  34. Kokuanani says:

    Attempted to post this in response to several comments above re Cohen’s Feb. 7 testimony: someone on one of the MSNBC shows last night reminded the audience of how Congressional hearings regarding Iran-Contra had muddied the waters and tarnished the witnesses so badly that Lawrence Walsh couldn’t get the well-deserved convictions of Oliver North & John Poindexter to stick.

    Perhaps a history lesson and/or Wikileaks reference is needed for much of the anxious and impatient audience. Let’s not repeat Walsh’s predicament.

  35. Ewan says:

    @Rusharuse : careful with copyrighted material. And if it isn’t, give credit to the authors, as a courtesy.

  36. Alan says:

    This is starting to feel like a Giuliani ploy to taint public perception so that nothing less than Trump directed Cohen to lie will be considered serious.  Trump may have known about Cohen’s lies to Congress (and clearly he did), but he didn’t direct Cohen to lie, so no crime!

    • LeeNLP says:

      “he didn’t direct Cohen to lie, so no crime!”

      Crime boss:  “Smith is turning out to be a problem for me.  Not sure what to do about it.”

      Henchman Micky C:  “Takes care of” Smith.  It’s understood. If not, then the next thing the boss might say is:

      Crime boss:  “Ya know, that new Mickey C guy doesn’t seem to be a team player here.  Not sure what to do about it.”


      (Note:  User name changed to “LeeNLP” on Rayne’s suggestion that I get a new username, since someone else is now posting as “Lee”…)

  37. Mulder says:

    This post is so well done. Just exceptionally easy to understand. Thank you, Marcy.

    I have found myself looking back more often as the story unfolds and adds yet more complexity and layers.  And the link/reference to this  was more eye-popping than when I originally read it (at least twice if not more).

    Damn, there’s a lot going on in this investigation!

  38. Jim_46 says:

    bmaz: “And if you do not understand that Cohen may be a valuable witness in that regard, and that protecting his credibility after taking clear steps to rehab it, I wonder how much you have been reading here.”

    Actually, bmaz, you don’t appear to fully understand Marcy Wheeler’s argument or my comment. You’ve also been gratuitously ungracious and unkind. How Trump-like of you. We can’t simply have a difference of opinion, it seems. I can’t suggest that the pace and conduct of the Mueller investigation should not be dictated merely by the imperative of getting criminal convictions of those who committed crimes, but should be sensitive to much broader constitutional and national security concerns (and, yes, for God’s sake, I realize that the DOJ’s order appointing a special counsel encompasses national security issues), because to do exposes me to a charge from a longtime commenter here that I am either ill-informed or stupid.

    The OSC could have issued no statement or a different statement. A different statement might have done more or less to embolden Trump, his apologists, and his enablers. I think that’s a valid topic to explore. If Marcy is correct that Mueller’s team “don’t care what Congress does,” I think it’s valid to ask whether given the unprecedented and extremely serious nature of our current situation, they should care what Congress does.

    That, sir, is how I feel about our exchange: misread, misunderstood, lectured to, and dismissed. Shame on you.

    BobCon, thank you for your reply. I agree with this …

    “Mueller’s probe is an important part of what needs to happen, but it’s important to realize that it’s going to take a lot of different things to make a change, everything from class action lawsuits, state AG investigations, media investigations, Congressional action, and more.”

    And it’s precisely my suggestion that since at least some of what you list is on hold, as it were, until the Special Counsel completes his investigation, he does not have the luxury of pretending that he can spend years (exaggerating here to make a point) pursuing a conviction of, say, Roger Stone, or ignoring the fact that a statement like Carr’s might hinder to some degree aggressive journalism into this area.

    • bmaz says:

      Yeah, thanks for your input there “Jim”.

      You have, with an inordinate amount of words, stated that I do not “fully understand” the person I have been a blog partner with here at Emptywheel for well over a decade.

      You, though, however, have been here for a total of three comments…..starting today (8:26 am to be clear).

      Thanks for playing. Swell that you think I am the equivalent of Trump though. Very enlightened and informational.

    • Vern says:

      That was harsh, man.  Bmaz can be rough, but the last few days here have been riddled with trolls.  I don’t blame him and Rayne for being, well, skeptical; especially when you’re a newbie.

      Be patient and respecful. Marcy’s analysis is brilliant AND accessible to us laypeeps.  There is no better reporting on these issues to be found anywhere.

      And things usually work themselves out, see e.g., Ms. Wheeler’s post: “Rudy Claims credit … Tamping Down Impeachment Talk

  39. Alan says:

    @ bmaz

    RE: “…you don’t appear to fully understand Marcy Wheeler’s argument or my comment.”

    FYI, there is an “or” in that sentence, which I read to mean one or the other, but not necessarily both.

    • bmaz says:

      Both options out of the guy were bunk. And/or….whatever. Three comment trolls that wander in here, for less than 12 hours, do not get to waltz in and screw with us. If that is bad, then I am bad. Sorry. And, for the record, I understood both his and Marcy’s position and takes.

    • harpie says:

      Sasha Samberg-Champion: 
      Replying to @qjurecic  // I find most important part to be explicit walking back of same reporters’ suggestion (perhaps accidental) in yesterday’s reporting that Main Justice people had inside knowledge of what Special Counsel’s Office was up to and that SCO intended categorial denial of the story.

      Daniel Dale:
      5:04 PM – 19 Jan 2019 WaPo on what happened: BuzzFeed’s initial request for comment, over which Mueller’s team didn’t object, didn’t say they were planning to report Cohen *told Mueller* Trump directed him to lie, just that they were going to report Trump directed Cohen to lie.

  40. BobCon says:


    You’re right that if there’s a connection from Russian activity, Mueller can follow into things like US data analytics feeding Russian trollsm and potentially expand from there.

    However, I’m pretty certain there was a ton of purely domestic dirty dealings run by the GOP without Russian help (and probably a bit of stuff by Democrats too). Mueller really can’t dig into any of that.

    For that matter, the Israelis and Saudis and, who knows, Monte Carloean nationalists may have funded their own stuff independent of Russia that Mueller can’t chase. I think the majority of the problems in 2016 will actually be outside of anything Mueller could follow, which is pretty sobering in my opinion.

    • Rayne says:

      (ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation;

      If it overlaps and “arises” from the investigation, it’s in scope.

      For example: Have you ever really thought about the origins of the first dossier on Trump and how it led to the Steele dossier?

      Have you wondered how Cambridge Analytica/SCL overlaps with Brexit’s which was supported by a guy who was offered deals in Russian gold and diamond mines? And how that chap along with Nigel Farage and an American PR strategist ended up with Trump in a photo at Trump Tower-NYC just after the election?

      I think Mueller could be busy for years but we’ll see. Indicting the principals and naming co-conspirators who can’t be indicted may be enough to satisfy “Trump-Russia.”

  41. Morgan Warstler says:

    It’s pretty obvious Muller is winding down his investigation. Ohr and Baker have basically admitted the FBI was corrupt on Hillary and weaponized DOJ to take down Trump.

    It’s over.

    Mueller HAD to go out and say “NOTHING HERE” bc he’s done.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      No, it ain’t.

      Mueller is preserving a witness for trial.  He would be used in the trial of bigger fish, a process that would be subject to excruciating examination in the appellate courts and more so in the Fox Noise media.

      Preserving the trials themselves is even more important. It’s one reason bmaz has argued that Cohen’s February congressional testimony needs to be rescheduled or canceled.

  42. Cathy says:


    Now to wash this down with a little bit of Rayne…

    P.S. Methinks Messr. Warstler has a touch of indigestion, not uncommon when someone accustomed to a diet of junk tackles a feast.

  43. MxSailor says:

    Kudos to the Emptywheel team for your analysis. I do think that we need to let Mueller and SDNY do their (respective) jobs, and we should assume they know what they are doing. I think BuzzFeed probably did obtain some leaked information from SDNY, and I think Mueller has very good reasons to distance his investigation from that of SDNY. There are clearly well-designed swim-lanes and firewalls between the two investigative efforts and surrounding counterintelligence efforts and we are not privy to them. I don’t think we are at any risk of ultimately not knowing what Trump and his henchmen did or didn’t do. We need to be patient and we need to keep our powder dry. Would you prefer to have solid criminal convictions and removal of foreign actors from our electoral processes, or would you rather have all of the investigative details now? I do not see any real way for us to have both.

  44. Hops says:

    In this sentence quoted above from BuzzFeed : “…Trump’s directive for Cohen to lie …” has a different meaning than would “Trump directed Cohen to lie…”

    The former is ambiguous as to who received Trump’s directive, and even whether it was carried out. For example, Trump may have told Don Junior to make sure Cohen stayed on message, and Junior may have just said that Cohen already knew to stay on message (i.e., lie) and didn’t need explicit instructions. So it may be true that no one instructed Cohen to lie, and yet a directive of sorts was given by Trump to one or more people.

    There’s also a lot of ambiguity in this snippet from the Cohen allocution saying it was false that he “had very limited discussions with Individual 1 and others….” because we don’t know whether Cohen had many discussions with Individual 1 and others, or one discussion with Individual 1 and many with others. But since Individual 1 is included, there must have been at least one discussion with him.

    • bmaz says:

      Yes, exactly, as to “directing” being different than “personally told”. That is why the SCO statement and WaPo hit jobs are so bizarre. And almost certainly a large part of why Buzzfeed is sticking with their story. Also, see my comment above about the legal standard in criminal law on this.

  45. Rodertrudis says:

    Impeaching Trump, and then trying him in the Senate in order to throw him out of the WH seems to have completely consumed many good minds on the left. What a shame. How anyone could believe Trump would be impeached when GWB, a known war criminal guilty of unleashing death and destruction on Iraq, based ENTIRELY on the most vile lies, received certain protection from the Speaker of the 2007 House.

    • Rayne says:

      Oh my stars no. Bush wasn’t impeached because impeachment itself didn’t poll well. Apparently near half the public had a lingering distaste for it since it had been less than a decade after Clinton’s impeachment-without-removal and the same near half also had a continued boner for the PR image of a 9/11 hero standing on the WTC’s debris.

      But thanks for playing.

      By the way, this is your second username attached to this email address, the one you used when you commented last a handful of years ago. Please use the same username each time you comment so community members get to know you. Thanks.

  46. Thinkuh says:

    Thank you for this piece.
    I am so glad a friend forwarded this to me.
    You are so spot on here:
    “It is, frankly, journalistic malpractice that the press hasn’t noted that, especially on the June 9 meeting, the evidence that Trump lied and ordered others to has already been made public. Trump’s tacit (and explicit, with the June 9 statement) approval of serial false statements, to Congress, to the FBI Director, to FBI Agents, and to Mueller, is an impeachable offense. Multiple outlets have gotten solid proof of that, they just haven’t stated the obvious like Buzzfeed did, perhaps in part because they’re relying on White House sources for their reporting.”

  47. Charles Davidson says:

    MARCY WHEELER is an astute reporter not sidetracked by the shallow reactivity of far too many in the media business. She reads between and below the lines to make sense of Peter Carr’s (the Mueller team’s) carefully worded response to BuzzFeeds claim about the alleged deceptions of Cohen and Trump. Hers is the sort of analysis that eschews an addiction to soundbites. She invites the reader to think deeply and critically alongside her. Readers’ comments indicate just how compelling and rewarding a thoughtful analysis of factual information and the use of words can be, even though you or I may conceivably come to different conclusions in the process, yet not without equally rigorous reasoning that insists upon digging for the facts in consideration of implications and consequences (as opposed to merely engaging in wishful opinion-spinning). Marcy Wheeler is precisely the quality of juror one would want to sit on a jury weighing evidence of considerable complexity.

    • bmaz says:

      One side or the other, depending on whether a civil or criminal trial, will never seat her as a juror. I have the same issue, and it kills me because I would kill to get to be a juror. That is the process though.

      • Charles Davidson says:

        Sadly, bmaz, this is true. I have experienced it myself when not seated as a juror. Critical thinking is invariably both the prosecution’s and defense’s enemy when it comes to “winning” at court (at any cost to judicial intelligence).

Comments are closed.