Two Details That Many Are Missing in/about the Stone Indictment

I’ve been traveling most of the day to get out of the Midwest before the snow and record low temperatures show up, and will be buried for three days working on things that have nothing to do with any investigation Mueller has been involved in since 2013.

But I do want to add two details to the parlor game going on about whether or not the Roger Stone indictment is the tip of a conspiracy-burg or evidence there’s no there there. Joyce White Vance argues that Mueller charged Stone the way he did to hide the rest of the conspiracy prosecution.

Why didn’t Mueller charge Stone with conspiracy? The rules in federal cases require that prosecutors provide defendants with broad discovery. By indicting Stone on a fairly narrow set of charges, Mueller limits what has to be disclosed & can protect ongoing investigation.

Randall Eliason offers a respectable version of the argument that the indictment suggests there won’t be a conspiracy case.

There have always been at least two possible end games for the Mueller investigation. He could uncover evidence of a widespread criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russians to influence the election. Or he could conclude that the campaign’s numerous documented interactions with Russians seeking to help Trump win were not criminal, but people close to Trump lied to cover up those interactions because revealing them would have been politically devastating.

Stone’s indictment falls into the coverup category. Mueller may have evidence of the broader conspiracy, and more charges may well be coming. But every case like Stone’s, or those against former campaign manager Paul Manafort, that is filed without charging a conspiracy with the Russians makes it seem more likely that criminal charges brought by the special counsel will end up being primarily about the coverups.

Andy McCarthy offers a less respectable version of the same.

Neither Eliason nor McCarthy account for one of the only new details in the indictment, showing that an unidentified Steve Bannon associate congratulated Stone on October 7.

On or about October 7, 2016, Organization 1 released the first set of emails stolen from the Clinton Campaign chairman. Shortly after Organization 1’s release, an associate of the high-ranking Trump Campaign official sent a text message to STONE that read “well done.” In subsequent conversations with senior Trump Campaign officials, STONE claimed credit for having correctly predicted the October 7, 2016 release.

This detail shows that the Trump campaign at least believed that Stone succeeded in getting WikiLeaks to drop the John Podesta emails to distract attention from the Access Hollywood video, which in turn is consistent with a claim Jerome Corsi made about Stone having advance knowledge of the Access Hollywood video and that he and Stone succeeded in timing the email release.

 Corsi wrote in his forthcoming 57,000-word book that he told Zelinsky that Stone told him in advance that the “Access Hollywood” tape would be released.

He wrote that “although I could not remember exactly when Roger told me, or the precise substance of the discussion, I remembered Roger told me before the Washington Post went to press with the Billy Bush tape that the tape was coming and that it would be a bombshell.”

Corsi said he had three phone calls with Stone in the hours before the release of the tape.

“I know nothing about that, either does Jerry Corsi,” Stone told TheDCNF. When asked why Corsi might be motivated to make a false claim, Stone said: “He’s saying this because the prosecutors induced him to say it.”

Corsi also wrote that Zelinsky revealed that prosecutors had evidence of an email exchange between he and Stone “in which Stone expressed pleasure that Assange had released the Podesta emails as instructed.”

Corsi said he replied that he and Stone “should be given credit” for the release.

While Stone disputes Corsi’s claim and Corsi feigns forgetfulness about precisely what happened, by including a communication showing Stone getting credit for the timing, Mueller is suggesting that Corsi is right — and that he has credible, corroborating evidence to prove it.

That’s more coordination — between Corsi and Stone, but more importantly between some go-between and WikiLeaks — than would be the case if Stone’s indictment were all Mueller had. It would put Stone and Corsi in a conspiracy with WikiLeaks and their go-between(s).

Then there’s this detail from the motion to seal Stone’s indictment that no one has yet offered a full explanation for (indeed, most of the reports that noted that Amy Berman Jackson had been assigned the case didn’t explain this detail at all).

Someone — and it would almost certainly have to be the prosecutors (including one who, DC US Attorney’s office prosecutor Jonathan Kravis, is on the internet Research Agency case),  — told the court that Stone’s namby pamby “process crime” is related to the big conspiracy case involving WIkiLeaks with a bunch of Russian hackers. (I’ve updated my running docket of Mueller and potentially related cases to reflect Stone’s indictment.) And while it’s true that Stone is described in the GRU indictment, he is not named in a way that the court would identify that by themselves. WikiLeaks shows up in both, but there’s no need to tie WikiLeaks cases together unless some defendant is going to show up to face prosecution (and WikiLeaks is does not take any of the overt acts described in the Stone indictment).

I don’t pretend to understand how this happened or what it all means. But there’s nothing about the Stone obstruction prosecution that would overlap with the evidence in the GRU indictment. And, as charged, the GRU indictment won’t be prosecuted at all until Julian Assange or someone else involved in it ends up in DC to face charges.

By all means, continue the parlor game. But at least explain how those two details fit into your theory of nothing-“berder” or grand conspiracy.

Update: By popular demand, I’m including the definition of a “related case” under DC’s local rules.

A related case for the purpose of this Rule means as follows:

(1) Criminal cases are deemed related when

(i) a superseding indictment has been filed, or

(ii) more than one indictment is filed or pending against the same defendant or defendants, or

(iii) prosecution against different defendants arises from a common wiretap, search warrant, or activities which are a part of the same alleged criminal event or transaction. A case is considered pending until a defendant has been sentenced.

Certainly, WikiLeaks is named as a co-conspirator in both. But it is not yet a defendant. Though both cases may rely on a wiretap targeting Wikileaks. Or perhaps Stone’s search warrant included his conversations with Guccifer 2.0, and so the other indictment.

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. 

209 replies
  1. Alan says:

    Someone commented that conspiracy charges against Stone appear to be possible, but the Special Counsel deliberately avoided that because (a) they are harder to prove than the fairly airtight case that was filed; and (b) if Stone were charged with conspiracy, his attorneys would be entitled to review voluminous evidence collected by the Special Counsel for far, and that might compromise the ongoing investigation. Conversely, with the charges the charges filed, only a limited amount of evidence will need to be provided to Stone’s attorneys. Basically, the Special Counsel did what he needed to charge Stone, but no more than that, because the investigation is ongoing and more indictments are likely. These explanations sound plausible to me. I don’t remember where I read this, but when I see it again, I’ll post an attribution and link (my apologies for not having these now).

    • anaphoristand says:

      Joyce Vance definitely endorsed the limiting disclosure argument, which seems to have been a consistent consideration for team Mueller throughout their case building. Beside the shot cross Russia’s bow GRU & IRA indictments, most others have been limited to the slam dunk periphery charges that leave the central conspiracy undisclosed to the cooperating defendants, and simultaneously tie Trump’s hands when it comes to pardoning his was out of trouble.

    • Rick Ryan says:

      IANAL, but I do read Emptywheel a lot :) – But it sounds like the method of charging Stone, i.e., strong case with a bunch of stuff that “could” be indicted later hanging over his head (related, I recall EW speculating that Papadopoulos could be charged again in Conspiracy-in-Chief) would be consistent with an attempt to get Stone to flip, no?

      • Avattoir says:

        … or at least it allows for the possibility.

        In addition, it provides something like, OTOH, a petri dish for cultivating some Alcindoro effect of ‘good magic’ chemistry capable of inducing panic among the paranoid occupants of Toad Hole, while simultaneously on the other fitting El Pervertido de Rata in a natty retro nouveau hazmat suit that at least partly insulates him from speculation that he might be actually be planning on spending some quality time over at the OSC offices occupied in cutting some hair rug.

        I see doing it this way as along the lines of producing one those Hindu friezes of a snake seemingly eating its own tail while simultaneously somehow also reproducing.

        I’m open to the possibility of Mueller having settled into some sort of modified Antone Gaudi role here, where one does not expect the work (Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, Mueller’s Mafia No Sagrada) to be completed – in Gaudi’s case, not while he lived (maybe never) – or in Mueller’s case,  performed, not at least within its architectural conceit as an actual criminal trial while the chief antagonist remains officially in command.

        • posaune says:

          Avattoir — apt metaphor, indeed!

          Consider the perfect engineering of the Sagrada:   each funicular arch acts in pure compression (100%), the inverse of the catenary cable that acts in pure tension -appearing as the structural expression of the hyperbolic cosine function.   I’d say that Mueller et al come pretty close to that!

          . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

          p.s.  Gaudi has been beatified by the RC Church, i.e. declared “blessed.”    Who knows?   Mueller may cross that hurdle too.

        • taluslope says:

          Love it!

          I view Mueller playing the long game.  Gathering evidence while charging on the periphery; then dumping major charges on the inner circle in two years.

      • Alan says:

        Nope, that’s not it.  My recollection is that it was an op-ed or opinion piece by a former federal (assistant?) prosecutor who was involved in a high-profile public corruption prosecution and is now in private practice in California.  I should have posted it when I read it, cause I’m not able to find it again…

        • Alan says:

          No, the firm wasn’t Constantine Cannon (and my apologies that I’m so bad remembering names).  I did read Litman’s WaPo op ed about “not a mere process crime” and that wasn’t it.

  2. Reader 21 says:

    Excellent observations, EW—those troublesome facts are inconvenient for Trump-Russia apologists—but it is incumbent on us to not let them get swept under the rug, by the likes of Maggie and Gullible Mikey. Well done!

  3. Reader 21 says:

    I forgot to add—Julian Sanchez (from CATO, of all places) posits in the NYT that the Stone indictment isn’t so much about Stone, but an effort to obtain documentary evidence—which from what I’ve read about Stone, certainly seems like a legitimate concern on the part of Team America (that he’d destroy evidence). Josh Marshall seems to agree, fwiw.

    • bmaz says:

      I’ll add what I said on a previous thread on this. Julian’s piece has some very salient points as to data and document collection. That is all fair and good to acknowledge. But if that was the “only” goal, they could have just served crack of dawn search warrants. That is common, and they clearly had probable cause. But they did the arrest, presentment and coming arraignment this Tuesday too. There are clearly bifurcated bases here for the action you have seen. And the indictment reads different than it would if it was only about the search.

      • anaphoristand says:

        Agreed. It seems clear they want to lock in the reality of significant jail time for Stone in order to leverage him for something (who or what that is, I’m less certain). When looking at Stone’s lifestyle, and adoration for his own image, I’m kind of dumbfounded by the number of far more intelligent than I legal minds who think him unlikely to flip. He’ll be an Hochuli tossed ceremonial coin in a blustering windstorm.

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        I think the search might be useful for parallel construction, but the indictment as it stands is a paper case: he said under oath that he didn’t have certain communications and then he either leaked them himself or the recipients (or the service providers) shared them.

        (I don’t know whether Nunes is really fucking stupid or just plays it, but saying that the HPSCI majority report vindicated Stone when he lied to the committee is something you can only get away with on Fox News.)

        As for why it was explicitly filed as a related case to the GRU indictment, I don’t know either. Maybe ABJ has sealed indictments on her desk. The GRU one has (obviously) been sitting there since filed, as even Eric Dubelier didn’t want to take that on.

        If Kevin “Steve” McCarthy is willing to appoint members to HPSCI, then we might see the Stone transcript in full, and that might point the way.

        • bmaz says:

          I have almost zero interest in why it was filed as a related case. Anything out of Mueller is pretty much related and it makes sense for the clerk’s office to so treat it, irrespective of formal request. Judicial efficiency.

        • Avattoir says:

          I just gave off this little mental thrill snort that I got here an opening to try out reverse Obama Anger Translater with bmaz.

          In this variation, bmaz is the Big O but with Luther’s attitude, while I serve as Luther but with O’s temperament:

          What bmaz is saying is that the designation of “Related case” is something actually initiated by the court system, so TYPICALLY it first comes up out of the mouth of a court’s filings clerk when a DoJo or agent arrives bearing fresh indictment.

          ‘Is this the first in a brand new line of wonderfulness, or perchance is it connected to an already filed case or cases which one or more of our judges already have?’

        • Avattoir says:

          Imagining now a scene where mistress super sleuth is by some data stream rich breaming with life, engaged in gathering data points thru submitting her subject to highly sensitive questions that work like artisan nets specially designed to capture only certain prey… while right there, lurking about, doing its honey bear thing, is Winnie (because, as a least-difficult-path- oriented local honey-loving bear driven by nature and circumstances to work constantly to uncover food and devour it, is what you do; and as an IAAL bear on this particular website, when the subject  of honey arises, kibitzing all about that honey is a VERY good thing to do).

          ‘But don’t you see, you silly bear, that this particular honey in this hole in this tree is inside a pot that has a label that has printing on it that reads “Property of Wol”‘.

          ‘Yes, but practically every creature in this neck of the woods both reads and writes, and particularly loves writing “Property of Wol” on honey jars.’

          ‘Wot, just to vex me?’

          ‘It does indeed carry along withit the potential to vex. But I do not believe they even give a thought to vexing you in particular, or me (even tho, with all respect, I doing me am far more likely to have to deal with the vexation than you doing you), or any one. They think and do to comfort themselves, in their own lives, not to discomfort us in ours.’

        • Greenhouse says:

          Avattoir, you do you sorta like what Lou said:

          I do Lou Reed better than anybody

          Sometimes Bmaz takes no prisoners, but you moze def have the right touch in calming a peevish bear. Peace!

        • NorskieFlamethrower says:

          hsssssss goes the blood pressure cuff on bmaz’s arm…creeeeak go the corners of his mouth into an infrequent smile.

  4. obsessed says:

    >Basically, the Special Counsel did what he needed to charge Stone, but no more than that

    And Stone, like Manafort and Concord or whoever it was, would be predisposed to try to use the discovery to do a service for Trump’s lawyers, expecting a pardon later.

  5. JD12 says:

    The problem with Eliason’s argument is that these lies were to Congress, while under oath, and in a classified setting. If all they were concerned about was political embarrassment they might lie to the media, but the only way it makes sense to lie under oath is if you’ve already done something you could be charged for.

    To argue that the lies are evidence that Mueller has nothing requires a bit of cognitive dissonance IMO. A lot of the people making that argument are the same ones saying “lock her up” even though none of Clinton’s associates were ever indicted.

    • William Bennett says:

      Stonewall it. Plead the fifth. Anything to save the plan

      That doesn’t exactly sound like all that was at stake was covering up something embarrassing. That sounds like keeping an ongoing project, something with determinate outlines and goals, moving forward.

    • InfiniteLoop says:

      @JD12, I can give you another reason for lying under oath: if you’re such a habitual liar you are incapable of telling the truth, even when you are at personal legal risk.

      There are other counterpoints to Eliason. For one thing, I’m not convinced that “political embarrassment” has much meaning to a guy who thinks (not without justification) that he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and not lose his base. As long as Fox & Friends is cool with it, it’s all good.

      But the real kicker is that any argument predicated on a unitary motive for all the (many, many, many) lies in this mess is fatally flawed. Eliason has drawn a false dichotomy.

  6. Adriana Gutierrez says:

    I believe it was on Morning Joe that Joyce Vance referred to the Stone indictment as a “pregnant indictment”.

  7. chuck says:

    Right. Take Manafort’s behavior while “cooperating” and ramp that up 10-fold for what Stone would try to pull. Best to get as much collaborating documentation as possible and rattle dominos further down the line with a no holds-barred lock up of Stone.  Don’t even bother with anything that can allow him to drip anymore of his sleeze on discovery.

    • oldoilfieldhand says:

      We’ll all know a lot more about how steadfast Stone is after a few conversations between  his legal representation and Mueller’s team. Mueller wants something very specific from Stone. Whether he actually needs it or not to put cuffs on a Trump remains to be seen.

      Roger Stone will not fare well in the big house, he knows it. He’s not playing it up for Trump, he’s trying to impress Mueller with his televised dramatics in an attempt to inflate his value to the conspiracy charges. He can’t protect Trump, he can only gain more notoriety as one of the men who brought Trump down.

      • NorskieFlamethrower says:

        Thank you oldoilfieldhand, this explanation of Stone’s bravado in this instance helps us understand the clever complexity of his persona over the years in all situations. He is always speaking to more than one audience. He has been eating his cake for decades (or maybe they have just let him lick the frosting off) so I wonder if there is any left today. My concern is why would he keep ANYthing incriminating on his devices or keep his devices after being alerted to the target on his back. Destroying everything would empty his magazine of kompromat on others but would limit his exposure to simply obstruction.

  8. The game is afoot says:

    JD12 makes such a good point.  All of the lying under oath indicates a complex and multi-faceted cover up.

    While Mike Flynn or Roger Stone or Paul Manafort (as well as many others) have lied, they may or may not know each other’s roles in the overall conspiracy that has been taking place in the Trump campaign and the Trump Presidency.  But the lies do seem to indicate serious misdeeds.

  9. Eureka says:

    When I asked about the ‘well done’ text the other day, I phrased it in terms of the campaign being inculpated or referenced in the conspiracy, given also the ‘was directed’ statement (and other cited communications with the campaign):

    From para. 17, where an associate of [Bannon’s] texts _Stone_ to say “well done” after the Oct 7th WikiLeaks Podesta dump:  isn’t that clear campaign conspiracy?  Especially given prior cited communications, and hypothetically even if Stone didn’t know or signal to any campaign officials that it would be specifically re Podesta.  While that para. ends by focusing on Stone taking credit, the campaign (or Bannon associate) _gave_ him credit.  That “well done” stands out like the “was directed” part, like they are completing the circuit.

    If I am reading correctly, you are pointing more here to ‘well done’ implicating Stone, Corsi, WL, and go-betweens—   but not ruling out Mueller pointing to individuals in the campaign? IANAL thought it was hinting towards a larger conspiracy bundle forthcoming.  Or maybe also/instead it foretells some to-be-congressionally-revealed piece about general shop-talk in the campaign ~ the proverbial ‘everybody knows’ (WL was helping us and Roger Stone was on that job).

    I am still trying to understand the significance of that detail in the larger contexts of the indictment and the investigation.

    ADD: i.e. does it matter that different individuals directed Stone vs. congratulated him?

  10. Avattoir says:

    Oh Chuck, I really think you’ve got these 2 beasts in wrong cages.

    Stone is certainly King Rat Fucker. But he’s carries himself, and puts himself about, with a ton of way too widely known indeed verified personal presentation perversions, plus the most enormous array of fashionable luggage filled to the bursting point with primo mementos from the Great American Rat Fucks of the post-WWII era, including stuff quite personal to him, deriving from his earliest days at UCLA with the Campus Young Republicans.

    All that jazz is small time compared to Manafort. The mysteriously never-indicted connected southern gent Charlie Black, seemingly the only partner in that supposed Beltway lobby firm that was really about installing rightwing cheats for millions, has been consistent in referring to Paul Manafort as unquestionably, by far “the most gifted, the most talented, the most brilliant among us” in that firm.
    And there’s an actual death toll associated with Manafort’s success, particularly in Ukraine, to say nothing of facilitating the stealing of power by a Putin puppet in thrall with secret police and torture. Altogether, it’s WAY bigger time stuff than King Rat Fucker is even suspected of having done.

    • R says:

      “including stuff quite personal to him, deriving from his earliest days at UCLA with the Campus Young Republicans.”

      Since he was in 4th grade. In the documentary about Stone, “Get Me Roger Stone,” Stone said there was a mock election at his elementary school, and that he had lied to his fellow students to sway the election. Stone said that the success of this lie gave him immense pleasure.

    • chuck says:

      100% agree that Manafort’s crimes are way more costly, and Stone more or less got caught out on one limb too far from where he usually lobs his dung, acquiring too many criminal-esque smears in the collection of this latest batch. I’m just getting at the post-indictment portion, understating that Stone’s manipulative nature and theatrics do not align well with Mueller’s MO. As a mascot of ego for Team Trump, the best use of the DOJs time is swift prosecution and example making. Stone isn’t waging dirty tricks against Eliot Spitzer, now it’s the law.

  11. Hops says:

    I think what tells us this is the tip of an iceberg is how desperate Stone was to prevent anyone from digging into the matter. He was so desperate he lied to Congress and threatened Credico.

    The GRU indictment tells us that FBI hacked into the GRU computers and watched what was happening. So, they may know exactly was happening on the Guccifer 2.0 side of WikiLeaks, which is opaque to the rest of us.

    Ergo, these indictments are like sparks coming off a fuse that leads to a large bomb.

    • Savage Librarian says:

      Sounds good to me. Just a reminder: Emma Best now has an archive of hacked Russian emails. Sort of a reverse Wikileaks. Hopefully some enterprising folks are delving into these.

  12. PragmaticProgressive says:

    Marcy makes a great point here. We don’t know how the GRU case and the Stone case are related- for now at least.
    For now, only the people directly involved with perpetrating and investigating these (alleged) crimes know the exact relationship between the cases. But make no mistake, the cases are related.

    …tune in next week to see where Rudy tries to relocate the goal posts.

  13. hccarey says:

    Sadly, I’m more and more convinced that Mueller is going to find nothing more than what we already know–that Trump is a con man and a crook; that his campaign was riddled with grifters and Russian gangsters; that he was and is perfectly happy to tie policy to his personal gain. We already knew that Manafort was a sleazy lying influence peddler. We already know these things, but they weren’t disqualifying for trump voters, and having them laid out if and when we ever see Mueller’s report isn’t going to make them disqualifying.

    I’ve always thought that the way to get Trump would be the long chain of money laundering he appears to have been doing, long before his campaign, and the connection to Sater and to people like, yes, Fima Schusterman, but none of that appears to have been part of what Mueller is looking at.

    I hate Trump with fantastic intensity, but if Mueller had something big we should have heard it by now. There’s a point in any research project where you have to reconcile what you hoped you’d find and what you actually found. I feel like, with the Mueller investigation, we are all saying “there must be a pony in there somewhere.” I’d be so happy to be wrong about this.

    • Rayne says:

      … but if Mueller had something big we should have heard it by now. …

      Perhaps you missed where both criminal and counterintelligence investigations had been consolidated under Special Counsel’s Office? Where a subject if not a target of the counterintelligence investigation may have been Trump himself? The counterintelligence work may not end any time soon and may be the reason why the indictments to date haven’t fleshed out the conspiracy’s framework. The conspiracy may still be in progress.

      It’s been less than two years since the SCO’s investigations began; their scale and potential repercussions on American democracy and its history aren’t something to be rushed. It’s hard to believe anyone needs to spell this out to you.

      … The mills of God grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly small. …

      • NorskieFlamethrower says:

        “The conspiracy may still be in progress.” Indeed, and the co-ordination of stuff like Syria, weakening NATO and now the good cop bad cop act with Venezuela (just to name a few) make it imperative that the counter intelligence investigation continue far beyond the end of Trump and becomes a defining political issue for the political parties from this moment 0n.

        • harpie says:

          …and we can add this interesting coincidence:
 3:57 AM – 28 Jan 2019

          Trump lifted sanctions on close Putin ally Oleg Deripaska yesterday — and one of Deripaska’s companies promptly responded to the news by hiring a member of Trump’s transition team. >>> NYT: […] After the sanctions were officially lifted, EN+ announced the appointment of seven new directors under the deal, including Christopher Bancroft Burnham, a banker who served on Mr. Trump’s State Department transition team and worked in George W. Bush’s State Department.

        • Jockobadger says:

          You are dead on target, Norskie, esp. about Venezuela.  It makes such a juicy target for DT et al to divert attention (and grab all that beautiful, wonderful oil.)

          This Commentariat has a lot of folk with their thinking-caps on and I appreciate it, but JHC.

    • harpie says:

      I’m more and more convinced that Mueller is going to find nothing more than what we already know

      I’m pretty sure Mueller has already found more than we know.

      • P J Evans says:

        Considering all the redactions in the indictments so far, hell to the yeah, Mueller has already found more than we know. (We may not find out everything for 50 or 70 more years, if ever.)

  14. bmaz says:

    I hate Trump with fantastic intensity, but if Mueller had something big we should have heard it by now. 

    Baloney. This case has moved at a very fast rate and it takes time to get to the top in conspiracy cases. Could you end up being right? Sure, But just blithely saying “we’d know it by now” is silly, and runs contrary to the apparent legal and factual arc Mueller has taken.

    • Reader 21 says:

      I’d have stronger language than baloney—but 100% right.  Mueller has moved at amazing alacrity, for something this complex and far-reaching.  The poster also makes other equally problematic assumptions not borne out by the facts.  It reads like some finely spun bs to me.

      • hccarey says:

        Marcy is a comp lit scholar, and I’m well aware of the strengths and weaknesses of close reading. Like I said, I would be happy to be wrong.

        But don’t dismiss my opinion as bullshit simply because it’s not something you want to read.

        • emptywheel says:

          I’m a complit PhD with 14 years experience covering Robert Mueller and other legal/NatSec issues who has read about 10 fiction books since I left academics.

          And bmaz is a defense attorney.

          I’m happy to have well-argued counterviews.

          Want to try to make yours one?

        • bmaz says:

          I was dismissive because it is contrary to the known evidence, indictments and other legal pleadings, and legal posture of the case at every turn.

        • Alan says:

          > if Mueller had something big we should have heard it by now

          I believe you have concerns, but that statement is simply wrong.  The investigation, and just as importantly, the development of the evidence, are clearly ongoing.  If Mueller had something big, it would premature to release it before he had all his ducks in line.  We don’t know how much more he has, but more likely than not, there is something substantial yet to come.  We will find out in due course.  The idea that “we should have heard it by now” is wrong.

    • Luke says:

      I agree with bmaz. If there is urgency to do somethingx then that is a political problem, not appropriate to a legal or counterintelligence investigation. Impeachment is the political remedy. That is now a possibility. Personally, I don’t see a need to wait for Mueller to start impeachment hearings. This is becoming a more and more popular opinion by the day.

      • Rayne says:

        Welcome back to emptywheel and thanks for your comment. This is your third username at this site; please use the same one each time you comment so that community members get to know you.

  15. Alan says:

    @ emptywheel

    Stone was definitely involved in “activities which are part of the same alleged criminal event”, and those are the subject of the false statements, obstruction and witness tampering for which he has been charged (which at minimum would go to the question of the materialness of his false statements) so the two cases would seem to fit that part of the “related case” criteria. To state it another way, if one defendant is charged with a robbery, and a second defendant is charged with obstruction and witness tampering related to the investigation of that robbery, wouldn’t it make sense to consider those to be related cases?

      • Alan says:

        The difference maybe is that Stone had direct contact with the defendants in 18-cr-215 (when they were collectively operating under their “Guccifer 2.0” persona), and had direct contact with their co-conspirators Wikileaks et al (who possibly have already been indicted under seal in a case that might also be marked related). In contrast, Papadopoulos had no direct contact with the defendants in 18-cr-215; he was charged for lying about contacts with unrelated Russian connections (for political connections and business opportunities, not dirt on Clinton and the DNC)

        • pseudonymous in nc says:

          Though as EW noted on the twitters, public integrity prosecutor Jonathan Kravis is on the Stone case, and he’s also on the Internet Research Agency case. If the troll factory and the hacking brigade crossed paths, there’s a good chance it was in Florida.

  16. Mulder says:

    The Assange reference is intriguing, Marcy (again). You suggested that his eventual release and arrest was a (key?) part of the puzzle.

    I listened to this interview with Robert Wright from December 2018 and the Assange mention is in the last 20ish minutes or so. Apologies but the editor is malfunctioning so I can’t get the link to work.

    Robert Wright interviews Marcy Wheeler December 10, 2018 will get you there in your fave search engine.

    [Link to video without cookie here: /~Rayne]

  17. Hops says:

    Parts of the GRU indictment tie into the Stone indictment, IMO. A certain person and senior members (plural) of the campaign.

    …the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer
    2.0, wrote to a person who was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign
    of Donald J. Trump,

    I also noted the Wikileaks wasn’t just acting as an outlet, but actively engaged in the campaign:

    Organization 1 added, “if you have anything hillary related we want it in the next
    tweo [sic] days prefable [sic] because the DNC [Democratic National Convention]
    is approaching and she will solidify bernie supporters behind her after.” The
    Conspirators responded, “ok . . . i see.”

  18. Savage Librarian says:

    Not understanding the difference between the case being before ABJ,
    Beryl Howell or Dabney Friedrich. Can someone please explain? Thanks!

    • Avattoir says:

      Asking for some “one” to respond may be far too ambitious. I can foresee views diverging on this.

      I do not now work, no have I plied my trade more than a very few times, in that particular district court. But comparing to what I’ve seen working in others, the role of the chief judge between includes to features the responsibility for assigning work to the court’s various members.

      Sometimes – in my experience, this happens a lot with quite well-meaning responsible chiefs – the chief judge will keep a case for herself because it looks potentially novel or offbeat and she’s just as soon keep the weird stuff away from her stable of specialists. Or sometimes she might choose to herself keep a particular aspect of a flock of cases headed her court’s way, in hopes of gathering a more efficacious impression about the demands the flow is likely to make on the courthouse in her charge. Either or both of those motives would suffice to explain the actions of chief judge Beryl Howell in this saga.

      It can turn out that some judicial assignments were not quite the product of sober calculation as many supposed at the time. The chief of a court stuffed to the brim of former political types, whacked out academics, desk commanders etc, but regrettably short in those with trial experience, may think to assign a particular judge simply because he or she has squawked and kicked up a big fuss about wanting to finally hear one a them criminal type cases like on the teevee. Sometimes the chief will foresee a given case bringing peculiar demands that Judge X or Y has some expertise in but it turns out, no, that was misjudgment, or as time worked on the case its turning point emerged as located elsewhere which no one coulda foreseen.

      So I GUESSING here, but if I’m in the position of chief judge Howell and that GRU case comes to may attention for assignment, and I’ve ALREADY allocated Judge ABJ to handle as much of this Mueller stuff as she can bear, but this GRU beast looks like it could well hold the potential to screw up my general plans for ABJ, then it makes all the sense in the world to assign the GRU thingee to some other member of the court.

      • Alan says:

        I’m not understanding how this relates to the note on the case file that the newly filed case Roger Stone 19-cr-18 was assigned to ABJ because it is related to the existing case Netyksho, et al 18-cr-215


        Roger Jason Stone, Jr. 19-cr-18 ABJ
        Viktor Borisovich Netyksho, et al 18-cr-215 ABJ
        Internet Research Agency, et al 18-cr-32 DLF
        Alex van der Zwaan 18-cr-31 ABJ
        Richard Pinedo, et al 18-cr-24 DLF
        Michael T. Flynn 17-cr-232 RC
        Manafort, Gates & Kilimnik 17-cr-201 ABJ
        George Papadopoulos 17-cr-182 RDM

        • NorskieFlamethrower says:

          Hmmmm, the point is a winner: advantage Alan. Isn’t this fun?!! And we’re still in a game in the first set!

        • Alan says:

          lol–I’m not trying to win any battles–just trying to understand, and maybe contribute a little if I can to our crowd-sourced knowledge…

        • Avattoir says:

          Go ahead and ‘win’ if you can, so long as it helps advance our understanding I give no fks for ego damage because facts and truth don’t give fks about egos.

          But I’m not sure you caught my point, which is quite possibly maybe likely my own fault.

          What I’ve been trying to explain is that there are human being over in the court houses trying to do their best at their jobs. And sometimes, in trying to be as clever and resource-conscious as possible with the limited authority and power granted them, the folks who work in court houses, tho bearing no evil intentions to anyone nor especially good intentions either except in the doing of their jobs, will apply rules of thumb or systems to, say, the handling of related files, which a superficially clever and read deeply into the long range effects of the case on their court house, yet still Get. It. Wrong., or other-think the thing, or screw-up with guessing This case is another A when it’s not another A, or another anything.

          I’m suggesting you – well, a lot of us here – may be looking for Great Import in a Bureaucratic Decision, when we don’t even know the basis on which or the facts of how that “decision” came about, in a context where very often no thinking of any great depth is even required.

        • Alan says:

          ok, maybe–the Court in general is a stickler for paperwork however, and since the local rules specify that for a related-case assignment at this stage there must be paperwork in the form of a written submission by the prosecutor indicating that Stone is related to 18-cr-215, my guess is that paperwork does exist.

          It’s looking most likely that Stone was assigned to ABJ because the prosecution filed the form designating the case as related to 18-cr-215.  It looks to me like there’s a sound basis for that designation in the facts we already know, or maybe the prosecution also factored in facts we don’t yet know.  Perhaps alternately the prosecution simply wanted the case assigned to ABJ because they like how she’s been handling things, so they filled out and filed the form.  Maybe we’ll find out more, maybe we won’t ;-)

      • chicago_bunny says:

        The chief judge of the federal district court for the District of Columbia does not have the kind of discretion you describe.  In the ordinary course, cases are assigned to the next judge in line to take on such a case.

        An exception is made where the new case relates to an existing case.  The conditions under which cases might be considered related are stated in the post.

        One way that a case can be related to a prior case is if the prosecutor who files an indictment so indicates when opening the new case with the court.  If the defendant disagrees, s/he has 14 days to lodge an objection.  There are also circumstances where the parties could determine later that the case relates to another, in which they case the attorneys are to notify the judges and opposing counsel.

        You can see the court’s rules here:  For normal assignment, look at LCvR 40.3 on page 53.  For the definitions of “related cases,” look at LCvR 40.5(a) on page 55.  For who may designate cases as related, and how the designation may be challenged, look at LCvR 40.5(b) on page 56.

        • Alan says:

          > For who may designate cases as related, and how the designation may be challenged, look at LCvR 40.5(b) on page 56.

          Thanks for the citation.  Note it’s not who “may” designate, it is who “shall” designate.

          – At the time of returning an indictment the United States Attorney shall indicate, on a form to be provided by the Clerk, the name, docket number and relationship of any related case pending in this Court or in any other United States District Court.

          – Where the existence of a related case in this Court is noted at the time the indictment is returned or the complaint is filed, the Clerk shall assign the new case to the judge to whom the oldest related case is assigned.

        • Avattoir says:

          That’s a rule that’s either generally found among federal district courts or else is generally adhered to.

          It is NOT, however, a rule that’s actually in any practical conflict with what I described above.

          It COULD be that my perspective on how some of the courts go about assigning  ‘certain’ types of case is screw by the sort of case that featured in my practice for about a quarter century: criminal, large, goes on for months if not years, lots of defendants, lots of attorneys, lots of court resources used up.

          I don’t invent or make these sorts of cases, and never have; but they do tend to find the same folks as legal counsel, again and again (or at least did during those years).

        • chicago_bunny says:

          I don’t know where you practice, but I’ve not known the federal district courts where I practice to “get creative” with case assignments.

        • bmaz says:

          There is nothing “creative” about it. Clerks’ offices try to be efficient and assign similar cases to the same judge. This is a daily and proper thing.

        • bmaz says:

          Hahaha, yeah, okay. You can squawk all you want and, as Avattoir notes, still not have pointed out anything inconsistent. The case is assigned to ABJ, get over it. And you are FAR underestimating what clerks offices and court administrators do to streamline their courts. Cases of first impression go on the wheel. This is not that, it is common as to facts, circumstances and at least one of the parties. How it got there really does not matter.

        • chicago_bunny says:

          Who’s squawking?  I’m reporting the rules and my experience.  Evidently, your mileage varies.  This situation seems to fit squarely within what the rules contemplate anyway, so I don’t know why we are even speculating about what a clerk might do.

          I see no problem with the case being assigned to ABJ, and thus feel no need to “get over it.”

          How it got there certainly matters, though. The prosecutor’s decision to connect these two cases from the outset means more to me than a clerk’s view on judicial economy.

        • bmaz says:

          Yeah, sorry, I still think the caterwauling over this is nuts. And if you do not think overworked and maxed out district courts should do what they can, and have discretion as to clerical duties, to do as even you seem to now admit is consistent, then that is truly depressing. Glad to see your admission there is nothing nefarious here though.

        • chicago_bunny says:

          I have no idea what I wrote that could be read to suggest I believed the assignment was nefarious. From the available information, it appears entirely by the book, which is the point I was trying to make by citing the court rules.

  19. Trip says:

    There have always been at least two possible end games for the Mueller investigation. He could uncover evidence of a widespread criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russians to influence the election. Or he could conclude that the campaign’s numerous documented interactions with Russians seeking to help Trump win were not criminal, but people close to Trump lied to cover up those interactions because revealing them would have been politically devastating.

    I mentioned this the other day, but Chuck Rosenberg had, in response to a similar opinion, postulated that it is also possible that there were separate and discreet conspiracy operations going on simultaneously (rather than a centralized general conspiracy).

    If you look at Putin/Kremlin, this is precisely the type of framework he operates in. There are satellite nests of organized crime units with no direct link to the Kremlin (and by design). They not only work for self enrichment, but for a cut or benefit to the Kremlin. (This was not in Chuck’s theory, but I have read about this in different places). Further, it is possible that all of this outreach and coordination with Russians et al was a case of a “family” already knowing what Daddy wants and likes, in other words, the established culture of an organization by norms set above, already spoken or acted upon in the past by the top. And really, none of those sentiments were nuanced or subtle. Trump literally asked Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails. How can the motive then be “politically devastating” when Daddy already called on Russia publicly and was actively promoting Wikileaks? (Meanwhile one branch or satellite of the organization is still negotiating for development in Moscow). Giuliani intimated that this activity could have gone on all the way up to the election.

    Maybe Trump thought he was running a con on Russia and other states, where he could foment business ties and agreements while campaigning and then collect on them, after losing (Bannon looked for apparatuses for change, not necessarily requiring a win, either). But the Kremlin et al played a better con on Trump, actually assisting the hard right in a win, thereby being able to collect their part of the coordination, instead. But really, with the complete and total disregard for the emoluments clause, I have to wonder if internal gov’t oversight would have made such a fuss if he had succeeded on that to completion. (Look at the DC hotel, and also all of the extreme exceptions made for security clearances).

    • Gerard Plourde says:

      Recent reports have indicated that the internal apparatus was operating appropriately vis a vis security clearances but rejections were overruled by the White House. Is there someone besides Tump who would have that authority? (Cabinet official, Pence?)

    • NorskieFlamethrower says:

      “Maybe he thought he was running a con on Russia and other states…” Uhm, no but I think your description of the complexity of Putin’s criminal operation is absolutely spot on. Russia has owned the Dumpster since at least 1985 and would let him operate on his own motivations as long as it served the larger goal which is, of course,  capturing the US flag.

      • Trip says:

        I agree. That point about “the (potential) Trump con” on the Kremlin was a response to a segment of people who believe that Trump NEVER actually wanted to win (which is debatable), but wanted to make his brand more important. No doubt Trump was doing satellite work for the Kremlin, for years.

    • Thomas says:

      If you look at Putin/Kremlin, this is precisely the type of framework he operates in. There are satellite nests of organized crime units with no direct link to the Kremlin (and by design). They not only work for self enrichment, but for a cut or benefit to the Kremlin.  

      Further, it is possible that all of this outreach and coordination with Russians et al was a case of a “family” already knowing what Daddy wants and likes, in other words, the established culture of an organization by norms set above, already spoken or acted upon in the past by the top. And really, none of those sentiments were nuanced or subtle. Trump literally asked Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails. 

      This is a stellar observation. It fits the Russian mafia/Russian state template, and it also fits the Trump Organization/Russian mafia template.

      EW made a similar observation about the way the Joint Defense Agreement/Omerta is used.  It’s an organized crime structure (in this instance).

      I myself made another analogy about the means of communication in the conspiracy

      Person A to Messenger A1. Messenger A1 to Messenger B1. Messenger B1 to Person B.

      Then Person B answers. Person B to Messenger B2. Messenger B2 to Messenger A2. Messenger A2 to Person A. Different intermediaries back and forth.

      There can of course be more intermediaries, and more networks of intermediaries. That’s why: Papadapoulos AND Page AND Manafort AND Don Jr AND others.

      It’s an organized crime case. The conspiracy may not be a centralized operation.

      Guiliani recently said that unless Mueller could prove that Trump was involved in the email hack, there is no conspiracy. That’s preposterous of course. If one part of the organized crime structure is involved in covering up the crimes of another part of the same structure, then both parts conspire in the same crimes. One after the fact and the other before.

      Even if Mueller merely proves that Trump et al consistently covered up for the Russian interference, he has still proven a conspiracy to commit the original crime.

      There is not a “pure obstruction” case.

  20. Trip says:

    Alan says:
    January 28, 2019 at 7:59 am

    if Mueller had something big we should have heard it by now

    That is also difficult to believe within the context of one individual, Flynn. He cooperated and pleaded (pled?) guilty to a lowly charge of lying (or whatever it was specifically). Meanwhile, the judge, looking at all of the evidence of what he was not charged with, had an absolute conniption.

  21. HCCarey says:

    “And bmaz is a defense attorney.

    I’m happy to have well-argued counterviews.

    Want to try to make yours one?”

    No. I think what’s going on here is close reading to try to bring about an outcome you want to believe is true; that is, I think the method is problematic. For what it’s worth, I’m a historian for a living and not unused to timelines and evidence and careful argument. Parsing one or two words in a sentence is useful and often revelatory: I completely agree. But the parsing has been going on for a while and the whale has yet to surface. As Foucault put it. “truth is the product of the system of beliefs designed to produce it.”

    Once again I will be so happy to have been wrong, if that’s the case. I will accept any gloating anyone wants to deliver

    • BobCon says:

      You can’t keep saying you agree with the need for close analysis and then offer none yourself.

      Simply saying “the whale has yet to surface” is not close analysis. It’s less than nothing. What’s happening is you’re trying to wave away arguments supported by evidence as feelings because you have nothing but feelings yourself.

      Give specifics as to why this is too long — why is 19 months too long for a major criminal case with many multinational players and domestic figures with unique legal protections? For example, the vastly simpler corruption investigation of former Governor Bob McDonnell started 14 months before the indictment was handed down.

      The amount of time Mueller has spent to investigate and gain convictions of major figures is very fast relative to a number of cases of this size and complexity. Compare it to major international crime cases and show how an investigation and prosecution of this length is somehow an extreme outlier. You can’t.

      This doesn’t prove Mueller will obtain more, but it’s impossible to accept your feeling as anything more than a feeling unless you want to offer some kind of evidence beyond feeling it should be over by now.

    • emptywheel says:

      I’m a reader of legal filings by practice.

      With a damned good track record.

      And if your historian training leads you to believe I’ve been parsing individual words in isolation, I worry.

    • Avattoir says:

      How come you don’t show anything, but instead just offer quotes and bromides? I mean, I’d never pretend to put myself in the category of Marcy or even as a ‘trained historian’, but I do have a history minor from an undergrad life lived half a century ago, with papers written and original research and even a thesis, and ther’ve actually been some opportunities to put that sort of thing to work in a number of court settings (which I most certainly seized, at least arguably with unseemly enthusiasm). So these generalisms aren’t remotely ‘fresh’ or ‘new’ even to relatively untrained me. But they’re just the START of true critical thinking, and speaking just for me, I just don’t get the least sense of confidence from what you’ve posted that you’ve got anything remotely in the way of close reading or critical thought behind them.

      Prove me wrong!

    • Hops says:

      Just a reminder of a few things:

      Mueller recently got his grand jury authorization extended for another 6 months (the max).
      “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you can find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.”
      If Mueller implicates Trump, and/or indicts his immediate family, it will create a political firestorm.

      If you have to admit, #2 is a really strange thing for a U.S. presidential candidate to say. That Trump knew what Stone was up to seems like the obvious root cause.

      • Alan says:

        Of course Trump knew what Stone was up to–they spoke on the phone frequently during the campaign.  Proving that however is the hard part, and that might be what the Special Counsel is working on…

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Strunk & White is your friend; you might find it revelatory.

      As a historian, you would want to review more histories of prosecutions of top politicians, their patrons, and mob bosses.  They take years.  Much of the work is hidden from the press and public.  It is difficult to document crimes when so much work is devoted to hiding them.  Key witnesses are compromised by their own involvement or because they and their families are in danger.  It is always dangerous work trying to hold power to account.

      Lawrence Walsh, for example, spent seven years (1986-1993) investigating the Reagan-Bush Iran-Contra scandals.  He was actively opposed by the administration, and stone-walled by the CIA.  He obtained a handful of convictions, some of which were upset on appeal.  George H.W. Bush, in effect, ended the investigation by pardoning the usual suspects shortly before leaving office.  He thereby also protected himself.

      By that standard, Mr. Mueller is highly successful and moving at great speed.

    • Jockobadger says:

      As Foucault put it. “truth is the product of the system of beliefs designed to produce it.”

      Nonsense.  So the truth is whatever a group or party or tribe decides it is?  That makes the “truth” awfully malleable, doesn’t it?  Except the truth, the real absolute inalienable truth isn’t malleable at all, is it.

      Edward Abbey said “Better a cruel truth than a comfortable delusion.”

      Mueller’s working on getting to the cruel truth and it’s not the one dreamed up by DT the tool and his russkie handlers.

  22. BobCon says:

    I recognize that the seizure of Stone’s electronics could have happened with a warrant and without his arrest, but I’m ignorant of another issue.

    Does Stone’s indictment give Mueller’s team the authority to impose additional monitoring requirements on him, such as listening to phone calls and reading emails? Or is that something that only comes into play if he is under confinement?

    Or is it a moot point, and Mueller has probably obtained a warrant for that kind of surveillance already?

    • chash12 says:

      I would lean towards OSC having gotten a surveillance warrant for Stone some time ago; otherwise, they sure left him ample time for him to destroy stuff by not raiding sooner.

  23. Trip says:

    HCCarey says:
    January 28, 2019 at 8:22 am

    What do you make of the judge’s reaction to the evidence not charged in the Flynn case? If your argument is that if something big happened, we would have seen it, how does that explain what we haven’t seen in regard to his case? Some people were calling it a mere “process crime”, while the OSC commended his early cooperation and his ability and persuasiveness to get others to do the same? That means that Flynn wasn’t an individual rogue operator in respect to his exposure.

    • Avattoir says:

      This is gibberish.

      Oh, don’t tell us now that you’ve been PRETENDING to academic standing but actually TROLLING, cuz my poor little libtard brain might esplode.

      • Trip says:

        Is that in response to my comment or to what HCCarey said?

        I wasn’t trolling at all. I was just trying to demonstrate to HCCarey that we haven’t seen everything, even in cases where people have already been charged, made pleas, and await sentencing. Clearly the judge in the Flynn case was appalled at what he saw (that we didn’t) behind the agreement.

        • Alan says:

          cause you copied-and-pasted “HCCarey” which included the invisible “start bold” formatting code in front of his handle. Solution: paste into a text editor (that doesn’t support formatting), then copy again before pasting into the comment form

        • bmaz says:

          In fairness, updates have made a LOT of formatting junk appear now in comments that never used to. It annoys even me. And it has been the case for a little while now, not sure when started.

        • William Bennett says:

          This damned and accursed habit of every app wanting to preserve formatting when you cut/paste is so infuriating, the more so because it seems like some idiot algorithm or coder’s idea of being helpful. I. Have. Never. ONCE. Wanted. This. Feature. It is always a PITA.

        • Greenhouse says:

          I think Avattoir is riffing on your calling BS on Carey:

          PRETENDING to academic standing but actually TROLLING

          where “academic standing” refers to the historian bit. Please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong Avattoir. Trip, your response to Carey  is a little confusing in that makes it seem like it was his post.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Yep, absolute nonsense.  It is not an accurate description of how Mueller or any top prosecutor of, say, a mafia don would act.  It is one more delusion for the Don to live on.

  24. MattyG says:

    Going back to last week’s Rudi performance for a moment. Granting the popular theory that RG antics are intended to prepare the public for the more damaging allegations in the offing, his “hacking the DNC is the only crime you could do here” comment was getting out in front of the “…was directed by a senior campaign official…”, the charge involving the priamry crime and not the (yawn) coverup.

    DT is in the loop then, at least to the extent of knowing the contents of an imminent indictment. But if there’s validity to the notion that recovery of Stone’s digital devices played a meaningful role in the indictment, Rudi may have done more than just PR work here – signalling to those close to the conspiracy to get their house in order since something big was dropping – as implausible as it might sound. St. Peter may have something to say here.

    You’d think DTs people could find a more effiicient way of communicating to Stone to wipe his devices clean (or whatever needed to be done), but Stone is probably watched very closely. And suggestions that Mueller moved very quickly end of last week to to secure the arrest/search hints that they determined Stone had been tipped off.

    • Jockobadger says:

      MattyG – So then RG was signaling Stone (and others?) to start wiping/destroying devices because DT/RG et al, had just been tipped off by BDTS (because he has to approve the warrant to bring in Stone?)

      So the Mueller team seeks approval of the warrant, giving BDTS how much time to squeal to DT before the search and arrest warrants are executed?  24, 48, 72 hrs?

      Is there any thought that maybe BDTS is more malleable than Barr and that’s why they moved when they did?

      Thanks all.

      • MattyG says:

        Can’t say. What struck me about Rudi’s performance was just how really bonkers it was – practically a personal on air confessional. Has he finally stared into the abyss?

        Rudi’s used the “…it’s the only crime you would have here…” line before (last summer?) which I take to be what team DT thinks is the worst politically survivable indictment that can be made – DTs hands on the Wikileaks stuff.

        But just admitting to that is saying there’s a whole lot more. EW’s take on the Stone indictment reinforces the notion even more.

    • BobCon says:

      One thing I’ve been trying to puzzle through is whether it would make sense at this point for Stone to trash his electronics.

      He may well be in a situation where he needs a lot of the data, possibly for his defense. He doesn’t know what the Feds may have gotten by other means, and wiping his records may run the risk of taking information useful to his defense off the table. He may also need his records for other business he doesn’t dare screw up. And if he wants to get a good deal from Mueller, being able to offer a Rosetta Stone is probably worth something. Partial deletion of data is dicey — serious forensic experts tend to be able to undelete.

      Obviously, he may be in a situation where the evidence is bad enough that he should have gone ahead and just trashed it all. In that case, Stone may have screwed up. But I’m not 100% sure that trashing the data isn’t something that is more important to Trump than it is to Stone.

      • Rayne says:

        I’m going to point out again, no offense, that SCO is running both criminal and counterintelligence investigations.

        Destruction of data may not be the only reason for the raid. Disruption of ongoing communications affecting the investigation’s outcome may also be a reason.

        • BobCon says:

          I tend to lose track of the CI side, but you’re right that it needs to be in the picture. I wonder now if part of the reason Stone didn’t get arrested sooner is somewhat similar to why Joshua Schulte didn’t get his cell phones taken for a long time while he was locked up.

          It also only dawned on me now that Stone probably has a much bigger exposure to charges in state courts than most of the major players. I’m curious whether Mueller is holding off on Kristin Davis related stuff to keep Stone guessing about that angle. His electronics may also be important to crimes in NY state.

        • Rayne says:

          Yeah, Stone’s indictment included charges under VA state laws (and DC regs, IIRC). I don’t understand this stuff well enough to know why VA state didn’t place their charges under a separate indictment — Trump can’t pardon those.

        • chicago_bunny says:

          I don’t see any Virginia or DC violations charged in the Stone indictment.  (Here for reference:

          Are you thinking of something else?

  25. Savage Librarian says:

    I’m placing my bets on Marcy, bmaz, and Rayne. For me their reasoned arguments are compelling.

    But beyond that, they provide hope. If I believed in free will, I would choose to be an optimist and feast on hope. It seems the only logical choice.

    I watched a TED presentation by a physician who has documented the final days of Thousands patients in hospice.
    What he discovered, analyzed, documented, graphed, etc. is that what was once thought to be dementia or craziness shortly prior to death IS NOT. It actually is a profound and fundamental sense of hope and gratitude.

    Wonder what Foucoult would say about that?

  26. SICK says:

    Assange had more than 80 visitors  in the seven weeks leading up to the release of hacked Democratic party emails by WikiLeaks  These included RT’s London bureau chief, Nikolay Bogachikhin, who is Russian, and Afshin Rattansi, who is a British citizen. Specifically, employees of the Russian broadcaster made several visits to Assange at Ecuador’s embassy – on 4, 8, 10, 17 and 23 June 2016, according to visitor logs.

    Presumably, Ted Malloch has been interviewed on air by Afshin Rattansi.

    Corsi told the Guardian that Malloch met with Corsi and Stone in in late February or March 2016.

    So could it be that the hacked DNC Podesta information went from Assange to RT to Malloch to Corsi to Stone and back…?

    Seems plausible to me.

  27. Drew says:

    @HCCarey etc. It seems to me that what we already know and can surmise conservatively IS a pretty big deal. Mueller consistently is tying together many things that weren’t previously tied down, and there’s no reason to believe he won’t tie down many more (including many things he already has plenty of not-yet-disclosed evidence for).

    That said, it isn’t necessary that there be one single conspiracy, centrally planned (or at least, not centrally planned by a mastermind inside the U.S.) The differences between Trump and Nixon (and between Trump and Hitler, for that matter) is that Trump is not as smart and competent as Nixon. He’s a flunky that likes to dress up as king and fiddle around with the knobs on the control panel when he shouldn’t–he’s THAT kind of micromanager.

    The conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and its elections is pointing clearly toward Manafort through his Ukranian-Russian connections. Stone through Guccifer, etc, Trump clearly was seeking approval & connections with Putin–he has wanted Putin’s sponsorship from way back. There is always evidence that Trump will do what it takes to get his desires & criminality is fine with him as long as there is advantage. He doesn’t need to have been the central planner, or even aware of all the major pieces for this to be a VERY big deal (& crime & indictable offense & had Obama arranged for a declaration of war over the Russian-Crimea-Ukraine stuff, it would be clear cut treason, though absent a war, it is only treacherous betrayal of the country, violating laws that it would take a lawyer to enumerate.)

  28. Kevin says:

    I can’t say I’m convinced by the “related case” bit. The emails he was trying to get are the same ones that that indictment charged the theft of.

    “Nice work,” on the other hand, seems more interesting. That said, including it is still consistent with either theory of the Stone indictment.

  29. Mel says:

    Long time follower, first time poster.  Fwiw my credentials are that I have a Ph.D. in Sociology and J.D. and currently practice as a lawyer.  Former assistant district attorney.  Based on my experience, I’m inclined to agree with those here arguing that Mueller possesses evidence of a conspiracy that he has yet to disclose in the pleadings.  He’s playing multi-dimensional chess.

    But these days have me thinking back to my readings of the Frankfurt school and critical theory.  I worry that even if Mueller has the conspiracy goods on D.T. or is on the brink of getting them, it won’t matter, because the identification of the Trumpian rabble with the narcissistic leader and their domination by the Fox culture industry has inured them and enough of the body politic to anything Mueller might eventually reveal.  Adorno, Fromm, Horkheimer etc. have taught us that facts and enlightenment rationality are weak weapons against false consciousness.

    • Rayne says:

      Yep, that’s a worry — the Trumpian base of “deplorables” have been inoculated by a lifetime of propaganda which built their false consciousness. Team Trump also uses inoculation combined with projection deftly as well, ex: pussy grabbing video inoculated against the pee tape revelation, which in turn inoculated against the Stormy Daniels’ revelations. These may not have been planned sequentially, but how they responded made each successive prurient reveal less taxing to the deplorables’ values framework.

      But as long as a solid majority aren’t members of the Trumpian base we may simply have to drag the minority along.

      Welcome to emptywheel, by the way.

      • MattyG says:

        Agree that the Trump base will simply have to be dragged along on this one. In the end it’s not about convincing everyone about everything.

      • Geoff says:

        Short Rayne : you can’t shame people with no shame.

        I’m fairly sure that you would have to have a live broadcast of Trump shooting multiple people before any of his hard-core base deserted him. And even then, many would just be like, “Wow, good aim. Hope you got a bunch of libtards.” I personally believe there is a pretty solid core of people that cannot be dissuaded in any way, and much of that is because it would be cause for too much self-reflection in people that cannot bring such scrutiny upon themselves and have spent their whole lives in disbelief of the criticisms of others.

        • P J Evans says:

          I’ve heard it described as the crazification factor. (Approx 27% of people will believe any given idea, no matter what evidence is presented against it. That’s the crazification factor.)

        • Rayne says:

          There’s not a lot of daylight between the crazification factor and the percentage of persons who are authoritarian personalities in the population (approx. 25-30% according to Bob Altemeyer).

          There’s a tool in front of us which might help insert daylight — new, genuine authority figures must be created to puncture the authoritarians’ belief in their current authority figures at the same time their existing flawed, faulty figures must be deprecated. Tricky stuff but Russia (and other countries) are already using this approach against us.

        • Peacerme says:

          He’d have to kill an innocent white republican. AND yet…The spin would shamelessly be that he thought the person was Mexican because they had black hair. “Come on, anybody could make THAT mistake! My intentions were right on target!!”

          Ugh. I can deal with crazy Trump.  My problem is the Republican Party colluding whole heartedly with the torture of innocent babies and children. I am still gob smacked and angry about it. My mission is to make certain that the facade of pro life is over. If I meet a pro lifer that put their name and money on the line to protect those babies at the border, that’s one thing, but if they did nothing, no letters, no phone calls, no donation, no march for those children at the border, God bless the person who tries to tell ME they are pro life.  Show me what you did to protect those children in cages and I might believe you give a damn about human life. I pray journalists do not forget this important distinction. The hypocrisy of the pro life movement has been blown to shreds. We all saw it in living color. You are not pro life if you did nothing to protect the children being separated, adopted out, or put in cages. And what do you want to bet about the pro lifers and whether they hit, torture and verbally abuse their own kids? I’d like to see THAT study!! I’ll just bet we find an authoritarian streak!

      • harpie says:

        A recent  thread by Jay Bookman began:

        The modern GOP has degenerated into a group of people who have agreed to tell each other and believe impossible but reassuring things, to the point that the willingness to eagerly believe all those impossible things has become the glue that holds a crumbling party together. 1/10 

        Retweeting it, Sarah Kendzior said:

        A description of a cult.

        The rest of the thread fits right in with the discussion taking place here.

        […] That’s how they’ve ended up in the grasp of Trump, a man unrivaled in his ability to pitch the impossible. […] The GOP has also created a formidable media machine to enforce that belief in the impossible, to ensure no doubt or skepticism can creep in. […]  it is their mutual willingness to keep believing the nonsensical that binds them together, that gives their movement meaning. If that falters, it all collapses. […]  

        • Rayne says:

          I’d laughed when I saw Kendzior’s tweet in my timeline — accurate. But I also think we’re looking at an organized crime syndicate which believes its defense is stronger if they stay together in an infantry square.

          We’ll just pick off the weak ones to break their square.

        • Herringbone says:

          Ugh. If you had to write a book about the current era, a good title would be “The Duckspeaker Next Door.” It’s epistemic and semantic closure, and yet there are ordinary people all around them. It’s Conehead 1984.

  30. OldTulsaDude says:

    Question OT: With the propensity of Individual-1 to use his personal phone, which allied countries might be listening in and could Bobby Three Sticks have that information? Secondly, with an ongoing counterintelligence investigation reportedly targeting the same person, could our own people be listening?

    • Jockobadger says:

      Captured by a Stingray?  I read awhile back that they are scattered around DC and environs.  Who do they all belong to?  Five Eyes maybe?  I bet some of them are FVEY’s so as to catch the bad guys comms too.  That would be soooo cool.

  31. Alan says:

    @ Mel

    I agree with you that Trump will be here until the next election *unless* the Republicans decide the benefits of getting getting rid of him outweigh the costs (primarily alienation of their base), and that will be an entirely cynical political calculation. That’s just the reality we live in I think, and no one can do anything about it (except maybe a few Russians who have access to secret pee tapes…). That notwithstanding, the truth must be uncovered and the perpetrators and those who give them cover must be held to account to whatever extent possible…

  32. Alan says:

    @ Rayne

    > I think the lifting of sanctions shows the conspiracy remains in motion.

    or whatever compromising leverage Putin has managed to acquire over Trump…

  33. John B. says:

    I’m not sure the existence and release of so called “pee-tapes” would sufficiently make the MAGA red hat crowd care much. They mostly want to inflict suffering on the “right people” and own the libs. They identify with the presidents* brand.

  34. Alan says:

    @ John B.

    a bombshell–especially one showing that Trump is compromised by the Russians–might not affect the base, but it would certainly have an effect on the Republican leaders in a position to decide whether Trump stays or is forced out

    • Hops says:

      Well, there’s Republican Leaders, there’s the base, there’s Fox, and then there are the big donors. I think the airport thing is what scared Trump — if people won’t fly to Vegas, Steve Wynn will be unhappy, among others.

      Fox tells their audience what they want to hear (not alone in that), but I think pressure can be brought to bear and Fox slowly starts telling the audience what to believe.

  35. Drew says:

    @Mel I agree about the impotency of enlightenment reason against false consciousness thing. This is why I think a tidy investigation with a few closely related counts against Trump & his close associates won’t be enough politically-esp. for effective impeachment. However, the shape of this case & the wide ranging referrals encourage me in the hope that Mueller is attacking Trumpworld more broadly & deeply. Money laundering in Bedminster, NJ is just as relevant as direct communications with Putin. This is both the take down of a crime family and a counter intelligence operation–it’s far less about any discrete linear conspiracy. I know that literally doing RICO is not the best advised plan for prosecutions and probably won’t be part of this, but attacking the ongoing criminal enterprises at various points of vulnerability may ultimately bring more truth to light & bring these guys, incl. Trump to justice, more than looking for any mythical “smoking gun”.

    • Alan says:

      and hopefully it will deter criminals from running for high public office in the future and/or using criminal methods to win office

      • Drew says:

        Yeah.  Good point.But criminals gonna crim and among them are those that don’t think things out very far ahead.

      • NorskieFlamethrower says:

        This is why the counter intelligence investigation must go on for at least another 5 years. It’s the only way we have a chance of bringing this Nazi coup down at least in this country and in the face of Russia’s international effort to immobilize western democracies and consolidate a new empire in the western hemisphere. We’re the last hope for history. Namaste patriots

  36. Savage Librarian says:

    @Avattoir, @Alan, @NorskieFlamethrower –

    “Not understanding the difference between the case being before ABJ,Beryl Howell or Dabney Friedrich. Can someone please explain? Thanks!”

    LOL. That was the best cheap thrill I had today. So, like many things in life, they’re caught between a crap shoot, a power struggle and a personality test. Or, something similar.

    • viget says:

      Yikes Trip!  If true, that’s a big find.

      I do think it interesting that the very day Stone is indicted, there’s a CNN story out there saying that he’s only just now gone back to his Friday night pizza w the fam habit. Did he get lulled into a sense of false complacency because he was so disappointed to have not gotten indicted earlier?

      Although, maybe the Trump folks were coming to warn him that he’s been indicted (via the BDTS Whitaker).  If that’s the case you’d think they’d be careful to watch what they say.  Maybe they communicated via boogie boards?

    • Savage Librarian says:

      So, what’s your guess on how long before the details are leaked? Hopefully sooner rather than later…

    • Rayne says:

      I must say this a couple times a day: I can’t believe our democracy was subverted so badly by such idiotic crooks.

      Wish I knew if Stone was entertaining these ‘associates’ while he was chatting online with Rick Perlstein just before 8:21 p.m.

    • harpie says:

      Thanks, Trip. Laura Rozen and Marcy are continuing the thought here:

      [lr]:think this is true. interesting. there have been reports that Trump has occasionally called Ruddy to talk to Stone [ew]: And if Laura’s right that Stone was talking to Ruddy, it makes Stone’s comments about what, specifically, Trump had said in his Mueller answers (yes, they were public, but Stone’s comments sounded a lot more pointed than that) more interesting.

      • MattyG says:

        LOL… going back to upthread comments about Rudi signalling to Stone… guess they *did* have more “efficient” means of communicating – even if under surveillance. Getting crazier by the hour.

  37. John B. says:

    Alan says above on what might make a difference with the Republican “leaders”: a bombshell–especially one showing that Trump is compromised by the Russians–might not affect the base, but it would certainly have an effect on the Republican leaders in a position to decide whether Trump stays or is forced out.  Ok, maybe, but my guess is they already know most of this narrative and likely a whole lot more than we know at this time, especially the so called gang of 8 top officials. You and me can see the broad outline and the main story lines so imagine what they already know. My guess is they already know the bombshell story. So, why doesn’t this matter enough? It must be a combination of two things; It hasn’t got hot enough for them personally yet and they are compromised too.

    • BobCon says:

      One point I read in a commentary on the Sunday NY Times article on Mitch McConnell had to do with the state of the modern GOP. The argument, which I am distilling, is that there are no leaders in the modern GOP except for McConnell.

      The funders and major interest groups have selected a generation that is only Rubios and Toomeys and Ryans. They have selected people who are emotionally and intellectually incapable of independent action. Even the few like Corker who can see some piece of what is happening are incapable of actually using power that they have.

      What I think that means is that there isn’t widespread compromise because it isn’t necessary. I also suspect that if the break comes for the GOP, it’s going to be a rapid collapse in the style of the Soviet breakup after 1989.

      We’re going to then need to be prepared for the rise of a domestic version of Putin.

      • NorskieFlamethrower says:

        “We’re going to then need to be prepared for the rise of a domestic Putin.” BINGO! You get the coverall. And the American Putin will come right out of the security state. Remember George H. W. Bush? The extent to which the professional civil service and security services have been hollowed out scares the skid marks out of my under ware. We have a very narrow path in the next 2 years, the only way the Republican Party gets blown up and the oligarchy reduced is to take the senate and the presidency in 2020.

    • Drew says:

      Far be it from me to suggest Republican leaders aren’t compromised, but current inaction may simply reflect waiting for the opportune time to throw Trump under the bus. They may indeed know bad stuff that is going to be revealed, but until it comes out and causes disarray among the party faithful they won’t have the cover to do what they will be forced to do.

  38. Jonathan says:

    Non lawyer here, but to my amateur eye this piece was interesting. Corroborates what MW, bmaz, Rayne say about the Stone prosecution being a slam dunk. OTOH, also says that Mueller won’t bother trying to flip Stone because as a self admitted professional liar and purveyor of disinformation, Stone would never make a credible witness.

    • BobCon says:

      The big quibble I have with that is that there are  different ways Stone could flip besides testifying.

      It’s possible he knows enough about Trump to provide productive leads into his finances, his schemes with cronies,  or provide other independently verifiable information. Gates was very valuable to Mueller even though his court testimony against Manafort was narrow in scope, and before this is over there may be others who avoid prosecution altogether by providing information without testifying at all.

      And as Rayne reminded me earlier, there is a counterintelligence component and in theory it’s possible Stone cuts a deal for time off in exchange for information on the Russians, although I suspect he may not have much value there anymore.

    • GusGus says:

      I agree with Bob that Stone can cooperate by providing information, rather than testimony.

      One place he could probably be able to help is with Jerome Corsi. Corsi is sticking with his “divine provenance” story for how he “knew” that Wikileaks was planning two more e-mail dumps. Corsi claims that he was able to deduce it from examining what had already been released and noting Podesta’s e-mails were missing.  And if you believe that ….

      By Corsi’s account Mueller leaned pretty heavily on Corsi to come clean but Corsi stuck with his story.  Corsi claims to have turned over all requested materials to Mueller, but strangely Corsi scrubbed one of his computers just before he was subpoenead and asked to retain his records. Corsi claims that the computer was scrubbed because he repurposed it giving it to his son-in-law. His son-in-law was in the Grand Jury last Thursday, and after this Mueller filed the indictment against Stone.

      Coincidence? Maybe. But it is more than likely that Stone could help Mueller better understand where Corsi got his information. Sure Corsi is a small potato, but no doubt that Mueller wants to tie up all the loose ends that he can.

  39. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Yep, Stone has been a major rat-fucker for so long, he would make the world’s worst cooperator. He might be a worse witness on the stand than Donald Trump.

  40. 2strange says:

    Longtime lurker here. Just curious, why was Stone so interested in emails from 8/20/2011-8/31/2011? (Benghazi happened in 2012) and why did Stone protect Corsi at the expense of Credico?  I apologize if this was discussed earlier.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Getting used to a guy like Stone is probably impossible.  Putting him on the stand creates a risk of suborning perjury and trashing your own case.  It’s unlikely he would be used in court against another target, but his information might be used in the parallel construction of a case against another target.

  41. GusGus says:

    One detail of the Stone indictment that I have seen very little commentary on is graf 11.

    11. By in or around June and July 2016, STONE informed senior Trump Campaign officials that he had information indicating [Wikileaks]  had documents whose release would be damaging to the Clinton Campaign.

    Match this against the public record of available information, specifically that the DNC announced that they had been hacked on June 14, 2016, and Wikileaks releasing the first trove of e-mails on July 22, 2016.

    So exactly when did Stone inform the Trump campaign that he knew Wikileaks had the e-mails?

    Stone’s information would not be all that revelatory if it came after July 22, 2018, after Wikileaks released their first batch.  It would not take a rocket scientist to assume that they had more e-mails to release.

    But did Stone know that Wikileaks had the e-mails before June 14, 2016? Before the DNC had announced that they had been hacked? If yes, how did Stone know this? Foreknowledge of not just the release of the stolen e-mails, but of the announcement that the e-mails were stolen in the first place is quite suggestive of conspiracy with the Russians.

    I am also curious why Mueller gave such a wide range for when Stone spoke to the campaign. “By in or around June and July 2016” leaves open a few different possibilities.  Mueller is leaving us, and I suppose others, hanging.

    • InfiniteLoop says:

      I’m very curious about this time period, myself. I commented on another thread that Mueller’s deliberate vagueness here could be covering something juicy.

      My wild speculation is a connection between the deal at the Trump Tower meeting and the handoff in late June of the leaking to a different Russian front with better publicity skills, aka WikiLeaks.

    • P J Evans says:

      Yeah, right.

      They’ve floated that one before, and it’s been wrong every time. The acting AG is, after all, one of Himself’s people and probably has a few skeletons that Mueller might run across.

  42. orionATL says:

    judge ellis ruled today that sentencing for paul manafort should be held off until the dispute over the quality of manafort’s pledged cooperation with sco has been determined:

    say what? – wasn’t the hearing before judge ellis today for that purpose?

    has ellis thrown another monkey wrench into mueller’s grinder?

    in other news :), another manafort hearing before judge amy jackson is scheduled feb 4 (para 5).

    can anyone tell me the “new” way to add a comment. “long-touching” reply and then selecting from the new screen, which worked for the last two year, no longer does since id’s were putbon top??.

    • bmaz says:

      No, the “quality of cooperation” issue is before ABJ. Ellis is just saying he will await that, and that is perfectly appropriate.

    • Ken Muldrew says:

      Re. reply:

      When a post is getting a lot of comments, the reply button won’t usually work but if you watch the “recent comments” in the right sidebar, up near the top of the page, and refresh often, as soon as a new person pops up in that sidebar, then reply will usually work if you get to it quickly. My best guess is that since the replies are nested, each one has a parent, but each new comment also has a 5 minute edit window where the comment can be deleted. If someone was entering a nested reply during the time when its parent was under that timer, and the person who posted the parent comment deleted the comment, then the reply would be an orphan and that would be messy. So WordPress probably disables the reply button whenever the edit timer is active (it’s a server-side timer to prevent hackers from taking over the comment section). By watching the recent comments window you can see when that timer expires (that’s when a new name appears in the window). A bit of a pain, for sure, but if you want your reply nested, that usually works (with all the traffic showing up here these days, the window between when an edit timer expires and a new one starts (consider, too, that there can be multiple edit timers going at the same time) gets shorter every day).

  43. pseudonymous in nc says:

    bmaz may be amused to learn that Roger Stone’s ace legal team fucked up their pro hac vice motions because they didn’t read the local rules. That’s sort of embarrassing.

  44. Taxidermist says:

    OT: A few white house reporters have said on Twitter that Individual 1 is joining Pence at his Trump International Hotel leadership PAC event tonight, where Roger Stone is reportedly staying.

  45. KM says:

    HCCarey: “As Foucault put it. ‘truth is the product of the system of beliefs designed to produce it.'”

    Not to rain further on your parade, but I’m also highly dubious that Foucault ever said any such thing.

  46. orionATL says:

    re  orionATL 01/28   7:08p

    the photo is current; it is not a file photo.

    probably connnected with today’s doj fraud charges against huawei, et al.

    that is not mueller news, but it seems like big news for the computer parts industry worldwide. we’ll see where it all actually leads.

  47. orionATL says:

    huawei server motherboards with tiny, mm high rectangular “evesdropping” chips embedded? that was one of the stories about huawei when this storm broke a couple or three months ago. truth or fiction? we’ll see.

  48. Troutwaxer says:

    Slightly off topic, but maybe some of the actual working lawyers can answer a question for me. I saw a claim on another site that ‘Trump can’t pardon a co-conspirator.’ This makes a certain amount of sense if you think in terms of something really obvious. If Bill Clinton and Al Gore had robbed a bank together in 1995, I doubt that anyone would have tolerated Clinton pardoning Gore for bank robbery. But for all the obvious logic, I don’t think the Constitution is written that way. Any thoughts from better legal minds than my own?

  49. anaphoristand says:

    @SICK  January 28, 2019 at 10:04 am

    If that were indeed the route the emails took (Assange to RT to Malloch to Corsi to Stone), it would seem like Wikileaks could feasibly be cut out of this particular path entirely, such that RT might well have received them directly from the hackers, before passing them on to Malloch. It’s purely hypothetical, but this or some other variant of Stone’s having circumvented Assange entirely would go a long way toward explaining his later manic obstruction.

  50. EWTRTW says:

    Is it possible that whether Stone quit or was fired, that he “officially” departed the Tяump campaign specifically, and with knowledge-and-forethought so that he could pursue illegal and/or politically untenable activities, including conspiring with Russians to subvert the election, without technically implicating Tяump and/or his campaign in such illicit activities?

  51. CD54 says:

    @earlofhuntingdon at 6:11 pm

    Sorry, I should have added Mob prosecutors (hey, that’s Mueller isn’t it?).
    But otherwise, that’s exactly what I was getting at.

  52. Hurltim says:

    “if Mueller had something big we should have heard it by now”–What exactly would that sound like?
    The DOJ is not going to indict a sitting President. The closest we have at this point is Trump’s Individual-1 moniker. Maybe a future “unindicted co-conspirator” once that particular conspiracy is laid out in court. There is the very real possibility we may never see Trump either directly or indirectly referred to in court documents.
    That doesn’t mean Mueller has no evidence of wrongdoing on Trump’s part. He may disclose a “Roadmap to Impeachment” ala Watergate style where all the evidence is laid on the table for congress and they can make the call.
    In reality, Mueller is the only one who knows.

  53. Thomas says:

    @ Troutwaxer:

    The president can pardon anyone for any federal offense, except in cases of impeachment.

    Necessarily, if the president is a co-conspirator in a crime, he is subject to impeachment for that crime, and therefore does not have the constitutional authority to pardon in that case.

    In a related story, the president stated publicly in 2018 that he could pardon himself, demonstrating that he doesn’t really have this presidenting thing down.

    In order to pardon himself, he would have to state what crime he was pardoning. Confessing such a thing, he would be subject to impeachment and thus, not have the authority to pardon in that case.

    An objection to my argument that another hypothetically stupid person might give, is that the president might try to pardon himself for any offenses without stating what they are.

    The president cannot constitutionally immunize himself from prosecution because the Congress has the authority to impeach him, prosecute him and convict him.

    If the president tried to issue himself a blanket pardon, he would be attempting to usurp the power of Congress, an impeachable offense, for which he does not have the authority to grant a pardon.

    I did repeated facepalms that journalists, lawyers, historians and political scientists did not make similar arguments to the ones I make above, in chorus.

    Presumably they would if His Ignorance actually attempted such things instead of just lying to masses of gullible supporters about it.

    • bmaz says:

      Your understanding of  the impeachment power is seriously flawed. Please do not feed garbage to this community. The Iran Contra pardons alone blow your last two comments out of the water. Maybe read up on that.

  54. Alan says:

    @ Troutwaxer

    This is all theoretical because it is not well-trodden ground. Trump can attempt to pardon anyone, including himself, but (a) it would be up to a court whether to accept the pardon, which would only be an issue if charges were pending against that person, or some prosecutor later attempted to file charges against that person; and (b) Trump would have to face the political consequences of the pardon, which might include being impeached; and (c) Trump might have to face potential criminal consequences of the pardon, which might include being prosecuted for obstruction of justice, if some prosecutor attempted to charge him for that.

    When things reach this level, its more like poker than chess, and no one can tell you exactly what will happen, they can just make arguments and lay odds.

  55. Savage Librarian says:

    @GusGus 5:03 –
    What could this graf from the indictment mean?

    11. By in or around June and July 2016, STONE informed senior Trump Campaign officials that he had information indicating [Wikileaks] had documents whose release would be damaging to the Clinton Campaign.

    Somehow, I think it might be related to this dinner meeting held on June 14. For context, read the entire article from The Daily Beast.

    GOP Lawmaker Got Direction From Moscow, Took It Back to D.C.
    Nico Hines
    07.19.17 1:00 AM ET The Daily Beast

    “Rohrabacher, Behrends, Akhmetshin, Veselnitskaya, and Matlock (Jack) had dinner together later that night at the Capitol Hill Club, a private members’ establishment for Republicans. The evening was organized by Lanny Wiles, a veteran GOP operative.”

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