The Significance of the Rod Rosenstein / William Barr Window

As I noted here, CNN has a report that not only backs NBC’s report, but provides flesh to the logic that Mueller is providing his report to DOJ next week. That would mean several things I said in this report are incorrect — mostly that Mueller would wait until the Andrew Miller and Mystery Appellant challenges are resolved (remember, as I noted, he knows what both of those challenges will get him).

I don’t know what to expect next week. I have suspicions but won’t share them because I don’t want people to treat my suspicions with any more weight than suspicions deserve, which is not much.

I do, however, want to talk about the timing.

This is happening in the window of time when Rod Rosenstein is still around and — because William Barr has presumably not been through an ethics review on the investigation — presumably back in charge of sole day-to-day supervision of the investigation. But it is happening after Barr has been confirmed, and so any problems with the investigation that might stem from having an inferior officer (an unconfirmed hack like the Big Dick Toilet Salesman) supervising Mueller are gone.

I’m fairly certain the concerns about Barr coming in and forcing Mueller to finish this are misplaced. I say that, in part, because Mueller seemed to be preparing for this timing. I say it, too, because Barr is too close to Mueller to do that to him.

That says that Mueller is choosing this timing (and choosing not to wait for the appeals to be done). Whatever reason dictates this timing, by doing it in this window, Mueller can ensure the legitimacy of what happens, both legally (because Barr will be in place) and politically (because it will be clear Rosenstein presided over it).

So whatever comes next week, people on both sides should accept that it is the outcome of the investigation that Mueller deemed appropriate.

225 replies
      • BobCon says:

        I wouĺd put him at the top of the list, although I wouldn’t rule out Barr or the White House. There also may have been some kind of mutual agreement that they would all be on board for confirmation.

          • BobCon says:

            Could be. On the other hand, it could be one of those things where someone knew the news was going to come out anyway in the next 24 hours and Pete Williams had been helpful setting up a job interview with a guy he knew at at CNBC….

  1. Areader2019 says:

    I don’t know what to expect next week. I have suspicions but won’t share them because I don’t want people to treat my suspicions with any more weight than suspicions deserve, which is not much.

    You can tell us what you suspect, though…right? Just the people here on the website. We won’t repost it or anything. Promise.

  2. David says:

    “Appropriate” is a relative term. If Mueller is only picking this week to wind down because he knows he wouldn’t be able to continue under Barr, how much better is that than if Barr did in fact pull the plug?

      • David says:

        That’s the implicit premise of this entire frame, though. The “window” to wrap up between Barr’s confirmation and his ethics approval only makes sense if Mueller’s work would be tainted by his supervision. Otherwise why does it matter?

        • mister bunny says:

          In this respect you are correct: that is the premise.

          However, I do think the situation is better than pulling the plug because Bob and his team are still able to lay things out in a way that brings satisfactory conclusion to their work (if in fact this is a conclusion to their work, and not merely to the investigative portion of their work.)

    • anaphoristand says:

      Certainly in light of the Flynn news yesterday, one would hope the Saudi/Emirati/Israeli/Qatari aspects of the probe would outlast Mueller at DOJ, and at least when it comes to Cummings’ Oversight Committee, it appears they’ll have some longevity in Congress. I’ve found Jed Shugerman & Wendy Siegelman to consistently be two of the most accurate and aggressive on this angle.

  3. RS22 says:

    My (mostly baseless) guess is the Middle Eastern stuff was moved to SDNY. The focus of the SCO appointment order is Russia — its efforts to interfere in the election and links to individuals associated with the Trump campaign.

    • bmaz says:

      Maybe, maybe not. First off, the Turkish stuff is not different than Russia in some regards. Were the overt acts at Trump Tower, or in DC for the transition? Until that question is answered I would caution against making assumptions as to jurisdiction.

      • BobCon says:

        Are you able to give a quick explainer of how cases are assigned at DOJ in general, or is it too complicated and variable?

        I’ve struggled to get my head around when cases are assigned by geography vs. when things are assigned by subject matter, for instance.

        • eriatarrka says:

          If he handed over a case (which he’s done over a dozen times now), that prosecutor will go through the same investigation and subsequent filings as Mueller would.
          I believe this is the right answer, but don’t rely solely on me… The cases are given to prosecutors where most of the crime was committed. (Business dealings, Trump tower, campaign finance – New York, inauguration committee and hatch act violations – DC).

          • bmaz says:

            Possibly! But keep in mind most of the transition/inaugration and potential other crimes may have been committed in SDNY because the main operation was still being run out of Trump Tower before the actual inauguration.

  4. viget says:


    Thanks again for a calm reassuring take, I think we all need that about now.  Your reporting has been nothing short of amazing.

    Is it possible that by “dissolving” the SCO and farming out cases, Mueller essentially moots any Supreme Court challenge of CDC’s ruling on Andrew Miller in STL (not the pitcher)?  Since Mueller would no longer be handling the case, District of Columbia USAO would?  I have a sneaky suspicion that Kavanaugh was the guy chosen to be a deciding vote for Trump, given his compromised nature.

    Your thoughts are most appreciated.

    • Maestro says:

      The problem with the “Kavanaugh was chosen to be the deciding vote for Trump” theory is that in order for him to be the deciding vote, every other GOP-appointee on the Court would have to vote the same way. Which means that even your average conservative judge would view it that way, thereby negating the need to choose a judge specifically for that purpose.

    • BobCon says:

      I don’t think Kavanaugh does much by himself that wouldn’t happen with Kennedy, to be honest. I suspect whether it was Kennedy or Kavanaugh, the conservative bloc woukd be looking to Roberts first for a sign of whether they could get away with throwing a crowbar in the gears. The odds of Kennedy having been a deciding vote in a 5-4 decision for the liberal side seem like zero to me.

    • emptywheel says:

      Interesting thought. Since DC is prosecuting Stone they could (could already have!) subpoenaed Miller and he’d have to comply.

      • viget says:

        Thanks, that’s high praise coming from you!!!!

        Also along those lines, can DDC prosecutors still use whatever time remains of Mueller’s Grand Jury (which expires in June, if I recall)?  Meaning if Mueller dissolves the SCO, the GJ doesn’t necessarily disband too, is that right?  At least that way DC prosecutors can still continue wrapping up the remaining investigatory ends without having to impanel a new GJ and start all over.

        Also what do we know of the DC USA, Jessie Liu?  Her Wikipedia page says she worked on the Trump transition team, so I don’t take that as a good sign.

        • emptywheel says:

          I suspect so. The GJ extension is another of many things I’ve got theories that aren’t ready for prime time on.

          • Rayne says:

            A comment like yours requires further documentation; on the face of it, it looks like right-wing anti-semitic propaganda.

            The actual case you’ve referred to is U.S. v Jeffrey Alan Rothchild, court filings here. The defendant’s name at birth was Jeffrey Alan Zahler which he claims to have changed to Rothschild later. He used another identity, Ridley Whitaker, in his bank and identity fraud.

            This is a perfect example why comments like yours required further supporting documentation.

            Welcome to emptywheel, by the way.

  5. MattyG says:

    O/T but kinda related. Is it known what the chain of command or process is that would be followed in the event Mueller has collected incendiary evidence directly linking DT to a (elections/sanctions type) quid pro quo with the Russians? How and to whom would the investigation turn? I wonder how this would/will look like.

  6. J Barker says:

    EW, on a recent media appearance (Pod Save America, I think?), you said you thought it was still possible– but by no means certain– that Mueller’s final move might be an overarching conspiracy indictment, probably charging a number of familiar Trump Campaign cronies as co-conspirators in the Russian hacking and interference crimes.

    Does this news, if true, pretty much take that possibility off the table?

    I ask because it seems likely that such an overarching indictment would have to either charge Trump himself as a co-conspirator or name him as an unindicted co-conspirator. Given DOJ’s policy against indicting a sitting president, and Mueller’s deference to institutional norms, I wonder whether Mueller might include all the evidence required for that final charge in his report to the AG and then leave the decision about whether to bring the final indictment up to Barr? Is that a possibility here, or do the Special Counsel guidelines require that all indictment decisions be approved or declined before the final report is filed with the AG?

    • emptywheel says:

      No. It doesn’t.

      Zero people are reporting what the content of Mueller’s report will be. Or what will happen between now and then.

      • Alex says:

        If it’s any consolation (it really shouldn’t be), I’ve been screaming “It won’t be a report, it will be an overarching indictment!” at my computer all afternoon.

        Greatly appreciate what you do, and have done so for a decade+.

      • DannyD says:

        EW – Would the timing window have any impact on who gets to do the redactions?

        Meaning that if Rosenstein were still in charge of the investigation, and Barr still has clearances to be read-in on and details to get wrapped up, would it be up to Rosenstein to determine the redactions?  Would Barr still get to do the redactions before clearing any final hurdles?

  7. John B. says:

    “So whatever comes next week, people on both sides should accept that it is the outcome of the investigation that Mueller deemed appropriate.” Wow, that’s a big wow. I get your logic but I am still a little gobsmacked…

  8. Rick Ryan says:

    I’m thinking back to all the hubub about the “two reports,” one for obstruction and one for ‘collusion,’ and I know EW generally put the kibosh on that but I wonder, in light of this turn of events, if there might be/have been some legitimacy to that after all?

    Noting her Twitter reply to someone about SCO “pointing to the obstruction working,” perhaps what’s (supposedly) coming next week is the “obstruction report” so to speak, with the “collusion report” (i.e., counter-intelligence component) left awaiting some legal/political breakthrough and/or being handed off to another entity.

  9. Ranxerox says:

    Good god now is no time for modesty ….your suspicions are infinitely more weighty and interesting than mine! Please share.

  10. maye says:

    Could it just be a “status” report? A “here’s where we are 21 months in, and here’s what’s left to do” report?

  11. Rapier says:

    The law isn’t going to solve what is at base a political problem.

    From the mind of someone whose cognitive functions might be declining at a rate faster than Trump’s, for some reason my thoughts go to Clinton delivering a eulogy at Nixon’s funeral, and as always now days, The Enabling Act of 1933.  No matter, look at that stock market.

    It’s probably better for all concerned for me to refrain from cluttering up this august forum until baseball season starts.

  12. I Felt Mark says:

    Based on the timing, here’s my speculation for what’s to come: the world is about to come crashing down on the Trump crime syndicate. Rosenstein will approve any last minute actions for Mueller then head for the exit. Barr will shirk any responsibility for the fallout and claim, correctly, that he had not been read-in to the investigation.

    • Avattoir says:

      Hearing Big Rock Candy Mountain inside my brain now.

      Here’s what I think might be closer to the bone: Barr’s going to go for whatever he and his GOP masters think best serves the long term GOP project. Since they ARE fuck-ups, they’ll fuck some stuff up. But the goal won’t be to protect Trump; rather, it’ll be to protect their command over the GOP voter base.

      This is going to get a whole lot uglier, no matter what.

      • bie phiephus says:

        This. It’s really whether Barr thinks he can contain/bury the whole thing, or if he throws Trump under the bus to save the GOP. Given that he hasn’t been officially read in, maybe he informally heard enough to know that he doesn’t want to know. Let Rosenstein do the dirty work.

      • Cathy says:

        Looking for signs of a carrot-and-sticks plan to remove Trump from GOP fortunes:

        Might a stick be showing?

        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]

        From EW post earlier today

        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]

        Trump’s paranoia might find such talk of an indictment convincing.

        • bie phiephus says:

          Hope you’re right, but I’m not going to get my hopes too high. I expect a pretty  damning Manafort sentencing memo from Mueller on Friday, and then . . . just don’t know.

      • cfost says:

        Agree. History is rhyming.

        Nixon’s negotiated resignation was as much to save the Party as to save the country. Sure, Ford might lose the election, but we’ve got Reagan and Bush waiting in the wings, after all the hubbub dies down. We can avoid a trial by going the pardon route. We need to hold on to our autopilot voters….

        • P J Evans says:

          Bush was kind of second-line there – he only got on that ticket by forswearing his previous (much more liberal) views on female reproductive medical procedures. (That was the point where my mother officially went D.)

        • Drew says:

          This is true, though I’m not so sure that a pardon will be available for Trump–they might take “the high road” and push for prosecution themselves, or allow him to disembark from Air Force One in Saudi Arabia or Moscow and have it come home without him.

          The best way to avoid total rage from his base would be to completely out him and blame everything on him. There would always be some fascist Lost Causers, but on balance not that many if there’s a plausible “we were lied to, and we never liked that philanderer anyway, it was all other people” route for the evangelicals to take.

      • Greenhouse says:

        Aw yes, McClintock and his cigarette trees. Better than plasticine porters and looking glass ties. Hoo Haw!!!

  13. viget says:

    Maestro @1614

    You raise a good point. Perhaps I should have said that Kavanaugh is there to lobby Roberts on the idea? I could see Kavanaugh as the guy Trump (or his surrogates) turn to when it looks like they’re about to lose 5-4 to really lobby hard on something. I think he would be more up for it than Gorsuch for example, especially if they need to use kompromat to get it.

  14. Alan says:

    No one’s going to give my speculation much weight, so I’m happy to play for fun.

    1. Nothing I have seen prohibits the DOJ from making a report to Congress, or prohibits the AG/AAG from assigning that task to the Special Counsel.

    2. Nothing I have seen prohibits the DOJ from generating a report in an intelligence/counterintelligence investigation, or prohibits the AG/AAG from assigning that task to the Special Counsel.

    3. The Special Counsel has already been assigned the task of generating one or both of the above types of reports, or something intended to fulfill both.

    4. That report will be released to Congress in the next 1-3 weeks.

    5. Before that report is released, more indictments will be made–I put the over/under at three.

    6. I would lay 60% odds that at least one spawn/spawn-spouse will be indictmented.

    7. I would lay 25% odds on the Trump campaign being indicted.

    8. The President will not be indicted, and the report will say there’s a lot of smoke surrounding the President, and evidence of a successful cover-up, but not enough to indict.

    Those are my speculations.

    • JD12 says:

      I can see it going either way with the president. The fact that he’s an idiot who doesn’t text, email, or even take notes might work to his benefit. I think an indictment would have to rely on witness testimony and the people closest to him don’t appear to be complying.

  15. NorskieFlamethrower says:

    Why do some folks hold on so tightly to the hopeful fantasy that Barr will be moved by facts and the truth to do the right thing and not bury both as he has done in the past? And I have the same question about Roberts.

    • Maestro says:

      Nobody knows anything for sure of course.

      With respect to Barr, the thinking is that he’s a close, personal friend of Mueller and therefore inclined to hear him out and give him the benefit of the doubt. Moreover, while Barr had close ties to the Bushes and their appointees, he has no such connections to the Trumps. As such, while he brings a very conservative mindset to DOJ, he also has demonstrated concern for the DOJ and presidency as institutions.

      As far as Justice Roberts, he too has demonstrated clear concern for the Court as an institution and its reputation as being above politics. He’s also got the rulings to back it up.

    • MattyG says:

      If by “facts” you mean evidence DT was working with the Russians to get elected, tailoring policy to foreign specifications, etc., then avoiding the history books in a BAD light would be the reason enough for Barr to go along – even for a partisan. An investigation this broad and far reaching can’t be expected to remain capped tightly enough for him to escape the longish term if he truly sat on that sort of evidence. It will depend on the persuasiveness of the facts.

      • NorskieFlamethrower says:

        “Is Barr a GOP apparatchik or does he work for the Bushes?”

        An assumption underlying this question is that there is a difference but the lack of distinction between the two is the entire meaning of what we are going through right now isn’t it?!

        • Troutwaxer says:

          Not necessarily. The Bushes like to be in charge, and might see themselves as rescuing the Republican Party from the Trumps, and we know they don’t like Donald. IMHO it could go either way.

  16. Savage Librarian says:

    @Alan 4:33 –

    Yes, that sounds good to me! In the interim, while we are waiting for the proverbial 2nd shoe to drop, I offer this bad poetry for my meager contribution:
    POTUS 45

    Is he still real, POTUS 45,
    Or a zombie and a synth?
    Did amoebas do a  dive
    deep inside a labyrinth?

    Whatever still remains
    of facts and their sort
    I think they ate his brains
    And left behind a wart.

    The fierce American eagle
    Is representing who?
    Wars against the people
    Spewing borscht and poppy stew?

    It’s time to clean the vomit 
    To restore some dignity,
    Hitch dreams to a comet
    And destroy malignity.

    Where is the grand experiment?
    Did it wither up and die?
    Was it just too arrogant
    And wrapped up in a lie?

    Mission impossible.
    Is that the truth we hold?
    Or is the path still crossable
    For the honest and the bold?

  17. Charles says:

    Trump’s choice of lawyers makes it clear he never took the legal aspect seriously. He has treated this, instead, as a political matter to be dealt with by manipulating public opinion.

    And I don’t think we should discount Trump’s strategy. He may be stupid in one sense, but he is also clever enough to have avoided indictment despite engaging in the massive family-run tax fraud exposed by the NYT among other misdeeds, not to mention managing to defeat well-funded/well-connected rivals like Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton to gain the presidency.

    So, what should we look to from Mueller that could derail a public relations strategy, and what would fall short? I think unless Mueller can explicitly show that Trump directed “collusion” with the Russians, Trump will gain momentum, momentum that could influence the determination with which further investigations proceed. And, even though Barr may be friends with Rosenstein and with Mueller, the brief he wrote for his job interview also makes clear that he is a royalist at heart. Given his expressed support of conspiracy theories, it takes little imagination to seeing Barr subverting the current investigation into looking at Hillary’s supposed Russian connection through Uranium One. He could say he was just being even-handed. The fact that Rosenstein and Mueller seem to endorse Barr tends to make me question their capacity more than it does reassure me about Barr.

    So, I think that unless Mueller produces–by the time Barr is fully in charge of the investigation–a narrative that clearly shows actions by Trump or his family directly facilitating Russian interference in the election, Trump will win the round. While the other investigations into Trump can certainly bite, I think only Mueller can carry the “collusion” torch.

    I am especially concerned that Mueller may feel he cannot unseal indictments against the president’s family because of what happened with Andrew Weissman in the Enron case, where (among many other things) he was criticized for squeezing the Fastows by threatening to jail both parents, leaving their children uncared for. If one wants to get a sense for what the attack on the SCO will be if he does so, this article gives a taste. The sharks are waiting.

    • P J Evans says:

      he is also clever enough to have avoided indictment despite engaging in the massive family-run tax fraud exposed by the NYT

      He’s been able to buy prosecutors on that kind of state/county case. He can’t do that so well in federal cases: the judges aren’t elected, and they can’t be pressured as easily as state and county judges. He’s going to be looking at state cases, where presidential pardons don’t run, and those in more than one state.

  18. Margo Schulter says:

    Question: Any ideas about the possibility that Trump might be named as an unindicted coconspirator, as happened in 1974 with Nixon? While there are some DOJ policies that generally disfavor such an approach, I understand that, unlike the indictment of a sitting president, there may be some room for discretion under the current DOJ policies.

    • emptywheel says:

      Trump has already been described in several indictments. I’m sure they’d adopt a similar approach if there were another indictment, but I have no idea whether there is or not.

  19. Wajim says:

    I don’t know about you people but I’m waiting to hear from punaise about this.  “Oh, please, just a little magic?”

  20. Tech Support says:

    Someone help me unwind my thinking on this. I’m often guilty of excessive optimism so I might need to be nipped in the bud here.

    As I’m understanding it, there are effectively two categories of work products that can be produced by the OSC:

    1. A report on the outcome of the investigation, which would be a narrative telling of all the various facts and observations collected during the investigation, culminating in a summary of both the OSC’s conclusions and questions for which no effective conclusions can be drawn.

    2. One or more criminal indictments.

    Of the two categories it’s my understanding that only item 1, the report, is a mandatory work product of the investigation. In spite of the numerous indictments that have been handed down since the investigation began, these are all secondary deliverables, right?

    With the original referral of the Michael Cohen matter to SDNY, the reason given was that the matters being investigated were not within the scope of the OSC’s mandate and therefore needed to be referred out in order to be pursued. But, wouldn’t it be incorrect to assume that the OSC would only refer out matters that HAD to be referred out?

    I guess what I’m getting to or asking is this: Doesn’t the OSC have the option to refer out potential indictments to other jurisdictions, EVEN IF those indictments are well within the scope of the OSC’s charter?

    Because if so, it strikes me that these issues that are still “in flight” like Andrew Miller and the foreign entity, or even a massive ConFraudUS naming the Spawn etc… they could be handed off to other jurisdictions to continue the chase long after the OSC issued it’s mandatory report and shut down it’s own operations.

    In fact, given the specific political and procedural vulnerabilities faced by the OSC, might it not in fact be tactically advantageous to refer EVERYTHING out, to as many different jurisdictions as can be justified, as a hedge against being a “single point of failure”?

    The core reason I fear this is excessive optimism on my part is that what I am describing is a classic fictional trope, sometimes dubbed Can’t Stop the Signal.

  21. Willis Warren says:

    I guess my question here is why is the window necessary?  If a report comes out, and Rosenstein and Mueller are basically saving their work between the AGs, that makes sense.  But, if Mueller wants to document all of this out of concern about Barr… that really doesn’t fit with what we know about their relationship.

    Now, maybe Mueller is wrapping up or maybe the report is a sense of urgency… and that sense of urgency has to be done under Rosenstein?  I feel like this window hypothesis needs to be fleshed out a little.  Unless Mueller is concerned about Barr censoring the report in some way, the window theory doesn’t make sense unless there’s some concern about Barr.

    • Strawberry Fields says:

      There’s a sweet spot right now where Barr can be considered a neutral player with the report and the investigations can continue in different departments.

      If they continue under Barr and he doesn’t find anything on that incrimnates people they thought should be prosecuted, people will call it obstruction.

      If they can’t prosecute Jared Kushner with Russia, for example, why throw Barrs credibility under the bus?

      Especially if later on if Barr tries to prosecute Kushner on something else, say Saudi Arabia. If Barrs reputation is damaged, Trump can pull the same trick he did on James Comey and claim that Democrats also wanted Barr fired.

  22. SolidPossiblility says:

    So, what are we to expect from the dozen or so, yet to be dropped, shoes (in the form of sealed indictments)?  Is it going to be raining Keds and New Balance and (dare I say) Nikes in DC next week?

  23. Charles says:

    @Avattoir “Barr’s going to go for whatever he and his GOP masters think best serves the long term GOP project. …they’ll fuck some stuff up….This is going to get a whole lot uglier, no matter what.”

    Yes. One speculative relationship I would like to look at is WIlliam Barr’s connection to Opus Dei or similar groups. He had a speechwriter, Father John Wauck, who was a member (Wauck also worked for Sen. Casey, so it’s not like the crazy isn’t bipartisan). Barr’s Senate questionnaire is here: It lists an affiliation with the Catholic Information Center. The Catholic Information Center is quite the hub for conservative Catholics. The recent WaPo article on Father John McCloskey ( which listed Leonard Leo, executive vice president of the Federalist Society…White House counsel Pat Cipollone [and] William P. Barr” as current or former board members.

    So, a guess might be that it is not the GOP project that Barr is there to rescue, but the Opus Dei (and similars) project. Maybe Pat Cipollone suggested him.

    @ Alan “6. I would lay 60% odds that at least one spawn/spawn-spouse will be indictmented.”

    Put me down for $50 on the other side of that one.

    • Anne says:

      OPUS  DEI???  Holy shit.  These guys are  SCARY.

      I have a book  by Peter Hurtel, a German journalist, entitled “I segreti dell’Opus Dei, Documenti e retroscena” (Secrets of Opus Dei, documents and background).  Can’t find it in English, only German and French, on Amazon.

      Published in 1997 by the Protestant publishing house Claudiana Editrice in Turin, because of course nobody else in Italy would dare publish it.  Recognized the name of the translator, also Protestant.

      Executive summary:  these folks want to take over the world.  How?  Appointing folks like Barr to high government positions.  Question:  how many do we have on SCOTUS?

      • Charles says:

        I don’t want to get into a mindset of conspiracy, Anne. Because Opus Dei is not transparent, and because so many of its members have significant access to political power, it seems scary. I would say that it is just one of a number of secretive conservative religious organizations which influence public policy. I don’t know if Barr is a member. Certainly his associations with Opus Dei members like Wauck don’t mean he is. It simply means they’re comfortable with one another’s views of the world.

        But in terms of figuring out what Barr is likely to do, it pays to look at where he comes from, where he grew up, where he went to law school, who he served with in government and, of course, what specific ideology drives him. There’s a huge gulf between a Charles Koch right-wing extremist and an Opus Dei right-wing extremist.

    • Rayne says:

      Welcome to emptywheel. Please use a unique user name — perhaps adding a favorite number or another word to your username so that you are not confused with other community members named “John.” Thanks.

  24. Jenny says:

    Marcy, thank you. I always appreciate your directness and insight into this lengthy and layered investigation. It is exhausting reading about all the characters and plethora of information. As a non-lawyer, EW for me, has been an expansion of consciousness. An excellent teaching site about the law, constitution, politics and personal beliefs.

    The report next week, I say, “Expect the unexpected unexpectedly.”

  25. viget says:

    Another question for Marcy (or Bmaz, or whoever knows the answer)—

    Regarding the legitimacy of Mueller being overseen by BDTS–

    As far as I can tell (please correct if wrong), the only major action Mueller took under his supervision was to indict Stone. Does questioning the legality of Mueller’s supervision under BDTS put that prosecution in question?

    • Avattoir says:

      I’d be surprised if one of the mob of ratfuckers and swindlers weren’t to raise it, but my kiester guess is, Shouldn’t be a problem.

      Again, back to the DoJ regulations on Special Counsels’ authorities and DoJ supervision: it APPEARS that DAG Rosenstein, not BDTS, authorized the Stone charges, possibly/probably before BDTS’ big feet even landed at DoJ. The DoJ supervisor’s role in SC situations is PERIODIC review, as generally circumscribed in accordance with various parts of the regs. BDTS just being in corner office doing God knows what wouldn’t seem to create the sort of concerns Neal Katyal has expressed.

      Who TF knows WHAT all BDTS actually did on the SCO’s work, other than inform to Trump and maybe get the SCO to do that bullshit denial of the Buzzfeed story? Again, I don’t see those things as what Katyal’s been animated over.

  26. pseudonymous in nc says:

    CNN’s stakeout team will tell us if the grand jury meets tomorrow and/or Friday, and they don’t believe it has convened since January 24th and the Stone. It’s all divination, but it’d obviously raise the question of whether additional indictments are already in the can, need to be approved, or are going to be transferred elsewhere.

    (Could the DC AUSAs take over the running of the Mueller grand jury?)

  27. Badger Robert says:

    CNBC reports that the court granted a stay to Mr. Cohen with respect to his report date.
    Likely that Mr. Cohen will give a good deal of Mueller information to the House committee.
    Hopefully by the time Cohen testifies in public the oversight committee will use professional staff to expedite information.
    I anticipate a major from investigation to disclosure.
    I have to guess that Mr. Rosenstein and Mr. Mueller have thought this through.

  28. Alberta Constantine says:

    This is NOT how the matter should be handled. Vaguely sourced stories dripping out are not what the Republic needs. It may be self-serving and prove somewhat effective for the purposes imagined, but it’s also playing the American people who have endured unprecedented subterfuge, dishonesty, quibbling and crime for 2 1/2 years. Not to mention complicity with international interests over our own and a large portion of the government fighting against reason.

    • Avattoir says:

      We started out ugly in the Constitutional debates way back in the 1780s, so lack of pristine architecture doesn’t seem a reliable indicator of failure. This one, tho, is one butt ugly business, FAR worse than the problems posed by Watergate. And the republic is less fit to handle a mess of this kind than in 1974.

      We’re gonna need a bigger boadload of luck.

    • NorskieFlamethrower says:

      “We will see said the blind man.” You’re a liar said the deaf mute as he stuck his wooden leg out the window to see if it was raining.

      A quote from Grampa Ole.

  29. LeeNLP says:

    However things turn out, I only hope I can live my life the way Mueller has conducted this investigation; knowing both that every moment matters and that every moment my appointment could be terminated by a cruel and callous universe.

  30. Rick says:

    No matter what personal relationships exist, what Barr will do as AG is an unknown.

    This sounds like Mueller and Rosenstein have been thinking about the best plan of action for quite a while. Now that it’s (possibly) here, it already starts to make sense.

  31. Ewan says:

    February 20, 2019 at 4:11

    Thank you for the link. This is really something. For nuclear reactors, Westinghouse is the real deal. It has all the early patents.

  32. Frank Probst says:

    RE: Barr
    Who floated his name to begin with? I don’t get how anyone would have picked him for a Trump admin AG. He’s a former CIA lawyer, former HW Bush AG (and HW was the former head of the CIA), big-time donor to the Jeb Bush campaign, and personal friend of Robert Mueller. The fact that he had a few public anti-Mueller views wouldn’t have been nearly enough for me to overlook his LONG past history with the intelligence community and the Bush family.

    • Avattoir says:

      Trump’s got a lot of fellow grifters with him, but also a lot of GOP vets. If one were to buy the Trumpalo def’n of “coup”, I’m thinking it’s possible what happened with nom’ing Barr was kind of in that category.

      This may seem a bit out there, but IF this works out without nothing left but scorched earth (See Carthage), I’m inclined to foresee some big article in some GOP media org like the WSJ, virtually beatifying McConnell for role in this.

      Big IF left to go. And one long long way. Kinda like the nation’s very own Battle of the Bulge?

      • Eureka says:

        Kinda like the nation’s very own Battle of the Bulge?

        Do you feel like elaborating?  In musing out the many parts of analogy which could apply here-  from cold, hard winter to tactical necessity-  I end on Who are the Allies?  Which could be N/A (or could be the whole point).

  33. Moats says:

    More than fear around Barr, I believe Mueller/Rosenstein may be trying to shield him from the consequences of their work and decision(s). I believe that’s the “window”, if the theory is right. Barr, presumably trusted by Mueller, needs to be ‘clean’ to remain in the driver’s seat post-control transition.

    To mod: I commented under a different name before but can’t remember it. I’ll use this going forward.

  34. OldTulsaDude says:

    Is there a reason to worry that the collapse of Paulie’s plea arrangement has anything to do with the timing of this report?

    • William Bennett says:

      FWIW (not very much), this is the broad-strokes conclusion that came to my mind  ever since seeing the close-captions on the CNN-tuned TV at the bar I was at last night. What I very much want for the so-called “report” not to be is some version of “Due to Manafort’s perfidy we can’t definitively point to the fire under all the smoke we’re seeing, therefore we’re going to take putting him away for life as the best outcome we can manage.”

      Which is why I come to EW–so Marcy, BMAZ et al. can convince me why the obvious conclusion is wrong. But I can’t escape the feeling that–myriad countervailing details notwithstanding–that’s where it’s headed. Maybe just because life rarely if ever gives you the satisfying denouement you get in a suspense novel. Merry Fitzmas…. I sincerely hope not.

    • JD12 says:

      Probably. Last I remember is him saying his gravestone will read “lied for Donald Trump” or something like that. I think he thought it would help him get the AG job but he learned what everyone learns about Trump and loyalty.

  35. Eureka says:

    What does this mean in regards to Corsi? I thought they were waiting on the hard copy of his book, mid-/later- March?

  36. Marinela says:

    My personal speculation is that Mueller is not done yet, for one particular thing.
    To understand if Trump and co. are compromised Mueller would need Trump taxes to follow the money.
    My understanding at this moment, nobody knows where Trump tax returns are.
    The house democrats are trying to locate the information.
    So, for a detailed person like Mueller, and his team, he would need at least to line up his findings with the taxes.
    Just cannot see how Mueller can be done by next week.

    Soon enough will learn what happened.

    • Alan says:

      I don’t think they would be that hard for the Special Counsel to get.  I believe the State of New York has a copy, which would probably be the quietest way to get them.

    • Alex says:

      It’s not so much the literal “hearing from Assange,” it’s more figurative, “where in the world is he at this moment, and do we have any reason to believe his location might be about to change?”

      Per ew, I think that would be a very good indicator that the grand conspiracy charge is about to come down (which I think there are reasons to believe might be about to happen, and others to indicate it isn’t).

      @Rayne, is my name unique enough? Or should I got to one of my T.S. Eliot-base aliases?

      • Rayne says:

        Something more unique than “Alex” would be helpful. Community members can’t readily see any other particulars about you and could easily confuse you with a different “Alex.” Thanks.

  37. John Forde says:

    My assumption all along has been that Mueller as an institutionalist, will abide by the DOJ handbook and not indict Trump. But everything short of that is justified.

    He will give Trump a target letter.

    • Rayne says:

      Given what we know so far (and can guess at the rest), I wonder if it’s possible Mueller will report the DOJ handbook didn’t anticipate such norm-breaking criminal activity both past and ongoing which cannot be restrained without deviation from the handbook.

      • AitchD says:

        Further, Barr’s in big charge now and full with predicate bloat. If quantum entanglement means what I think it means, two actions would need to occur at the same moment: Barr’s whipping the Cabinet to invoke XXV just as the POTUS is becoming indicted for high crimes. That way, POTUS isn’t in fact sitting, he’s been removed, though temporarily under XXV. To persuade the Cabinet Barr probably has to assure every one in writing that they won’t have to quit show business. Finally, between that one moment, POTUS would resign as to XXV.

        • Rayne says:

          The way Team Trump stacked the cabinet, though, makes it difficult for me to believe they’d collectively work together to remove him. They’d have to have immunity granted in some cases because they are so damned corrupt.

          Or that clause in the XXVth, “…of such other body as Congress may by law provide,…” along with VP could do it but it would take a freaking miracle for this corrupt Senate to go along and do so given how deeply committed McConnell is to this presidency.

          Not holding my breath.

  38. Alex says:

    I can’t respond to you inline for some reason.

    It’s not so much the literal “hearing from Assange,” it’s more figurative, “where in the world is he at this moment, and do we have any reason to believe his location might be about to change?”

    Per ew, I think that would be a very good indicator that the grand conspiracy charge is about to come down (which I think there are reasons to believe might be about to happen, and others to indicate it isn’t).

    @Rayne, is my name unique enough? Or should I got to one of my T.S. Eliot-base aliases?

  39. HighDesertWizard says:

    There is another explanation for issuing a report next week that Explains a lot of what we’ve seen lately and an event scheduled for next week that’s also in the news.

    I agree with Marcy that, if a significant report is issued next week, Mueller deemed it appropriate to do it then. So ask yourself the question: Would a man like Andy McCabe publish his book without Mueller’s being aware and deeming it appropriate also?

    Talking points…

    — Cohen got an extension on his testimony before Congress. It will take place on February 27th. Why was it postponed in the first place?

    — McCabe is on every network suggesting that Trump may be a Russian asset and that Rosenstein was doing cabinet vote counts vis-a-vis 25th amendment considerations after the Comey firing. Would McCabe be saying these things without strategizing with Mueller, Rosenstein, and their respective teams about it?

    — If you’re a cabinet member, given everything you’ve seen and heard, are you really going to vote against removing the President if/when Rosenstein or even Barr says, “we have the following evidence about Trump and the Russians… He needs to be removed.” Are you going to vote against removing him?

    The timing trigger…

    — Trump travels to Vietnam next week for a summit with North Korea. The security communities of the US must be deeply concerned about what might happen.

    If you believe that Trump is a Russian asset (and I do) and a profoundly discontinuous phenomenon in US politics then it makes sense that bringing this chapter in the story to a close would be a discontinuous event.

    If this explanation of the entire set of events above is correct, it’s not Mueller that set the timing of the chapter end. It’s Trump himself.

    A discontinuous ending to the story is plausible.

    Trump is right about one thing. Hasn’t he been the greatest… spy of all time?

    • Marinela says:

      25th amendment solution is rather a wishful thinking.

      It is harder to execute 25th amendment. Easier to impeach the president.

      Why take the harder route?

      In both cases you need 2/3 of congress votes. For 25th amendment you need the cabinet as well.

      • Drew says:

        25th Amendment would only work if initiated by the GOP (and probably only after the caucus in both houses agrees to buy in). It would be an awful shitshow in any case if Trump were to contest it. So it would be only an option if very big stuff came out and the GOP leadership had already decided to pull the plug and get rid of him.  Even in that case, it would be more likely that they would manage to get him to leave on his own.

    • Strawberry Fields says:

      Seems like nonsense, why would Mueller risk his politicizing his case by coordinating with McCabe.

      • Dan S. says:

        Per McCabe’s own words, he had to clear the whole book with the FBI/DOJ prior to publishing.  They approved it, ergo, they set the timeline in some fashion.  Whether Mueller or someone else on the OSC approved it, I don’t know, but with the material that McCabe clearly knows about, I would say that the OSC very likely had to be involved in some manner in that approval.

    • HighDesertWizard says:

      Ok. You’ve all convinced me that my crazed speculation about what’s going on is completely wrong.

      It’s mere coincidence that the following events are occurring about the same time…

      — Trump sets a time for a summit with North Korea in Vietnam.

      — Cohen’s PUBLIC testimony before Congress is postponed until Feb 27.

      — McCabe primes the American public a week before the Mueller investigation ends with talk of cabinet vote counting and Trump being a Russian Asset…. at the same time that…

      — Barr is confirmed.

      — The grand jury period (or whatever it is called) is extended but no meetings have happened.

      All of this happening at the same time… Mere coincidence…

      • Ewan says:

        A lot of things happen about the same time all the time. The timing of McCabe is now, because it is about the 1st anniversary of his dismissal, and therefore gives the publisher/producers a good reason to insert him in news shows. Cohen testimony was postponed because it was inconvenient for him to speak before Stone’s indictment, for example. If it was postponed to long, Cummings would lose face. . . Trump meeting with NK is a (sad and demeaning but) meaningless event. Barr is confirmed because Whitaker makes everyone, including GOP, uncomfortable.

        The real issue could be that Mueller will be gagged soon…because of the start of the 2020 campaign, and would be accused to interfere with the election if he wanted longer, « He is doing a Comey » who say GOP hacks.

          • Marinela says:

            The real issue could be that Mueller will be gagged soon…because of the start of the 2020 campaign, and would be accused to interfere with the election if he wanted longer, « He is doing a Comey » who say GOP hacks

            Yes. This is the best explanation so far.

    • manymusings says:

      This scenario reads like a Hollywood plot, where the good guys literally rush against the clock to stave off impending disaster — and finally rush in at the last minute (“we’ve got it, we’ve got it! the evidence!! stop him now!!”). It would be a national drama of maximal proportions — undercutting a president while he’s center of the world stage– and one that would be bad for the country and for our standing in the world. In other words, it’s a scenario that professional law enforcement and intelligence officials would want to avoid, not create. Which is why I don’t think we’re going to see a big “gotcha” from Mueller just as Trump leaves for the summit. Don’t lose the broader perspective on the gravity of what we’re talking about. It may seem like signaling to the world we’re done with Trump is an unalloyed good — but taking down a president with zest and vigor won’t make us look wise, sober and stable. Just the opposite. Mueller et al surely know the country isn’t served by decapitating a president in the most abrupt and high-profile way; the more serious the consequences, the more it must be carried out in steps, with transparency, etc.  In fact, if next week involves some big “bombshell” — I would take that as an indicator Mueller *hasn’t* got the goods but nevertheless wants to weaken the president. (But again, don’t think that’s what will happen, because honestly our law enforcement officials as a rule don’t do that sort of thing because it’s bad for the country).

      Besides these “deep concerns” over Trump’s interactions with NK have burned for two years now — not to say they aren’t grave, just to say they aren’t consistent with a Mission Impossible ending. Maybe next week truly is some do-or-die moment; but ostensibly it’s a summit.

  40. Badger Robert says:

    If the Grand Jury is still in existence it could vote on a request to disclose the Grand Jury evidence to the House Judiciary Committee. It would be best to do that while the White House counsel is at a disadvantage relative to Committee counsel. That would make it unnecessary to even address the involvement of the Pres. in the conspiracy.

    • Alan says:

      The Grand Jury voting to disclose its evidence?  What the authority for that?  It’s certainly not FRCP 6(e)(2)

      • bmaz says:

        Well, they can vote on a resolution supporting that I suppose, doesn’t mean it happens though. In fact, even such a contemplation by the GJ would be kept secret. A GJ cannot overrule the rules.

  41. Migs says:

    I’ve had a theory since Barrs nomination that is seeming more and more likely. Hear me out…..what if Meuler wanted to make sure his report was released and treated seriously. He would need a loyal friend running the DOJ. In order to do that he has his friend Barr pen a memo to Trump personally stroking his ego and telling him exactly what he wants to hear, that the special council was illegal. With Sessions on his way out Barr becomes a logical choice. Now with Barr confirmed, Mueler knows that he is free to release the report. Kind of far fetched but is ringing more and more true.

    • Marinela says:

      Had similar thinking, but seemed too far fetched.

      We know GOP wanted him. They expect Bill Barr to protect the GOP party.

    • HighDesertWizard says:

      Migs… I’ve thought the same for a while, ever since I watched him testify in the Senate.

      And, by the way, Barr and Mueller, coming up with this plan is consistent with my theory, not proven, that next week we will witness discontinuous developments.

      EW: Is there any reason Mueller couldn’t have brought Barr onto his team without disclosing that he had so that Barr was already up to speed on the details of what Trump has been up to even before his confirmation in the Senate?

      If there isn’t, then, in this theory of how events will unfold, Barr is already up to speed and it is Barr, himself, who briefs the cabinet and the two houses of Congress on what their responsibility must be…

      I never said I wasn’t crazy.

      Still… If you disagree, please provide an Alternative Explanation of all the facts related to timing than the one I’ve suggested…


      • quickbread says:

        I don’t see why Mueller would’ve arranged for Barr’s placement. It doesn’t make sense because of the risk involved for the SC investigation. There are plenty of other GOP “adults in the room” who want to end this nightmare presidency in a way that reclaims the party. To me, it would make more sense for the Barr orchestration to have happened at that level.

  42. manymusings says:

    Two questions on the window theory:

    1. From whose perspective does Rosenstein’s continued stewardship of the Mueller report “legitimize” it politically — and whose perspective should we be worried about? Remember, McCabe just called out Rosenstein as “absolutely serious” in raising the 25th Amendment, and even “counting votes.” And that is only the latest among reasons that Rosenstein is toxic to a substantial swath among the right. Just about everything that “legitimizes” Rosenstein to Trump critics/Mueller supporters disqualifies him to a lot of the right, especially the base. Folks here may not give a rip what that segment thinks — but the GOP does. In fact, Barr’s appointment, from the right’s perspective, is supposed to assuage everybody, but most importantly the rank and file right. And beyond the GOP, many among the Washington establishment are concerned BOTH to try to preserve or salvage the stature and legitimacy of the institutions involved, whatever the outcome, AND to try to prevent a civic meltdown if Mueller brings down a president. Batting away the perspective of Trump’s base as simply wrong doesn’t solve the problem. Point being, political legitimacy is a matter of perspective and the side that loses is the perspective that needs to be worried about. Which would dictate a correlation between the outcome of the report and at whom the optics are aimed: the more damning Mueller’s results and conclusions, the more it is the *right’s* perception that needs to be worried about; which (in principle) argues for Barr’s fingerprints being all over it (or at least for Rosenstein to be as distanced as possible). Conversely, the more of a nothingburger, the more it would be the *left* that would need assurances on legitimacy (and perhaps Rosenstein’s continued involvement checks that box).

    Put it this way. If delivering the report under Rosenstein is indeed part of Mueller’s calculus  — it’s not to assuage the Trump people. Take from that what you will.

    Which goes to Qt 2: Big picture, I think the idea was that enlisting Barr would legitimize Mueller’s results for everyone, whatever they are; but in actuality neither side really trusts him and whichever side is disappointed will suspect he was airlifted in to manipulate the outcome (whether by over-asserting himself, under-asserting himself, etc.). So in terms of perception, does it really matter if Barr remains hands-off while Rosenstein presides over the completion/delivery of the SC report (whatever the “report” turns out to be)? If what we see underwhelms, will it matter that Rosenstein stuck around? Who would be heartened by that? It’s Barr who determines what we all will see.

    So I guess that gets at a question 3 — does the “Rosenstein legitimacy” theory purely apply to politics, or is the implicit suggestion that Rosenstein ensures substantive legitimacy as well? But again does it really matter exactly when Barr takes the reigns? The report is confidential — Barr is the only audience, and he determines what the public sees. Bottom line, it’s his now.

    Seriously, who knows. My current take is that Barr’s volunteered for an unenviable role with really no upside, and having done so, plans to be read in almost immediately and be hands-on, and likely will act as a backstop for Mueller’s work and judgments. Whatever the Rosenstein choreography, this whole stink bomb became Barr’s the moment he was sworn in.

    • cinnawhee says:

      Interesting take on how the optics of “legitimacy” change based on where you stand and the investigation outcome. Perhaps this Rosenstein / Barr window offers both — the opportunity to close out with Rosenstein the avenues of investigation that may cause outcry from the left, while farming out remaining cases under Barr that may cause outcry from the right.

      I would like to have faith in Barr and the opinions of many (whom I respect) that Barr will protect the institution of the DOJ over protecting the president. However, I am troubled by reporting that Barr’s son-in-law has just transferred to the White House counsel’s office. What do you make of that?

      • manymusings says:

        The “both” idea makes a lot of sense. On son-in-law, if true, a monumentally bad idea by, which I have to think isn’t actually going to help but looks terrible, so why do it. He would need to be recused on virtually everything, and no one would trust it, regardless. Such a bad idea, it’s hard to believe, but there’ve been many head-hits-table decisions on all sides of this debacle.

  43. Marinela says:

    If Mueller sends report by next week, there is this possibility. The information is urgent, daming, and needs immediate handling.

    The other possibility is that all investigations are fanned out to separate jurisdictions, and this is just Mueller operating on his timeline.

    But seems odd it operlaps with the Bill Barr / Rosenstein window. Could be conincidence.

  44. SICK says:

    Can anyone explain why Rosenstein appointed Mueller in the way he did?

    In his appointment order, Rosenstein did not say that he was appointing Mueller pursuant to, or “under,” the regulations. Nor did he cite the provision of the regulations, Section 600.1, that governs the appointment of a Special Counsel from outside the Department. Instead, he wrote that he was acting “[b]y virtue of the authority vested in me as Acting Attorney General, including 28 U.S.C. §§ 509, 510, and 515, in order to discharge my responsibility to provide supervision and management of the Department of Justice.”

    Rosenstein relied only upon statutory, not regulatory, authorities in making his appointment of Mueller. Then, only at the end of his letter appointing Mueller, Rosenstein states that the special counsel regulations “are applicable to the Special Counsel”.

    Barr’s testimony during his confirmation hearing refers to following “the regulations”, but there’s no discussion of how the statutes cited by Rosenstein relate to any report made to or by the AG.

    Thanks in advance for any and all clarification!

    • Avattoir says:

      I don’t know where to start a task of ‘clarifying’ something that doesn’t make sense to start with.

      Couple of things:

      1. There’s no requirement that Rosenstein specifically identify the SC regs or any part of them. You’re seeing meaning in that which the process simply doesn’t bear.

      2. There is no such ‘statutory alternative’ as you appear to think.  The many decades line of Independent Counsel laws was completely repealed late in the second Clinton term. Since then there’ve been the DoJ regs on Special Counsel or nothing.

      I’m sort of proud of myself here for resisting the opening for snark … like, your comment might seem attractive to Justice Gorsuch and indeed a certain bent of mind that fills the Federalist Society; that is, there are actually not just lawyers but judges who have these sorts of thoughts. But they’re utterly inconsistent with the Rule of Law so bonkers in any context except some form of authoritarian rule.

      Instead, I’m going to assume you just don’t understand the Rule of Law. If so, I have Good News for you: there’s lots out there to read up on it.

      • oldoilfieldhand says:

        Upton Sinclair was prescient…”It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

      • SICK says:

        Avattoir – thanks for your reply.

        It was just a question, not meant to imply bias.

        While I agree that the “Independent Counsel Laws” were repealed, there are special counsel appointment regulations under the DOJ statutes.

        Rosenstein’s letter appointing Mueller explains the authority under which Rosenstein made the appointment.

        The importance of these details relates to how and who has the authority to terminate the appointment as well as who must abide by which rules relating to the provision of a “brief” report to congress.

  45. Tom says:

    @Drew at 8:39 am above — Ann Coulter has already called Trump “an idiot” for not following through on The Wall as he had promised, and I think it will be significant factor in the erosion of the President’s support if things reach the point where his Base is tuning in to Fox News only to see Trump being lambasted for (a) not following through on his other campaign pledges, and/or (b) being exposed as a Russian stooge and sell-out as well as a cheap crook and a con man. I realize a lot of the evidence for Trump’s malfeasance is already out there, but at some point even Fox News may have to concede they cannot maintain the charade of Trump being a victim of the Deep State and that instead he is the author of his own misfortunes.

  46. Mary McCurnin says:

    The constellation of McCabe’s book/interviews, Barr beginning as AG, Rosenstein leaving soon, Mueller potentially ending his investigation is telling me that there is hope. As an old hippie girl, I never imagined that I would pin my hope on a group of conservative men. One never knows, do one?

    Oh and thank you, Marcy for all that you do.

  47. WilliamOckham says:

    Why did Flynn get his sweet deal? He is the biggest fish Mueller has hooked so far. And yet he must have dropped a dime on someone. If there are no more indictments before Mueller wraps up, the answer has to be that Flynn gave up Trump. Doesn’t it?

    • General Sternwood says:

      The greatest fear (and this is the undercurrent of Josh Marshall’s Editor’s Blog post on this) is that “the fix is in.” And the one other point in this investigation that made me think the fix was in before was when Mueller used kid gloves with Flynn. So I liked your post because it gave me an alternative reading of that. On the other hand, it could also be that our hero has feet of clay, and/or there is something wrong with our basic belief that his pursuit of the minor characters would inevitably lead to indictments of the major characters. Still, I like your reading better!

    • Democritus says:

      I think this Saudi investigation that also made its way to the House and Cummings is part of what Flynn may have spilled.  I can’t believe we stilled havnt heard more the Seychelles and ME connections.

      I’m getting a bit worried truth be told, but I do that. Worry.

    • pizza says:

      Flynn rolled and he rolled hard on everyone I’m sure (of course not confirmed yet but probably soon).  He was the first to get snared and has still not been sentenced.  That only means he’s still useful, as in still spilling beans, to OSC.  He’s been talking a lot. I can feel it in the sentencing report.  He knows he fucked up big time.

      The general had more motivation to flip than the others.  Everyone is facing possible prison time.  Flynn had a very respectable military career and a legacy to save, even if partially.  He was going to be a huge disgrace had he not cooperated.  He’s a retied General officer and he was working with the fucking Russians – the FUCKING RUSSIANS for god’s sake!  There may be nothing more disgraceful to a US military officer than that.  You cannot underestimate how much his legacy and reputation means to him.  He had the opportunity to salvage something and re-affirm his loyalty to his country.  I’m sure he made the most of it.

      • oldoilfieldhand says:

        Lt. General Michael Flynn has been afforded dignity he does not deserve. He is corrupt to the core, a common criminal who betrayed his country for money. He disgraced the uniform he wore and the men and women with whom he served. There is no rehabilitation for a traitor.

        Michael Flynn has only one legacy…  prison. His military pension and lifetime military benefits should be forfeited.

        • bmaz says:

          Hate to say this, but I have news for you. The criminal justice system often has to deal with early and full cooperators. It is about FAR more than bloodlust for any one cooperator. Would you rather Flynn have not cooperated?? Do you think that the fact he did was not helpful? Then what is it you want??? Seriously, do you think the system is better if early cooperators get fucked to the max? Because, that is just beyond silly.

          • Chiarasfera says:

            It’s how the game is played, yes.  Give and take –  with hope that karma still comes their way eventually……

  48. cfost says:

    If I were running a disinformation “active measure,” I would want to raise expectations surrounding any Mueller report as high as possible, so that I could maximize disappointment when the actual report becomes public. I suspect some (many?) people will be disappointed.
    Mueller appears to be a straight shooter, and I would be surprised if his report strays far from his original scope. I’m still thinking of any reports in the near future as appetizers. I think that because Donald Trump has been involved in some seriously shady stuff for a lot of years, and he has been a well-known person to law enforcement folks for most of those years. He’s like a bottomless pit. The fight now appears to be over how much of the info goes public, because there is a lot of it. But if too much goes public too soon, some high placed politicians and judges go down too. Russians? Yeah, but the operating adjective should be Mobsters. That’s Donnie’s home turf.

    • pizza says:

      No offense, bu you must not have been paying attention to all of the stellar analyses EW has graced us with to date.  There are so many more apples on this tree.  Just focusing on Russia there is already publicly available evidence of a conspiracy right to the top of the Trump campaign.  That alone will be huge.

      • cfost says:

        None taken. I have been paying close attention to the stellar analysis and legal insight on EW. I read elsewhere also. The more I read about the phenomenon of Donald Trump, the more convinced I am that he is a symptom and not a cause. Bannon called him “an empty vessel” for a reason. Hillary used the phrase “vast right wing conspiracy “ for a reason, but few took her seriously. Ridding ourselves of Trump and his spawn will be great, and long overdue, but it will not by itself solve the problems of corruption, international organized crime and information warfare.

        • pizza says:

          My apologies.   I misread your post and I actually agree with you. The future is here and it’s gonna be a fun ride. Buckle up!

  49. Bob's Mont Blanc says:

    Question: has Brad Parscale been questioned in regards to anything specific towards indictment himself, or are we to have the understanding that there will be some sort of dragnet-rounding up of all the spare crooks at a later point?

    Wikipedia (I know! I know, I should hate myself) says Parscale joined the Trump organization in 2011 and that he was one of the first people Trump contacted about setting up his campaign later in 2015.

    Parscale shows up in PBS Frontline’s somewhat recent two-part doc on Facebook.  He talks about how he had 100 mili to spend on the Trump campaign and then goes  on to state that he wants a “manual” on how Facebook works, and when told there isn’t one, goes on about how he requested someone from Facebook to be made available so they could understand how the site operates.

    Chris Steele asserts in his investigative work that Trump was actively working as an intelligence officer to the Kremlin, where he was tasked with getting info on Russian oligarchs and any sanctions that had hit them for a period of 8 years.  Further, Steele reports that the Russians had begun cultivating Trump as a political candidate for a period of about  5 years (if I recall correctly), that would have started in about 2010-2011.

    If you take a look at Parscale’s business website… it’s interesting.  Rather shoddy work for someone who is tasked with web building and digital content management for a presidential re-election campaign for 2020.  And there is no pic of Brad on the “about” page that designated company leadership.  I would almost go so far as to say the photos of his employees look about as believable as the ones that slide out of picture frames that you buy.

    I *thought* that Parscale also had a role in Trump’s inaugarul, but I could be wrong.  If so, that would be a second 100 mili in big bags of unmarked cash.

    Just sayin’.

  50. Joe says:

    This is just an impossible task of looking at the impartial evidence presented and determining the lacunae that the evidence indicates, and then figuring out Mueller’s strategy based upon guesses about the lacunae. You can think of a thousand possibilities: For example, perhaps Rodger Stone kept some information that was meant to be a dead-man switch if Trump betrayed him, and Mueller obtained it in the recent raid. Or perhaps the primary evidence existed from the start, but all of the parties had to be connected.
    This is not my desired progress of the story, but to put things in perspective: “If it be now, ’tis not to come. If it be not to come, it will be now. If it be not now, yet it will come—the readiness is all.”
    I hope you all don’t obsess about it too much, too early.

  51. ken melvin says:

    Barr said that he couldn’t release parts of Mueller’s that were about someone not charged; so … anything not released will be about Trump, no?

  52. John Forde says:

    Did Flynn wear a wire? To get that sweet a deal after that heinous a crime he didn’t just give intelligence. He gave evidence.

  53. highside says:

    I keep thinking about the 400 million in cash Trump used to buy golf properties in Scotland and elsewhere. That money was filthy. No matter what happens in the Russia probe, it’s hard to believe the Trump Organization can emerge from all of this untouched.

  54. manymusings says:

    @Migs, @HighDesertWizard

    Doesn’t seem far-fetched to me. I don’t think there could be much direct communication however btw Mueller and Barr — very bad optics and couldn’t assume it wouldn’t come out. They’d need someone like Lindsay Graham as a proxy. Around the time Graham switched to agreeing with the Pres that it was appropriate to fire Sessions could have been when this sort of plan came into focus. “I’ll back you on replacement if you nominate Barr.” Trump wouldn’t get exactly who he wanted — he’d get who Lindsay and McConnell would allow — so Lindsay could sell Barr as having the stature to survive a democrat uprising, and the smarts and experience and political savvy to play it straight while possibly mitigating damage to institutions, including the presidency — all of which has the benefit of being true. Barr is probably the result of negotiations between McConnell/Graham and Trump; the Mueller/Barr friendship surely in the backdrop but probably not an active part of how it went down.

    On discontinuous developments next week — I noted above that I find it unlikely; that’s assuming that whatever Mueller has, if anything, is more of a plodding, prosecutorial case that would need to be unpacked for the public and then presented to a court or taken up by Congress; not a bombshell or smoking gun (would that have taken two years?). I suppose a huge revelation might warrant this sort of rollout … but still just doesn’t seem like how it would be choreographed (especially not under a newly installed Barr, cast as the neutral “statesman”). Given the nature of the investigation so far, and the real obligation that Mueller (and Barr) would see to keep an indictment or damning report above politics, I don’t think he’ll drop it for political impact, e.g., in a way that seems designed to directly damage Trump’s foreign policy efforts. It’s not like he’s off to punch in the launch codes (that we know of …).

    So, what to make of the timing? I have what would be an unpopular opinion around here, so I won’t delve too far down the rabbit hole. I’m not trying to troll. But to try to flesh out alternative possibilities. One thing to consider is that it’s not certain we’re dealing with black and white — as in, there is actually evidence of wrongdoing among pre-Mueller phases of the investigation, including FISA abuse which is very serious (and would have a lot of background players circling the wagons) and also criminal leaking, and that could prompt players (e.g., McCabe) to act for self-interested reasons that might not clearly line up with what Mueller’s doing. Pinning 25th Amendment on Rosenstein, over his own denials — how is that helpful to the DOJ, the FBI, Mueller, or to anyone’s credibility or perceived motives? (although it may have some CYA value for McCabe). Think as someone who hasn’t spent time following all the threads. It can sound like an alarming Constitutional over-reach or what Trump’s been saying all along — the FBI/DOJ were out to get him from the beginning. IMO not a good “primer” for a damning report on the horizon (contrast McCabe’s answers about FBI state of mind/worries about Trump back in May 2017 — seems like a much less extreme and thus far more mainstream-friendly primer for impending accusations ….).

    Re the summit: As I noted above, I think the reason Mueller would base his timing on impact (e.g., during foreign diplomacy effort), as opposed to administrative and prosecutorial judgment, would be if he *doesn’t* have the goods and thus his priority is not the integrity (perceived neutrality) of the case but to stoke public worry about a president he finds terrifying but can’t indict for conspiracy. I just don’t think dropping a report during presidential diplomacy is a move that comes from strength. Which is to say, if that’s what Mueller is doing, I don’t think the obvious assumption is that he’s got a bombshell report, but just as likely the opposite. Plus, even the report has a smoking gun — will we even know in real time? Only Barr will actually get the report — in principle we won’t know any more than we do today — so dropping it during the summit would only have the effect of prompting wild speculation to compete with the news cycle. I’m betting it’ll miss the summit. Here’s what I’d predict from where we are today: when the report is delivered, we’ll be informed as to whether it includes an indictment or indictable offenses of the president; if so, it won’t be delivered until Trump is back on U.S. soil, even if barely. If it “clears” Trump, it’ll drop at least 24-48 hrs before Trump leaves U.S. soil, to allow a solid cycle of “now where do the inquiries go …..” reporting.

    As to why Mueller appears to have waited for Barr? Well either he thought Whittaker might throw a roadblock to protect the president, or the investigation outcome is a fizzle and he needs Barr’s perceived stature for credibility, so it doesn’t look like Trump’s stooge derailed it all. And that might be why it seems some attention is shifting to non-conspiracy/ non-Mueller crimes (e.g. Cohen, SDNY) and Adam Schiff is saying that even if Mueller’s investigation is inconclusive his committee will keep at it.

    An the oh-so-coincidental timing of Cohen testimony (Feb. 27!). That’s Congress, not Mueller. And unlike Mueller/DOJ — the dems ARE interested in maximum political impact. Of course they’d jump at the chance to dovetail off of Mueller’s report and populate the news cycle during the NK summit. Doubtful there’s any coordination here with Mueller. They would want his sign-off re effect on the investigation, but once cleared on that, I doubt they’d take direction or give Mueller a veto on when they schedule it. Scheduling Cohen doesn’t mean they know what Mueller has in store — in fact, apart from what they can piece togoether from their own clearances/access to evidence, they don’t know any more than we do. They just see a good opportunity.

    Anyway — who knows! All speculation and we don’t even know if what was reported today about timing will turn out to be true. I do think though that events and information in the public domain can be read different ways!

  55. Democritus says:

    Fearless, thank you for all you have done throughout this insane ass time, I just saw shit for brains Tracy whatever neckbeard thread, to be honest I don’t know who he is other than he seems to engage in what i amazingly saw referred to as Pundit Darwinism n Reddit, not by me I’m not that clever. Anyway he seems the type auditioning for RW $$$, so he gets selected by the billionaire class for punditry survival.

    Anyway, I doubt you care what a random disabled aspie thinks, but ignore the haters. Which you probably have way more experience with, and likely don’t care about anyway lol, and this is just me over empathizing. But yeah so what if you were wrong with a reasonable suspion, a ton of new info was released today including the news that Mueller may not want to wait for tech prosecutions but saw this as an investigatory mission.

    Nobody knew that. We were all wrong . Admitting and moving on with minimum of fuss, without letting others get under your skin is the way to go. He seems to be the one trying to blow up a minuscule thing and should go pound sand. Makes fart noise out the side of my mouth 😯🤭😉

    To me, and I’m overly literal, you are always careful to say what you suspect, what you know and what you think. I am rarely confused by vagueness about the logical flow of the argument. What you suspected was wrong, you didn’t lie or any BS like that asstwerp twatwaffle is insinuating, so, sigh.

    Anyway I’m here not able to sleep, again, freaking out a bit about the report, especially with nutty CG terrorist who may have had caches, thanks Malcom Nance for suggesting that possibility I wouldn’t have realized.

    Meh, thinks about warm milk.

    Anyway, everyone I’ve lurking around and reading for a year, thank you and here we go. Stay safe, and watch out cause the trolls are coming.

  56. Willis Warren says:

    Alex, as far as I know, Assange is still in the embassy. I don’t suspect the Russians or the USA are going to let him talk anymore, and I expect him to die there. The Russians can shut him up and blame the USA, which is pretty much how they’ve always operated

  57. Leila512 says:

    Q: Can Mueller unseal any previously filed sealed indictments without Barr’s approval? In other words, has the train left the station on any sealed indictments? Thanks (obviously, I’m not a lawyer…)

    • bmaz says:

      Yes. Getting an indictment would be noticed to the DAG/AG but the ministerial act of unsealing one would not trigger that by my understanding. Also, the court does the unsealing upon request. That said, I seriously caution folks to disabuse themselves of the notion that there is a treasure trove of sealed indictments out there. That is almost certainly not the case.

  58. hrudey says:

    I have this weird idea that the timing of the ratfuck raid and Manafort’s lack of candor may be related. I don’t know how to put the pieces together, but something along the lines of that they knew there was some sort of documentary evidence of the conduit from the campaign to the GRU via Stone and Wikileaks, but didn’t know precisely where or what it was yet. They may have been pushing Manafort for info on something to this effect knowing he’d point them the wrong way, and in doing so not tip off the joint defense arrangement that the net was closing in, until they were able to get whatever was needed to confirm it and then raid the ratfucker to parallel construct that.

    It all seems way too elaborate to be what really happened, though, but it’s an idea that keeps nagging me.

  59. Alan says:

    One thing we should maybe look at, if we’re reading the tea leaves, who has NOT been interviewed by the Special Counsel, but probably has relevant info? IMO, anyone who hasn’t been interviewed has a good chance of being on the target list and a fair bit of exposure to an indictment.

    I wonder if “the report is almost done” is actually a smoke screen, and what we’re really going to see next week is a few very big take downs (Jr, Kushner) with simultaneous search warrants and the seizure of documents and devices?

  60. pseudonymous in nc says:

    @Bob’s Mont Blanc: it is very unclear if Parscale has been interviewed by Mueller’s team — he did speak to HPSCI back when Nunes was chair — though we didn’t have confirmation of Huckabee Sanders’ interview until last week.

    As someone noted on the twitters, the outline Cummings shared for Cohen’s public testimony presumably reflects the sign-off of SDNY and Mueller’s office. (The closed session with HPSCI may have different ground rules.) In both cases, the chairs will have deferred to prosecutors on timing. So, we’ll see what happens between now and then.

  61. LillyH says:

    Thank all you guys for the solid work you do in educating me.
    I couldn’t (sigh) make the reply button work and I wanted to add to the Migs/DesertWizard discussion above. I could buy into a movie script where the Barr character auditioned by letter for the job in a secret plot to PROTECT the righteous Mueller character as they take down the evil President-as-foreign-agent.
    But, I live in this universe and, as Marinela noted, Bill Barr is there because he is expected to protect the Republican party. To do that, he has to protect Trump.
    But, what does Bill Barr expect? He must be a die-hard right wing Republican but is he a zealot? Will he be willing to expend every bit of personal capital he has accumulated over a lifetime (his investment in his reputation, I mean)? Even to save the Republican Party? Imagine how he would come out in the American history book of the future if my fantasy script were true. Barr saving not the Republican Party, but the Republic! Makes me want to see the movie. But, I don’t think I will.

    • bmaz says:

      Unless said statements were made directly to a government official, I do not see how §1001 liability could accrue. That looks like a WSJ reporter getting way out over her skis.

      • Alan says:

        > Unless said statements were made directly to a government official…

        idk, I’m paywalled out and can only read the first paragraph where it says “…Trump’s lawyers gave the agency ‘evolving stories’…”

          • Alan says:

            Of course it was Trump, but there would need to be evidence of that.  There would also need to be evidence that Trump knew the false statements would be given to the Office of Government Ethics in an official investigation.  That’s why my original post said “could”.

  62. cinnawhee says:

    How concerned are you, the illustrious members of the EW community, about the implications of Barr’s son-in-law joining the White House counsel’s office?

    • Jenny says:

      That question crossed my mind too.  Barr’s son-in-law, Tyler McGaughey as White House counsel, a Trump legal adviser is highly questionable.  He is leaving DOJ to join the White House.

      I would say conflict of interest and unethical: however, I am not a lawyer.  Lots of opportunities for in-depth dinner conversations over a bowl of borscht.

  63. oldoilfieldhand says:

    Thank you Marcy! As ever, we are beholden to you and remain in a constant state of reverential awe. Your ability to focus on the non-obvious, interpret subtle actions, diagnose disparate motives and uniquely compile detailed facts in a sensible, timeline related sequence are a blessing to all who read your analysis. So looking forward to the “fleshing out” of your theories…

  64. Strawberry Fields says:

    I think it’s likely Muellers already indicted the people that conspired with Russia. Stone, Flynn, Manafort, Gates, Popadolous, Assange and he’s putting these offenders in jail.

    There probably isn’t much evidence that Trump did or anyone else… Trump doesn’t email and he successfully got everyone to lie/obstruct so far. I don’t think that means Trump is safe from an indictment, just it won’t be about Russia.

    It’s an Al-Capone didnt pay his taxes scenario.

    They know what Trump did, but Russia conspiracy is probably not the vehicle prosecutors will chose to use for a moon shot.

    • AMG says:

      I think you’ll appreciate this piece by Benjamin Wittes:

      What if the Obstruction Was the Collusion? On the New York Times’s Latest Bombshell

      Wittes lays out a very compelling case that the Mueller investigation was always about Russia, Russia, Russia! Oh wait, that’s Jan’s take, Wittes is a bit more refined: “It was about Russia. Full stop.”

      Interestingly enough, Wittes notes that the “pattern of indictments brought by Mueller” is consistent with a “Russia. Full stop.” framing (much like you did).

      All of this discussion prompted me to read Rosenstein’s letter appointing Mueller and it is most definitely consistent with the “Russia. Full stop.” angle Wittes is arguing.

      Also makes me think that the “Mueller report” really is coming and Mueller really is done with his “Russia. Full stop.” investigation. Fingers crossed that it’s only the beginning of a myriad of other investigations that specifically focus on Trump.

      • bmaz says:

        Seriously?? Why is this so notable? Have you not read what has been being said here from the jump? You think that Wittes Lawfare junk is better? Really?? Maybe pay better attention to where you are commenting on. Because citing this here and now is bullshit.

        • AMG says:

          Ouch. Truly did not intend to introduce any BS here – sorry if that’s how it came across.

          Truth be told, I’m just trying to make sense of whether a Mueller report is actually coming or not and what the contents of that report might be.

          I’ll admit, I’m currently a bit pessimistic, so that’s coloring my take on everything. I thought that Wittes piece was well argued and made a compelling case that the scope of the Mueller investigation might in fact be much more narrow than I’ve thought and might in fact at its core be about “Russia. Full stop.” Combining that w/ what I’ve read about Mueller being a stickler for procedure, it didn’t seem like a stretch to me to think that if Wittes was right and the Mueller investigation is very narrowly limited to “Russian Government activities,” then maybe Mueller is ready to wrap it up having done what he can do with the scope of his investigation being narrowly confined to the Russian side of things.

          If you’ve got an example or two of how Wittes is obviously wrong about the Mueller investigation being about “Russia. Full stop.” I’d love to read up.

          I’m NOT saying Wittes right, but again, I found his argument to be compelling and I found the scenario plausible enough to be worth considering. I certainly wasn’t trying to drop a load of BS in the comments section!

          • bmaz says:

            Maybe I was too harsh. Sorry about that. And, for the record, I am not saying the Wittes/Lawfare take at issue here is wrong, but am saying that it is a rehash of the blindingly obvious. The supposed “two investigations” were never separate. And, frankly, I think we have been saying that here for a very long time. If they were separate, Mueller would not have both. It is, really, almost that simple.

            • AMG says:

              i’ll acknowledge that i’m currently experiencing a “head slapper” moment of seeing the “blindingly obvious” that’s been in front of my face the entire time, but it’s not about “The supposed “two investigations” were never separate.” issue, which i recognize is the core of what the wittes piece is about.

              and to give credit where credit is due, you all have been saying that the supposed two investigations were never separate for a long time now!  in fact, i’m almost certain that it was a piece here that was making that point that first led me to the wittes piece.

              the headslapper moment of seeing the “blindingly obvious” that i’m having right now – and frankly, i’m almost embarrassed to admit it, is that i had lost track of another component of the wittes piece – that the mueller investigation was first and foremost about russia and russian government activities and the US side was subordinate to that.

              i think over the past year, i’ve romanticized the mueller investigation and began to conflate it with what i was seeing as a decades long hunt by the FBI for the russian mafia. i also admit, i must have really misunderstood the NYT article that wittes was writing about, because i was under the mistaken impression that that investigation was a CI investigation into trump and not the original investigation that became the mueller investigation – which again, if wittes is right, is about “russia. full stop.” and is NOT the big overarching CI investigation into trump and all of his dirty deeds that i somehow thought it was.

              so again, my headslapper moment – and i admit it’s a doozy and probably means i should “delete my account” and go back to lurking for a while, is that IF the mueller investigation is as per the wittes framing, about “russia. full stop.” then yeah, i can see a mueller report that wraps up w/o touching trump.

              • bmaz says:

                No no, you are doing fine! Keep  commenting. And the “blindingly obvious” bit was directed at what Ben and Lawfare have been crowing about.

  65. Mel says:

    Just read Neal Katyal’s op-ed in the New York Times.  I’m wondering how he came up with his thesis:

    “For months, the president’s lawyers have tried to discredit Mr. Mueller and this report, but their efforts may have backfired. A concise Mueller report might act as a “road map” to investigation for the Democratic House of Representatives — and it might also lead to further criminal investigation by other prosecutors. A short Mueller report would mark the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end.”

    “Sure, it is at least possible to envision the special counsel resolving each strand of the investigation and making such information public in detail. But it is also quite possible — and more likely — to think that the president’s bashing of Mr. Mueller may induce him to issue a more limited, by-the-book report, which will spawn further investigation. And the bashing may have encouraged Mr. Mueller to turn matters over to other investigators who have not been subject to the same sorts of public attack.”

    Is this anything more than speculation?  I mean, the guy wrote the statute, so I’m inclined to think he might know something more than the rest of us trying to peek into the black box of the Mueller investigation.  But honestly it seems like guesswork to me.

    • Drew says:

      It is always a very dicey proposition to speculate on internal motivations/feelings of someone, esp. someone like Mueller, who has made a career of the role of “straight-shooter, rational, objective G-man”, so I don’t think that reacting to public attack is the best way to analyze what’s happening.

      However, emptywheel has in a number of posts noted facts similar to those Katyal mentions: that the required report is brief, at least in its requirements, that Leon Jaworski’s “Roadmap” toward the Nixon impeachment, is a possible model that Mueller might follow.

      Wapo’s article yesterday asserts that Mueller has regarded his assignment as investigatory rather than as prosecution, so once the investigation has reached whatever benchmark he’s looking to reach, the prosecutions can be turned over to others.

      There may be a big conspiracy indictment approaching soon, or maybe not. There is a possibility that a “roadmap” could go to Congress, either through the mandated report or some other method.  I read Barr as a right wing Republican, but as one who does not want to lose reputation, credibility, law license or his ability to stay out of prison for the likes of Trump. In other words, he’s not Devin Nunes or Mark Meadows. I doubt that he would do anything significant to stop Mueller from communicating with Congress anything that Mueller believed was important to communicate–that’s a high risk thing to do–there are many possible vectors to leak the existence of such a roadmap to congressional leadership, for instance, and the consequences of it coming out as a result of a court case would be dire for Barr.

  66. RWood says:

    After Stone I smiled and said “next”, fully expecting that name to be Steve Bannon. As deep as he was in the campaign, and with his position in Trumps circle, I can’t help put wonder how he’s escaped Mueller’s net?

    What did I miss?

    • RWood says:

      Mueller was willing to let someone as bad as Sammy the Bull off the hook in order to take down Gotti. I like to think he views Drump worthy of equal focus.

      I think he’ll act as he has in the past. I’d even put good money on it.

  67. Badger Robert says:

    Whatever report is created is not going to include a finding of collusion. This has been promised all along and will be delivered. The Republicans will claim that as a clean bill of innocence.
    What the talking memorandum and the report will show is the means available to the Russians to support T and Republicans, how they were applied, and what the results were in contested counties.
    Drawing any inferences from those revelations will be up to the press and Congress.

  68. Badger Robert says:

    I believe that Mueller and Barr want to get the justice department and the FBI back to ordinary business of catching drug traffickers, watching spies and turning a blind eye to white collar crime. Congress is the proper body to investigate the President and his family.

  69. Badger Robert says:

    On the other hand the report may create an employment market for experts in social media combat, and some investigators may be able to exploit that market in 2020.

  70. Jockobadger says:

    @LillyH – couldn’t reply via the button – we all know it’s flukey sometimes. Anyway, from all I’ve read here and elsewhere, Barr is a pretty solid person and a decent lawyer. If everything trump-related is as foul as I’ve been led to believe it is, I am hopeful that Barr will get read-in and act according to primary principles thereby protecting his integrity/legacy. The fact that he has been good buddies with Mueller suggests that he won’t sell us out. JHC what a world we live in. I wish I could just eat popcorn like others, but this bloody well sickens me.

  71. Jenny says:

    Humor from Stephen Colbert: The Mueller Probe Enters the Home Stretch

  72. gadfly says:

    What is the possibility of SDNY or the new NY AG dropping a New York State RICO bomb onto the entire Trump organization?  I read that Trump’s pardon power and the possibility of excluding Donald Trump from prosecution would be eliminated.

      • gadfly says:

        Bloomberg Opinion wrote:

        And if the Southern District wanted to go after Trump before [he is out of office], it has tools aplenty at its disposal. It doesn’t seem inconceivable that the office could seek to indict the Trump Organization itself and seize assets derived from criminal activity. Or it could use the RICO statute to get a court to deem the organization a criminal enterprise.

        Current Department of Justice guidelines say a sitting president can’t be indicted. But they don’t say anything about indicting the president’s business. And the U.S. Supreme Court in the Paula Jones case held that the president may be subject to a civil suit, so any civil proceedings against Trump’s businesses are also within bounds. The Southern District has a civil office, too.

        The New York RICO can be initiated by a single NY attorney which makes it easier than getting past Federal DOJ blocking which which has shut down the filing of Federal RICO charges by the DNC.

  73. Peacerme says:

    I cannot imagine that anyone can stop trump from trying to end the investigation. I mean this is clearly what trump wants and one firing after another, he has been able to keep the investigation from decreasing his power. We know this, as a fact. So there is no doubt that trump is continuing to pressure everyone he can. My feelings, not fact, but using my knowledge of his disorder, nothing is going to stop him from suppressing the truth. Nothing. Unless our legal system is able to come up with the power to stop him. I don’t see where that power will come from? Trump has more power, not less, as he puts “his people” in. Many see his effectiveness at using power and control and make no distinction between that and democracy, because they too use power and control. We operate in our families and organizations by power and control, not democracy. Democracy looks weak, slow and powerless in comparison to his use of power and control. He’s winning. It’s working. The pot is getting close to boil. Without a reverence for democracy and our constitution, trump “appears” more powerful. If nothing is done to impact his “power over” us, we are in big trouble. It’s not enough, unless his power is diminished, if we want to save our democracy. It’s truly frightening. We need a miracle not a mild mannered intellectual report that strengthens trumps position, even if it’s just for a short time. The temp goes up every time he evades a consequence.

  74. OldTulsaDude says:

    @Peacerme at 4:00 pm

    This is my concern, as well. How do you stop someone when he is the person who is in charge of the investigation? What do you do when the boss is corrupt and encourages corruption in his organization? The law can go after a mob boss. What happens when that mob boss is the president?

    Now, it appears that the Republican party is attempting to construct an American version of a Russia’s oligarchy. This is a critical time in the U.S. republic. Individual-1 must be controlled, and over the next 2-3 election cycles Congress must re-assert its equality and diminish the strength of the executive.

    I see no other way.

  75. Drew says:

    @gadfly RICO is not itself likely, as it is a very cumbersome thing to prosecute & prove. I get the impression that it is mostly used when other crimes are too difficult or too small-time to prosecute. SDNY has nothing to do with state level prosecutions-they are the Feds in Manhattan. Those disclaimers aside, I think it’s pretty likely that both NYAG & SNDY as well as other jurisdictions (Manhattan DA & EDNY for starters) could start bringing charges against the Trump Org and various individuals associated with it, including the Donald. At a certain point, the limiting factor is likely the negotiation of guilty pleas and the capacity of the court systems.

  76. david_l says:

    Just one example to make bmaz’s point: If you counted the number stone cold Mafia hitman murderers with body counts north of 20 that got off scott free for those killings in return for dropping the dime on the big fish during the Mafia takedowns, you’d both faint and be thankful they did get off scott free so people like Gotti would die in prison. Sammy the Bull, worked partly by Mueller, was one.

  77. Mark Ospeck says:

    Avattoir: Hearing Big Rock Candy Mountain inside my brain now.

    waiting, pacing around for indictments, or at least speaking court docs, but now you got me hearing it.

    Harry McClintock 1928-

    One evening as the sun went down
    And the jungle fire was burning
    Down the track came a hobo hikin’
    And he said, “Boys, I’m not turning
    I’m headed for a land that’s far away
    Besides the crystal fountains
    So come with me, we’ll go and see
    The Big Rock Candy Mountains.”

    In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
    There’s a land that’s fair and bright
    Where the handouts grow on bushes
    And you sleep out every night
    Where the boxcars all are empty
    And the sun shines everyday
    All the birds and the bees
    And the cigarette trees
    The lemonade springs
    Where the bluebird sings
    In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

    In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
    All the cops have wooden legs
    And the bulldogs all have rubber teeth
    And the hens lay soft-boiled eggs
    The farmers’ trees are full of fruit
    And the barns are full of hay
    Oh, I’m bound to go
    Where there ain’t no snow
    Where the rain don’t fall
    The wind don’t blow
    In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

    In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
    You never change your socks
    And the little streams of alcohol
    Come trickling down the rocks
    The brakemen have to tip their hats
    And the railroad bulls are blind
    There’s a lake of stew
    And of whiskey too
    You can paddle all around them
    In a big canoe
    In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

    In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
    The jails are made of tin
    And you can walk right out again
    As soon as you are in
    There ain’t no short-handled shovels
    No axes, saws, or picks
    I’m going to stay
    Where you sleep all day
    Where they hung the jerk
    That invented work
    In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
    I’ll see you all this coming fall
    In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

  78. P J Evans says:

    @Mark Ospeck February 22, 2019 at 11:14 pm
    My parents had that one on an ancient 78. I’m hearing it in my memory.

  79. David Karson says:

    This has my vote:    (From yesterday’s EW post:  “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.”)

    I actually believe that this is more than “hypothetically” possible, my guess would be 25% possible. My only basis for that my 25% assumption is that Trump has been a fraudulent slimeball his entire adult life and why would he change in the last ten years? Meaning, everytime a (Trump) rock gets turned over, Mueller, SDNY, etc. find something significant worth investigating. That, and there seems to  be enough “breadcrumbs” between Moscow, the Middle East and Trump to make me believe that this goes way past “collusion”. I think there is a 10% chance of indictment. Yes, that is not the norm. But neither is Trump the norm. This is an entirely unique situation in American political history and if Mueller was able to find smoking guns on Trump, that shows Trump aiding a foreign adversary for his personal business advantage, IMHO that would rise to the threshold of indictment.  It is not likely, but I think it is greater than insignificant–I would say 10% chance. Thanks again EW for a great website!

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