Questions to Ask before Reporting a BREAKING Mueller Report

Update: CNN is matching NBC’s reporting on this. It also backs its report with real details from their superb stakeout.

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday last week, special counsel’s office employees carried boxes and pushed a cart full of files out of their office — an unusual move that could foreshadow a hand-off of legal work.

At the same time, the Mueller prosecutors’ workload appears to be dwindling. Four of Mueller’s 17 prosecutors have ended their tenures with the office, with most returning to other roles in the Justice Department.

And the grand jury that Mueller’s prosecutors used to return indictments of longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and several Russians hasn’t apparently convened since January 24 the day it approved the criminal charges against Stone.

I take from that I’m wrong about Mueller waiting for the two appeals (he knows what he’ll get from them) before he delivers his verdict. 

Pete Williams did the NBC circuit yesterday claiming that the Mueller report may be submitted to DOJ as soon as next week.

Pete Williams on MSNBC says the Mueller report may go to DOJ as early as next week

Because a lot of people have asked me about this and because Williams (and some other journalists) don’t appear to know enough about the Mueller investigation to ask the proper questions to assess that claim, I’d like to lay out a little logic and a few facts. It’s certainly possible that a Mueller report is coming next week — I’d argue that one is assuredly coming on Friday. But I doubt that means what Williams thinks it does.

The conclusory report is not coming next week

When most people think of “the Mueller report,” they mean this report, dictated by the Special Counsel regulations.

At the conclusion of the Special Counsel’s work, he or she shall provide the Attorney General with a confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions reached by the Special Counsel.

When Mueller is done, he has to submit a confidential report to the Attorney General (who is now Mueller’s friend William Barr) telling him what he did and didn’t do. Given everything Barr said as part of his confirmation process, we’re unlikely to see this report.

To assess whether this report is what Pete Williams thinks is coming, we should assess whether public evidence is consistent with Mueller being done.

The answer to that is clearly no. He’s still chasing testimony from Roger Stone flunkie Andrew Miller and from some foreign owned corporation (and has been chasing that, in the case of Miller, since last May).

Given that Miller already interviewed with the FBI for two hours and the foreign company is, by dint of being foreign, a no-brainer target for NSA, it’s quite likely Mueller knows what he’s getting from both of these entities. He just needs Miller on the record, so he can’t change his story to protect Stone, and needs to parallel construct the information from the foreign company. So it’s possible that as soon as Mueller gets both of these things, he’ll finish up quickly (meaning The Report could be soon). But there is no way that’ll happen by next week, in part because whatever the DC Appeals Court says in the Andrew Miller case, the loser will appeal that decision.

So it’s virtually certain that The Report is not coming by next week.

A report talking about “collusion” is coming this week

But maybe NBC’s sources are speaking metaphorically, and mean something else that isn’t the conclusory report but that will more closely resemble what everyone thinks of when they talk about The Report.

That’s likely to happen, but if it does, it’ll just be a partial report.

That’s because both Mueller and the defense have to submit a sentencing memo in Paul Manafort’s DC case Friday. As I noted back in November when Mueller’s prosecutors declared Manafort to have breached his plea agreement, this sentencing memo presents an opportunity for Mueller to “report” what they’ve found — at least with respect to all the criminal actions they know Manafort committed, including those he lied about while he was supposed to be cooperating — without anyone at DOJ or the White House suppressing the most damning bits. DOJ won’t be able to weigh in because a sentencing memo is not a major action requiring an urgent memo to the Attorney General. And the White House will get no advance warning because Big Dick Toilet Salesman Matt Whitaker is no longer in the reporting chain.

So, as noted, Mueller will have an opportunity to lay out:

  1. The details of Manafort’s sleazy influence peddling, including his modus operandi of projecting his own client’s corruption onto his opponents
  2. The fact that Manafort already pled guilty to conspiring with a suspected Russian intelligence asset
  3. The details about how Manafort — ostensibly working for “free” — got paid in 2016, in part via kickbacks from a Super PAC that violated campaign finance law, possibly in part by Tom Barrack who was using Manafort and Trump as a loss-leader to Middle Eastern graft, and in part by deferred payments or debt relief from Russian-backed oligarchs
  4. Manafort’s role and understanding of the June 9 meeting, which is a prelude of sorts to the August 2 one
  5. The dates and substance of Manafort’s ongoing communications with suspected Russian intelligence asset Konstantin Kilimnik, including the reasons why Manafort shared highly detailed polling data on August 2, 2016 that he knew would be passed on to his paymasters who just happened to be (in the case of Oleg Deripaska) a central player in the election year operation
  6. The ongoing efforts to win Russia relief from the American Ukrainian-related sanctions by pushing a “peace” plan that would effectively give Russia everything it wants
  7. Manafort’s ongoing discussions with Trump and the Administration, up to and including discussions laying out how if Manafort remains silent about items two through six, Trump will pardon him

Because those items are all within the substance of the crimes Manafort pled guilty to or lied about during his failed cooperation, they’re all squarely within the legitimate content of a sentencing memo. And we should expect the sentencing memo in DC to be at least as detailed as the EDVA one; I expect it, like the EDVA one and like Manafort’s plea deal, will be accompanied by exhibits such as the EDVA one showing that Manafort had bank accounts to the tune of $25,704,669.72 for which suspected Russian intelligence asset Konstantin Kilimnik was listed as a beneficial owner in 2012. Heck, we might even get to see the polling data Manafort shared, knowing it was going to Russia, which was an exhibit to Manafort’s breach determination.

The only thing limiting how much detail we’ll get about these things (as well as about how Manafort served as a secret agent of Russian backed Ukrainian oligarchs for years) is the ongoing sensitivities of the material, whether because it’s grand jury testimony, SIGINT collection, or a secret Mueller intends to spring on other defendants down the road.

It’s the latter point that will be most telling. As I noted, thus far, the silences about Manafort’s cooperation are — amazingly — even more provocative than the snippets we learned via the breach determination. We’ll likely get a read on Friday whether Mueller has ongoing equities that would lead him to want to keep these details secret. And the only thing that would lead Mueller to keep details of the conspiracy secret is if he plans to charge it in an overarching conspiracy indictment.

We may also get information, however, that will make it far more difficult for Trump to pardon Manafort.

So, yeah, there’s a report coming out this week. But it’s not The Report.

Any overarching conspiracy indictment will not be coming this week

It’s possible Mueller is close to charging an overarching conspiracy indictment, laying out how Trump and his spawn entered into a quid quo pro with various representatives of the Russian government, getting dirt on Hillary and either a Trump Tower or maybe a bailout for the very same building in which Manafort met with Konstantin Kilimnik on August 2, 2016. In exchange for all that, Trump agreed to — and took steps to deliver on, with some success in the case of election plot participant Deripaska — reversing the sanctions that were such a headache to Russia’s oligarchs.

Such an indictment, if Mueller ever charges it, will look like what Trump opponents would like The Report to look like. In addition to naming Don Jr and Jared Kushner and Trump Organization and a bunch of other sleazeballs, it would also describe the actions of Individual-1 in adequate detail to launch an impeachment proceeding.

But that indictment, if Mueller ever charges it, won’t be coming on Friday or Monday, as Williams predicts, because it likely requires whatever it is Mueller is trying to parallel construct from that foreign-owned company. And even if SCOTUS denies its appeal today, it’s unlikely that evidence will be in hand in time for a Friday indictment.

Mueller could ensure a report gets delivered to Jerry Nadler next week … but that’s unlikely

There’s one other possibility that would make Williams’ prediction true: if Mueller deliberately triggered the one other way to deliver a report, by asking to take an action William Barr is unlikely to approve, and if Mueller was willing to close up shop as a result, then a report would go to Congress and — if Barr thought it in the public interest — to the public.

Upon conclusion of the Special Counsels investigation, including, to the extent consistent with applicable law, a description and explanation of instances (if any) in which the Attorney General concluded that a proposed action by a Special Counsel was so inappropriate or unwarranted under established Departmental practices that it should not be pursued.


The Attorney General may determine that public release of these reports would be in the public interest, to the extent that release would comply with applicable legal restrictions.

The only thing that Mueller might try to do that Barr would not approve (though who knows? maybe what Mueller has is so egregious Barr will surprise us?) is to indict the President.

I think this is unlikely, for all the reasons the first possibility laid out here is unlikely: that is, Mueller is still waiting on two details he has been chasing for quite some time, and I doubt he’d be willing to forgo that evidence just to trigger a report. It’s also unlikely because Mueller is a DOJ guy, and he’s unlikely to ask to do what he knows OLC says he should not do.

Still, it’s hypothetically possible that Mueller believes Trump is such an egregious criminal and national security risk he needs to try to accelerate the process of holding him accountable by stopping his investigation early (perhaps having the DC AUSAs named on the Miller and Mystery Appellant challenges take over those pursuits) and asking to indict the President.

But if that’s what Williams is reporting, he sure as hell better get more clarity about that fact, because, boy would it be news.

All of which is the lesson of this post: If you’re being told — or telling others — that Mueller’s report is imminent, then you’re either being told very very big news, or bullshit. Do yourself and us a favor of learning the base level regulations to understand which it is.

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. 

114 replies
  1. Peterr says:

    Long ago, you ran a post detailing who the attorneys are that Mueller had hired, what their specialties involve, and which parts of the general investigation each was likely involved with. From time to time, you’ve updated that as motions and other court filings (with attorney signatures attached) have become public, and also as new folks were hired and others left to return to their regular gigs.

    Obviously, the appellate specialists continue to be hard at work, and will be for quite some time. But where do things sit with the rest of the Mueller team? I can’t put my finger on a name, but I have this nagging sense that there’s at least one or two of them that we haven’t really heard from yet.

    Am I missing something, or is one of these big-name lawyers still working hard and we haven’t seen their work product yet?

    • Avattoir says:

      I don’t mean this to substitute for a response from fearless leader, but I think you need to consider at least these 2 things:

      1. An awful lot of both the investigation and the court work the SCO was doing, or had started into somewhat, or otherwise might be doing, has been referred to other DoJos, whether in the SDNY, or Main Justice, or EDVA, or wherever else.

      This would suggest that there’s far less promise than there was even a year ago of any actual utility in the exercise of counting heads within the SCO and somehow attempting to guess-audit at the function of any there now whose work product may not have shown up in public (Indeed, if ever that was the intention: again, bear in mind the ‘2-pronged’ nature of the FBI investigation that was in place when DAG Rosenstein appointed Mueller as SC.).

      2. Michael Dreeben is a highly gifted counsel, for all practical purposes universally recognized as such within the DoJ, extremely highly placed in among the ‘permanent’ DoJ legal staff, and one who, if he’s not actively even intensely involved in the moment of whatever the SCO is focusing on, has lots of other duties, projects and things he not only could but would be expected to attend to within the larger DoJ framework. And, AFAWK, there’s nothing preventing Dreeben – or for that matter any of the ‘permanent’ DoJ legal staff from returning to work under SC Mueller as needed.

      • emptywheel says:

        I’m actually not sure we know whether 1 is true or not.

        The Cohen referral to SDNY makes clear sense, given what we know the scope was. And it means SDNY can continue to investigate Trump Org for some time–it’s good tactically, and directly tied to scope.

        The same is true of the referral of the non-RU graft, such as the inauguration stuff. I’m sure Mueller presented the part of that he needed, but sent the rest over to SDNY for the same reason, to give SDNY time to really dig into it.

        Bringing DC AUSAs onto the IRA case appears to have been badly misunderstood. A year later, Mueller is still really actively involved. However, I find it interesting that Atkinson is doing investigative work on it while others do prosecutorial work. That makes me wonder if that’s not what is really going on: bring ON extra people to help with the paperwork of trial, while allowing those investigating the case in chief to continue to do that, w/o reading more people in (or freaking Trump out about a growing staff). That might especially be true on Stone, given that Mueller indicted but is (per Miller’s lawyer) still pursuing other charges (and probably one against Corsi as well). It would be especially advantageous for Stone’s lawyer to liaise with Marando rather than Rhee, because that way there’s no way he’ll learn about the bigger investigation. In other words, it COULD be a way to better shield the ongoing investigation (or counterintelligence information).

        • jf-jf says:

          I cut way back on my EW after I realized how partisian you are, on matters small and large.    I’m prepared for a nothing burger, in which a report directs us to simply look at the text of the indictments and guilty pleas and draw our own conclusions.

          From SCO response to leaks that Trump coordinated and knew of lies, to disclaim the importance of this just made me wonder if contrary to all the lionizing, Mueller is really just an institutionalist whose primary motivation is to uphold the reputation of the FBI and counterintelligence work of US government.    Which pretty much suggests this would go as past scandals did, some people get charged but it’s hard to try people for crimes and even more so the president.    That is far from the impression we’ve gotten from EW, which is fine at least I understand why now.

          In reading your tweets you and repeated clear jealously about reporters working for major outlets- understandable given your intelligence and talent- but then you seem to sort of take solace in what you seem to view as your primary benefit of running this site (clever curse words).     I don’t really believe somebody as smart as hard working as you wouldn’t trade one for the other… that is if I didn’t see the evidence daily.

          I wish you well, thank you for your efforts here.    You were right and early about many things.    If you could tone done the partisianship, I think you’d improve your odds much further.    My .02 (at most).

          • Rayne says:

            Your comment went into moderation because of your username — it’s at least the third variant you’ve used here when commenting. Please stick to one name.

            As for your policing the content published at this site: don’t. If you don’t like it, find the exit.

            Your claims about partisanship are particularly trying when this site has been critical of three presidents.

          • bmaz says:

            And, in addition to the previous response to your bunk by Rayne, it is hard to see you wander in here and spew such abject bullshit.

            Here you are a a couple of months ago;

            I know a little more about Glenn Simpson + Fusion than I do about EW, but a lot of what they do is similiar… start with researching publicly available materials.

            Um, what is it you proclaim to know vis a vis the work here, and how? Or are you just spewing bullshit? Do not bother to respond, I know the answer.

    • chicago_bunny says:

      @Peterr – are you thinking of this post?

      There is als MW’s compendium of dockets, which can be found here: and was referenced in this recent post,

    • emptywheel says:

      Here’s my running docket of everyone.

      The one person we haven’t heard from at all (assuming that Prelogar is there for appellate purposes and not Russian expertise) is Zainab Ahmed, who is chasing that foreign owned company. She’s been investigating the Seychelles meeting, among other things.

  2. Alan says:

    Is it possible the Special Counsel is preparing an intelligence report pursuant to the intelligence portion of his mandate? Or maybe the Special Counsel is preparing an “Urgent Report” pursuant to 28 CFR 600.8(b):

    [quote]Notification of significant events. The Special Counsel shall notify the Attorney General of events in the course of his or her investigation in conformity with the Departmental guidelines with respect to Urgent Reports.[/quote]

    The Justice Manual Title 1 Chapter 13.111 offers the following guidance on Urgent Reports:

    [quote]USAOs and Department litigating divisions should consider the existence of the following criteria as illustrative of the types of significant investigations and litigation that must be reported:
    – National or statewide public official, public entity, or prominent public figure as a party, subject, target, or significant witness;
    – High likelihood of coverage in national news media;
    – High likelihood of Congressional interest;
    – Extraordinarily large monetary liability, loss amount, or recovery at issue;
    – Significant implications on foreign relations; and
    – Novel theory of law likely to implicate significant Department interests.[/quote]

    Note that section of the Justice Manual was last updated April 2018.

    • quickbread says:

      Very interesting that it was updated last year. Is there any way to access the earlier version? I wonder what was changed/added/deleted from that list.

    • Alan says:

      FYI, the previous version of the Justice Manual was pretty much the same:

      1-13.110 – “Significant Investigations and Litigation”
      USAOs and Department litigating divisions should consider the existence of the following criteria as illustrative of the types of significant investigations and litigation that must be reported:

      National or statewide public official, public entity, or prominent public figure as a party, subject, target, or significant witness;
      High likelihood of coverage in national news media;
      High likelihood of Congressional interest;
      Extraordinarily large monetary liability, loss amount, or recovery at issue;
      Significant implications on foreign relations; and
      Novel theory of law likely to implicate significant Department interests.

      [adapted in September 2011 from material that formerly appeared in USAM Chapter 3-18.000]

    • Avattoir says:

      Quoting from your quote, this is the key phrase:

      “The Special Counsel shall notify the Attorney General”

      This is not the bot you’re looking for.

      • Alan says:

        They’re called droids, not bots–and last time I heard that said, it was exactly the droid someone was looking for…

        • Avattoir says:

          I bow to your vastly superior command of Star Wars trivia.

          I really should have chosen ‘infinitely’ over ‘vastly’: I’ve never sat thru even one entire Star Wars movie. I left early from what I think was the very first one released, and I’ve never felt any urge to return.

          I suppose it’s somehow theoretically possible that I made a massive mistake in never taking more than a coffee break banter interest in the series, and, more to the point, that my ability to read statutes and regulations has been critically curtailed by that course.

          But I doubt it.

          Again: the words of the regulation.

          • P J Evans says:

            You should have seen all of that original (the one now called “part IV”), before it was re-edited to make it fit the later movies. Think of it as a Saturday matinee serial, in one part with color, and you’ll get more out of it (especially with an appreciative audience).

            • Avattoir says:

              So now I take the cultural nincompoop’s way out and blame the kids. All of them came to SW-age during what I understand was the second trio or wave. Among them, I had Santa Claus deliver ‘their’ own VT or other recording of the entire series. Then (if I follow the drift here), I became the unwitting victim of gross parental abuse, as not one of them ever even hinted at what all I’d been missing (tho, each of them did go on to at least 2 post-grad degrees, so maybe they assumed they were being kind).

              And maybe I’ve erred in some similar way here in articulating my general view on SW: when it all began, I was already too busy as a young attorney learning how to be trial lawyer, a condition that has persisted.

              I confess to greatly enjoying SF by Ursula Le Guin, China Mieville and particularly the late Iain Banks; but otherwise the genre bores the beejeezzuz out of me (for which I might also shift blame to family, given we had an HEP career professional in it).

              • P J Evans says:

                So very much you’re missing out on, then. (I’ve been reading it since childhood, so of course I’m biased.)

                • Avattoir says:

                  Also, I’m ashamed to admit to having been an opera junky since my teen years. So something from my parents – don’t actually know where it comes from. But I’ve attended well over 500, many favorites multiple times, especially a number of favorite of those produced by Mozart, Verdi, Wagner and Puccini.

                  And not just on this continent, either.

                  … Now I learn: What waste, that I should just feel ashamed of that whole sordid vice.

              • posaune says:

                I, too, missed SW in its entirety.   Now I’m learning by osmosis from my 14-yo son’s posters.   I was tangentially interested in Alec Guiness’ role.

              • Mark Ospeck says:

                Empire strikes back is really pretty good, btw.  Simple, but you should give it a chance. Anyway, my wife (and also, the mind of the little ship) liked Ursula K.

                To let understanding stop at what cannot be understood is a high attainment. Those who cannot do it will be destroyed on the lathe of heaven. 知止乎其所不能知,至矣。若有不即是者,天鈞敗之。

                one great misquote-so they say…of either the Chang Tzu, or Lau Tzu, or it could be anyone of ten thousand old Chinese philosophers.

            • Tom says:

              Star Wars made an odd impression on me when I first saw it back in 1977.   The opening crawl begins “Episode IV” with a few sentences of explanation and then the movie drops you right into the middle of the action leaving you to figure out the characters and the plotline as you go along.   I remember feeling as if I were watching an artifact from an alternate reality, as if there was a parallel universe somewhere where Hollywood studios still made serials for kids to watch at the movies on Saturday mornings but with longer installments and bigger production values.   Not sure if that was the effect George Lucas was aiming for, but that was what I felt.   And now decades later my adult kids and I are still going to see Star Wars movies even though none of them were born until after the first three films were made.    Of course, it was all downhill after The Empire Strikes Back, and I always preferred the Star Trek universe which seemed somehow more adult oriented.

        • Doug R says:

          Robot comes from a word for slave, as anyone who’s watched The World’s End knows. An android is a robot built to look like a human. R2-D2 is not really an android, although he often has a small man inside him.

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      The indictment and arrest of Stone would presumably have required an Urgent Report, and though Big Dick Toilet Salesman didn’t use that language, he testified that he’d been briefed.

    • emptywheel says:

      An urgent report is just the heads up to AG about something that may give them headaches. Mueller has to report things like indictments as well (though until Barr goes through ethics review, that report would probably go just to Rosenstein). But those reports are assuredly not public.

      • Alan says:

        Although it sounds like the Urgent Reports may be subject to Congressional subpoena and could eventually released through that avenue.  The Justice Manual specifically states: “In all cases, access to Urgent Reports is strictly controlled on a limited official use basis. Only those officials having a need to know will receive access to Urgent Reports. Nevertheless, Urgent Reports should be brief and avoid unnecessary detail. Please keep in mind whether the information in the Urgent Report is discoverable or producible in any context.”

        And IMO, just because an Urgent Report “should” be brief would not stop the Special Counsel of creating an 800 page Urgent Report, if he felt there were a reason to so do…

  3. Yogarhythms says:

    Ty. #admonishedbyew new tag for msm journos unable or unwilling to do the foundational stretches necessary to build a relevant news story re: B3

    • Sience Hand says:

      She’s on a world-historic tear right now.  I’m just soaking it in.

      Who knows if the right people (Maggie, Williams, lookin at you) are reading this.  Lord knows they should.  At some point all this is going into the history books, and the “How journalists succeed and fail” manual.

      Jaw dropping how spun these people are.  Josh Marshall highlights yet another example today: NYT reports Trump et al. saying “investigation over!”  upon “firing” Flynn as if DJT and JK are naïfs.  Uh, nope.  They’re laying out a mafia-esque command.

    • Kokuanani says:

      I was wondering too if Pete Williams has the brains to read Emptywheel; or perhaps he’s so pressed for time he just can’t get to it.

      But  I know the MSNBC crowd reads and follows, so you’d think SOMEONE would send him and e-mail/link.

      • Ollie says:

        I’m on Reddit a lot and often times (in fact just yesterday) I give out this web.address and maybe a thought or two on that topic but encourage folks to seek EW out for accuracy.

        Hey.  Where’s Trip?  Anyone?

        • Rayne says:

          Haven’t seen Trip in two weeks. No indication in last comments there was anything on his schedule. Your guess is as good as mine.

          Phone home, Trip.

  4. Willis Warren says:

    Another point: Mueller doesn’t have Dreeben on his team to just tidy this up by next week. He’s expecting a long, precedent setting fight. Now, it could be that the fix is in and Barr fires him, but trump was supposedly surprised that Barr was friends with Mueller… so I’m skeptical of that

    • Avattoir says:

      Gach! This is actually what I meant to respond to in my first comment in this thread.

      Apologies to Peterr for having taken my ‘friendly fire’; hope you can walk it off.

      • Willis Warren says:

        Ok, but you’re wrong about the “far less promise in counting heads.”  Dreeben my be there for the challenges to the appointments clause, and not, say for the appeals process…  but that seems a waste of his talents, and the appointments challenges could be done by far less experienced lawyers.

        You don’t bring in a guy with three decades of experience in front of the Supreme Court to argue about the SC scope of appointment, something you could do with a linguist and a pocket calculator, comparatively speaking…

        I’m ready for your scolding, bmaz.

  5. Badger Robert says:

    The main task of the Mueller investigation is still the counter intelligence investigation. That will be the main subject of the 1st report. The declination report will probably remain secret.

  6. Badger Robert says:

    Most clues point to Rob Rosenstein departing the Justice Department and then there will be a long drawm out fight over his testimony to Congress.

  7. Badger Robert says:

    Why doesn’t T just fire everybody in SDNY and in Washington, D.C. district office? That would give him the most protection. 1. There would be too many leaks. 2. The Republican support of the Pres.  in the plains and mountain states is softer than it appears on the surface. There must be too many people who already know big pieces of the story.

  8. pseudonymous in nc says:

    It’s coming up to four months since oral arguments in the Miller case. Recent opinions from of the DC court of appeals cover cases argued in mid-October, and while that’s no guarantee there’ll be a ruling soon… well, we’ll see.

    • emptywheel says:

      I had wondered whether they would wait until Barr was installed, because if he weren’t, and if their ruling says (as I suspect it will) that so long as Mueller reports to a superior officer, he’s good), then releasing the ruling while BDTS was in charge would only lead to Rosenstein’s firing as a way to make Mueller’s appointment improper.

  9. BobCon says:

    Avattoir wrote 2/20 10:45 am

    1. An awful lot of both the investigation and the court work the SCO was doing, or had started into somewhat, or otherwise might be doing, has been referred to other DoJos, whether in the SDNY, or Main Justice, or EDVA, or wherever else.

    This bit underlines a root cause of a lot of the rotten reporting around Trump investigations. Reporters and editors still act as though Mueller is at the top of the pyramid and SDNY et al work at his direction. The unfortunate result of this cognitive collapse is the idea that there is one simple scandal, which will generate one report, and there will be simple closure. They still don’t get, 22 months in, how this thing works.

  10. NoeskieFlamethrower says:

    Why do folks cling to the hopeful fantasy that Barr will be moved by facts, truth and patriotism to do the right thing instead of what he has done in the past which is to bury both?

  11. bie phiephus says:

    @NoeskieFlamethrower 11:36: I think Barr will protect the GOP old guard, not necessarily Trump. So after having been read into the Mueller investigation, if he thinks it can be contained, he will bury it. But if not, I wouldn’t put it past him to throw Trump under the bus to protect McConnell et al., all while playing the hero.

    • BobCon says:

      Or protect himself.

      There’s the lingering question of why Sessions couldn’t stomach shutting it down way back when, and it suggests that there is a lot of toxicity that people with legal backgrounds don’t want to get too close to.

    • quickbread says:

      bie phiephus, I was thinking a similar thing. If DT’s (and his family members’) crimes are provable and egregious enough, then at some point, the GOP (and FOX) will need to break from the Tr*mp or risk going down with the ship. Barr burying the report is one way, of course. But he could also release the report, or act based on its findings, to try and help the party recover some legitimacy with independents and moderate GOPers in time for 2020 elections.

      I’ve always suspected that Sessions, from the moment of his recusal, purposefully created a thread by which DT’s presidency could unravel, thereby installing the VP as POTUS instead.

  12. Strawberry Fields says:

    Personally, presuming he’s not totally corrupt, I could see him weighing protecting Reagans support of CIA blackops vs a President in league with Russia differently. The latter is clearly treasonness, the other is more of a gray area depending on how you feel about the CIA.

  13. Avattoir says:

    CNN. Evan Perez. Anonymous sources. SCO no comment (unsurprising). DoJ no comment (meaning?). Matt Schlapp doing lapps? Considering all that’s in the works right now, it makes no sense. Bad as his history shows him, Barr knows the regulation requires “cause”.
    So at best: who TF knows?

  14. Coffae says:

    “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.”

    You are a national treasure Marcie. With threats of Putin pointing nuclear weapons our way, and my despair over the previously well thought of GOP, that is currently dismantling of our constitutional protections; you are a stake in the ground holding fast our freedom. Thank you!

  15. viget says:

    In reading Marcy’s tweets about “Mueller waiting for Barr” perhaps Mueller is saying that the “investigation” is done for now, but that the cases continue. Meaning that they’ve got all the data they need save for the QIA (oops Mystery Appellant) data and Andrew Miller in STL’s (not the pitcher) testimony.

    It occurs to me that if Mueller says “he’s all done” and turns over his investigation to DDC, SDNY and Main Justice, that any further appeals of his authority to the SC would become moot, no? Because he’s no longer the SC? Especially with regards to Andrew Miller and the IRA case? Wouldn’t that mean that Miller could be forced to testify or risk contempt immediately? And that QIA would have to comply with GJ subpoena.

    I wonder if Mueller (and Barr) are doing this to avoid having Kavanaugh have to vote… he clearly seems compromised.

  16. Rapier says:

    Am I the only one who is starting to smell Barr in all these stories about Mueller being almost done and the  ‘report’ coming any moment.

  17. Tech Support says:


    The SW franchise is a fairy tale in SF drag, and while I have a great deal of childhood affection for it, it’s aged to the point where I think it’s value as a cultural touchstone has passed. I’d sooner recommend you read Joseph Campbell’s ‘Power of Myth’ which uses the original films as grist for an exploration into how human beings use mythmaking as cultural and moral educational tools. You might then have some interest in the original trilogy as an intellectual exercise.

    Given your affection for the Grand Dame of Science Fiction, I’d point you to Frank Herbert’s Dune as a worthy pickup (not including the sequels which can be largely ignored). It’s never received proper justice in film, in particular the fascinating vision of a future theology that is equal parts Islam and Catholicism.

    • P J Evans says:

      I’d include the first sequel, “Dune Messiah”, as it ties off the loose ends from “Dune” quite nicely. (Everything after that is crap, IMO, though some is entertaining crap.)

      Try other writers. Cherryh is generally good – some of hers are stand-alone (“Cuckoo’s Egg” is good), but many are in her two main universes. Jemisin, Martha Wells, Okorafor – it’s a long list of good newer writers. Try “The Goblin Emperor”.

      • MattyG says:

        I’m much more generous and include the further sequels Children Of Dune and God Emperor Of Dune as must reads. Heretics of Dune is good too, but with Chapterhouse Dune the Bene Gesserit become insuferable. All the subsequent books were written after his death – an admirable effort but almost unreadable. The original Herberts are some of the select fiction I actually re-read.

    • Cathy says:

      Were the wages of environmental sin outlined in Dune, or in later sequels? I read them through on a business trip and can no longer differentiate…

    • Avattoir says:

      Yeah, I did 2-term 2-papers course on Campbell, and therefore necessarily Jung, as an undergrad.

      And yeah, I read Dune – hard slog thru quite a lot of bad writing, IMHO, along with Tolkein – way many more turgid passages in The Fellowship of the Ring but at least you could read it out loud. That’s what turned me on to Dante: it sounded so great out loud, especially with an English translation that favored the poetry over the literal. In my student daze, every0ne did, all those. I liked Other Frank’s book better: Miller’s A Canticle for Liebowicz.

      Maybe it’s not always evident (tho I don’t know why), but I’m actually not quite so young as some here. I remember the 1950s, daily all clear sirens, post-war recovery measures, cars without seats let alone seat belts but lots of fins, watching untold hours of Walter Cronkite narrating his audience thru every twist and turn of WW2 and particularly the horrifying footage of liberation of the death camps. I remember Ike; I remember Batista and Castro; I remember Hungary; I remember the Bay of Pigs, the Missle Crisis; I remember Krushchev; I remember watching as JFK was sworn in as preznit.

      I remember because I’m freaking old and I was there.

      • Tech Support says:

        And yeah, I read Dune – hard slog thru quite a lot of bad writing, IMHO, along with Tolkein – way many more turgid passages in The Fellowship of the Ring but at least you could read it out loud.

        OH… okay well yeah if you’re not into turgid prose and bad writing then nevermind. I mean I’m quite the fan of the genre but I’m not going to defend the overall craftsmanship.

        With respect to reading out loud, there’s only one SF book that ever compelled me to do that: Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. He’s probably better known for Cryptonomicon, but the first act of Snow Crash reads like beat poetry. It’s cheeky and satirical cyberpunk fiction that settles into a more traditional narrative pace and voice as the plot progresses, but the first two chapters in particular beg to be read in front of college students in a dimly lit coffee shop.

        • P J Evans says:

          Stephenson is variable for me: I like Anathem, but I can’t get into Cryptonomicon or a lot of his other stuff. (Yes, I’ve read Snow Crash. And In the Beginning Was the Command Line.)
          YMMV. Especially when it comes to reading.

      • Kick the darkness says:

        On the reading aloud.  As an undergrad I had James Dickey as a prof for a course called Modern Poets of the British Isles.  The first day of class he told us that he really didn’t think any of the modern poets of the British Isles were very interesting, and he wasn’t sure what he was going to do with us.  then he let us go.  Next class he showed up and told us  “today we are going to read from the Iliad”.  We rearranged the desks into a circle and he started us off.  After he got going, and we were into the rhythm of the thing, his exposition was amazing, mesmerizing in a way.  Then it was our turns and the lesson commenced.  As I recall–“the words are alive-you-on the other hand-I’m not so sure”.  And-“that’s how you would communicate the horror of a dog eating someone?  See it! Try again!”.  After we were sufficiently broken down and in the thrall of speaking and listening, it was one of those things I feel lucky to have experienced.

  18. Rugger9 says:

    Let’s remember CNN just hired hack Ms. Isgur Flores for their political editor, so take anything reported out of there to be dubious especially as Avattoir noted above at 1:34 PM. This looks more to me like a “wishful thinking” trial balloon floated like so many others before them. Why not Ivanka for UN Ambassador?

    Marcy does give the topic its due consideration of the possibilities, but I don’t think this is real either. Remember there is management at NBC that is perfectly fine with hiring other GOP hacks (Hi, Megyn!) so I don’t see their reporting being corroborative either. It’s more likely that Bill Shine’s shop is putting this “out there” in as many places as possible and the MSM is falling for it. Again.

  19. Drew says:

    If I’m reading Marcy’s tweets correctly, the implication of the facts as reported by CNN would be that this is at Mueller’s initiative, perhaps intentionally pre-emptive of Barr acting pro or con. Those files getting wheeled out of the office go somewhere. While storage is not impossible, they could also be going to another office for active investigation/prosecution.

    A few months ago, I was chatting with an AUSA in a hitherto unnamed district-I mentioned the Cohen thing, SDNY & Mueller. the AUSA said, “yeah, it’s really interesting how he’s spreading around all these referrals”- Then clammed up. Could be nothing, of course, but my intuition was that this was referring to referrals that this person had specific direct experience of, that weren’t public.

    If the CNN info is legit, it could be that far more things are ready to drop more quickly and heavily than we’ve been anticipating.

  20. Cathy says:

    …if this were an actual emergency…[static]

    In pursuit of a carrot-and-sticks plan to remove Trump from GOP fortunes:

    Barr hasn’t yet been a whole week confirmed and already sticks are being brandished?

    From Politico Monday

    Alumni from the [SDNY] have said SDNY’s investigative powers and independent streak are so robust that — depending on what it finds on Trump — the office could skirt DOJ legal protocol dating to Watergate that holds a sitting president can’t be indicted. [emphasis added]

    And from Marcy’s post above

    Still, it’s hypothetically possible that Mueller believes Trump is such an egregious criminal and national security risk he needs to try to accelerate the process of holding him accountable by stopping his investigation early (perhaps having the DC AUSAs named on the Miller and Mystery Appellant challenges take over those pursuits) and asking to indict the President. [emphasis added]

    Even if CNN‘s reporting is correct, the game is far from over.

  21. dwfreeman says:

    Notwithstanding CNN and NBC’s report of Mueller issuing his final report next week, and Marcy explaining why that is unlikely, isn’t a release date more certain to be triggered by the end of Rosentein’s tenure as special counsel overseer in mid-March.

    Considering Barr is in his first week on the job as attorney general and his chief deputy doesn’t even have a DoJ background, he’d either have to find Rosenstein’s replacement to shepherd the remainder of SCO work or manage it himself. Isn’t it more likely that Rosenstein would time his departure to coincide with Mueller’s final report release date.

  22. P J Evans says:

    @Avattoir February 20, 2019 at 3:03 pm
    I’ve watched operas on TV – my father enjoyed them more than my mother, I think. I’ve heard “Cosi Fan Tutte” described as earlyish SF: they use magnetism to revive a dead guy!

  23. BobCon says:

    @Drew 2:40 pm

    I think your intuition is right. The more I read people’s parsing of the situation, the more I think this signals a reallocation of the cases, with some piece being finalized by Mueller but not a closing of the cases being sent elsewhere.

    What I’m not clear on is how much happens in the near future. I’m also left wondering whether Mueller’s handoff means other units are going to be starting work on these issues, or whether his handoff will dovetail into existing work. There is still a lot under the surface.

  24. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Regarding Rosenstein’s departure, it’s just as likely that he would time his departure so as to allow a transition period with the incoming AG and DAG. It need have nothing to do with the timeline for Mueller’s work.

    • Drew says:

      Though Mueller’s timing might be coordinated with Rosenstein’s departure plans. (i.e. all 4 of these people can plan their schedules to work out in concert)

  25. Avattoir says:

    PJ Evans, you were misinformed. Cosi is a sex comedy, Mozart’s stab at a French bedroom farce. The very title demeans women as fungible.
    The part described to you as like SF was a vignette Mozart and his librettist da Ponte devised to depict how easily men could fool young women. The so-called dying (not dead yet!} were faking it, and the device allowed composer and librettist to exploit some science-y fadism by which people who didn’t actually read Voltaire on Isaac Newton – or didn’t read at all and considered Voltaire a stage magician pulling tricks he’d learned from an English master illusionist – and didn’t grasp the then-very-much-still-emerging early understanding of the electromagnet force (which, not to blame them, was then still a number of decades from being properly described by James Maxwell) and so regarded the less-than-half-baked concepts of Franz Mesmer as some like tricksiness.
    So the young male hornballs come up with a scam, a farce within a farce contained in the face, in which their love interest would see them drink fake poison only to be revived by a maid in on the scam – using MAGNETS!!! – and try to seal the deal with ‘a kiss’ (Their scam doesn’t actually work directly but does contribute to the success of another of their scams.).
    Da Ponte knew his scams, but became only too known for them in Europe, so escaped from his creditors and others interested in killing or imprisoning him, to the eastern seaboard cities of the then-newish U.S. He did some work in music, but his chief claim to fame here began after he founded a book store in NYC and did some pro bono teaching at Columbia. His big legacy derived from his founding The New York Opera Company, which, like most things he got into, failed; but through several steps and missteps it eventually emerged as the Metropolitan Opera.

    • posaune says:

      Great comment, Avattoir.

      I still take pleasure in your idea of last year for the recast/characterization of Don Giovanni: the Don as Trump; the Commendatore as Mueller, who is silent throughout until he calls the Don forth at the end.   Brilliant!  (still thinking about Leporello, though).

      Da Ponte influenced Mozart significantly in their collaboration — primarily through his deep understanding of Mozart’s voicing — the separation of tessaturae — that resulted in the composer’s greater use of vocal ensembles (trios, quartets, sextets) in the operas.

      I once did a land survey on the Sephardic cemetery in Manhattan (garment district) where Da Ponte was supposedly buried.

    • posaune says:

      Leporello is Mickey Medallions (and his tapes)!

      p.s. prefer the Glyndebourne vocals, but that Met orchestra is sublime.

  26. Tom says:

    Ulysses S. Grant used to say he only knew two tunes:  one of them was Yankee Doodle and the other one wasn’t.

  27. Skilly says:

    I Love this Place! Come for a literate commentary on events of the day and get all that and a thorough discussion on literature of yore.

  28. Avattoir says:

    I agree with you on Mickey Medallions as Leporello.

    I’d forgotten about that earlier post, so thnx: makes me look smarter than reality.

  29. Avattoir says:

    Thnx as well to orionATL for the 2 clips. I’d watched the one from the Met before on YouTube (sadly, I’ve never been present for a Met Mozart, but I have seen other’s there – and, more importantly, felt that closing roar from the audience; haven’t come across that experience anywhere else in opera, just in a few sports events).

    I’m particularly grateful for the one from Glynedbourne because I’d not seen Gerald Finley in that role – nor been to Glynedbourne, for that matter. I DID get to see Finley as Figaro in Mozart’s The Marriage of, but at the old Covent Garden before the big renovation. A great, warm, intimate sound, and Finley was a ridiculously good Figaro. I bought our tickets on the expectation of seeing Bryn Terfel as Figaro but something happened and they’d switched nights (I’m sure you know, but for others, that’s Terfel lurking in the shadows in your Met clip). Having actually watched both live, I was glad they did – Finley put on the single most sensual depiction of Figaro I’ve ever seen. I’d still put Terfel ahead of Finley as the Don, tho: Terfel does wonderful evil parts, or maybe Finley just can’t rid himself of all his warmth.

    And then later it turned out that Finley had done this mind-blowing rendition of Papageno from Magic Flute:

    which, from when I first saw it on DVD, I thought couldn’t possible be surpassed.

    But years later, I saw Simon Keenlyside in the same role, and was torn. It’s not so much a ‘performance’, like Finley’s, as a complete occupation of character, making more sense of the birdman than I’ve ever seen elsewhere :

    Keenlyside, too, makes a better Don than Finley can – and does evil more compellingly than Terfel, or anyone.

    • OldMaineGuy says:

      I fully expect to leave EW more educated than when I arrived. You people are a pleasure, a veritable chorus validating my liberal arts education. Plus, as they say in Maine, wicked smaht.

      I was always partial to Puccini.

  30. Avattoir says:

    Yeah, well I won’t blame you. Indeed, I blame Puccini for my own addiction. Back in the 1960s I was playing around with a buddy’s short wave set-up and stumbled across a Met Opera Talk. At a point the host asked the panel – can’t remember who, wouldn’t have had clue one on any of them anyway – to name her or his all-time favorite opera recording.
    It wasn’t the first one raised, but at some point one of the panel went rhapsodic over the famous supposedly no-rehearsal version of La Boheme under Beecham, with a “luxurious dream cast” of de los Angeles, Bjoerling, Merrill et al. Then the rest of the panel, not just those yet to choose but all those who already had, conceded. So, intriguing.
    A few years on when I got my first summer job, I bought it on LP. Almost immediately, and to now over a half century later, I STILL go all Lawrence Harvey in The Manchurian Candidate over just a few bars of that. It’s like it fused with my RNA. Only ever experienced quite that opera high once, in attending a Tristan & Isolde that was … unearthly. It’s what addicts are, yes? Always on the hunt for that first glorious high.

  31. Tom says:

    Speaking of opera, the Ice Capades are said to be developing a new show based on the Mueller investigation, to be called “Trump on Ice”.

  32. chuck says:

    I read boxes + Manafort and immediately thought back to the raids on his home and storage locker (and a summer of Bates stamping—shudder) and wondered if CNN could have just picked up on an evidence transfer considering the volume of non-iPod-optimized material he had accumulated. DOJ needs to charge him on freight costs to boot.

  33. Michael Keenan says:

    The defense sure has some questions.

  34. Doug says:

    There is something that I have not seen mentioned anywhere that I would be interested in getting your take on. In the Stone docket, there is a minute order granting the SCO’s sealed motion to file under seal an addendum to their opposition to Stone’s motion to reassign the case to another judge because it is not sufficiently related to the Russian hacking case, please a sealed exhibit to that sealed addendum. It seems to me that the sealed addendum likely includes more information about Stone’s (and perhaps others’) coordination with the Russian hackers and/or Wikileaks and that the exhibit might even be a sealed superseding indictment. What do you think about this?

    • Doug says:

      I’m not sure if you are directing this to me, but the reason I think it could be significant that the SCO had information about why Stone’s case is related to the case charging Russians with hacking the DNC and distributing the information through WikiLeaks that needed to be filed under seal is that coordination between Trump associates and the Russians who interfered with the election goes to the heart of what the SCO is supposed to be doing, and any information about such coordination that is sensitive enough to have to be sealed could be significant.

  35. Mark Ospeck says:

    Re  jf-jf  “..Mueller is really just an institutionalist whose primary motivation is to uphold the reputation of the FBI and counterintelligence..”

    Spoken like a true patriot. Of the Russian Federation. But then note that bmaz* and Rayne went right straight up after you like those German shepherds go after terminators.

    imo, you’re just a raw talent that needs for more practice. Try wapo. *truth be told,  a while back, bmaz came after me.  But then I was just depressed, having already flunked out Leningrad..sry, St. Petersburg.  jf-jf  just try to be more rational and low key like the Angela Lansbury character in the Manchurian Candidate.

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