On Mueller’s Choice Not to Elaborate on Paulie’s Lies

Back in November, I noted that by finding Paul Manafort in breach of his plea deal, Mueller guaranteed he could write a report — in the form of a sentencing memo laying out the significance of his lies — that Big Dick Toilet Salesman could not suppress.

And that “detailed sentencing submission … sett[ing] forth the nature of the defendant’s crimes and lies” that Mueller mentions in the report?

There’s your Mueller report, which will be provided in a form that Matt Whitaker won’t be able to suppress.

Back in December, I noted that at each step of his investigation, Mueller has chosen to submit far more details into the public record than necessary, effectively issuing a report of his work along the way. The WaPo and AP have neat stories in the last few days substantiating that that remains the case.

Indeed, today’s sentencing memo reinforces that point, insofar as it includes 577 pages of trial exhibits laying out Manafort’s sleazy influence peddling with respect to Ukraine.

What it doesn’t do is what I suggested — had Mueller chosen to use it as such — he might do, if he believed his report would be suppressed by the then [Acting] Attorney General, which is to use this report to lay out extensive details of what his investigation discovered. Rather than doing that, which would totally be in the norm for sentencing memos (indeed, Mueller would have been able to present more than Manafort’s lies as related conduct), he instead simply notes that Amy Berman Jackson is already familiar with all that.

Manafort’s conduct after he pleaded guilty is pertinent to sentencing. It reflects a hardened adherence to committing  crimes and lack of remorse. As the Court is fully familiar with this proof, we do not repeat the evidence herein.

The sentencing memo then incorporates Special Counsel’s submissions on the breach determination.

The government relies on and incorporates herein its submissions on this issue.

In a footnote supporting the first statement, the memo cites ABJ’s order finding that Manafort had lied to protect a Trump flunkie in another investigation, lied to hide why and how he dealt polling data to Konstantin Kilimnik at a meeting where they also discussed a Ukrainian peace deal (which Manafort knew to be code for sanctions relief), lied about his ongoing discussions about a sanctions-relief peace deal, and lied about a kickback scheme he had with vendors he hired to work for Trump’s campaign. It also cites the transcript where she explained her ruling on those issues, which among other things deemed the August 2, 2016 meeting to be material to the investigation, including the core issue of coordination with the Russian government.

[O]ne cannot quibble about the materiality of this meeting.


This is a topic at the undisputed core of the Office of Special Counsel’s investigation into, as paragraph (b) of the appointment order put it, Any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign.

A footnote supporting the second statement cites the FBI’s declaration supporting the breach determination, which also included a slew of exhibits.

Of course, the transcript, declaration, and exhibits are significantly (almost entirely, in the case of the breach exhibits) redacted. Some of those redactions are dictated by law and DOJ regulations. The grand jury transcripts are protected by grand jury secrecy rules. The description of the other DOJ investigation Manafort lied about is protected as an ongoing investigation. And names of unindicted people are protected per DOJ regulations.

But the rest of those materials are redacted for another reason: to protect the investigation.

In addition, we know that Mueller actually didn’t show all the evidence of Manafort’s ongoing communications with the Trump administration, including communications that “provid[e] information about the questions or other things that are happening in the special counsel investigation, … sharing that with other people.” That was the only area where ABJ totally disagreed with Mueller’s claim that Manafort was in breach (she agreed Manafort’s lies about conspiring with Kilimnik were not good faith cooperation, but said making a finding that they had proven it without a transcript was “challenging”). In other words, Mueller could have presented more evidence that Manafort continued to be in communication with Trump to get ABJ’s ruling on that topic too, but didn’t, at least in part because they didn’t want to share what they knew with Manafort.

So Mueller chose not to make that information available, when he could have, especially given reports (which I have no reason to doubt) that the investigation is substantially complete. Compare the decision to keep that stuff secret with what Mueller did in the George Papadopoulos, Mike Flynn, Michael Cohen, and draft Jerome Corsi pleas, and Roger Stone’s indictment. In each of the other accusations of lying, Mueller laid out juicy details that pointed to key details of the investigation. Here, in a case where they legitimately considered charging Manafort with more false statements charges, they chose to keep precisely the kind of stuff they had disclosed in other false statements accusations secret. Particularly on the issue of sharing polling data, which Andrew Weissmann described to be the “the core of what it is that the special counsel is supposed to be investigating” because they pertained to whether contacts with Russia “were more intentional or not,” Mueller kept the key details redacted to protect the ongoing investigation.

And by choosing to leave the record where it stands — by choosing not to describe what the evidence shows regarding that August 2 meeting in this sentencing memo — Mueller has deviated from the approach he has taken in every other instance (including this one, as it pertains to Manafort’s Ukrainian lobbying) where he had an opportunity to provide a speaking document.

So it was, in fact, the case that deeming Manafort to be in breach provided an opportunity — that Big Dick Toilet Salesman could not and did not prevent — to provide more information. We got snippets of that, especially on the August 2 meeting. If Mueller believed he could not present a substantive final report now, he could have presented those details in unredacted form.

But is also the case that Mueller deviated from past practice. And he did so not because he didn’t believe the lies were material, nor because he believed the lies weren’t criminal, as the lies that Papadopoulos, Flynn, Cohen, Corsi, and Stone all told also were. Both Weissmann and ABJ made it clear the lies, particularly about that August 2 meeting, were central to the topic of investigation. He deviated from past practice to protect an ongoing investigation we have every reason to believe is substantially completed.

That leads me to believe he’s certain he will be able to provide a report in some public form, presumably in the same kind of detail he has presented in all his other statements. He doesn’t need to avail himself of this opportunity to do so.

I don’t know what that means about what form the report will take. I don’t know what that means about what it will show with regards to criminal conduct (except that, presumably, we’ll get the details that remain hidden about the August 2 meeting and communications with Trump’s people).

But it does make it clear that even given the opportunity to follow past practice at a time when, according to most reporting, the investigation is substantially done, Mueller chose not to avail himself of that opportunity, instead just pointing to materials that hide the most important details to protect the investigation.

After predicting (given claims that have since not borne out that the report was coming out next week) that this sentencing memo would lay out precisely the details that Mueller chose to keep hidden with his citations to redacted documents, I argued “we’ll learn a lot abt what [reports that Mueller is done] means from Manafort’s sentencing memo tho.”

I believe it suggests that Mueller plans to and believes he can present the details about that August 2 meeting somewhere else.

As I disclosed last July, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. 

155 replies
  1. oldoilfieldhand says:

    Thank you Ms Wheeler! it is always beneficial to peruse what you post before attempting to digest the latest White House spin. Anything related to Robert Mueller and the SCO is a sure fire method to temporarily scare the bejesus out of Trump Inc. The Wheels of Justice turn slowly, but grind exceedingly fine!
    Presindebt Trump is going to be shitting bricks as we get closer to the end game indictments, and the people who have supported him, with the most to lose, are the ones he will be blaming for his troubles and venting his wrath upon. I do so look forward to seeing members of the Presindebt’s family and faithful supporters of his criminal enterprise wearing jumpsuits that match his current choice of skin toner.

      • Rayne says:

        Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username each time you comment so that community members get to know you. You’ve used three variants of “sam” to date, might be confusing to readers. Thanks.

  2. gedouttahear says:

    Indictments will get a much wider audience than a sentencing memo.
    Here’s hoping for some fat juicy indictments.

    • BobCon says:

      I don’t think we even really know what the investigation is yet. I don’t think we really know what has been spun off of Mueller’s work yet either.

      For example, I wouldn’t be surprised if Mueller decided to keep only the 2016 Russian trolling piece, and a broader investigation into trolling — other actors and/or time periods — is going on outside of Mueller’s team.

      • Sharon says:

        My guess is that’s exactly what Mueller’s been doing. His mandate was to investigate Russia which revealed decades of criminality. He’s been making referrals to other prosecutors all over the place. Possibly New York, New Jersey, Florida, California…anywhere the Trump crime family has operated. He might even be assisting prosecutors overseas. This thing is huge.

        • Xboxershorts says:

          “He might even be assisting prosecutors overseas”

          This is my hope beyond hope eventuality, that the SCO Investigation uncovers the international nature of Fascist/Semi-Fascist movements around the world and that they see that it’s tied to a relaxing of financial regulations that are used to siphon off funds from from public economic activity into gray areas and use that to generate propaganda, , buy politicians and fund covert activity against reforms, such as we saw from the pseudo-Polish terror attacks against Ukranian reform interests and yes, the Russian influence campaign.

          I firmly believe that the rise in fascist movements around the world is tied directly to the relaxing of financial regulations both here and abroad.

          • tinao says:

            This is why I like Elizabeth Warren for 2020. I think she has the best understanding and clout in regards to the financial industry.Also, I think the timing is right for a woman president. Warren/Sanders would be my top pick.

            • RWood says:

              Not that that would be a bad choice, but I don’t see a Sanders/Warren ticket winning over the younger generation of voters in the numbers needed. If Sanders is serious he’ll pick a younger VP candidate, a Cory Booker perhaps, to really rack up the numbers. Actually, I think that goes for any of the older Democratic candidates. IMHO, an Old Guard POTUS with a younger SD VP will be the winning combination.

              Personally, I’d like to see Warren given a cabinet position that would terrify Wall St. Can you imagine that? Break up the banks! Tax every stock trade! Raise taxes on the wealthy! Then, just for fun, hire Al Franken and Robert Reich to be her spokespeople. Let them do a weekly video on the “changes” being made and make sure Drump can see it in his cell.

              Ok, I’ll stop now.

    • Areader2019 says:

      It is like we are watching a poker game.  
      Mueller has won seven pots in a row….everyone else folds or loses in court.   But we don’t see those cards until the end, and then some are redacted.  We see the results, but not exactly all the details.

      We don’t know what other cards Mueller has.  This last Manafort report, Mueller did not really raise the stakes.  He did not fold, either.  I guess in poker they call that ‘pass’.  Rudy is shouting “Mueller has nothing he should fold!”  Then Rudy blurts out “well, I never said the campaign did not collude with the Russians, just that Trump did not do it personally.”   That is not just a ‘tell’ it is the poker equivalent of dropping your cards and showing everyone you have an unsuited 2 and 7.  Then Rudy says ‘forget I said that’.  We can’t forget.  We can’t unsee the fact that you have nothing.

      Another obvious tell is the attempt to undermine Mueller’s credibility.  They want to make him an angry democrat.   If they thought Mueller had evidence that exonerated the President, they would want to build up his credibility.

      No one watching the game from the sidelines knows what is going on.  We can’t see Mueller’s cards.  We may want him to go all in and show everyone his cards.  He has reasons we can not see to not do that yet.

      But we can see him on one heck of winning streak.

      • Silence Hand says:

        My take below yours is similar, but more pessimistic.

        Also, it’s not a game. It’s an existential conflict between Marquis of Queensbury Rules boxers and an ‘ndrangheta hit squad with poison knives and ranged weapons. The boxers keep winning rounds in the ring. The hit squad is on a tear outside of it.

    • Silence Hand says:

      I think that Marcy’s original take when the “Mueller Report Next Week1!!1!” thing first started last week is right. Yes, sure, CNN then put out some solid journalistic effort, reporting information correlating with that. Nothing I’d consider definitive, though. By then, confirmation bias had taken hold.

      My operating hypothesis is that a massive and coordinated anti-Mueller/SCO spin job Is in progress at this moment, qualitatively and quantitatively distinct from the constant ongoing one. The whole “Mueller Done Now Period” thing is the attack, with press spin and access journalism one avenue for it. The goal is to make ending the Mueller probe politically tenable: spin bending reality. Seems to be working.

      Evidence-based journalists who consider the whole picture, like Marcy and her EW colleagues, arent a factor in this assault because they’re circumspect in public pronouncements and tangled up by obtuse critics who pounce on every potential misstep. I mean, it feels like there’s a host of Michael Tracy types out there who get a shot of dopamine by proclaiming “Marcy Wheeler wuz wrong1!!”. Beats reading documents, I guess.

      Quite possibly the only impediment to this reality-warping media spin job has been a random shiny object: the Smollet affair. That and the “Mueller: not done” chess move of the phone book sized Manafort sentencing memo.

      • Reader 21 says:

        Agree with all this—great post. Access journalism does us citizens such a disservice—let alone those who actively aid and abet the mobsters. Am very worried Rudy et al are trying to set the stage to kill the SCO.

        • Silence Hand says:

          Thanks. Rudy is a top-line clown, and they’ve clearly been working to create a frame where it’s possible to kill the SCO for quite awhile.

          I think the latest effort is qualitatively different, and a lot more sophisticated. Someone who has their shit together (not Rudy) is running it.

    • Rick Ryan says:

      To me that’s the “optimistic”* interpretation of the lack of “speaking” in the sentencing memo: that SCO is confident it will be able to issue more indictments, i.e. that Barr/BDTS won’t/wouldn’t shut the whole thing down shortly after Manafort’s sentencing.

      As I recall, while Mueller’s indictments contain an awful lot of details, the sentencing memos have been relatively to-the-point, so the Manafort memo is in keeping with established practice, suggesting that the investigation continues more or less apace.

      As for the indictments of Don Jr. and the other spawn/spawn-in-law, that’s exactly what I assume is the next major step. I was always skeptical of the “MUELLER REPORT NEXT WEEEEEEK!!1!” headlines because I just don’t see how this can possibly end without at least a Don Jr. indictment (other than the whole thing being squashed, of course). That “I love it especially later in summer” email is about as smoking as guns come.

      On that topic, this caught my eye: Omarosa said Cohen testifying about said spawn/spawn-in-law would be a “red line” for dear daddy. Hmm, where have we heard that phrase before?

      I’ve lost track of the exact timeline of Cohen’s cooperation, Congressional testimony, and cooperation-related delays thereof, but he is finally taking the stand (or whatever the appropriate piece of furniture is) this week, with the caveat that they won’t ask him about Russia stuff (publicly). To me that, and Trump’s apprehention over him mentioning the spawn/spawn-in-law, suggests that another round of indictments, targeting the spawn/spawn-in-law, is at least in preparation.

      *To the extent that “the widespread investigation of the President for coordinating with foreign governments and international criminals to steal the election continues” might be considered “positive,” anyway. The pessimistic interpretation, and unfortunately the one my gut feels is correct, is of course that this is the start of Barr sweeping everything under the rug.

      • Willis Warren says:

        Ah, obstruction evidence #5,657

        We know that SCO thinks Manafort gave campaign data to the KGB, we know that several of the campaign transition team revised their statements after Flynn flipped. We know about the June 9th meeting, the followup, and we’ve seen nothing about any of this in indictments.

        So, we can infer that Manafort is building a case against the trump campaign, but it’s still possible that it won’t be charged for whatever reason (I can’t think of any) or that it just hasn’t been filed yet.

        Now, if trump is skittish about his kids and Cohen, which I’m doubtful, then this story makes sense… but it could just be terms for a pardon, again.

        that’s what most of these “leaks” are about, I’m sure, he’s still dangling pardons

  3. Robert Britton says:

    i feel that I allowed myself to get bambooZled once again by all the media hype this past week.

    For weeks, this manafort sentencing memo was hyped to be mueller’s opportunity to get “the report” out there so that the attorney general and BDTS and trump can’t cover it up.

    I was up until midnight like many others, awaiting with baited breathe the BREAKING NEWS. Yet the line has been moved yet again. Now it’s the manafort sentencing in the courts in March.

    And this week it was confirmed by both cnn and nbc that mueller was releasing the report as early as Friday  even the House issued a letter to Barr, para,”you better release every tidbit to Congress and the public. Or else!

    One thing I’ve learned my lesson: enough with the speculators and the speculation.

    And ive also learned that even though I try to not give in to pundits and talking heads that’s it I’m still a lemming. My strong desire to want to see a bombshell report of some form from mueller finally released to change the leverage the gop and trump have and to let the investigations begin to inform the nation about the extent of conspiracy, criminality, and more with RU, MBS, QAI, change the national conversation. And for congress to take action and impeach.  I get why they don’t start now and so their duty.  We have a complete party that that sold their country out…men and women who do not know honor, duty, or fidelity to oath like I learned when I served in the Navy. It’s not even party over country as it is greedy corrupt power hungry individuals out to get anything they can even if they have to abrogate their oaths of office .

    While I still feel played and snookered. I’m going to learn my lesson.  Be patient but vigilant.  Stop being easily manipulated by media hype.

    but make no mistake: imho we are at THE moment and THE line of battle and the stakes are high .  I am not confident the America I know and our republic will survive the massive assault it has been confronted by enemies foreign and domestic.

    Frustrated angry and hungry for a massive counter punch to finally deck our enemies. I get death by a thousand cuts.  But stabbing an enemy in the heart can be fatal  .

    Sorry for the comment barf.  Just so eager for information and for action that takes it to the enemy.

    • Dave Dickinson says:

      You and me both, brother. Very well said. I will take my piece of the humble pie now, and wait more patiently for the main course.

    • Vikas says:

      Hear Hear bro.

      Me being in central time zone, I didnt have to fight sleep, but I kept frantically refreshing my twitter feed last night and somewhere I knew it will be a dud and boy I was disappointed in media when memo released.

      • Robert Britton says:

        Me too. I knew things were in trouble when Zoe Tillman signed off then EW. Followed Craig for a bit and then went to bed. When I awoke in the AM…nothing until later. Then what a big let down. All the media and pundit hype this week was unbelievable. They are messing with people’s emotions and real lives.

        I don’t HOPE for false truths to come out or for a false / partisan report to be used in a partisan way. I see the damage done by Nunes, Chaffetz, Graham and so many other partisan hacks. I don’t want dems to do the same thing. I WANT THE TRUTH! (I CAN HANDLE THE TRUTH!)

        IMHO, Congress has abrogated it’s responsibility, handing it over to the Special Council. IANAL, but I see more than enough to impeach. If Slick Willy could get impeached for having a BJ, lying about it, what about the man who lied about paying off porn stars, who obstructed justice by firing Comey, Yates, et al. What about his near-treason in Helsinki? His lying about his deals with Russia, his covering up the Roger Stone/WIKILEAKS, and even asking Russia to find the 30000 missing emails? There is no way he’s clean. HE should have been censured by now, impeachment proceedings shoudl already be in place.

        I know I”m off point. The main point is what suckers we are to manipulation even by “the good” media and media pundits. We are so succeptible to being misled. It’s just ridiculous how corrupted our democracy and republic has gotten, not just with Trump and the GOP. America is really wobbling at the knees, and we citizens are complicit into NOT giving in to the manipulations, whether online (trolls, social media punditry) or offline.

        It’s friggin scary how easily we can be manipulated.

        • Silence Hand says:

          Yes. Beware confirmation bias.

          As a research scientist I’ve had to learn this with great pain and woe. I never stop asking “how am I wanting to fool myself this time”? Because I always want to.

        • Undeniable Liberal says:

          That is one fine damn rant. I totally agree with every thing you have stated. Manipulation…. Bravo!

    • Silence Hand says:

      I totally feel you, This is why I don’t own a television and never watch broadcast news of any kind. I tuned the whole “Mueller iz done!1!” thing out, figuring it was just sound and fury. Sure enough…

      Don’t be too hard on the MSM types, though. I think Rayne could speak to this well, but the poor mopes are getting spun 24/7 by entities with market driven psy-ops capabilities we’re only now seeing through a glass darkly. And, it’s just gonna get worse as the gap between analog reality and digital fakery shrinks to vanishing

      • Rayne says:

        Yeah re the spin. The last 72 hours with stories attacking three Democratic Senators who are candidates is a replay of 2016’s But Her Emails. They can’t see their way through this crap.

        I suppose I should point out the problem in a post. It never ends.

        • Silence Hand says:

          Please do. I’ve found your work here focusing on the nature of contemporary PR / public opinion remodeling really thought-provoking. Now is an important time for people who inform the larger public to be really aware of what’s at play.

    • Sharon says:

      “…enough with the speculators and the speculation.” I know, right? That’s why I can hardly stomach the Palmer Report any more. It’s a good place to go for the latest links, but don’t buy any of their editorial pie in the sky. It’s infuriating. Come to Empty Wheel for thoroughness and pragmatism.

  4. Jim H says:

    Solid analysis, Marcy. As always. One further consideration though: AG Barr. Could he have instructed Mueller to back off on his ‘talking memos’? That is the one thing that has changed since the last filing. New Supervision. Might that explain why Mueller changed his MO, as opposed to some speculation that he now believes he might be free to write a report as he sees fit?

    • cinnawhee says:

      ooof. I hope not, but sounds very possible. I think the special counsel regs say something about DOJ not interfering in day-to-day operations. They’re supposed to just approve or block major actions by the SCO, and then have to report on that to congress. But I don’t know how we could be sure.

    • Dave Dickinson says:

      Was there time for Barr to issue such an order before Mueller issued this memo? Barr hadn’t finished all of the paperwork he had to just to finish taking office, and Mueller’s memo would have required heavy editing if it contained Russia-related evidence that had to be removed. Instead of editing the memo, Mueller was busy moving boxes. I’ll stick with Marcy’s evaluation here and not try to move beyond it.

      • RWood says:

        I’ve had a busy day and may not have thought this through enough yet, but am I wrong to think that Mueller gave up a “safe” way to get the information out? Safe being a method that he not only controls but is free from any outside interference, in favor of a method that does have the possibility of that outside interference and less control?

        If so, that’s one hell of an advantage to give up. Whatever he’s safeguarding must be well worth it. If he and Barr don’t have an agreement already then…well, I don’t even want to go there.

        • Dave Dickinson says:

          No, I don’t think you’re wrong. I can easily accept that both you and Marcy are right that “Mueller gave up a ‘safe’ way to get the information out”. But she also points out that there are other explanations than being limited by Barr, and there appear to have been logistical obstacles to editing the memo before submitting it. I don’t know if those logistical problems were significant or that the memo wasn’t edited to conform with an order issued by Barr. But I always prefer simpler explanations. In this case, that would be that Mueller submitted the memo that he wanted to submit.

          Still, while I have certain hopes about the reasons (that he is pursuing a much bigger target and has a lot of cats to keep in the bag), I won’t exclude the possibility that Mueller conceded to an order from Barr. I simply don’t know, and I’ll wait to see what happens next…

          …even though the suspense is killing me.

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    It suggests that Mueller does not want to reveal what he knows about who and what Manafort’s lies have been protecting.  I would guess that’s because he’s still pursuing evidence of criminal conduct against that “who.”  I wonder if anything more will come out while the Don spends his executive time in Vietnam.

    • BobCon says:

      EoH wrote:
      >I would guess that’s because he’s still >pursuing evidence of criminal conduct >against that “who.”

      What I’m not clear about is whether Mueller is the one doing the pursuing, or someone else now owns the case that Mueller is protecting.

      I am guessing a lot of the confused reporting we’re getting may be due to reporters (and some of the sources who are feeding them) getting confused about the scope of Mueller’s work and the scope of other investigations.

      • Silence Hand says:

        Mueller et al. have clearly been operating with the understanding that they could be shut down at ANY moment. Thus, as noted early here, they’re continuously hedging the investigation against this by distributing it where possible and practicaI. I don’t think this means the SCO is abandoning such material. I also imaging this hedging, with attendant inter-office wheeling of many boxes of copied documents, will intensify as the endgame approaches.

  6. Democritus says:

    Great read, thank you! :)

    I’ve been wondering today if Trump allies have been hyping Mueller is coming as a head fake, or attempt to shake lose info, hence why DoJ said not next week? I don’t know…

    Alternative is Mueller and Co head faking Trump and Allies to see what they do…

  7. CCM says:

    Barr will suppress everything related to DT. If you cannot indict then DOJ should not comment. By policy you can’t indict. So no comments about DT. The only option is a referral to House of Representatives for impeachment. I am not sure regulations as written provide for such.

    • A contrarian thought: says:

      Suppose instead that Barr has actually re-assured Mueller, so Mueller knows that he can hold off, look done, and then hit all the current Trump inner circle at once. Or maybe he can let the democratic house have its turn.

      I will leave it to others to figure out if this is in fact consistent with the data.

  8. Peterr says:

    I’m with EoH.

    The career folks at State have to be scared to death about what Trump may do (or not do) in Vietnam with regard to Korea while he is distracted by what’s happening (or not) back home.

  9. Kevin Hayden says:

    Could it be that, on the eve of the Hanoi Summit, that in addition to your point, Mueller’s conscious of national security? That he plans to indict one or more Trump family members and he anticipates an unhinged response? It may be, in part, an effort to time the reveals to occur when pressing national security and foreign policy events are past.

    Trump’s most rabid supporters could create a national emergency when the final shoe drops. Perhaps part of the calculation of his timing.

  10. Drew says:

    Thank you once again Marcy. (And also for that extraordinary analysis of ABJ & the Stone hearing-I had nothing more than that to add at that time, so I didn’t post-but, wow).

    You must be right that Mueller is in no hurry to get all the facts out to the public or Congress. This would indicate that he’s confident he can continue to the conclusion of his work without disruption. However, isn’t it quite plausible that he envisions sending this information, or at least a good part of it, CONFIDENTIALLY to Congress–i.e. as a roadmap for impeachment? Of course, there is the remaining issue of inner circle people getting indicted: Jr., Jared, Bannon, etc. There’s no reason to think those wouldn’t all drop at the same time. IANAL and have no idea whether the roadmap would go to congress before or after the indictments or any other variations & nuances.

    The bottom line is that there is more to come, but it will be soon, at least in geologic time.

  11. Badger Robert says:

    The memorandum is very protective of sources and methods. He is also protecting the careers of his investigators within the FBI. The evidence is probably considerably safer now, turned over to another prosecutor, without fuss, under Rule 6.
    Trump wants the investigation finished. But he will regret it. Rosenstein and Mueller will be transformed from DOJ officials to witnesses. With respect to Mueller, he should be able to craft a public version of the evidence that will be powerful. Both men will be able to talk more freely than McCabe, having avoided being compromised by the administration.
    At this point, between elections, the Special Counsel can present facts which the people involved will have to deal with over time.
    While the Trump advocates blast out their defenses, the material demonstrating the amount of co-ordination will coming leaking out a little bit at a time, after Cohen testifies.
    If Cohen’s testimony is restricted and this report is careful, the Special Counsel is saving his disclosures for a prepared moment. No one knows when that moment will come.

  12. HCCarey says:

    I’ve worried for a while now that the coverage here was more driven by thesis than by fact. I too believe Trump conspired with the Russians. But this report offers no evidence. Objectively, Manafort should be a major source of evidence for conspiracy.  So where is it?

    Mueller’s integrity is an attractive idea but I’m worried that he’s going to bury or ignore the conspiracy angle. The rot in the GOP is now obvious to see, but a tree can rot deeply for years before it’s visible. Mueller is a Republican and it’s easy to imagine him–like Comey–cooking up some rationale that the full story can’t be told “for the good of the nation” in the same way Bush One pardoned Weinberger “for the good of the nation,” meaning to “cover our asses.” Lots of Republicans will go down if the case for conspiracy is made, and would Barr and Mueller allow that? I can see an outcome where Manafort and Stone get tossed to the wolves so trump can continue packing the courts: “look, our investigation was rigorous and thorough

    The case for conspiracy looks to me like it’s in plain sight. So why are’t we seeing it in law?

    I’m not giving up yet, but I’m not confident.

    • Rayne says:

      80-90% of the conspiracy is under our noses save for that unifying last 10-20% putting the bow on top.

      The work Manafort did for Russia against Ukraine modeled what he would do again, though the work was not as comprehensive.

      The question might not be why is this filing not the completed report, but why wouldn’t the report be complete even if these redactions were removed? And what critical items are not ready OR pose a problem if the report were released right now, including challenges related to Congress?

      What security issues must be addressed before Publish button is pressed?

      My gut says it’s not as simple as it looks to publish a final report; look what it took to get to this batch of 800 pages.

      • Pam in CT says:

        (longtime lurker, first-time poster… many thanks to y’all for this small spot of sanity and hope)

        “What security issues must be addressed before Publish button is pressed?” – that for me is the key question. The larger issues Mueller & team have to weigh are not criminal/prosecutorial; they are counter-intelligence.

        From that perspective, it seems unlikely that Mueller would make any major moves when DT is off summiting with KJU.

    • Whitevisitation says:

      I have the same reservations as you have. Too much expectation is placed on a final Mueller report. He is, like Comey, a Republican, an institutional one. Exposing the whole conspiracy including unindictable offenses and ramifications would be damaging to the nation and outside the mandate of SCO, as much as we thirst to know it all. Other US Attorney offices will pick up cases and make their own decision to indict or not ( Jared, Don jr., etc). This is over, no Presidential indictement, no public report. You can’t really blame Mueller – if he can’t see how he can succesfully prosecute a conspiracy he’s not going to go over guidelines and indict the President.

      • Marinela says:

        One possibility would be that there are threads to suggest wrong doing and indication of successful cover-up, so there is no way to prove it unless some players flip.

    • silcominc says:

      HCCarey – I agree with you. I am not optimistic about any true justice. Rayne, as you point out, all the criminality is in plain sight (which does not include all the crap we don’t even know about). We see it but we where is the law here? Where is the justice? Everyone talks about Mueller having such great integrity but there were a lot of Republicans who use to have a great deal of integrity. Hope I am wrong, but….

  13. Rusharuse says:

    So, nobody knows nothin! Buy the papers, take the clickbait, read the ads, waste your time speculate, ruminate. Trump starts the rumours, controls the narrative. Only Mueller knows the hot shit . . an he aint talkin. All the rest is us Seagulls squawking over a soggy Dorito!

  14. P J Evans says:

    @HCCarey  February 23, 2019 at 6:53 pm
    This is a memo about how Manafort should be sentenced, and why. It’s not an indictment, and it isn’t any kind of formal report. It won’t go into anything that isn’t needed for the judge to make her decisions.

  15. ThomasPaine says:

    I think the lack of “speaking” in this sentencing memo indicates we are still several “Acts” from the end of this Passion Play.  The omissions and redactions only make sense to protect ongoing investigations(s).  “The Conspiracy to Defraud the United States” indictment may be the place where the whole enchilada comes out of the oven.  My guess is that is still down the road someplace, since there is still a lot of loose ends to tie up, including the Stone evidence, the Corsi indictment / plea bargain, the Qatar bank subpoena that is still in litigation, and various other pieces such as Miller’s testimony, etc.

    The whole “Mueller’s gig is up” sounds like a lot of spin from people who are hoping the investigation ends soon with a whimper and not a Ka-Freaking-Boom.  Based on Mueller’s track record, I suspect the day the investigation is over is when Mueller packs up his stuff in his desk drawer and heads home, and only he knows when that will be.  In addition, AG Barr may be on the side of Team America and not the thugs in the WH…..he is a Bush ally, and there is still no love lost between the Bush Clan and Trumpworld.

    • Moll Flanders says:

      Barr’s son-in-law took a job as a WH legal adviser readily enough.

      I doubt the Barr clan has issues with Team Trump.

      I only hope Mueller is as Team America as we like to believe.

    • Silence Hand says:

      Agree fully. Also: Barr is old, rich, institutionally settled, and conventional. Not above the occasional assholery, but I can’t imagine he wants his historical legacy to be that of a lawless Trump flunky who sells Big Dick Toilets (and yes, this is all going into The Books).

  16. NorskieFlamethrower says:

    “…he is a bush ally, and there is still no love lost between the Bush Clan and Trump world.”

    Unfortunately the Bushes and indeed all the American oligarchy of which they are a part, has been incredibly enriched by the Bushes et al since 1971. They have much more to lose by a successful Mueller investigation and impeachment than they have to gain…indeed, they have much to lose and nothing to gain.

  17. NorskieFlamethrower says:

    Sorry PJ but the Bushes crashed the economy in 2008-09 and created the invincible oligarchy we now have consolidated with the Russians. Our oligarchy is now immune from any “crash” and the only situation in which they lose anything is in the event of a political revolution which will only happen if Trump is taken down and the military stays out of it.

      • NorskieFlamethrower says:

        The Bushes and the American oligarchy actually consolidated economic power as a result of the neo-liberal response to the 1990-91 recession under Clinton who dumped all existing political instruments inherited from the New Deal. No Dear Heart, the only way the Bushes and the rest of the bloody criminals lose anything is if Trump goes down.

  18. John1980 says:

    So, to be fair … Now that we know there were actually two instances of Manafort sharing polling data with Kilimnik … that means the NYT *wasn’t* simply furthering Manafort’s lies. I absolutely love your reporting, Ms. Wheeler, but I think an admission of error is warranted. You came down pretty hard on them.

  19. Willis Warren says:

    I’m guessing the 800 pages presented here are a “try and pardon THIS” statement.

    We know that Mueller believes Manafort was communicating with the campaign, but ABJ wasn’t convinced they’d proven it. So, it’s entirely possible your analysis is correct.

    Also, anyone dancing on the grave of this investigation is being every bit the hopeful dipshit they’ve been mocking.

    • Silence Hand says:

      Hits the nail with verve and accuracy.

      A meta-observation: our public discourse is now so warped by Trump and his ilk that the stately pace of the rule of law is incomprehensible

  20. Strawberry Fields says:

    If he knows Trump has floated pardons for silence and he can break the plea agreement on a federal offense (lying to the fbi) without showing his evidence publically. I could see that being very valuable as a threat to both Manafort and Trump. What is Trumps move… he pardons Manafort, then Mueller indicts him again for lying to protect Russia/Trump and indicts Trump for obstruction of justice.

  21. cinnawhee says:

    I think the *best case* reason for Mueller holding back info is to protect ongoing investigations. Whether or not he felt “safe” about future opportunities to get the info out, I doubt Mueller would risk damage to ongoing investigations. I hope that is the primary reason, that a pending ConFraudUS case requires continued secrecy.

    I also don’t think he’d risk putting anything in there un-redacted that he couldn’t easily prove with unclassified sources. For example, even tho the handover of polling data is known b/c of Manafort’s lawyer redaction screwup, Mueller may not have enough parallel constructed evidence yet to include that un-redacted in a formal sentencing memo. Gates’ testimony may not be enough.

    That said, I am worried about Jim H’s suggestion that we may be seeing the constraining hand of Barr in this. I don’t think Barr is a Trump lackey, but I do think he will do whatever he can to protect the GOP, like he did when he guided Bush 41 in the Iran-Contra pardons. It would be beneficial to the GOP for Barr to tone down the info in Mueller’s court filings just enough to fuel all the nothing burger claims, without appearing to obstruct.

    • Tech Support says:

      Well now, this raises an interesting question.

      “It would be beneficial to the GOP for Barr to tone down the info in Mueller’s court filings-”

      There are many GOP members in Congress today who actively and openly support Trump. Some of them are clearly true believers. The rest though? The rest of them are basically terrified of antagonizing Trump loyalists.

      I would propose to you that within the establishment faction of the GOP, who are still alive in spite of being cowed and muzzled, there are those who do not want to go into the 2020 elections with Trump at the top of the ticket and his MAGA hat wearing zombie army unified behind him. The early polls are consistent and clear. The number of vulnerable Senate seats is ample. There is an argument to be made that a post-Trump GOP could use an open primary to refresh the brand while simultaneously bleeding off some of the inspirational fury Trump engenders in the opposition. A damning enough series of reports/indictments/leaks/public testimony could change the calculus for vulnerable GOP senators. Again there will be a lot of them, enough to sustain a vote for removal from office.

      Now mind you I’m not trying to make a prediction here. I’m just saying that this is a train of thought that is surely being whispered in some corners of the GOP. (Or in the case of Gov. Hogan, being shouted from the rooftops.)

      Which leads us then to the question: Which side of the Republican party is AG Barr actually on?

  22. Barb says:

    @JoyceWhiteVance notes:

    1/2 Mueller didn’t charge Manafort in a conspiracy with Russia to defraud the US in this indictment. So we can read nothing into the absence of Russia in the sentencing memo. Mueller had nothing to gain by including it, if he has developed it. No conclusions one way or the other.

    2/2 Prosecutors sometimes include “relevant conduct“ in a sentencing memo to increase the sentence. Here, Manafort‘s Guidelines range already exceeds the maximum sentence he can receive under the law, 10 years. Introducing additional misconduct wouldn’t benefit prosecutors.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      It would serve to document the record and to encourage the court to give him the maximum sentence, which seems appropriate for an alleged lifelong dedicated criminal who had all the benefits the American dream can offer and allegedly serially committed crimes because he and his patrons wanted more.

      • TheLongGrift says:

        I’m not sure I agree here as I’m in the camp of @JoyceWhiteVance in feeling Mueller has more to gain by keeping this information out of the sentencing memo. Manafort is already likely going to jail for +10 years on current evidence so I’m not sure additional time adds any more pressure to come clean, especially if its pardonable, so it’s interesting the timing of non-pardonable activity by NY state AG.

        Regarding deviation from previous practice, I’m not sure that’s the case as the big reveals came from indictments not sentencing memos, yes?

        Has Mueller moved on from Russian probe? It certainly doesn’t appear so given all the ongoing activities like mystery appellant and reference to Aug 2015 meeting that ‘goes to the heart of the Trump/Russia probe’. Why even bother indicting Roger Stone if Mueller didn’t continue to suspect conspiracy?

        I have every confidence that Mueller and team are conducting an exhaustive investigation by the book, which is evident by the many indictments already laid out and his attempts to get Trump to testify. If anyone tries to interfere at this point that seems really unwise given the visibility of the investigation and that the Dems control the House (couldn’t they get Mueller to testify if he was interfered with?)

        • TheLongGrift says:

          Correction regarding my comment on ‘non-pardonable activity by NY state AG’ above after reading @pseudonymous in NC comment below. It looks like that action is being brought by the Manhattan DA’s office (under Cy Vance Jr.) which is at the state level.

        • Silence Hand says:

          I totally agree with LongGrift on this. Mueller doesn’t need to add publicly to the larger case here. Doing so could really only harm it.

  23. viget says:

    In my heart of hearts I hope that Mueller has a recording of Manafort talking about pardons with the Trump admin.

    With the news that NY State is prepared to indict Manafort if necessary, I wonder if there’s been a last minute deal by Manafort to keep cooperating in order to reduce his sentence. Maybe he’d elaborate more on any potential pardons as well as other crimes. Even if Trump pardons him he’s still screwed with NY State.

  24. Eslinger says:

    How many nails are needed to secure the lid on Manafort’s coffin?

    At this point the lid is firmly nailed down (with the prospect of more “unextractable” nails to be driven by SDNY), and Manafort has demonstrated that he will not be a reliable cooperator and won’t be of help in the SCO’s climb up the ladder of conspiring characters. The SCO does not need to do more in this case: time to move on.

    Will Barr interfere as the investigation continues and begins to publicly endanger as-yet unnamed, [publicly] unindicted conspirators?

  25. bmaz says:

    Strawberry Fields at 8:50 pm – nobody, much less the prosecution, “broke” any plea agreement. 5K1 departure provisions are discretionary in the first instance, and in this case the court reviewed it and agreed. The plea agreement stands firm, and Manafort will be sentenced on it.

  26. MissyDC says:

    Agree with NorskieFlamethrower. The Bushes have a lot to lose if Mueller succeeds. Came to light through Maddow’s Bag Man, the Spiro Agnew story, George H Bush tried to obstruct the investigation by asking Sen Beall to have his little brother, prosecutor George Beall, stop the investigation. Corrupt, all of them.

    Sadly, I think the same deal they gave Agnew they’ll offer Trump. Resign w zero repercussions, even waive State crimes, if he leaves. My only hope is Ivanka doesn’t get to make another play into politics because she’s a pretty face and has been able to launder her reputation through dealings w/ World Bank.(which is a whole other pile of stink!)

    • Moll Flanders says:

      I’d be overjoyed if Trump took a Spiro Agnew deal. I fear it’s going to be far more difficult to get him out of office.

      It’s refreshingly optimistic to think the GOP would ever agree to that kind of deal. They’ve changed since Nixon’s day–and would lock up Hillary before admitting Trump did something wrong enough to lose his job.

  27. J Barker says:

    Everything EW points out in this post, as far as I can tell, is compatible with what a number of comments above have suggested: that Mueller’s report to Barr is not imminent, and that Mueller plans to make a number of substantive public moves before the investigation is officially complete. Maybe those moves will result in unredacted “speaking” documents (indictments, filings, etc), which will comprise the public report EW mentions.

    This would also for with last week’s news about Manafort: that SDNY has been preparing for state level indictments of Manafort which could be dropped in the event of a presidential pardon.

    Why would SDNY be working on pardon-proof charges if Mueller’s investigation is indeed in its final weeks? Just to make sure Manafort spends time in prison, because that is What Justice Demands? Could be. Would this be enough to motivate these prosecutors?

    On the other hand, suppose Mueller still has many months of investigative work left. Then he might still want to squeeze a bit more cooperation out of Manafort. By making it clear that there are pardon-proof charges ready to go, they might be telling Manafort that cooperation is his only option.

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      “that SDNY has been preparing for state level indictments of Manafort”

      SDNY is federal. ITYM the Manhattan DA’s office (under Cy Vance Jr.) which is at the state level.

  28. David Tarrell says:

    Wild arsed guess of course, but given the unique gravity of what might unfold, wouldn’t it be cleaner to tell the rest of the story in the next speaking indictment- that might have a Trump name in it- rather than in Paulie the Rug’s sentencing memo, especially if Bobbie Three Sticks is feeling more secure now that a former colleague / friend has taken the place of BDTS? In other words, why not (1) include 800 pages on Paulie’s decades of criminality, and (2) leave off the incriminating info related to Trump, (especially if you’re suddenly feeling more secure in your job) since both of these things make it less likely Trump pulls out his pardon pen? Why not firmly establish that Trump’s former campaign manager is going to the Stony Lonesome for a couple decades- and that Donnie didn’t pardon dare pardon him- before you lay the rest of your cards on the table and say the word Trump?

  29. Drew says:

    Perhaps the grand jury will submit a report and ask that it be delivered to Congress. Not sure why we’re not talking more about this as a possibility.

  30. Charles says:

    In an earlier thread, I said that Trump views this as a battle to be won or lost in the media; also, that we shouldn’t discount his cleverness given what he’s managed to accomplish.

    Trump will take the sentencing memo as vindication–indeed, from his breezy statement claiming it shows “no collusion,” it sounds as if he was read in on it ahead of the release.

    I come away from the sentencing memo a little less sanguine that the truth will come out.

    • P J Evans says:

      Given that Tr*mp would have to have someone else read and explain it to him, I see no point in making that assumption. (Whether those who are loyal to him would take the time to read, understand, and explain it, that’s another question. That pool keeps getting smaller.)

  31. Ann says:

    Is it possible that the public fuss and bother about the investigation ending soon could be part of a squeeze-play on Roger Stone — i.e., “Cooperate now, or lose your chance forever! PS — Are you really sure that you’ll be getting a pardon out of Trump after the investigation’s over and done with and he doesn’t need you anymore? Mightn’t he prefer to discredit rather than empower you under those circumstances?” (Etc.)

    Or am I just overthinking it?

    Over(wishful)-thinking it, I guess I mean.

  32. pseudonymous in nc says:

    So: Mueller has to provide a summary of prosecution or non-prosecution decisions; Barr isn’t obliged to make public disparaging information about non-prosecuted individuals. There are lots of lacunae here. Which leaves…? Additional speaking indictments? A vote from the grand jury to transfer materials to the House, à la Jaworski? An extremely detailed opening statement when asked to testify to Congress?

    Anyway, as I’ve said before, while prosecutors try not to let emotion seep into their filings — as opposed to Concord’s troll-lawyers — they obviously fucking hate Paulie the Rug, his decades of impunity, and the entire stratum of DC society he now defines.

  33. MattyG says:

    During the plea breach hearings prosecutors pointed to a particular matter as “…going to the heart of the investigation”. Does this sentencing memo discuss that matter or reflect any of the thinking it related to? If not the face cards must still be in Mueller’s hand.

  34. Kai-Lee says:


    Agreed. It’s also puzzling how so many legal pundits describe Mueller’s purview as narrow. Sure, the over-arching matter is Trump campaign-Russia connections with respect to the 2016 election, but there are two potentially very broad (especially with these criminally prolific folk!) offshoot mandates, if you will. Per the terms of the OSC Mueller’s appointment (Rosenstein, author – from Wiki):

    The Special Counsel is authorized to conduct the investigation confinned by then-FBI Director James 8. Corney in testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on March 20, 2017, including: (i) any links and/or coordination bet ween the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and (ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and (iii) any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. § 600.4(a). 

  35. Kai-Lee says:

    Pseudonymous or any other:

    Is this particular extract from the act governing the OSC a cause for concern in this regard?

    § 600.9 Notification and reports by the Attorney General

    (c) The Attorney General may determine that public release of these reports would be in the public interest, to the extent that release would comply with applicable legal restrictions. All other releases of information by any Department of Justice employee, including the Special Counsel and staff, concerning matters handled by Special Counsels shall be governed by the generally applicable Departmental guidelines concerning public comment with respect to any criminal investigation, and relevant law.

    …and considering what Barr has said on record: “If you’re not going to indict someone, then you don’t stand up there and unload negative information about the person,” Barr said. “That’s not the way the Department of Justice does business.” https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-16/barr-could-block-mueller-report-release-but-at-risk-of-backlash

  36. Rick Ryan says:

    @ Kai-Lee 11:49

    I wonder if that “If you’re not going to indict someone…” quote might have been intended as a signal to Mueller to lay off the “speaking” about directly Trump-related things, given DoJ policy that the President can’t be indicted.

  37. Brendan says:

    I REALLY appreciate the intellect you bring to bear on all of this, and on everything else you decide to focus it upon. Thank you, Marcy.

    • Rayne says:

      Nice to see you again in comments here at emptywheel, Brendan. Please be sure to use the same username each time you comment so community members get to know you. Thanks.

  38. Strawberry Fields says:

    @bmaz at 9:29 pm
    Yes, I re-read my comment and realized I had written total gibberish, ugh. I was trying to understand if a scenario was possible:

    The plea deal was broken because Manafort lied to prosecutors.
    Lying to prosecutors is a federal crime.
    If Trump pardons Manafort, can Mueller charge Manafort for lying to the FBI to get him back in jail? Is a lie that breaks a plea agreement prosecutable? Does it have more legal weight because a judge has already ruled on its accuracy?
    Would the pardon then become evidence of a conspiracy to obstruct justice?

  39. David Caldwell says:

    The hype that MSM rolled out about the imminent Mueller final report coming out in the next few days sucked me in – gullible fool that I am. Perhaps a lot of this was as a result of Barr’s AG confirmation. But as somebody else mentioned above those Wheels of Justice in reality grind exceedingly slow. Can we assume with the new responsibility he has that Barr isn’t going to go against that norm by prematurely acting too fast.
    But by now Mueller will have been able to give Barr a detailed road map towards the final report presentation timing complete with scope for deviations. I think the next big thing may be those further indictments that will run Trump over like a freight train making him wish to hell he had never gone for this president thing.

  40. Strawberry Fields says:

    I’d like to ask a really dumb question. Could we be looking at this backwards, maybe the reason Mueller didn’t break new ground in this indictment is because Manaforts lawyers accidentally made it public knowledge that Manafort was sharing campaign data with Russians… We weren’t supposed to know that(?)… I am not sure when we were supposed to find that out, but maybe Mueller had planned to say that in the sentencing memo and now their whole speaking indictment strategy is out of sync.

  41. chuck says:

    Manafort is a proxy for the corruption Mueller has to present as being part-and-parcel with TrumpCo: Kushner, Jr, and the Conspirator in Chief. A final report isn’t going to be nested inside Manafort’s proceedings as it won’t adequately address the indictable crimes of the former two and possibility of the latter. Plus, any action against his family will make Trump pull any an all levers at his disposal–country, citizens, and constitution be damned. So he has to be hemmed in and congressionally constrained before a final report is out there.

    Maybe it’s post Cohen’s testimony to congress. He can make Trump’s criminality crystal clear. Congress can respond and begin putting powers out of reach.

    Anyways, the tipping point isn’t Manafort. It’s when we see the net tossed over all the rest. And that net will be tossed on when the prosecutor knows they’ll be able to prosecute.

  42. obsessed says:

    Questions as I feel myself sinking into a deep Fitzgeraldian/Fischmanian depression and rage:

    1. Flynn proferred enough to Mueller to earn a cooperation agreement and the initial recommendation of little or no jail time, in spite of the fact that Sullivan, who knows precisely what he did, thinks it’s morally if not technically on the level treason. Why on earth would Mueller give him this sweetheart deal if not to indict Kushner and Don Jr. at the very minimum? Why shouldn’t Flynn be punished as Manafort is if all he had to offer up was Papadopoulos and Van der Zwann (or may not even them)?

    2. Is it possible that Mueller is (as my hardcore lefty friends have screamed from the get go) really is just a GOP fixer like Barr?

    3. How on earth could Kushner, all 3 Trumps, Prince, Nader (same question about him as as about Flynn), Barrack, Broidy, Rohrabacher, Nunes and so many more not be guilty as sin of multiple felonies?

    4. WTF happened to Swiftboat/Birther Corsi’s indictment?

  43. Hops says:

    Rick Gates, also at the cigar club meeting with Kilimnik, is cooperating and his sentencing deferred. So Mueller has another shot at revealing information publicly. And when Gates is sentenced, then the end is probably nigh.

    Latest news I can find on Gate’s sentencing is that the judge gets an update on 15 March.

  44. Bay State Librul says:

    Black out, obscure, and hide?

    Do you possess these skills?

    Are you able to protect sensitive information so the public is duped, flummoxed, and deceived?

    If so, please send your redacted resume to Mr. Billy Barr.

    The job is contingent upon passing an audition, similar to a 20 page memo, where you should act brashly. Remember making a long-winded speech outlining why you are perfect for the job (role) is essential.

    The speech can be a lie, in fact we encourage it.

    Grandstanding is a must

  45. orionATL says:

    if the mueller team is “protecting information critical to the investigation”, then the game ain’t over after all, right?

    the osc will ride again. 😈

  46. Badger Robert says:

    The logic of causing a partial government shutdown while the administration is being investigated by G-men, US attorneys, and there are relevant pending charges and potential charges in the federal courts, is doubtful.
    The odd historic parallel is Colonel Custer complaining about corruption in the Indian agencies, and then going out the plains to fight the customers of the Agents. Whether Custer was right, the Agents may have said some careless things about him.
    In the current situation, some US employees involved in the investigation missed a paycheck. But many more had spouses and friends who were punished during the shutdown.
    As the Mueller team investigates the Trump campaign, they are getting in position to put Trump through the same process he inflicted on the voters: a steady current of negative information. The investigators will have thousands of pages of exhibits to back up their revelations.

  47. Badger Robert says:

    A deal in which Trump gets a “no collusion” report, and Mueller gets everything else, is potentially in the works.

    That leaves further indictments in the indeterminate zone. Those indictments would come when Mueller is willing to be fired.

    Rosenstein and Mueller probably anticipate testifying before Congress. Some testimony will be secret and hard for the White House to control. Some testimony will be public and will probably have more impact.

  48. OldTulsaDude says:

    I fear an over-reliance on the SCO.

    If, as Barr said, the DOJ doesn’t release damaging information about someone who is not indicted and if that same DOJ claims a sitting president cannot be indicted, a perfect Catch-22 exists.

    This makes it paramount for Congress to uncover any impeachable offenses that may have been committed.

  49. Hops says:

    Re OldTulsaDude @10:27,

    I think a former FBI director could figure out a way to get whatever he wants public into the open. Worst case, he comes and chats with us…

  50. RWood says:

    Someone mentioned logistics being a factor in Mueller’s decision to withhold certain information in the Manafort report, and my mind wandered somewhere.

    Remaining targets include Drump, Jr, JarVanka, and Eric-the Dence. Possibly Bannon. Possibly Eric Prince. Possibly some GOP members. Etc.

    Bannon is spouting off his usual this morning, but he’s doing so from Rome. So I had to ask myself.

    Are all these targets within reach?

    My new question is: Where’s Melania, and is Barron with her?

    • Mongoose says:

      I have been wondering why Eric Prince, Wilbur Ross, and the Seychelles meetings dropped off the radar. The old money launderer, Wilbur, and his Cyprus bank appear to have gotten away with metaphorical murder. I hope it’s not true.

  51. fpo says:

    Beleaguered optimist here – appreciate the brief on the memo, ew.

    And lest we forget…

    “The President called Dana Boente and Rod Rosenstein tonight to inform them that he has declined to accept their resignation, and they will remain in their current positions,” said Peter Carr, a Justice Department spokesman. (NYT 2017/03/10)

    “The supreme irony of Life is that hardly anyone gets out of it alive.” R. Heinlein

  52. bmaz says:

    OldTulsa Dude at 10:27 am – As there is no such term, statute or principle in the criminal law, no, no “report” will ever cover that.

  53. Marinela says:

    Can Bill Barr intervene, gather intel, or derail Manhattan cases?

    Is it correct understanding that SDNY, VA cases, DC cases, if convictions, they are all subject to pardons, but not Manhattan cases.

  54. Silence Hand says:

    The SCO’s constraints are its inherent (maybe only) strategic weaknesses: it meticulously plays by the rules, doesn’t advocate for itself in the press, and doesn’t leak. Ironically and necessarily these are also its greatest strengths. Given that, and the fact that the Executive branch could actually turn the lights off at a scant moment’s notice, chess is the only game they can play (when gamesmanship is needed).

    Marcy is right to note the absence of new big picture material in the Manafort sentencing memo. If there is more than Manafort and Stone to this, that would be a terrible error that feeds the current (fabricated) “Mueller probe over!” gambit. Let’s say the SCO now abruptly shuts down with a curt “no comment”. No serious person could see anything other than obstruction, a Saturday night massacre for the new millennium

    The high stakes phase is here. No half measures. If Mueller et al. are certain of a case that people who hold power committed crimes AND threaten the Republic they have to go to the heart of that. If the king is corrupt and a danger to us all they must strike him, and if they strike the king they must kill him. To be clear: this is metaphor.

    I’m interested to know what the EW group and regular commenters think about the initial “Mueller Scoop” take. Marcy even deleted a twitter post about it that was not far wrong, if at all

    • Mongoose says:

      Your penultimate paragraph is so important in this phase of the investigation. If Mueller manages only to scratch or avoid the target (metaphor to be sure), all is lost and our country is doomed. It makes me queasy.

      • Silence Hand says:

        Thanks. Makes me sick too. I wish this wee just some Greek play or Shakespeare thing, because living it in real life sucks

  55. the game is afoot says:

    The American people have been so fortunate to have a man like Robert Mueller investigating the Russian connection to the 2016 election. There is no doubt that Trump and his children have been operating in nefarious ways. It is so refreshing to have someone who has an honorable record over a lifetime in the position to seek and find the truth in the midst of all this outrageous behavior.
    I really appreciate Emptywheel’s insightful commentary.

    • Mongoose says:

      Does anyone here recall Cyrus Vance’s squirrelly history with respect to dropping cases against well-connected rich families in exchange for campaign contributions, e.g., Ivanka Trump, DJ Trump, Jr., etc.? There have been a few articles in the “reputable” press. This has been bothering me going forward with the current potential New York investigation.

      • Laura says:

        He is the Manhattan/NYC DA? I think you’re right – a smarmy asshole. But he isn’t a single point of failure, right? I remember reading about Leticia James’ focus on predatory lending and other financial shenanigans in her previous positions. I loved Zephyr Teachout, but I can’t imagine James will be ignoring Trump’s real estate bullshit.

        • Mongoose says:

          It is worrisome because we don’t know Trump’s psychological reach into these echelons of New York politics. In the end, everything is dirty dealing and can move quickly without chance of public input.

  56. Yogarhythms says:

    Choosing not to elaborate on Paulie’s Lies is the DOJ (executive branch) response constrained by “not-indict” sitting executive. 800 pg’s, redacted, super soil for other branches if wont. Ty Bobby 3.

  57. Tom says:

    After reading the Sentencing Memo, it seems exceedingly difficult to imagine how anyone could consider a pardon for Paul Manafort. (I wonder if that was part of Mueller’s plan.) The Memo describes a ten year plus career of crime that includes various types of fraud, obstruction of justice, and attempting to undermine the criminal justice system, not to mention selling out his country. The Memo also states that Manafort continued to engage in these criminal activities, even after entering into a plea agreement. Manafort has shown no remorse for his actions and as the government states: “Manafort presents many aggravating sentencing factors and no warranted mitigating factors.” Leaving aside the Memo, even his own daughter Jessica has changed her last name, no longer wishing to be known as a Manafort. What possible grounds could there be for giving even the merest whisper of consideration to granting this man a pardon, particularly while illegal immigrants are being charged and detained on the southern border. P.S. Having a very unusual late February thunderstorm today courtesy of global warming.

  58. Laura says:

    Marcy, I can’t wait to read the book(s) that will come out of this. I’ll be reserving my advanced copy.

    I’m interested in the SCO’s CI report, but I’m not hyperventilating over it. I see it as more of a milestone than a capstone. The SCO will nail some of the bastards to the wall, but justice will be continue to be served by the many investigations that are inevitably spinning out of the SCO’s investigation. Other lines of inquiry are being pursued by EDVA, SDNY, both states’ Attorneys General; Maryland and DC are tenacious with the emoulments mess; and who knows what other districts/states are digging into the Trump family’s extensive shady activities? Mueller’s team had enough evidence to produce an 800 page sentencing memo on one corrupt sociopath. Think of what they could write about the Trump family. Lots of golf courses out there.

    I *am* deeply concerned that Congress, and the Senate in particular, is not prepared to address systemic problems in our electoral system making us vulnerable to the attack vectors that will be laid out in the SCO findings. These issues are legally and technically complicated, and the GOP is spinning Cummings’ electoral reform bill as a ‘power grab’ (thx Mitch). Meanwhile, we are already hearing about foreign actors’ parlays into social media manipulation as the 2020 election spins up. Gulp.

    • Mongoose says:

      Nothing is likely to change on that front until the Democrats take a healthy majority in the Senate, which won’t happen for years. The Trump cabal won’t allow it.

      • Laura says:

        The GOP captured local elections and gerrymandered the shit out of many states, while the Dems were focused on getting Wall Street cash and winning the Presidency. Now here we are.

  59. HRHTish says:

    Manafort. I mean, look at the guy. A pathological liar not unlike Trump. Even if Manafort were to have (another) change of heart and finally tell the truth, who would believe him? Like Trump, Manafort is a sociopath and completely useless on the witness stand. He will just make shit up to suit the moment, then make up some other shit later.

    I would not be surprised if the Prosecution decided to give up and toss Manafort overboard. The prosecution has Gates and whoever else (Cohen, Patten etc.) was willing to cooperate on the Russia matter. Plus whatever SIGINT. It’s going to need to be enough.

    I also wouldn’t be surprised if the Prosecution decided not to rehash the Kilimnik business to make the Manafort sentencing document *appear* to have no relation whatsoever to the 2016 election. Trump’s lawyers can now say “this has nothing to do with you” and the addled, narcissistic Trump can now forget about him (he’s easily distracted). It may reduce Trump’s urge to pardon.

    I also think the news of the pending state charges against Manafort may also lessen the urge to pardon. State jails, apparently, are less comfortable than Federal ones.

    I think the recent moves by Team Mueller are as skillfully calculated as they have been from the beginning. This noise about it all being “over” may have been calculated to talk Trump off the ledge, again. The moving files, etc. may end up at an undisclosed location less vulnerable to media stakeouts. Farming out the touchiest matters to other FBI offices also serves to protect the investigation. We need to accept that Team Mueller is smarter than all of us and just relax.

    • TheLongGrift says:

      It certainly sounds plausible that the moving of files COULD HAVE been the Mueller team moving to a new unknown location due to the CNN stakeout and fallout from Stone accusation of tip off….

  60. cfost says:

    It’s becoming more evident that Mueller has disturbed a hornets nest, making life complicated for a large cohort of politicians and diplomats. My guess is that the part of the investigation relating to contacts and cooperation between the Trump campaign and the Russian government is largely complete. But other criminal matters came to light directly from that investigation- inevitably, given the actors involved. This thing could be huge; but it also could be a nightmare for the US, both politically and diplomatically.
    So, I wonder: if Mueller has had to consult with the Attorney General (or Acting AG) on “additional “ matters under 28CFR 600.4(a) and (b), could it be that the AG (which could be one of two or three people at this point) decided to: 1. decline Mueller’s request for additional jurisdiction and instead farm out the other matter(s) to one of the districts, or 2. flatly decline Mueller’s request in order to keep said matters from seeing the light of day, or 3. allow Mueller the additional jurisdiction?
    As Marcy said, Mueller seems confident that his findings will see the light. Given Barr’s past statements, I wonder how much of the findings will be public, especially the non-Russia findings. I take solace in the recent indications that the GOP is having an increasingly difficult time keeping a lid on its crimes and misdeeds. What we call the “Mueller Investigation “ is now a Hydra, and Barr will not prevail.

  61. Laura says:

    Farming out the touchiest matters to other FBI offices also serves to protect the investigation. We need to accept that Team Mueller is smarter than all of us and just relax.

    I know there are many cynical people out there, but I believe Mueller and his team are committed to Rule of Law, that they know the system and that they’re using the system to get things done. They’ve also got a shitton of evidence that’s either OUO Exemption 7 or S/TS/NSI that won’t make the light of day for years – ‘Declassify on 25X(whatever).’

    And while this may get me flamed, I am cautiously hoping Barr’s long association with Mueller means he is in the old-fashioned Rule-of-Law camp, too – Iran-Contra notwithstanding.  Many of those Cold War geopolitical hawks are not in the Trump wagon, and he is certainly less of an idiot than Trump-embracing racist rube Jeff Sessions.

  62. drouse says:

    If Muller is using indictments rather than sentencing memos to do his speaking, there is about a bakers dozen of sealed indictments on the court’s docket. They may have nothing to do with the matter at hand, but they may include stuff  we really want to know about

  63. bmaz says:

    Drouse at 1:54 pm – The thought that there are a bunch of Mueller sealed indictments hanging out there is complete vapor, and almost certainly not the case.

  64. William Bennett says:

    Two things. 1) Mueller is not “on our side.” One of the reasons I frequent this site is that it seems to be clear about this in the actual posts, but down here in the comments the line tends to get crossed, implicitly or explicitly, where Mueller’s various actions are interpreted as if he was pursuing the agenda we’d like him to be pursuing, in which DJT needs to be ousted because of his obvious (to us) corruption and double-dealing. Whereas in reality I sincerely doubt he views that as his project at all. I’m sure it’s something much more circumscribed within the limits of law, duty, and correct institutional procedure. It’s possible that the speaking indictments grew out of an apprehension that correct institutional procedure was in danger of being circumvented by corrupt appointees, but that with Barr in place he believes that’s no longer at issue and correct institutional procedure is to defer to Barr’s wishes and not appear to be undermining him or putting him on the spot. Because, again, Mueller is not on “our” side. He isn’t doing his best to get Trump ousted, he’s doing his best to get the facts on the table in conformance with due authority.

    2) Let’s not forget that Mueller’s brief is counter-intelligence as well as criminal investigation. Isn’t it possible that what he’s protecting by being less forthcoming in this case is not the criminal investigation, but the counter-intelligence one? In which case there may be a number of things that he very specifically does not want exposed to the public, even if doing so would expose the perfidy of DJT & family, because, again, he’s not on “our” side. Exposing DJT & Co’s perfidy to the bright light of day is certainly our agenda—well, it’s certainly mine—but whereas for me that’s the highest priority, superseding CI, that doesn’t mean it is so for Mueller, who is proceeding assiduously by-the-book, adhering as closely as possible to the strict requirements of his brief and the lines of authority laid down in institutional procedure.

  65. bmaz says:

    William Bennet at 2:17 pm – Yes, that is entirely possible. The people following this closely, including here, simply have no idea what all Mueller has in full. We try to make smart commentary, and I think do so in that regard, but, still, we do not really know what Mueller has that is not discernible from what is public.

  66. emptywheel says:


    No, I’m still waiting for the NYT to correct their error and out their source. They made a claim about what the transcript referred to. It clearly referred to August 2, they got lied to about that, and they owe us a correction.

    There definitely was a May 5 meeting. If poll data was exchanged there too then it is news (though the way in which NYT reports this suggests they may still be wrong). But there’s actually reason to believe that reflects a February 8 cover story Manafort offered that ABJ didn’t find convincing.

  67. Bay State Librul says:

    I hereby dub Emptywheel the “Umberto Eco” of the Mueller Files.
    She has unearthed many of the black boxes.
    I agree with BMAZ though, our attempts to interpret Mueller is still, at this stage, still an enigma.

  68. Shaun Mullen says:

    A very big question as yet unanswered and merely squished around in the Manafort sentencing memo stories that I’ve read:

    Jackson was locked into giving Paulie 10 years max because of the plea agreement, right? But now that he’s blown up the agreement, can Jackson default to the 17~22 years in the sentencing guidelines to which Maximum Bob’s prosecutors alluded in the memo?

  69. bmaz says:

    Shaun at 4:07 pm, No. ABJ can only sentence on the counts Manafort pled guilty to in her court, which, indeed, are 5 years each for a maximum of ten.

    Now Judge Ellis in EDVA can sentence for much longer, as described in the sentencing memos in EDVA that contemplate 17 plus years. The extra thing is that the sentences in DC and EDVA can, theoretically, be made consecutive as opposed to concurrent, meaning one after the other.

  70. Eureka says:

    @ obsessed 2:55 am re #4:

    As I understand it, they are waiting on the hard copy of Corsi’s book to come out (mid-later March, the 18th IIRC).  I think we’ll still see a Corsi indictment even if- or especially if, as some suspect-  there is any kind of tamping down or suppression in the Barr era.  That’s because Jerry helpfully leaked his draft plea agreement- so that cat’s out of the bag (besides his being mentioned in the Stone indictment).  It would appear too outright hinky if the Corsi matter just vanished.

    So I think we see a Corsi action either way-  whether Mueller is muffled as some suppose or whether he continues to operate as in the past.

  71. Drew says:

    One bit. I’m not sure how much weight to give this, but ABJ is a no nonsense judge. And a Federal District Judge at that. The sentencing memo does have the primary purpose of convincing the judge to sentence the defendant as the prosecutor prefers. Even leaving out the specific recommendation is a rhetorical strategy to that end. Putting too much information into the memo, especially if its relationship to the crimes charged could be interpreted as tangential is a way to annoy the judge and lose her favor.

    Not saying that she would let Manafort off easy, but rhetorical strategies do seem important to Mueller’s team, if I read this right. Still, it would be good reason to throttle back on the detail, in particular if Mueller doesn’t feel under desperate pressure to get everything out at once.

  72. Leila512 says:

    @bmaz 2:07pm

    More than once you’ve shot down the idea that there may be several sealed indictments. Not challenging you, but can you expand on why you have that POV? Thanks

  73. Alan says:

    Unless this report puts in it whatshiff wants to hear he’ll never accept it he will always figured there’s something hidden

    [Welcome to emptywheel. Please modify your username when next you comment so that it is unique; we have other users named Alan which is confusing for community members. Thanks. /~Rayne]

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