The Disinformation Campaign Targeting Mueller and the Delayed Briefing to SSCI on Russian Election Interference

A lot of people are reporting and misreporting details from this Mueller filing revealing that it had been the target of disinformation efforts starting in October.

1000 non-sensitive files leaked along with the file structure Mueller provided it with

To substantiate an argument that Concord Management should not be able to share with Yevgeniy Prigozhin the sensitive discovery that the government has shared with their trollish lawyers, Mueller revealed that on October 22, someone posted 1000 files turned over in discovery along with a bunch of other crap, partially nested within the file structure of the files turned over in discovery.

On October 22, 2018, the newly created Twitter account @HackingRedstone published the following tweet: “We’ve got access to the Special Counsel Mueller’s probe database as we hacked Russian server with info from the Russian troll case Concord LLC v. Mueller. You can view all the files Mueller had about the IRA and Russian collusion. Enjoy the reading!”1 The tweet also included a link to a webpage located on an online file-sharing portal. This webpage contained file folders with names and folder structures that are unique to the names and structures of materials (including tracking numbers assigned by the Special Counsel’s Office) produced by the government in discovery.2 The FBI’s initial review of the over 300,000 files from the website has found that the unique “hashtag” values of over 1,000 files on the website matched the hashtag values of files produced in discovery.3 Furthermore, the FBI’s ongoing review has found no evidence that U.S. government servers, including servers used by the Special Counsel’s Office, fell victim to any computer intrusion involving the discovery files.

1 On that same date, a reporter contacted the Special Counsel’s Office to advise that the reporter had received a direct message on Twitter from an individual who stated that they had received discovery material by hacking into a Russian legal company that had obtained discovery material from Reed Smith. The individual further stated that he or she was able to view and download the files from the Russian legal company’s database through a remote server.

2 For example, the file-sharing website contains a folder labeled “001-W773.” Within that folder was a folder labeled “Yahoo.” Within that folder was a folder labeled “return.” Within the “return” folder were several folders with the names of email addresses. In discovery in this case, the government produced a zip file named “Yahoo 773.” Within that zip file were search warrant returns for Yahoo email accounts. The names of the email accounts contained in that zip file were identical to the names of the email address folders within the “return” subfolder on the webpage. The webpage contained numerous other examples of similarities between the structure of the discovery and the names and structures of the file folders on the webpage. The file names and structure of the material produced by the government in discovery are not a matter of public record. At the same time, some folders contained within the Redstone Hacking release have naming conventions that do not appear in the government’s discovery production but appear to have been applied in the course of uploading the government’s production. For example, the “001- W773” folder appears within a folder labeled “REL001,” which is not a folder found within the government’s production. The naming convention of folder “REL001” suggests that the contents of the folder came from a production managed on Relativity, a software platform for managing document review. Neither the Special Counsel’s Office nor the U.S. Attorney’s Office used Relativity to produce discovery in this case. [my emphasis]

It sounds like Mueller’s office found out about it when being contacted by the journalist who had been alerted to the content on Twitter.

But before Mueller asked Concord’s trollish lawyers about it, the defense attorneys — citing media contacts they themselves had received — contacted prosecutors to offer a bullshit excuse about where the files came from.

On October 23, 2018, the day after the tweet quoted above, defense counsel contacted the government to advise that defense counsel had received media inquiries from journalists claiming they had been offered “hacked discovery materials from our case.” Defense counsel advised that the vendor hired by the defense reported no unauthorized access to the non-sensitive discovery. Defense counsel concluded, “I think it is a scam peddling the stuff that was hacked and dumped many years ago by Shaltai Boltai,” referencing a purported hack of Concord’s computer systems that occurred in approximately 2014. That hypothesis is not consistent with the fact that actual discovery materials from this case existed on the site, and that many of the file names and file structures on the webpage reflected file names and file structures from the discovery production in this case.

Without any hint of accusation against the defense attorneys (though this motion is accompanied by an ex parte one, so who knows if they offered further explanation there), Mueller notes any sharing of this information for disinformation purposes would violate the protective order in the case.

As stated previously, these facts establish a use of the non-sensitive discovery in this case in a manner inconsistent with the terms of the protective order. The order states that discovery may be used by defense counsel “solely in connection with the defense of this criminal case, and for no other purpose, and in connection with no other proceeding, without further order of this Court,” Dkt. No. 42-1, ¶ 1, and that “authorized persons shall not copy or reproduce the materials except in order to provide copies of the materials for use in connection with this case by defense counsel and authorized persons,” id. ¶ 3. The use of the file names and file structure of the discovery to create a webpage intended to discredit the investigation in this case described above shows that the discovery was reproduced for a purpose other than the defense of the case.

Update: Thursday evening, Mueller submitted another version of this clarifying that the @HackingRedstone tweets alerting journalists to the document dump were DMs, and so not public (or visible to the defense). The first public tweet publicizing the dump came on October 30, so even closer to the election.

Shortly after the government filed, defense counsel drew the government’s attention to the following sentence, which appears on page nine of the filing: “On October 22, 2018, the newly created Twitter account @HackingRedstone published the following tweet: ‘We’ve got access to the Special Counsel Mueller’s probe database as we hacked Russian server with info from the Russian troll case Concord LLC v. Mueller. You can view all the files Mueller had about the IRA and Russian collusion. Enjoy the reading!’” Defense counsel pointed out that this sentence could be read to suggest that the Twitter account broadcast a publicly-available “tweet” on October 22. In fact, the Twitter account @HackingRedstone began sending multiple private direct messages to members of the media promoting a link to the online file-sharing webpage using Twitter on October 22. The content of those direct messages was consistent with, but more expansive than, the quoted tweet to the general public, which was issued on October 30. By separate filing, the government will move to file under seal the text of the direct messages. The online file sharing webpage was publicly accessible at least starting on October 22.

I’m not sure it makes the defense response any more or less suspect. But it does tie the disinformation even more closely with the election.

The Mueller disinformation was part of a month-long election season campaign

This thread, from one of the journalists who was offered the information, put it all in context back on November 7, the day after the election.

The thread shows how the release of the Mueller-related files was part of a month-long effort to seed a claim that the Internet Research Agency had succeeded in affecting the election.

Update: This story provides more background.

Other signs of the ongoing investigation into Yevgeniy Prigozhin’s trolls

Given how the Mueller disinformation functioned as part of that month-long, election oriented campaign, I’m more interested in this passage from the Mueller investigation than that the investigation had been targeted. Mueller argues that they shouldn’t have to share the sensitive discovery with Yevgeniy Prigozhin because the sensitive discovery mentions uncharged individuals who are still trying to fuck with our elections.

First, the sensitive discovery identifies uncharged individuals and entities that the government believes are continuing to engage in operations that interfere with lawful U.S. government functions like those activities charged in the indictment.

To be sure, we knew the investigation into Prigozhin’s trolls was ongoing. On October 19, just days before these files got dropped, DOJ unsealed an EDVA complaint, which had been filed under seal on September 28, against Prigozhin’s accountant, Alekseevna Khusyaynova. Along with showing Prigozhin’s trolls responding to the original Internet Research Agency indictment last February, it showed IRA’s ongoing troll efforts through at least June of last year.

Then, in December, Concord insinuated that Mueller prosecutor Rush Atkinson had obtained information via the firewall counsel and taken an investigative step on that information back on August 30.

On August 23, 2018, in connection with a request (“Concord’s Request”) made pursuant to the Protective Order entered by the Court, Dkt. No. 42-1, Concord provided confidential information to Firewall Counsel. The Court was made aware of the nature of this information in the sealed portion of Concord’s Motion for Leave to Respond to the Government’s Supplemental Briefing Relating to Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss the Indictment, filed on October 22, 2018. Dkt. No. 70-4 (Concord’s “Motion for Leave”). Seven days after Concord’s Request, on August 30, 2018, Assistant Special Counsel L. Rush Atkinson took investigative action on the exact same information Concord provided to Firewall Counsel. Undersigned counsel learned about this on October 4, 2018, based on discovery provided by the Special Counsel’s Office. Immediately upon identifying this remarkable coincidence, on October 5, 2018, undersigned counsel requested an explanation from the Special Counsel’s Office, copying Firewall Counsel on the e-mail.

[snip]

Having received no further explanation or information from the government, undersigned counsel raised this issue with the Court in a filing made on October 22, 2018 in connection with the then-pending Motion to Dismiss. In response to questions from the Court, Firewall Counsel denied having any communication with the Special Counsel’s Office.

This was a bid to obtain live grand jury investigative information, one that failed earlier this month after Mueller explained under seal how his prosecutors had obtained this information and Dabney Friedrich denied the request.

What this filing, in conjunction with Josh Russell’s explanatory Twitter thread, reveals is that the Mueller disinformation effort was part of a disinformation campaign targeted at the election.

Dan Coats doesn’t want to share the report on Russian election tampering with SSCI

And I find that interesting because of a disturbing exchange in a very disturbing Global Threats hearing the other day. After getting both Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and FBI Director Christopher Wray to offer excuses for White House decisions to given security risks like Jared Kushner security clearance, Martin Heinrich then asked Coats why ODNI had not shared the report on election tampering even with the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Heinrich: Director Coats, I want to come back to you for a moment. Your office issued a statement recently announcing that you had submitted the intelligence community’s report assessing the threats to the 2018 mid-term elections to the President and to appropriate Executive Agencies. Our committee has not seen this report. And despite committee requests following the election that the ODNI brief the committee on any identified threats, it took ODNI two months to get a simple oral briefing and no written assessment has yet been provided. Can you explain to me why we haven’t been kept more fully and currently informed about those Russian activities in the 2018–

Chairman Richard Burr interrupts to say that, in fact, he and Vice Chair Mark Warner have seen the report.

Burr: Before you respond, let me just acknowledge to the members that the Vice Chairman and I have both been briefed on the report and it’s my understanding that the report at some point will be available.

Coats then gives a lame excuse about the deadlines, 45 days, then 45 days.

Coats: The process that we’re going through are two 45 day periods, one for the IC to assess whether there was anything that resulted in a change of the vote or anything with machines, uh, what the influence efforts were and so forth. So we collected all of that, and the second 45 days — which we then provided to the Chairman and Vice Chairman. And the second 45 days is with DHS looking, and DOJ, looking at whether there’s information enough there to take — to determine what kind of response they might take. We’re waiting for that final information to come in.

After Coats dodges his question about sharing the report with the Committee, Heinrich then turns to Burr to figure out when they’re going to get the information. Burr at least hints that the Executive might try to withhold this report, but it hasn’t gotten to that yet.

Heinrich: So the rest of us can look forward — so the rest of us can then look forward to reading the report?

Coats: I think we will be informing the Chairman and the Vice Chairman of that, of their decisions.

Heinrich: That’s not what I asked. Will the rest of the Committee have access to that report, Mr. Chairman?

[pause]

Heinrich: Chairman Burr?

Burr; Well, let me say to members we’re sort of in unchartered ground. But I make the same commitment I always do, that anything that the Vice Chairman and myself are exposed to, we’ll make every request to open the aperture so that all members will be able to read I think it’s vitally important, especially on this one, we’re not to a point where we’ve been denied or we’re not to a point that negotiations need to start. So it’s my hope that, once the final 45-day window is up that is a report that will be made available, probably to members only.

Coming as it did in a hearing where it became clear that Trump’s spooks are helpless in keeping Trump from pursuing policies that damage the country, this exchange got very little attention. But it should!

The Executive Branch by law has to report certain things to the Intelligence Committees. This report was mandated by Executive Order under threat of legislation mandating it.

And while Coats’ comment about DOJ, “looking at whether there’s information enough there to take — to determine what kind of response they might take,” suggests part of the sensitivity about this report stems from a delay to provide DOJ time to decide whether they’ll take prosecutorial action against what they saw in the election, the suggestion that only members of the committee (not staffers and not other members of Congress) will ever get the final report, as well as the suggestion that Coats might even fight that, put this report on a level of sensitivity that matches covert actions, the most sensitive information that get shared with Congress.

Maybe the Russians did have an effect on the election?

In any case, going back to the Mueller disinformation effort, that feels like very familiar dick-wagging, an effort to make key entities in the US feel vulnerable to Russian compromise. Mueller sounds pretty sure it was not a successful compromise (that is, the data came from Concord’s lawyers, not Mueller).

But if the disinformation was part an effort to boast that Putin’s allies had successfully tampered with the vote — particularly if Russia really succeeded in doing so — it might explain why this report is being treated with the sensitivity of the torture or illegal spying program.

Update: I’ve corrected this to note that in the end the Intelligence Authorization did not mandate this report, as was originally intended; Trump staved that requirement off with an Executive Order. Still, that still makes this look like an attempt to avoid admitting to Congress that your buddy Putin continues to tamper in US elections.

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. 

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133 replies
  1. P J Evans says:

    The inference I’m drawing from the Coats-Heinrich exchange is that Coats doesn’t think everyone on the committee can be trusted with this kind of information. (Looking at the list of members in the last session, I can see several that could be very questionable on this.)

  2. BobCon says:

    So can someone explain how much hot water Concord’s lawyers are in? Can Mueller send FBI agents after them, or is the more likely outcome a stern talking to (yelling) from the judge?

    This also sure doesn’t sound like something coming from an investigation that is finishing up in the next few weeks.

    • Alan says:

      I suspect their client leaked the info, or it was legit stolen, so I don’t think the lawyers are in any trouble at all.

      • e.a.f. says:

        yes, their client most likely did leak the information, but it would be reasonable to conclude the lawyers expected that.  Now if that is the case, could they not be charged with conspiracy of some sort.  It wasn’t as if their clients were ever going to show up for trial.  Understanding the concept of every one has a right to the best legal defence they can buy, you still have to wonder………..You some times have lawyers arrested along with their criminal clients, right, they’re all criminals, but more the old type criminals, that wind up in jail regularly, mobster, etc.  O.k. these clients are what I would refer to as political gangsters, different from drug, etc. gangster.

      • bmaz says:

        Alan is right. The attorneys may get some heavy side eye and a stern admonishment from the court, if that.

      • Silence Hand says:

        “legit stolen”.

        Just turning that one around in my head.  Quite a time we’re living in.

        More to the point, the court can’t know if the person picking the lock was a client- and attorney-supervised locksmith, or just a wholesome legit thief.  Shouldn’t the court have to act with assumption of the former?  I mean, type II error and all?

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    NPR had one of its typical stories today about, this one about Yevgeny Prigozhin. It spent a lot of time calling him Putin’s “chef.” His companies once catered Putin-sponsored events. The homey description left a false impression, despite the later laundry list of his businesses, including the IRA and a mercenary outfit.

    Comparable coverage would describe Casey Ryback as a ship’s cook or Al Capone as a whiskey distributor. What’s left out is more important than what’s covered. Mr. Prigozhin is, by all accounts, a powerful oligarch, a sometime favorite of Vladimir Putin, whose operations have incurred US sanctions. He may, at times, be a gofer for more powerful oligarchs or a chef, but he’s an oligarch.

    I would tell NPR to up its game, but I’m still trying to keep a few New Year’s resolutions about having unreasonable expectations.

    • BobCon says:

      Listening to NPR these days is like watching an anthology TV show from the early 1960s when you realize some writer originally wanted to tackle a meaningful subject, except the standards and practices department blocked them from any direct mention of the civil rights movement, mixed race couples, mixed race workplaces, Senator McCarthy, premarital sex, marital sex, nuclear threats, working married women, marijuana, rock and roll, the blues, and a thousand other subjects, leading the show to be some mystifying allegory stripped of any clearly identifiable theme beyond people being mean to other people for no clear reason.

      NPR has gotten to the point where the anchors don’t actually say anything in response to information provided by reporters — they literally say nothing more than a non-commital “huh” and then move on.

      Yes, you are right to have no higher expectations for them, ever. The dumb camera on C-SPAN with a permanent fixed focus on a single lectern on the floor of the US House has more insightful analysis than anything on NPR.

      • Silence Hand says:

        YES!

        I’ve been on a major media diet, and just listened to All Things Considered last week for the first time in about 5 years.  Holy crap!  It’s like anchors’ brains have been converted to deep-fried Styrofoam(tm)

    • Tech Support says:

      FWIW, I had no idea that he got that from running some catering operations. I always assumed it was some kind of euphemism to imply that he was “in the back, where he couldn’t be seen, cooking stuff up” for Putin, so to speak.

  4. oldoilfieldhand says:

    Briefing the Trump administration on sensitive intelligence may be a good way to seed some disinformation that the Russians will or have acted upon. Has it already happened? Will the members of the SSCI be made aware of the counter-intelligence operation? Will it even matter?

  5. Flachbau says:

    Maybe OT but am I to understand that according huckasand everyone is lying because it’s gods will?

  6. pseudonymous in nc says:

    Good good spot on the SSCI hearing.

    It’s quite something that non-sensitive discovery appears to have been sent to the troll factory to get the troll factory treatment, then leaked in a way that pretty much broadcast who did it. Wheels within wheels.

    That new filing has Deborah Curtis listed again: she was on the ex parte in camera motions and status hearings in late Dec / early Jan. She was also on the Butina case, but that’s probably just because she’s a natsec / counterintel litigator, not because there’s any direct connection.

  7. Sam Penrose says:

    Regarding “The FBI’s initial review of the over 300,000 files from the website has found that the unique “hashtag” values of over 1,000 files on the website matched the hashtag values of files produced in discovery”: “hashtag” in this passage sounds like a malapropism for “hash”, which is a software term of art. You “hash” a file to get a mathematical fingerprint of the file’s contents. If someone has, say, deleted one word in a legal document of 50,000 words, the document’s hash will change, altering you that something is different even if you wouldn’t notice just by skimming them. In this context, the presence of many files with identical hashes in two different document repositories is strong circumstantial evidence that those repositories had overlapping sources.

    • Pete says:

      /assume on

      If these files are copies of original digital files then might they have specific metadata that would reveal their origin?  Or some other kind of “marking” that would ID them?

      /assume off

      • Sam Penrose says:

        Yes, they might have such metadata. One more detail: hashing is typically done on files “from the outside”, meaning that the metadata (such as tracked changes in a Word file)  is part of the input to the hash. If you and I typed two letter-for-letter identical Word files, they would likely produce different outputs when hashed, because the metadata that Word stores within the file (but out of sight in normal display modes) would probably differ. I am not an expert on common file formats, so take this with a grain of salt.

        • Bruce Olsen says:

          I understand Paul Manafort runs a side business managing file metadata–specializes in PDF files.

          Get the file before you pay him, is my advice…

        • Tech Support says:

          Your extrapolation of how the metadata would impact the hash is correct. The hash is derived from the entire file regardless of purpose of one chunk of data vs. another.

        • andy says:

          Very likely true, depending on the format.  Typical “document” formats like MS Office files have a fair bit of metadata built into the documents (author, last printed date, some info about the host computer it was created on, etc.) that affect the hash.  Further, I just tried hashing a word doc, then made no changes but re-saved, and the hash was different after.  That said, basic formats like csv, raw text, etc. should have identical hashes as long as the interior contents are the same.

          * source:  I’m a software developer

  8. skua says:

    If I was a well resourced client seeking to get access to material released by the US government to my lawyers, I’d have my lawyers’ computers hacked in readiness before they received the information I wanted.

    • maestro says:

      Their attorneys were ordered to keep sensitive material only on machines not connected to the internet. So unless they’re disobeying the court’s order hacking the lawyers won’t accomplish anything.

  9. pseudonymous in nc says:

    EW: Curtis was only listed for the arraignment, but Maddow noted it at the time. It’s a weird docket because there wasn’t a huge amount of active litigation other than custody/bond stuff and a few half-hearted bits of lawfare:

    https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/7457752/united-states-v-butina/

    So it’s hard to know what role Curtis might have played in the case had Butina chosen to contest the charges.

    (Jason McCullough entered an appearance with Concord but didn’t appear in filings; he was, however, listed with the Skadden settlement.)

  10. Trip says:

    P J Evans:
    January 30, 2019 at 8:53 pm

    I’m very confused about this since they already said that they submitted a report to Trump. I would have thought the risk of briefing the committee would have been passing along details to Trump. I guess I don’t comprehend what they are conflicted about.

    But the unchartered territory comment, was that after someone asked about Trump talking to Putin with no US witnesses, that Coates said he would discuss in a closed session? If they had determined that the Russians changed votes in the election and if Trump played any role, is that something that they would actually report to Trump? Or if they determined (sans Trump) that the Russian did somehow change the outcome, why would they be inclined to tell him, but not the committee?

    Unless some on the committee was involved?

    • Avattoir says:

      Depends on what “determines” means in USG intel community speak. I doubt it’s meant in absolute terms; rather, I think we’re likely looking at a lot of data, from a variety of sources, using different scales, all reporting to an establishment insider conservative pol used to such things expressed in relative terms.

      If I’m DNI, then I’m ‘of’ that world – a world without any of the artsy fartsy libtards, hippies, losers & socialists that feature in my own world. If I’m partisan (we all are) and I know it (tho even I, or especially I, don’t realize how MUCH my partisan bias skews my judgment). I have countless endless meetings about data gathering. I read and review lots and lots of memo on data at least some of which is open to interpretation. I hear and read a lot of differently-expressed even diametrically opposing judgments expressed on that data.

      If that’s who I am, I’m going to be very reluctant to express my own conditioned, nuanced summary judgment on any of that – and ESPECIALLY not on the hot medium of TV, which I know my #1 customer watches constantly, with the half-baked passion of an ignorant near-illiterate obsessive, unfortunately reling on it almost exclusively for his views.

      I’ll take him barely hearing or mostly unable to process a third party report to him on what I said in closed session, over him watching & listening to me do it live on his TV screen, with his optics-addled brain and junk food temperament burbling up his own distemper-ed judgment.

  11. Thomas says:

    One of the salient details I’ve taken away from the Concord/SCO disinfo reports:

    The assertion that not only were SCO materials improperly appropriated and disseminated, but that they were altered.

    I’ve said before…this is also a feature of the Wikileaks Clinton email dumps.
    The 2016 campaign Wikileaks email dumps were curated. That is, summaries giving bite-sized interpretations of the contents of the email dumps were provided, and that’s what everyone read. GOP message crafters, MSM journalists and Russian trolls: They all went with the messages told by the summaries, and didn’t check whether the emails supported the claims in the summaries.

    A similar operation may have been used for this SCO materials disinfo campaign. Clinton herself stated that the emails dumped on Wikileaks were doctored. Altered.

    By examining HOW the Wikileaks email summaries were composed and HOW the emails were altered, we can gain insights about WHO curated the email dumps. It was probably NOT Assange, or Russians.

    When I ask HOW? I am not talking about mechanics, but content. My guess: a GOP operative.

    Who visited Assange? Did they take a flash drive of the emails, search through them and craft the summaries and create the fakes? Then deliver the curated material back?
    And why assume Assange had the emails? Wikileaks has other operatives in other locations.

    My observation is that a content analysis of the Wikileaks dumps and the Concord dumps can narrow the pool of people who were involved.
    My hypotheses is that the most interested and motivated actors are Americans who are assisting the Russians with curation of these materials.

    Russian trolls acting from the safety of Russia have no urgent need to derail the SCO.
    But for Trump and his GOP operatives, it is a dire necessity.

    Given the continued effort by Trump operatives to cover up for the Russian hackers (Seth Rich, eg), does it not make sense that Trump/GOP operatives could be assisting a Russian disinfo campaign NOW?

    That salient detail: that the SCO materials were altered: it is a feature common to the Wikileaks curation of Clinton email dumps.

    The kind of analysis I am suggesting is not novel. Look at the analysis of the Shadow Brokers messages. It was concluded that the author of those messages was an English speaker trying to pretend to be a Russian.
    Content analysis. What message was intended by altering the SCO materials? Where has that message appeared previously?

      • Trip says:

        Marcy, since they wrote “certain materials”…appear to have been altered, would that refer to the folders online which were not labeled in accordance with the OSC’s typical numerical/lettered state? Or does it refer to other junk added in, (and maybe the docs themselves were left untouched)?

      • Alan says:

        Quoting from page 2 of the Special Counsel’s memo:

        “The subsequent investigation has revealed that certain non-sensitive discovery materials in the defense’s possession appear to have been altered and disseminated as part of a disinformation campaign aimed (apparently) at discrediting ongoing investigations into Russian interference in the U.S. political system.”

        Page 10:

        “the dissemination of the link to the webpage via a Twitter message claiming to provide access to “all the files Mueller had about the IRA and Russian collusion” and the fact that the webpage contained numerous irrelevant files suggest that the person who created the webpage used their knowledge of the non-sensitive discovery to make it appear as though the irrelevant files contained on the webpage were the sum total evidence of “IRA and Russian collusion” gathered by law enforcement in this matter in an apparent effort to discredit the investigation.”

        • emptywheel says:

          If the hashes matched, the documents themselves were not altered. The contents within the file structure were.

          • santacruzjeff says:

            That’s a distinction without a difference. As Mueller noted:
            The use of the file names and file structure of the discovery to create a webpage intended to discredit the investigation in this case described above shows that the discovery was reproduced for a purpose other than the defense of the case.

            • Tech Support says:

              Selective omission and/or featuring of content in order to shape a predetermined narrative? They do that on “reality” TV all the time.

              Who would possibly have familiarity with that sort of thing?

              (Yes I know that’s a spurious correlation but I enjoyed making it.)

  12. Rusharuse says:

    Learnings . .

    Christie in touting his book says: Trump fired Flynn because he lied to Pence, Flynn on his own initiative spoke to Kislyak, Trump knew nothing of this.

    Thanks for clearing that up, Guv!

  13. Thomas says:

    Christie was fired before the Kislyak incident, so he can’t have firsthand info, right?
    Since Kushner had Christie fired, and Kushner was involved in Trump Tower, Digital campaign, and the “back channel” issue, it is likely Kushner kept the Russia conspiracy a secret from Christie (but not from Pence.)
    So Christie tells us what Trump or Pence told him about Flynn’s firing? Yawn.
    When the truth comes out, perhaps we will have yet another reason to ignore Christie for the rest of his life?

    • Trip says:

      One can only hope that Christie disappears. The MSM is giving him way too much legitimacy because they want the goods on Trump’s staff. Christie is a liar like Trump, but better at it. He was a world-class bully, too. He’s also a major kiss-up, which is how he got the state AG to begin with (no experience, but campaign donations to Bush). Notice his choice of over-familiarity with people: Robert Mueller is “Bob”. Christopher Wray is “Chris”.  He’s just so desperate to namedrop as an important insider. I realize Wray was his attorney (who ended up in possession of his long missing phone), but there is still an element of disrespect in his use of all ‘nicks’.

      • Trip says:

        Addendum: and two people are headed to prison for Christie’s culture of retribution (whether explicitly directed or as a generally known course of action that would please the bully boss). I think the former although it was not prosecuted.

        • Trip says:

          Yes, NJ State Attorney. That’s when he prosecuted Charles Kushner, Jared’s father. But a sidenote: Kushner was a major Democratic donor around this time period.

          • Trip says:

            There was some speculation from reporters that C Kushner was blackmailing NJ Gov McGreevey about his affair with the Israeli (introduced to him by Kushner) Golan Cipel (hired by McGreevey), and then McGreevey resigned and came out as gay at the same time.  Cipel denied the affair.

          • bmaz says:

            Ahem. By my recollection, there was an awesome graphic attached to that post. There are a lot of things, including graphics, that did not transfer over in our old posts when we moved from FDL to our stand alone home here.

  14. Raph Levien says:

    Sam Penrose above is correct (I’m having trouble with the site, the “reply” button does nothing). This stood out to me and seems surprising, as ordinarily I think of the Mueller team as having a clue and getting terminology right. A “hashtag” is metadata to aid discoverability of content, while a “hash” in this context is a shorthand technique for determining whether two files are byte-for-byte identical in content.

  15. obsessed says:

    Here’s something new on ye olde mystery appellant mystery:

    https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/chrisgeidner/mystery-company-law-firm

    If I’m reading it correctly (never a guarantee of that!) it seems to confirm that:

    1. It’s definitely Mueller-related

    2. It’s definitely (right wing federalist dude) Brian Boone of Allston & Bird representing the mystery company

    I still don’t understand the timeline – whether SCOTUS is deciding whether to take the appeal and when and how we might find out what’s going on.

  16. greengiant says:

    maestro says:
    January 30, 2019 at 11:15 pm “not connected to the internet”…

    Maestro do I have a stuxnet or even a Windows XP directed virus for you or various other methods to hack a computer “not connected” to the internet.

  17. pizza says:

    Good morning all – first time poster here, only recently stumbled upon this digital bastion of hope. Marcy & Co., you’re true patriots – the way Americans were intended by the founders.
    I haven’t seen anyone post this by the Daily Beast. Not sure if it’s of much importance, I’m just a guy trying to keep up with history, but it’s pretty interesting. The sleaze of the The Don and gang literally knows no limit. We think they can’t possibly go any lower, and there they go again proving us wrong.
    FWIW:
    https://www.thedailybeast.com/mueller-witness-team-gamed-out-russian-meddling-in-2015

    • bmaz says:

      Welcome to Emptywheel. Join in often! Note also, in that story, that Zamel and Wikistrat’s attorney is Marc Mukasey. Who is Rudy Giuliani’s longtime partner, first at Bracewell, and then at Greenberg Traurig.

  18. Mitch Neher says:

    It’s possible that Putin’s long-range strategy might be to discredit the several US sanctions regimes against Russia by showing us how many of our own people can be too easily corrupted by the seemingly endless opportunities for bribery, graft and other forms of rent-seeking expropriation.

    (I’m not in favor of lifting nor easing the sanctions against Russia. But there may, someday, be more people who will favor ending the sanctions by drawing a weak analogy between the effect of sanctions and, say, drug interdiction efforts, for instance, upon official corruption in the US. IIRC, there were calls for lifting the sanctions on Iraq and Saddam Hussein in the years shortly before the September Eleventh attacks.)

    • Rayne says:

      there were calls for lifting the sanctions on Iraq and Saddam Hussein in the years shortly before the September Eleventh attacks.

      Uh, what would the sanctions on Iraq and Saddam Hussein have to do with 9/11?

      Forget it, never mind. I didn’t ask.

      • Dave says:

        We each only have so many fucks to give.

        Don’t forget their past lies, but we’ve got to triage right now.

        • Rayne says:

          Which is why I said never mind.

          I don’t want to ignore tiny little insertions of fallacies, though, because we do get trolls intent on using disinfo to mess with the commentariat here or deliberately mess with the site’s credibility.

          In summary, I’m here to give fucks about this site. Carry on.

          p.s. Don’t forget you’ve used a different username when you commented for the first time on the 28th. Please use the same one all the time. In your case having a popular given name, your original and more specific username might be better. Thanks.

          • Mitch Neher says:

            Can you please explain to me what it is that you think I wrote? Or who you might think I am? I’m pretty sure that you’ve got me wrong.

  19. pizza says:

    bmaz says:
    January 31, 2019 at 6:20 am
    “…that Zamel and Wikistrat’s attorney is Marc Mukasey. Who is Rudy Giuliani’s longtime partner”

    – the mud thickens

  20. skua says:

    @maestro
    I’m very open to their lawyers having deliberately released material.
    It’s just that if they didn’t then things are more interesting in that baring accidental release then deliberate covert action is in play. (Weeeeeee, spies! Sorry I’ll return to being +50 years now.)

    • bmaz says:

      Yeah, I dunno about that. A blind eye? Maybe. But actively and deliberately is a different bar to clear. And a surefire career ender. So, we shall see, maybe, but I dunno about that.

    • Trip says:

      If the US lawyers’ excuse is that the docs were hacked at the server of the lawyers in Russia, doesn’t this mean that they already released material that they weren’t supposed to (non-sensitive, but they weren’t supposed to disseminate outside of the US, in the first place)?

      • Alan says:

        I haven’t looked back at the order itself, but it sounded to me from the Special Counsel’s recent filing that the non-sensitive discovery was not forbidden from leaving the US.  The only part of the discovery order that would have been violated (if this was done by the client or its attorneys instead of being legit stolen) was to use the material for a purpose other than defending itself in court.

        • SteveB says:

          See p11 of filing : the non-sensitive discovery is restricted to authorized persons who are not permitted to copy or reproduce it in any way except etc.

          Thus it is not merely use for some other purpose which is prohibited, it is

          1 allowing unauthorized persons access to the information, and

          2 copying or reproduction beyond what is strictly necessary to the permitted purpose

          which are both prohibited as precursors to the restriction on unauthorized use.

          • Alan says:

            Again, what you cite would only be a violation of the order if it were done by the defendant, it’s attorneys or an “authorized person”, rather than it being legit stolen.

            If anyone wants to be argumentative and post their opinion that the defendant or its attorneys deliberated leaked that info, go ahead, I don’t care, but to make that accusation in court, you would have to have sufficient evidence to back it up.   You can vent on the internet all you want, but there’s very different than what happens in a United States court of law.

            • Trip says:

              Alan, this is a dumb question, but I’ll ask simply for clarification:

              Under these discovery rules, was it permissible to transmit the non-sensitive data to lawyers in Russia?

              or

              Is the defense denying that they ever transmitted documents anywhere, while also asserting they were never hacked, but somehow it ended up on the internet?

              • Alan says:

                FYI, it’s not a discovery rule that’s at issue, it’s a discovery order (this terminology is used to distinguish the Rules of Procedure from court orders).

                Again, I haven’t gone back and read the order, but from the Special Counsel’s memo, it sounds like all persons who had access to even the non-sensitive discovery had to be approved by the court.  The order appeared to place no restrictions on where the information could be sent or copied to, just who could have access to it and for what purpose.  So if the persons were approved by the court, and it was done for the purpose of defending against the charges, then from what I’ve seen, it would not be a violation of the order.

                • Tech Support says:

                  Apologies for the hair splitting follow-up question, but with respect to the intersection between “storage and transmission” and “who had access,” where do the IT people fall into this space?

                  So for example if a law firm owns a server, and the firm’s server administrator has access to everything, then does the administrator need to be explicitly identified and approved, or is that implicit if the admin is an employee/contractor/hired vendor of the lawfirm? Any precedent on where third party hosting (aka “the cloud”) falls into this?

            • SteveB says:

              I have argued no such thing.

              Indeed on p11-12 of the filing the SC notes that “this contravention is likely to go unpunished”. And given that they go on to suggest that in relation to sensitive material a bare minimum restriction would involve restricting the viewing of material to take place in the presence of counsel, that would suggest SC is not accusing counsel of mishandling the non-sensitive material.

  21. pizza says:

    It’s frightening if you let yourself think about all the possibilities Putin has and will have to do real damage to our country. And that asshole Chump is helping him. At the very least, he’s succeeding in injecting chaos and massive mistrust into an already distrustful population. At worst, he could have a nasty surprise for us if and when Chump is impeached and our leadership most vulnerable. I hope the intelligence community sets a trap for his sorry ass and he gets truly exposed. It boggles the mind to think we are even discussing this crap about our own president.
    The world is getting an up-close view of the real Don in all his slimy glory. And he’s so stupid he truly believes that everyone admires and respects him. HA!

  22. Trip says:

    Wow. The defense’s initial explanation of where the docs came from is some truly disingenuous shite:

    Defense counsel advised that the vendor hired by the defense reported no unauthorized access to the non-sensitive discovery. Defense counsel concluded, “I think it is a scam peddling the stuff that was hacked and dumpedmany years ago by Shaltai Boltai,” referencing a purported hack of Concord’s computer systems that occurred in approximately 2014. That hypothesis is not consistent with the fact that actual discovery materials from this case existed on the site, and that many of the file names and file structures on the webpage reflected file names and file structures from the discovery production in this case.

    Clearly they were lying, as they seem to be competent layers otherwise.

  23. Alan says:

    > > Defense counsel concluded, “I think it is a scam…
    > Clearly they were lying…

    They were lying about what they thought?

    IMO, they were clearly trying to minimize it, and blame someone other than their client (which is their job), but I don’t think they were lying–they had just not at that point investigated and analyzed the material to the extent that the Special Counsel ultimately would.

    • Trip says:

      Fair enough. Benefit of the doubt, I guess. I’m just not buying it, but no way to prove it was calculated rather than misinformed.

  24. orionATL says:

    i’ve been feeling what i sense is trip’s impatience, so i’ll say this:

    i think it is about time the federal judiciary, i.e., the judges, who are dealing with the many cases of the mueller investigation, some of which appear “domestic” and some of which appear “international”, i.e. russian distuption and then retaliation efforts, started treating all cases in these two categories in the same way they treated domestic terrorism cases in the prior decade – that is with no benefit of the doubt for defendants and speedy trials.

    this might address the business-as-usual, if not the languor, with which the judiciary has treated these cases to date.

    the russian/republican assault on the american electoral system is NOT being treated with the obvious seriousness it merits by either the federal judiciary or the non-fake-news media.

    • Alan says:

      Yes, good idea.  Let’s do it like Russia and simply assassinate people we don’t agree with–no trial or evidence needed.

      </snark off>

      Seems to me the federal courts have taken all of the cases and controversies filed extremely seriously.  The last thing we need is a lynch mob mentality.

      • BobCon says:

        Well, maybe not Ellis….

        But in general, I think the judges are right to be very purposeful in the way they are handling these cases. And I think this works to the advantage of Mueller’s team in the long run.

    • Trip says:

      orionATL, (FWIW) I agreed with Alan’s benefit of the doubt position, even if, personally, I wasn’t convinced.

      • Savage Librarian says:

        Plus we wouldn’t want anyone getting off on a technicality. Thus the need to cross all the “t”s and dot all the “i”s.

        BTW, I have the same level of respect for Alan’s reasoned opinions and arguments as I have for the EW team.

        I don’t think Alan intended to offend in the way it may have seemed.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Crossing and dotting are things Mueller and his team are especially good at.  They are so meticulous and thorough, and consider everything as if it had to survive appeal to the Supreme Court.

          The number of indictments, guilty verdicts and guilty pleas – of senior people close to Trump – is all the more impressive given how quickly they’ve done it.  The rightwing chorus’s chant that Mueller has nuthin’ and is taking too long to get it is hopeless self-delusion.

  25. orionATL says:

    alan 1/[email protected]:35am

    what an ignorant, smart-assed, hyperbolic comment, alan. i thought you were more measured than that.

    1) you have no idea what my concern with fbi/judiciary treatment of young american muslims was and remains.

    2) the federal judiciary treatment of these cases has indeed been “languorous”, all the more for the seriousness of the attack (possibly being tepeated) on the heart of the american political system – 2 months for sorting out privileged communications, a subpoena for a grand jury appearance that has been in judicial limbo for months, manafort case(s) questions hanging on – and the judiciary continues its leisurely scheduling pace.

    3) that was not the attitude the judiciary took a decade or more ago with young muslim-americans who had been led into planning terrorism by fbi informers. a distinguished federal judge at the time said he was not going to be the judge that made a mistake about a muslim-american charged with terrorism and let the guy go on back on the street only to commit a terrorist act for which that judge would be blamed. the cases were handled, ahem, ecpeditiously. there was a sense of urgency, though the crimes had often been provoked by the fbil

    i see no such alacrity or motivation from the judiciary for dealing the mueller “white collar” terrorism cases practiced by the russians and our now-president and his gang of rat-fuckers in the 2016 presidential and congressional elections – and likely being repeated as part of an extended attack.

    • Trip says:

      Fair counterpoint.

      That this tumor is growing around the presidency, (aside from racial, wealth or power bias), I think, is what is creating the slow, methodical surgical excisions and bit by bit removal, careful not to hit a major organ, until it’s determined that it is malignant too.

      Hopefully the patient (democracy/US) doesn’t die first.

    • Alan says:

      I’m sorry, perhaps I was too harsh.  Maybe you were suggesting we should waterboard the defendants and get confessions out of them before we execute them.  That makes more sense.

      Obviously you can vent on the internet all you want, but venting that suggests the US judicial system and procedures should be bypassed is not helpful.

  26. orionATL says:

    orionATL re 1/31 @10:47

    i suspect part of the difference between 2002-10 and 2016-19 and part of the problem with judicial languor has nothing to do with concern for fairness and fair process and everything to do with the spectre of presidential power – excessively, threateningly expressed – with judges looking fearfully over their shoulders at that spectre.

    the excessive powers the congress has given the presidency in the last 6-7 decades has come back to haunt us with the russian-assisted election of an intellectually, morally, and politically incompetent candidate. the american election system has been monumentally corrupted.

  27. pseudonymous in nc says:

    EW: “If the hashes matched, the documents themselves were not altered. The contents within the file structure were.”

    Yeah, that’s my reading too. The people who put together the leak package — let’s call them the Schminternet Research Smagency — mixed up the discovery with bits of their “memes and trolly shit” repository.

  28. Savage Librarian says:

    @orion ATL 11:05 – Definitely food for thought. Speaking for myself (and I am not connected to the legal field at all,) I’ve been seeing some spectres and finding it hard to sleep.

    I am so looking forward to some RESULTS. But I also have hope in the turning of the tide and the 2020 elections. My heart is pounding with HOPE.

  29. orionATL says:

    re earl of huntingdon @10:58am

    the mueller team expected strong legal resistance from its republican targets. that is why the team included an appeepals specialist from the beginning. all the dotting and crossing is to be expected and all for the better in more ways than one, the mueller team surely understands that a doj public corruption team cannot survive more legal slopiness as in the past.

    it has been often noted how much the sco team has done in a (legally) brief time :); that is not my concern. the issue i raise is with the languor the courts exhibit now, which i suspect is no more than normal, compared to the urgency of a decade ago when the political system was being “attacked” by fbi-inspired domestic terrorists of the brown-muslim kind.

    as an aside, it has only been in the last 5 or so years that our domestic gun-toting white terrorists, who are rarely if ever so labeled, have become really active.

    • Tech Support says:

      As long as we’re debating the motivations and habits (conscious or unconscious) of people we don’t know, it does make me wonder if the difference can be explained with the quality and the quantity of fear that those judges are experiencing.

      If you’re afraid of a spider, you smash it quickly. If you’re afraid of a snarling dog that is six feet away you move very cautiously. The former generates a nominal amount of fear ameliorated by a massive size disparity. The latter is different on both counts. That might go a long way to explain the difference.

      Now whether that fear is a product of letting someone escape on a technicality, or a fear of professional/career repercussions? That’s a different question.

  30. orionATL says:

    alan 1/21  @11:21am

    spoken disingenuously, which is not surprising, both with respect to the apology and with respect to the matter of concern i originally raised which had nothing to do with ignoring standard legal protections in our system and everything to do with judicial attitude and with “languor” – with treating the matter as of utmost seriously and urgency until the message has gotrpten back across the atlantic and baltic.

    as for dismissing  my comment by using  “venting”, is that not what we all do on the internet? or do you think the gas you keep passing from time to time has some special magisterial, law-professor quality to it 😊.

    your comment is simply angry and intellectually dishonest.

    • Alan says:

      > i think it is about time the federal judiciary, i.e., the judges, who are dealing with the many cases of the mueller investigation, some of which appear “domestic” and some of which appear “international”, i.e. russian distuption and then retaliation efforts, started treating all cases in these two categories in the same way they treated domestic terrorism cases in the prior decade – that is with no benefit of the doubt for defendants

      You are the person who wrote that, not me.  I called out this rhetoric as unhelpful, which it is.  The concept of “innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt” lies at the bedrock of American criminal law, and any suggestion that it should be bypassed for any defendant or any case should be met with immediate condemnation.  You are not going to get me to back down on that, not one inch.  And BTW, I’m not going respond to your personal insults, so you can just stop.

  31. Badger Robert says:

    Thanks for posting this, and thanks to the commentators. In summary it appears to be an important part of the counter intelligence investigation. It serves as a warning to the political opposition in the US with respect to budget allocation.

  32. Mark Ospeck says:

    >It sounds like Mueller’s office found out about it when being contacted by the journalist who had been alerted to the >content on Twitter.

    This I don’t get.  CIA would have anticipated that the Russians would get ahold of ALL of the sensitive discovery files Mueller provided to the (dubious) Concord lawyers.  Spooks would then tell Mueller what to expect and how to proceed in a way so that he and they are able to take advantage.  Any half-way good spook would know that this firewall and computer lacking internet connex wouldn’t stop Russian intel.  So the dezinformatsiya op was permitted to run to its conclusion. Why? To tag HackingRedstone and his pals?  To understand sources and methods? There must be some good reason, must be something to be gained here. Give them something, get something better in return. Spook 101, the op was allowed to run.

  33. Strawberry Fields says:

    @Leila512
    I think the new yorker article underestimates the effectiveness of the troll operation. Just because some of their disinformation was ludacris doesnt mean there was no market for it, or that it wasnt influential. Maybe a photo of hilliary clinton and satan wont sway someone to believe shes satan, but seeing it a 100 times might make you trust her slightly less. Or lead a family member to be more open to reading about her corruption to prove or disprove it and ultimately kitchen table discussions where they pressure their family with more reasonable talking points “…but her emails?”

    I also think it glosses over the military operation of Russian hacking, it was advanced and not haphazard.

  34. Frank Probst says:

    Apologies for being so far behind, but wasn’t there an issue early on with Concord Management being legally represented without an actual person from the company ever appearing in the courtroom (who would likely immediately be arrested)? My recollection is that the defense lawyers said they’d met with someone from the company, and the judge accepted them at their word, as they are officer’s of the court. So that “counted” as a real person. Now that there’s reason to believe that discovery information was somehow leaked to the outside world, could the prosecution press the defense to bring a living person in from Concord Management, or is the defense counsel’s word still creditable enough? Or do I just need more coffee before I post?

    • bmaz says:

      Well, I said from the get go that a company official should submit to jurisdiction under the circumstances. But that is just me.

  35. orionATL says:

    alan 1/31 @12:09pm

    you understand law as practiced,  so you understand that “innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt” is a happy slogan for use in discussions like this, otherwise we would not have need for the innocence projects that uncover gross injusices in the practice of law by prosecutors and judges. so with that those other happy slogans – “a nation of laws, not men”, “the rule of law”, and the like.

    it seems to me that what needs to happen with the continuing russian/republican assault on the american political system is that the judiciary in particular needs to become as willingly aggressive in pursuing these cases as it has been in other cases like that of young american muslims a decade ago. that does not seem to be happening. it’s still business as usual.

    as for my rhetoric being  “unhelpful”, that sounds a bit effete.  what i intended to do is stir up a discussion that i think is too quiescent and too (legally) technical by pointing out the obvious but apparently forgotten or forbidden to say, which is that the russian/republican/corporate  power center seeks to control for their benefit and to the damage of our common benefit, the way we americans choose our leaders. this is a poison for our society; business as usual, at the usual pace is not sensible.

    thanks for taking the trouble to argue with me.

    • Cathy says:

      It is messy. Churchill observed

      [m]any forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time….

      It’s a struggle. It can be heartbreaking. Yet we keep slogging ahead, fallible as we are.

  36. Leila512 says:

    @Strawberry Fields

    Thanks for your thoughts. I’d be interested in others’ observations on whether this operation was smartly coordinated, or a “rag-tag” group of semi-coordinated actions of the Russian state crime syndicate, as Gessen suggests… One thing we’ve done horribly over the decades is to view adversaries through our lens, leading to disastrous foreign policy decisions…Thoughts?

  37. Fran of the North says:

    @Strawberry Fields:
    I’m not familiar with Masha Gessen, but she’s probably viewing the situation through a set of rose colored glasses. The bear isn’t the stuffed cuddly she portrays. Putin is a trained KGB intelligence officer, retiring a two steps down from being the equivalent of a general. He isn’t all knowing or immune to mistakes, but he’s clearly extremely capable and very ruthless.

    Imagine if Paul Manafort had spent 25 years within the US intelligence community. If he had all those connections and understanding of the way the system works and could be worked. Now he finds himself President of the United States, and turns those resources to mischief. What hell could he play?

    Some US observers, in a similar fashion to Gessen, would deny that we could be so capable to pull off this or that heinous act. Even though screw ups occur (Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction or Nigerian Yellow Cake) many things are successfully accomplished on a regular basis.

    I’m sure that Putin employs every state resource to effect his will, and certainly encourages organized crime to help him and provide deniability.

    His ‘chef’ Prigozhin runs a little mercenary outfit called Wagner that attacked US forces in Syria in February. Best guesses are that 200+ Russian contractors were killed in a day long battle. But Putin and his generals say “Not Us!”

    Here is an article on the facility that has been traced to be the source of much of the mischief in social media in the 2016 US elections. Quick Points: employed over 1000, working 24×7. One other fact. Prigozhin is behind that too.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/18/world/europe/russia-troll-factory.html

    Too trite to say it is all just uncoordinated actors. I don’t buy it.

    P.S. Trip, don’t you have some good links to articles on the Russia mob as state actors discussion?

    • Fran of the North says:

      @SF and @Leila512: My apologies for directing the answer to Leila’s question to @SF. No offense meant.

    • Rayne says:

      I think Gessen is pretty clear eyed about Russia, just off about the scale of the international organized crime syndicate at Putin’s and oligarchs’ disposal. Need only look at the slapdash opsec GRU used around Skripal’s poisoning to understand why she’s dismissive — and yet her dismissiveness isn’t like American dismissiveness. She knows damned well Putin is deadly particularly to journalists; her warning to us post-election was spot on. She just doesn’t think Team Putin as focused as Americans are prone to think, as we are likely to think business entities.

      What none of us have fully grasped: the relationship between Putin’s syndicate (which has co-opted Russian government) and the GOP crime syndicate (responsible for regulatory capture under its majority in Congress and in sync with the White House). The GOP and its entités périphériques make up for some of the Russians’ slapdash. Don’t know if SCO will fully suss and expose them.

      Nor have we opened ourselves to asking if other nation-states and syndicates are involved, again augmenting the other entities. Denial has enabled much of this mess.

      • Fran of the North says:

        Your analysis is well-reasoned (as always). Thanks for the link to Gessen’s earlier work. It provides a different perspective on her powers of observation and understanding of Russian real politik. While our perspectives of the breadth of Putin’s reach may differ, she clearly speaks from a depth of knowledge of the subject.

        I’m guardedly optimistic that the ties between the Slavic and North American syndicates are beginning to be exposed. A perfect example is the wonderfully timed Fourth of July NRA visit to Mockba. What a perfect symbol of throwing our ‘Independence’ away.

        But the exposure of the connections shouldn’t stall at just those third party orgs that are trying to influence our government. Those pols that are compromised need to be exposed for what they are, traitors to the American people. May they all rot in detention.

        • Trip says:

          Read the Laundromat on OCCRP site (a good starting point). You begin to recognize that the Kremlin isn’t so much a government, but organized crime from top to bottom. Its’ purpose seems no greater than to extract tons of money from the population to enrich the few. The tentacles are everywhere and utilize any (small) corrupt/criminal enterprise to cleanse stolen funds. On the flip side, distinct, organized crime units will be left alone, provided some of their earnings go back to the Kremlin. Since they are decentralized, and layered, there isn’t a straight line upward.

          Aside: There was legislation introduced a day or so ago, “Russian Justice Ministry To Decriminalize ‘Unavoidable’ Bribes”. How do you operate a criminal enterprise without them? https://www.rferl.org/a/russian-justice-ministry-to-decriminalize-unavoidable-bribes/29740470.html

          We are now echoing this type of kleptocracy here, or have been (now is just an escalation) depending on how you look at it.

  38. Savage Librarian says:

    @Rayne 7:46 –
    I think you hit the nail on the head. It’s so friggin’ scary we can’t wrap our heads around it. It’s like those stories about people seeing extraterrestrials.

    My brain understands it but my heart is about to explode out of my body.
    Every morning I wake up an hour earlier than the one before.

    I’m worried about the day when I wake up in the morning before I’ve gone to bed the night before.

  39. Trip says:

    Office Building Evicts Russian Troll Farm Over Repeated Bomb Threats

    The infamous troll farm at the center of a major U.S. election interference scandal has been reportedly evicted from its St. Petersburg headquarters after other tenants complained about repeated bomb threats to the building…The troll factory’s other office came under attack in October, when a fire broke out after an unknown suspect broke its ground-floor window and threw a Molotov cocktail inside.
    https://themoscowtimes.com/news/office-building-evicts-russian-troll-farm-over-repeated-bomb-threats-reports-64358

    Adding that the troll farm business and activities are big in Russia, more-so even, than in the US.

    • Tech Support says:

      Does make you wonder how much of that action against the farm is a product of native Russian political resistance, how much is Ukranian covert action, and how much is US covert action.

  40. Trip says:

    Speaking of bribes and whatnot…

    Netanyahu’s Request Rejected: Attorney General Won’t Postpone Indictment Decision Until After Election

    Postponing decision until after election ‘would be a violation of the principle of equality before the law,’ Mendelblit tells Netanyahu’s legal team
    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-pm-s-request-rejected-ag-won-t-postpone-indictment-decision-until-after-election-1.6897638

    Jerusalem Post (not a paywall):

    Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit formally announced on Friday that he will decide Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s legal fate before the upcoming April 9 election. Though there have been leaks to this effect, this was the first time that Mandelblit himself confirmed it, rejecting a request by Netanyahu’s lawyers to delay the decision. Some polls have suggested that the announcement could have a decisive electoral impact on Netanyahu and the Likud, while others have suggested the impact will be minimal.

    *cough…DOJ…cough cough…lol

  41. P J Evans says:

    @Trip February 1, 2019 at 8:17 am
    Or read Kingsbury’s “The Moon Goddess and the Son” – it makes the point that the Russian government has always been an autocracy, with the guy at the top enriching himself and his friends at the expense of the peasants, all the way back to the Rurikids (who were Scandinavians, not Russians, like their subjects).

      • P J Evans says:

        It’s an interesting novel – it infodumps Russian history in the form of a role-playing simulation intended to train US negotiators (and others) in how to deal with Russians…and on the side, you get the construction of an orbiting spaceport and a moonbase, along with some other interesting pieces.

        ETA: also, the chapter headings are fun, and there’s lots of 70s/80s rock.

  42. Mark Ospeck says:

    >I’m worried about the day when I wake up in the morning before I’ve gone to bed the night before.
    likewise, Savage Librarian :)
    Sounds like you should be writing for Steven Wright:
    “I like to fill my tub up with water, then turn the shower on and act like I’m in a submarine that’s been hit.”

    How should the American legal system (and the UN lawyers) adapt to, and deal effectively with this criminal syndicate called Russia? Why does our side always have to play fair against Russian Intel?
    Meanwhile, Russian citizens* are getting totally screwed. How is it that Russia nevertheless still manages to be a gamed-up 6.27 on the Freedom Index? Is this because they’re simply keeping the political opposition, the noble Navalny, alive? Putin’s criminal syndicate’s game is simply not to allow the water in the pot to be coming to a boil. Phenom is well known in physics and is called the super-cooled state. btw, with less success, our hapless GOP is trying the same trick. goodluck with that.
    Putin projects invincibility. nope.
    Western press can counterattack, go after, focus on wannabe Godfather Putin stealing the futures from his citizens. Amplify Navalny’s message. Like it or not, US and Russia are tied together.

    *Russians are v smart. Why is it that they only earn 50 bucks a month?

    • earlofhunitngdon says:

      Americans might concentrate more on how to cure the ills in its own corporate boardrooms.  Their inhabitants are forcing Americans into a two-part arms race: one, between inequality or insurrection, and two, burning the planet.  A few billionaires escaping the inferno in their electric convertible spacecraft would hardly be noticeable.

  43. Anvil Leucippus says:

    I am frustrated on how the news cycle continues to focus on the take of this exchange wherein Coats is throwing shade to Trump, Trump feebily claps back. Go #resistance!

    Talk about burying the lead!

    Even with all that is public knowledge spelled out with indictments, what is it going to take to show people how pissed off they should be? A movie?

  44. Cathy says:

    @Anvil

    “…burying the lede”

    I know…it doesn’t make sense to me either; it’s a newspaper thing. And I won’t be surprised to learn someone else in the commentariat knows from where the print press stole it.

    • Rayne says:

      Via Wikitionary: lede — Mid-20th century neologism from a deliberate misspelling of lead, intended to avoid confusion with its homograph meaning a strip of type metal used for positioning type in the frame.

      • bmaz says:

        I have never understood this. My first exposure, as best as I recall, was Josh Marshall terming it “lede” in the early 2000’s. It still seems pretentious and stupid, but is common now I guess.

        • Rayne says:

          You can see why the term would be helpful in a day when typeset and layout was done by hand.

          If you think about it, it’s still important today when journalists/editors/layout/traffic personnel can do a global find or find-replace.

            • Rayne says:

              Learn something new every day, hmm?

              I had a crash course in journalism a few years back, learned all manner of profession-specific terms like nutgraf, TK, 30, stet, so on which I didn’t learn in several courses of English during editing components.

              To the best of my knowledge same terms are used in UK, too.

              • Arj says:

                Well, almost every day.  At least I manage to forget something every day.

                We certainly have ‘stet’ but I had to look up ‘30’ – think that’s USAvian usage.  (Finis?  Here endeth…?)  I spend a lot of time in New York, and sometimes almost get lulled into thinking it’s the same language; then the Oscar Wilde quote suddenly comes to mind.  Thanks entirely  to Northern Exposure I know about ‘86ing’, &c., &c…

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