Quid Pro Quo Redux, Part Two: Russian Government Involvement in All Three Conspiracy Agreements

Given reports that Mueller will “report” imminently, I’m not sure I’m going to finish the second version of my Quid Pro Quo series laying out the evidence of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia trading campaign help and real estate deals for sanctions relief (here’s the initial series; here’s the first post of this second series). But I’d like to make a point as a way of showing that Amy Berman Jackson deemed Paul Manafort’s August 2, 2016 meeting with Konstantin Kilimnik to be evidence of a link between the Russian government and the campaign.

We know of at least five conversations at which various people entered into what I describe as a quid pro quo conspiracy:

  1. January 20, 2016, when Michael Cohen told Dmitry Peskov’s personal assistant that Trump would be willing to work with a GRU-tied broker and (soft and hard) sanctioned banks in pursuit of a $300 million Trump Tower deal in Russia.
  2. June 9, 2016, when Don Jr, knowing that currying favor with Russia could mean $300 million to the family, took a meeting offering dirt on Hillary Clinton as “part of  Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” At the end of the meeting, per the testimony of at least four attendees, Don Jr said they’d revisit Magnitsky sanctions if his dad won.
  3. August 2, 2016, when Paul Manafort and Rick Gates had a clandestine meeting with Konstantin Kilimnik at which Trump’s campaign manager walked Kilimnik through highly detailed poll data and the two discussed a “peace” plan for Ukraine understood to amount to sanctions relief.
  4. December 29, 2016, when (working on instructions relayed by KT McFarland, who was at Mar-a-Lago with Trump) Mike Flynn said something to Sergey Kislyak that led Putin not to respond to Obama’s election-related sanctions.
  5. January 11, 2017, when Erik Prince, acting as a back channel for Trump, met with sanctioned sovereign wealth fund Russian Direct Investment Fund CEO Kirill Dmitriev.

Remember: to enter into a conspiracy you have to agree to one object of a conspiracy (a conspiracy might have multiple objectives), and take an overt act to further that conspiracy. You don’t have to agree to all objects of the conspiracy, nor do you have to know about all parts of it.

The key conversations in this conspiracy, it seems to me, are the middle three: the June 9 Trump Tower plus dirt for sanctions relief agreement, the August 2 election assistance for sanctions agreement, and the December 29 reassurance that Trump would revisit Obama’s sanctions. The involvement of the Russian government in the fourth one — with Sergey Kislyak and Mike Flynn on a series of phone calls relaying messages back and forth between Putin and Trump — is obvious (as it is for the first and fifth).

It’s the other two where, in recent months, the government has solidified its proof of direct Russian government involvement.

Natalia Veselnitskaya, Russian government agent, at the June 9 meeting

They did so for the June 9 meeting on December 20 when they charged Natalia Veselnitskaya with obstruction of justice. The indictment alleges that an MLAT request served on the Russian government in the Prevezon case was actually drafted by Veselnitskaya. As Joshua Yaffa argued after the indictment was unsealed on January 8, the indictment will probably never result in prison time for Veselnitskaya but it does substantiate a claim that she is an agent of Russia.

In short, the U.S. Attorney’s office alleges that a document that was ostensibly prepared by the office of Russia’s general prosecutor and sent to its counterparts in the U.S. Department of Justice was in fact drafted, or at least edited, by Veselnitskaya herself, who then went on to cite the document as independent proof of her version of events. In this manner, the U.S. Attorney’s office alleges, “Veselnitskaya obstructed the civil proceeding in the Prevezon action then pending in this District.”


Veselnitskaya is unlikely ever to return to the United States. This means that U.S. prosecutors are probably less interested in this particular, narrow matter than in what filing charges allows them to do going forward. “If the government wants on record that Natalia is a Russian government agent, this indictment serves this purpose,” the former member of the Prevezon defense team told me. That is to say, if and when charges are filed in relation to the Trump Tower meeting, prosecutors now have a building block on which to argue that, in her actions in the United States, Veselnitskaya did not represent merely herself and her client but the interests of Russian officials. That should worry Donald Trump, Jr., and Jared Kushner, who attended the meeting with Veselnitskaya, and, in turn, the President himself.

So when Don Jr told Veselnitskaya on June 9, 2016, that Trump would revisit sanctions if he won, he was effectively telling an agent of the Russian government that.

Konstantin Kilimnik, Russian government link, at the August 2 meeting

While the redactions require logic to demonstrate the case, Amy Berman Jackson’s explanation of her breach decision shows she believes that Konstantin Kilimnik — regardless of his alleged ties to the GRU — served as a link to the Russian government at that August 2 meeting.

Early on in the hearing, while ruling that she regards Manafort’s attempts to backtrack on his confession to conspiring with Kilimnik to witness tamper in 2018 to be bad faith but not proven, she questions Manafort’s loyalties while calling Kilimnik his “Russian conspirator.”

To me, this is definitely an example of a situation in which the Office of Special Counsel legitimately concluded he’s lying to minimize things here, he’s not being forthcoming, this isn’t what cooperation is supposed to be. This is a problematic attempt to shield his Russian conspirator from liability and it gives rise to legitimate questions about where his loyalties lie.

When she turns to the two-fold lies about Manafort’s ongoing meetings with Kilimnik (which starts on page 28, line 2), here’s what ABJ judges, up to the point where she talks about whether Kilimnik is a tie to Russia:

  • Manafort’s most problematic Ukraine peace deal lie is that he never discussed a peace deal after August because he thought it was a bad idea. His subsequent emails supporting one show that claim to be an “alternative narrative.”
  • Manafort’s denial of the Madrid meeting amounts to denying a contact. (29)
  • Manafort offered “a series of revised explanations” about providing questions for a poll on a Ukraine peace deal in conjunction with running another campaign in Ukraine. (29-30)
  • Manafort’s claims to have forgotten about the August 2 meeting because he was so busy running Trump’s campaign in fact show the opposite. That’s because sharing polling data “relates to the campaign.” If he was “so single-mindedly focused on the campaign, then the meeting he took time to attend” to share polling data and discuss a Ukraine “peace” plan had a purpose related to the campaign. Or, if he only took the meeting to curry favor with Ukrainian and Russian paymasters, “well, in that case he’s not being straight with me about how single-minded he was. It’s not good either way.” (31)
  • The clandestine nature of the meeting, with Gates and Manafort arriving and leaving separately “because of the media attention focused at that very time on Manafort’ relationships with Ukraine” further undermines his claims he can’t remember the meeting. (32)
  • In heavily redacted language, ABJ lays out why she finds Gates’ testimony on the August 2 meeting credible. (33-35)
  • There’s further corroboration surrounding the August 2 meeting, which Manafort appears to have tried to rebut with information newly submitted on February 8 (which seems to relate to an earlier meeting and may be an effort to suggest this was dated polling information). (34)
  • There are a series of emails from Kilimnik to somebody else (possibly ones sharing the information) that corroborate Gates’ story. (35)
  • The defense claim that the polls are gibberish doesn’t fly because Manafort, Gates, and Kilimnik all understood them. Indeed, these polls (presumably from Fabrizio) were the ones Manafort preferred and that Kilimnik would understand. (35-36)

The discussion of whether Kilimnik amounts to a tie to Russia starts on 36; it is a response to Manafort’s attempt to disprove that this exchange is material by arguing that Mueller has alleged, but not proven, that Kilimnik has ties to Russian intelligence (which suggests not even Manafort is claiming that these events don’t amount to a tie with Russia). ABJ starts that discussion by moving directly from describing (in a heavily redacted passage) who the intended recipients of the data were to the Russian question.

Also, the evidence indicates that it was understood that [redacted–poll data] would be [redacted] from Kilimnik [redacted] including [redacted], and [redacted]. Whether Kilimnik is tied to Russian intelligence or he’s not, I think the specific representation by the Office of Special Counsel was that he had been, quote, assessed by the FBI, quote, to have a relationship with Russian intelligence, close quote.

The only way that ABJ would make that transition, logically, is if the descriptions behind some of those redactions are Russians. If they were just the Ukrainian oligarchs the NYT claims they were, this entire passage — and Manafort’s attempted rebuttal of them (that is, to deny its import because Kilimnik himself has no ties to Russian intelligence) — makes zero sense.

Having made that transition, ABJ then lays out why she doesn’t have to determine whether Kilimnik is himself Russian intelligence to determine that he does amount to a tie to the Russian government.

Whether that’s true, I have not been provided with the evidence that I would need to decide, nor do I have to decide because it’s outside the scope of this hearing. And whether it’s true or not, one cannot quibble about the materiality of this meeting.

In other words, I disagree with the defendant’s statement in docket 503, filed in connection with the dispute over the redactions, that, quote, the Office of Special Counsel’s explanation as to why Mr. Manafort’s alleged false statements are important and material turns on the claim that he is understood by the FBI to have a relationship with Russian intelligence.

I don’t think that’s a fair characterization of what was said. The intelligence reference was just one factor in a series of factors the prosecutor listed. And the language of the appointment order, “any links,” is sufficiently broad to get over the relatively low hurdle of materiality in this instance, and to make the [redaction] Kilimnik and [redaction] material to the FBI’s inquiry, no matter what his particular relationship was on that date.

From there, ABJ dismisses the defense claim that because Kilimnik made comments about various loyalties (possibly to the press, possibly to the State Department), he couldn’t be Russian intelligence. She even suggests that an email sent on August 18, 2016, at a time when Manafort’s ties to Ukraine were becoming incredibly toxic, may not be all that reliable. She notes the timing: “Manafort was gone the next day.”

Having dismissed that claim, ABJ then judges that “Manafort made intentional false statements to the FBI and the grand jury with respect to the material issue of his interactions with Kilimnik, including, in particular, [redacted; this must either be a reference to the August 2 meeting generally or the sharing of polling data].

But then ABJ makes a more general statement, having reviewed the multiple efforts Manafort made to obscure his relationship with Kilimnik. In it, she repeats again that he is a link to Russia, whether or not he’s an active spy.

On that note, I also want to say we’ve now spent considerable time talking about multiple clusters of false or misleading or incomplete or needed-to-be-prodded-by-counsel statements, all of which center around the defendant’s relationship or communications with Mr. Kilimnik. 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.

Mr. Kilimnik doesn’t have to be in the government or even be an active spy to be a link. The fact that all of this is the case, that we have now been over Kilimnik, Kilimnik, and Kilimnik makes the defense argument that I should find the inaccurate statements to be unintentional because they’re all so random and disconnected, which was an argument that was made in the hearing, is very unpersuasive.  [my emphasis]

To have ruled this conversation material, ABJ rules that Kilimnik (especially the sharing of this polling data, seemingly) amounts to a link with the Russian Government, whether or not he has ties to Russian intelligence. And note, this is a link to the Russian government, not just a link to a Russian like Oleg Deripaska.

We don’t know why that is so; it seems like it relates to the recipients of this polling data. But we know she considers him one, according to the preponderance of the evidence she has seen.

Mind you, if this is all moving just to a report claiming such a conspiracy, but stopping short of charging one, then it may not matter all that much.

But for the three main exchanges in which Trump flunkies entered into agreements that form part of a larger conspiracy, at least one key player has been deemed to have a tie to the Russian government this year (and of course the other two exchanges — Cohen to Peskov and Prince to Kirill — also have obvious Russian government involvement).


These are some of the most useful resources in mapping these events.

Mueller questions as imagined by Jay Sekulow

CNN’s timeline of investigative events

Majority HPSCI Report

Minority HPSCI Report

Trump Twitter Archive

Jim Comey March 20, 2017 HPSCI testimony

Comey May 3, 2017 SJC testimony

Jim Comey June 8, 2017 SSCI testimony

Jim Comey written statement, June 8, 2017

Jim Comey memos

Sally Yates and James Clapper Senate Judiciary Committee testimony, May 8, 2017

NPR Timeline on Trump’s ties to Aras Agalarov

George Papadopoulos complaint

George Papadopoulos statement of the offense

Mike Flynn 302

Mike Flynn statement of the offense

Mike Flynn cooperation addendum

Peter Strzok 302 (describing Flynn’s interview)

Michael Cohen statement of the offense

Internet Research Agency indictment

GRU indictment

Senate Judiciary Committee materials on June 9 meeting

BuzzFeed documents on Trump Tower deal

Text of the Don Jr Trump Tower Meeting emails

Jared Kushner’s statement to Congress

Erik Prince HPSCI transcript

Government declaration supporting breach determination

Manafort breach hearing

Amy Berman Jackson breach determination hearing

Amy Berman Jackson order finding Manafort breached his plea deal

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. 

123 replies
    • vicks says:

      Doesn’t Van der Swan’s indictment say he turned over a recording(s) of a phone call(s) between himself, Gates and Kilimnick?
      I always assumed from the timing that whatever was on that recording is was encouraged Gates to flip?
      I know the three of them did some dirty business writing some sort of smear paper against one of Yanukovych’s political enemies. For the life of me I can no longer find the story about who this was or the timing, I do believe that it was a woman that either held a high office at the time that Yanukovych wanted removed or was removed from office and this paper was to be used for justification (not very helpful I know…)
      The point I’m trying to make with this ramble is I think that those recording(s) could have been the launch point for Mueller’s targeting of Kilimnick (AKA person “A”) and is the reason for the bad rap he continues to get from team Mueller in other indictments and memos. Judge Berman commented something to the effect that it’s not clear to her if Kilimnick is a russian agent but somehow in other writings Kilimnick and his relationship is pivotal to the whole Mueller investigation ..

  1. greengiant says:

    suggest change /in the last one//in the fourth one/
    As often unsaid but always, thanks for your analysis.

    • greengiant says:

      Easy to be chased around by the propaganda. I would add to Chuck Ross, from ” Marcy doesn’t have any sources.” to “Marcy doesn’t have any fake sources”

    • Silence Hand says:

      “Mueller Done Now” is the spin you are supposed to buy. This is far from certain, as discussed very extensively by many commenters in Marcy’s last post. In my view there’s a new, dramatic, and well-organized spin effort to warp reality to a place where killing SCO is tenable. The Manafort sentencing memo helps ensure that doesn’t happen, by its nature.

      I don’t think Barr is out to kill the SCO, however

  2. BobCon says:

    I’ve lost track. Was the Russian offer to fund Trump Tower Moscow via sanctioned Russian banks intended to create extra pressure on Trump to fight for an end to sanctions?

      • BobCon says:

        I often feel like I’m watching a Cohen brothers movie — there are obvious pieces of subtext I completely miss the first time I see them, but on second or third exposure I feel really dumb for missing them.

        • marksb says:

          I’ve thought that this whole movie is based on a Pynchon novel, screenplay by Stoppard, directed by the Cohen brothers. A core thread of truth woven by ridiculous characters doing stupid things, while everyone else tries to either normalize the ridiculousness or stand there sputtering ineffectively. Thank the Goddess we have dedicated law enforcement. Plus Marcy and you-all.

          • AndTheSlithyToves says:

            Apologies for the upstream blank–comments function getting weirder…
            @marksb: Yes! The Crying of Lot 49. Oedipa Maas and the Tristero… lolol

        • Babuschka100 says:

          That’s it. The Cohen brothers absolutely have to do the movie. Though it will be more like a 10 hour Ken Burns kind of thing. I’m thinking a Blood Simple / Miller’s Crossing sort of atmosphere.

          • Keef says:

            I’m thinking that there’s something about Mary that fits the narrative. Maybe donnie tweeting about three -minute abs…

  3. Badger Robert says:

    Thanks. If you can make the case from the outside, think how much easier it is to make the case from the inside of the redactions, with all the folders and files.

    • viget says:

      Thanks bmaz.

      Just concerned about her opening graf is all.

      Friday’s news was making me much more hopeful that the investigation continues, compared to what we were hearing earlier in the week.

      But like you said, who knows? Seems like a lot is in flux right now.

  4. cfost says:

    That Tony Fabrizio guy is very interesting, indeed. Right after he spoke to Mueller, Gates decided to cooperate.
    Notable that Jackson emphasized that “any links” is the bar and not some other, such as “spy.” Important because of the new Russian method of employing “attorneys” (Veselnitskaya) or “students” (Butina) or “lobbyists” (Kilimnik) or “businessmen” (any oligarch) as information-gatherers. Instead of using military planes, they use business jets. “Russian government “ is a concept that the Russians have deliberately blurred. Makes the old standby, plausible deniability, much easier.
    If the Daily Caller finds you a worthy target for attack, Ms. Wheeler, then you are definitely doing something right!

  5. emptywheel says:

    Re: The Chuck Ross attack. I RTed that bc some of the people who follow me on Twitter are pretty senior sources who will get a big laugh out that.

    I wonder whether Chuck is actively defending Stone. Already his reporting proves Stone guilty on one claim, Maybe he’ll get Stone thrown in the pokey too.

    • cfost says:

      As you have said before, Stone is a danger to society. He and his boys. Cannot be overstated.
      I don’t think Ross was trying to persuade anyone. His attacks were meant to chip away at your believability and credibility. Propaganda 101.

  6. Anvil Leucippus says:

    Chuck Ross, as in the white supremacist blogger? Oh delightful. I am certain his takes on constitutional and sociological law are insightful and well-researched!

    • Silence Hand says:

      Yeah. And what does that make Michael Tracy?

      It really is too bad that Marcy has to suffer these foolish attacks; in today’s media environment all that seems to matter is that they exist. No consideration about, like, accuracy. On the other hand, it is interesting to see who salutes when that flag goes up the pole.

    • jayedcoins says:

      The thing that’s so incredibly frustrating about Greenwald, Mate, and similar, is that their refrain is that the investigation has yet to do what it was alleged to do — in their telling, that is to indict people in the campaign for “collusion” with Russia.

      Of course, they are not wrong! But these are terms they decided to judge the investigation on, not the terms that the SCO was appointed on! That information is plain to be read by all of us (indeed, Marcy highlights the key aspect of it multiple times in this very post).

      I give these people credit for making a legitimately important point about the way the popular center-left news media are using the SCO investigation as a way to pull in eyeballs, often at the cost of doing proper reporting. It is undoubtedly true that some of these outlets have set the story up as being about landing on indictments of Trump campaign officials for Russian “collusion.” That deserves to be pointed out as incorrect!

      But these guys are utterly failing in one key area — you cannot point out that this view of the SCO investigation is incorrect *if you do not understand and show to your readers the correct scope and purpose of the investigation.*

      Further, none of us — and by “us” in this context, I mean humble keyboard generals like myself, with no DoJ/LE/etc. connections — have any direct clue how Mueller and his team view the scope and mandate they were given in the appointment of their office.

      Presumably they have an overarching strategic goal. Is that to indict Donald Trump? Is it to indict anyone they can show conspired against the US as part of the 2016 election? (The evidence us regular putzes can read indicates the answer to those two questions is, “No.”) Is it to uncover just how high and far this rot went (and possibly still goes) for the sake of the importance of truth, unto itself? Could it be one of the many tin foil hat, lowercase “c” conspiracies? What else could it be?

      I have no freaking clue!

      Both the nominal MSNBC set *and* the Greenwald types revolting against their ill-handling of this entire story should look in the mirror and realize that they do not know what Mueller and his team strategize about behind closed doors. Instead, they should do exactly what I believe Marcy does so well — carefully read the evidence that is made publicly available, report it, and help interpret it for what it is and what it shows (regardless of “expectations” that came from the ether).

      • bmaz says:

        No, it is completely bogus, and, yes, they ARE wrong. First off, anybody that uses the term “collusion” is duplicitous to start with because there is not such crime in criminal law. It is a sick ruse that Trump and Rudy G lit on and morons in the press bought off on it. There will NEVER be an “indictment for collusion” because there is no such crime.

        Secondly like I said to trollish interloper Ronald Prentice previously, Glenn, and especially the extremely uninformed Aaron Mate, do not seem to understand the difference between “evidence” and “proof beyond a reasonable doubt”.

        Until they can figure that out, I am not bothering with their baloney. There is plenty of evidence.

        • Marinela says:

          Makes you shiver to think how they would approach and talk about these matters if it was this much public evidence against Hillary C.

  7. viget says:

    Kind of apropos of nothing… Question to Marcy or Rayne or whomever, do we know which FBI office investigated the IRA indictment?

    I know SF, Pitt and Philly were involved in the GRU one, but I can’t find attribution for the IRA one.  Or was it all investigated by FBI detailed to Mueller?

    Many thanks in advance if anyone happens to know.

  8. sharl says:

    I keep forgetting that KT McFarland was up to her eyeballs in all this. It might be entertaining to have an account of the off-the-record and back-channel discussions between the White House, senior GOP Senators, and McFarland herself in the weeks before she withdrew her nomination to be Ambassador to Singapore. I assume she’s returned to being a Fox pundit, though I’m too lazy to confirm that.

  9. Tom says:

    Until the SCO’s investigation is done, President Trump will be …

    “Like one, that on a lonesome road
    Doth walk in fear and dread,
    And having once turned round walks on,
    And no more turns his head;
    Because he knows Bob Mueller III
    Doth close behind him tread.”

    With apologies to Samuel Taylor Coleridge

    • Jockobadger says:

      Grab some opium, ball in pipe….

      Quand les choses deviennent difficiles

      Commes maintenant.

      Apologies also. JHC

    • e.a.f. says:

      Trump’s too stupid to “walk in fear and dread”. were he capable of those feelings he wouldn’t be in pickle he is today.

  10. pdaly says:

    “• Manafort’s most problematic Ukraine peace deal lie is that he never discussed a peace deal after August [2016] because he thought it was a bad idea. His subsequent emails supporting one show that claim to be an “alternative narrative.” ”

    Is it just a coincidence that the “after August 2016” timing was also an issue with Van der Zwaan?

    Skadden attorney Alex Van der Zwaan pled guilty to lying in his FBI interview of Nov 3, 2017 about his continuing communications AFTER mid-August 2016 with Gates and Person A (?Kilimnik).

    Van der Zwaan claimed, falsely, that his last communication with Gates was mid-August 2016 and his last communication with Person A was 2014, when in fact “in or about September 2016, VAN DER ZWAAN spoke with both Gates and Person A regarding the [2012 Skadden] Report” that tried to show that the 2011 conviction of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was not a politically motivated stunt.

    A NY Times article shows that Manafort was working with Ukraine in this time frame.
    “Court documents in the case against Mr. Lavrynovych alleged that Mr. Manafort “designed a strategy” to enlist Skadden to “confirm the legality of the criminal prosecution of Yulia Tymoshenko and … reject any political motives of such prosecution.””

  11. Xxxxellll says:

    Great great stuff again. Just one question. Didn’t you say earlier that NYT was ‘probably incorrect’ in claiming that Manafort shared polling data with K. twice?

  12. Ronald Prentice says:

    I still don’t see what the big deal is in Flynn telling Kislyak that sanctions relief were on the way. Trump made clear during the campaign he wanted a reset with Russia. Don’t give me the Logan Act crap, nobody was going to get prosecuted on that basis. The big question, which has been asked repeatedly is why the Hell Flynn lied about it in the first place. Marcy makes a big deal out of the fact that Flynn’s discussion with Kislyak was dictated allegedly by Trump, through McFarland. But again, so what! It was going to be the new Administration’s policy.

    • Rayne says:

      And Flynn and Kislyak couldn’t wait three weeks? They couldn’t wait until they met with Congress, persuaded them to lift the sanctions as required by law (which they have yet to do, by the way)?

      Flynn couldn’t do the right thing and simply register as a foreign agent and not take the national security role, OR do the right thing and make a generalized public statement that the Trump administration would revisit foreign policy after inauguration, when he would then be an authorized agent?

      Why all the sneaking around instead of doing things the right way, out in the open, within the letter of the law?

      As for your “Logan Act crap”: Read the Logan Act; it’s clearly necessary in this case because no previous president-elect has been quite this criminal before, trashing norms like one-president-at-a-time by encouraging persons acting on his behalf to negotiate with foreign governments without authorization.

      • BobCon says:

        Rayne — he’s just trolling. He brought up the exact same point a few days ago and got shot down, but obviously isn’t interested in serious engagement since he’s back again.

        He ‘s trying to rerun an argument that even Dershowitz has trouble trotting out any more, which is to ignore the entire corruption piece of what Flynn and Trump and others have been up to.

      • Ronald Prentice says:

        I’m not trolling! Christ, I want this guy gone as much as you do! But with all these conservatives at DOJ (Barr, Francisco et.al.) and SCOTUS, we need an ironclad legal argument for crimes or an impeachment referral. Much of what Marcy has laid out is impressive, but there isn’t any hard evidence that Trump is directly implicated.

        • Rayne says:

          You open your comment with “I still don’t see what the big deal,” more or less call the Logan Act “crap,” and we were supposed to take away from your comment you are frustrated with the lack of a black-and-white link directly between Trump and Russia?

          And this: “there isn’t any hard evidence that Trump is directly implicated.” You do not know this. We can’t say there is or isn’t because SCO has not laid out all that it has collected during the course of its investigations. There’s plenty of direct contact between Trump and his proxies and Russians which only requires confirmation that it’s part of the conspiracy (hello, firing of Comey and then meeting with Kislyak and Lavrov for starters). Yet you’re having a tantrum demanding SCO show you something right now.

          Chill out. This investigation isn’t even two years old and SCO is looking at a conspiracy which was likely more than two years old before SCO received its authorization. There’s a lot of moving parts to the unveiling when it happens, or have you not modeled out what the reaction will be in White House and in Moscow, Riyadh, Doha, Abu Dhabi, and any other country involved in the conspiracy/ies? Do you not think there are security considerations to be addressed BEFORE SCO pulls the trigger, not to mention getting Barr up to speed? Not to mention ensuring all the active counterintelligence parts that can be parceled out have been handed off as part of the considerations before Mueller steps up to a podium?

          As for the “ironclad legal argument for crimes or an impeachment referral”: there’s already ample material to begin impeachment which is a political action in the House. The problem will be the Senate and the Trumpian base no matter how “ironclad” evidence may be. Perhaps you should save your exclamations for them instead of people who are already slogging away like crazy. Jesus, I’m fucking sorry we can’t use some x-ray magic to read through all the goddamn redactions for you RTFN.


          • Ronald Prentice says:

            I’m not a legal scholar, but everything I’ve read regarding this suggests that any prosecutor worth his salt would not pin his hopes on using the Logan Act against Trump and his crew. Apparently the act is a bit vague and has never actually been invoked.

            Yes, I don’t know what Mueller has, so all I have to go on is what I see from Marcy. She does the best job of really getting into the weeds of this entire affair. And the “evidence” that she has presented, seems to fall a bit short of “proving” Trumps complicity. It seems incredible to me that he wouldn’t know that Cohen had talked to Peskov’s deputy about Trump Tower Moscow. Or that he didn’t know of the Trump Tower meeting on June 9. I hope that Mueller has the “hard evidence” that shows that he indeed was directly involved in these matters.

            Indeed, the Senate is the crucial player in this and I’m more or less looking at this from the point of view of a Lindsey Graham or Mitch McConnell where whatever Mueller has, has got to convince guys like them that Trump has to go. So yeah, I am looking for a “black-and-white link” between Trump and Russia.

            Anyway, ease-up on me, I’m on your side.

            • John K says:

              What about all the guilty pleas plus clear evidence of meetings and conversations between everyone in Trump’s inner circle and the Russians? Combine this with all the redactions about Individual 1. If Trump wasn’t directly involved then he had no idea what his people were up to. His only defense will be that they were all lying except Trump himself. Donald J. Trump, Oracle of Truth.

        • bmaz says:

          Ronald Prentice at 8:24 pm – I think you don’t have any understanding of the difference between “evidence” and “proof”. And, yes, there is a difference. When you figure it out, let’s pick this back up.

          • Tom S. says:

            I am more troubled by Ronald Prentice, than others who have replied to him unless the content of this post was revised and I missed it. I am surprised no one else reminded Mr. Prentice about these details.:

            December 18, 2018

              • Ronald Prentice says:

                I read the link and geez, the snippets of the 302 are in one case almost totally redacted and yet she draws some conclusion from them. It’s just so highly speculative. I’m not trying to be obtuse. Look, I turn 70 this summer and one thing I’ve learned in those 70 years (after Nixon, then W and finally Trump) is you have to have low expectations. After Nixon, I thought, damn, things can’t get worse than that. And then along comes W. W goes away and Obama gets elected and I think, God, finally, the nightmare is over. But no, something profoundly worse comes along in Trump. I sincerely hope that what Marcy has put together turns out to be true and Mueller’s report is so unambiguously damning that Barr makes it public without a fight and Trump is impeached and found guilty in the Senate. But right now, it just looks like there’s only proof of a bunch of self-dealing on the part of a cabal of misfits under him.

        • jayedcoins says:

          I would argue that the importance of what Marcy lays out has a lot less to do with anything that will happen from law enforcement or HJC, and is instead about providing information and analysis for people that care about knowing what’s going on in their country and taking it into account when they hit the polls, etc.

          I genuinely think posterity is important here. And we’ve even had recent examples of why this is important — having a historical understanding of what people like North or Abrams did (regardless of the legal ramifications, or lack thereof, of their conduct) allows people to know how to react when these people pop back up in the public sphere. That’s not for nothing.

    • Drew says:

      Even bracketing out the Logan Act as difficult, the thing about Flynn & Kislyak is that we don’t actually know what the transcripts of those conversations or any of the other evidence that the FBI had, actually say. Apparently it was enough to get Flynn to roll pretty quickly & completely. [If all the FBI had on Flynn was the Director of National Security gassing on to some FBI agents in somewhat inaccurate terms about an otherwise legal conversation he assumed was privileged, he wouldn’t have rolled over & he probably wouldn’t have been fired. Flynn is still a hardcore right winger with plenty of contacts in the rhetorical activist fringe. If he had enough of a defense to fight the SCO to a draw, he would have defended.]

      There is every reason to believe that Flynn was involved in delivering the quo of the quid pro quo of sanctions relief for Russian help. I believe Marcy has argued this in some detail. These things are perhaps not fully proven by what is in the public domain, yet it strains credulity to think that all the other information in all the interviews of Flynn by the FBI, SCO etc as well as other things that have happened are all exculpatory of both Flynn and Trump.

      • Rayne says:

        Flynn asked for and received a letter dd. 08-OCT-2014 from Defense Intelligence Agency spelling out what he couldn’t do upon his exit from the military. [link to letter, PDF] The terms of the letter could have been used as a laundry list by investigators. “Did you do X? How about Y? And then Z?” Pretty sure he violated multiple items in the course of his early work with the/a conspiracy. If violating those terms meant loss of his rank and pension, he might have folded quickly.

        Flynn was a greedy asshole with his own ideas about U.S. foreign policy including nuclear proliferation. He went off and executed his own plan to sell nuclear technology in the middle east, along with a business associate who’d been working on nuclear waste disposal with the Russians for a couple decades. If anybody not only violated 18 USC 207 and FARA but the Logan Act it was Flynn, and Obama must have had some idea since he warned Trump about Flynn almost immediately after the election.

        He’s lucky he isn’t incarcerated already; I frankly don’t know why he isn’t, even with his cooperation based on how egregious his behavior was.

        • John K says:

          I also have a hard time understanding why Flynn isn’t in jail for a long time. It seems that it has to be one of two things: either he gave up the most significant information of all or Mueller was just offering up some respect for a military lifer.

          • Rayne says:

            Or there’s something else going on to which we’re not privy. Entire situation looks fishy. I don’t know enough about military code, can’t help wonder if there’s something in it we’re missing which might come into play in the near-term since he was told by DIA not DOJ what he couldn’t do.

  13. DrDavidK says:

    See the title of this blog post to understand the reason why the Flynn-Kisylak conversation is a big deal: If it’s not a quid, it’s a quo in the conspiracy. Isolated from the larger context, it looks like “merely” a violation of the Logan Act. That’s why we need people like Marcy to put all the pieces together.

  14. earlofhuntingdon says:

    A strident comment.  On the off-chance others are listening, Trump telling Flynn to do something – should that something turn out to be a criminal act – makes Trump a conspirator to that crime.  So, yea, that could be a big deal.  The process involves Trump, everyone in his orbit, and potentially other crimes.

    It’s a big deal also if it is a continuing part of prior discussions, if it is a continuation of a conspiracy to defraud the US for Trump’s private gain, for example.  The cascade effects can be fatal.

    Dismissing Logan Act violations would be an error.  (Lying to Congress used to be ignored, too, but since it is a felony, it is now generating significant consequences for many.)  A Logan Act violation alone might not have interested a prosecutor.  But taken with other conduct, it can add another crime to the total, useful if it is a slam dunk to prove.  More helpfully, pursuing it might establish a pattern of conduct or facts essential to other crimes.

    The Logan Act violation here was obvious to anticipate and easy to avoid.  We’re talking about a few weeks here.  In a normal transition between administrations, waiting three weeks would have hindered neither Trump nor Putin in establishing a relationship different from the one Obama pursued.  The urgency to appease Russia is itself unprecedented and alarming.  It begs an inquiry into motive.  For this president, the most obvious one to consider is private gain.

    Contrary to popular myth, the cover-up is not worse than the underlying crime(s).  It’s just usually easier to prove.  Pulling on that thread can sometimes unravel a large tapestry.

    • Silence Hand says:

      This is a really important point, one I end up arguing with people who make the stupidly obtuse that these are all just minor crimes, no big deal, just a whole lot of jaywalking.

      Yeah. Sure. Al Capone was just a run-of-the mill tax cheat. No big deal.

    • BROUX says:

      If this was simply setting a new foreign policy, Flynn and Kislyak could have waited three weeks. Why the rush? The window of time after the election but before the inauguration is interesting. I think that the level of scrutiny and oversight is much higher once you are in office. It’s harder to do some things in hiding. So, perhaps they felt that the weeks before the inauguration offered a particularly good time to settle some aspect of the transaction.

      • Rayne says:

        Good point about scrutiny. Or it could have been simple arrogance. I can’t help think of Trump’s tweet the morning of Monday, December 6, 2016 regarding Boeing’s Air Force One contract, just before the market opened. Not only did he screw the market (and I want to know if somebody shorted Boeing and other aero/steel/alum stocks before the tweet), he big footed into the terms of a contract already executed by Obama before he was inaugurated.

        Was the Boeing tweet a test to see who’d call him out on his bullshit? Were they already scrambling to cash in before scrutiny would intensify?

        Or was Team Trump just plain arrogant and stupid, behaving like scofflaws as Trump has his entire life?

        BTW, welcome back to emptywheel. Be sure to use the same username each time you comment so community members get to know you. Thanks.

  15. Cathy says:

    @Ronald Prentice February 24, 2019 at 5:07 pm 

    In addition to @ew’s discussion above  concerning entering into a conspiracy

    (Conspiracy Law) Eight: Overt Acts taken in furtherance of a conspiracy need not be illegal. A POTUS’ public statement that “Russia is a hoax,” e.g., might not be illegal (or even make any sense), but it could be an overt act in furtherance of a conspiracy to obstruct justice./8. [my emphasis]

    Presenting an act in isolation from other elements of a conspiracy may give it an innocuous spin, but the nature of the act itself does not insulate it from being an overt act in furtherance of a conspiracy.

  16. Badger Robert says:

    Flynn’s actions don’t make any sense. He must have known the conspiracy was reckless. His actions are almost an agreement to come in from the cold. He must have been collecting enough information to protect himself, all along.

    The participants must know by now that Flynn has saved himself.

    • timbo says:

      Saved himself (Flynn) from what? What is going on here is that all the participants do not have all of the picture. Flynn, if he is bright at all, must know that there are things he doesn’t know about that he himself was involved in…. Same with the other conspirators (at this point anyways) with half a brain-cell. It’s got to be obvious to them (now) that there is crap that they’re possibly caught up in, stuff that is beyond their immediate knowledge or direct involvement but that was/is happening in the shadows around them. Spooks assume this, half-baked conspirator political hacks maybe not so much…until they start hearing about intelligence and investigative data rolling past a judge’s eye…and their own lawyers start getting a bit nervous and sweaty…

  17. OldTulsaDude says:

    To me the biggest tell of the quid pro quo of this whole episode is the speed with which the new administration began trying to eliminate  sanctions against Russia.  It began virtually the same day as the inauguration and caused panic within State.

  18. Jenny says:

    Thanks Marcy.  Sometimes I feel like I understand this play.  Then I don’t because the script and all the characters become jumbled with so many layers to digest.

    I keep going back to the beginning with the question, “Why did this administration choose to communicate with the Russians about sanctions before President Obama was out of office?”  Am I missing something besides greed and power?

    • Marinela says:

      My take…

      One possibility, probably needed urgently to cover up the conspiracy aspect.
      They are saying there was “no collusion” because they believe it was covered up.

      That coupled with the greed, they wanted to be the first ones with the chance at the biggest piece of the pie.
      See Saudi Arabia and Turkey shenanigans.

  19. notjonathon says:

    This comment might better belong to the previous thread, but I imagine that one has already gone to sleep.

    For the lawyers (i.e., Bmaz, Avattoir, etc.): I know–or think I know–that the judges in these cases (Jackson, Sullivan, Ellis) are enjoined from publicly revealing the redacted and potentially damning evidence in the various court filings.

    The question is: Are there any circumstances under which these judges might feel obligated to make this information, or parts of it, public if they determine that suppressing it constitutes a clear and present danger to the republic? What sanctions/punishments might they face? Could they be asked/compelled to testify before Congress?

    I suddenly feel naive (in spite of my rather advanced age) on such points of law.

    • timbo says:

      The parts of the “evidence” gathered from foreign sources (by various methods) by US/allied governments would not be revealed on a whim. Other FBI sources/witness statements might also be protected for various other reasons having to do with on-going national and international investigations. Eventually, all this stuff may become publicly available but, during a continuing investigation with regard to potential risks to national security, it is unlikely that anything but caution will be exercised by the judges in charge of overseeing cases being brought at the present.

      What is good to do is come to this site, where helpful analysis may help one read between the lines. In 30 years, you’ll probably be able to see most of this stuff unredacted… if there is any material legal consequences to the participants. May we live so long.

  20. earlofhuntingdon says:

    If Mr. Trump is in Vietnam and we can’t see him, does that mean he does not exist?  What happens if he boards KJU’s special armored train, would we know the guy who emerges is really Donald Trump? 

    Speaking of fantasies, Mr. Trump continues to pine for a Bastille Day-like parade in DC, preferably on July 4th or Veterans Day, so he can make those days his own.  (Actually, what he wants is a Stalinesque parade of engorged missiles, hardened tanks, and long mobile artillery.)

    Perhaps the quickest way to dissuade Mr. Trump from making such fantasies real – since cost and embarrassment seem not to work – is for his staff, or President Macron, to acquaint Mr. Trump with what happened on the original Bastille Day and just what the French are celebrating.

  21. orionATL says:

    this is an elegant, straightforward statement to the jury – a summation of the trump campaign’s – and the trump family’s – multiple interactions and subsequent transactions with the russian government headed by putin. at the very least, the four sets of interactions taken together constitute a conspiracy to control the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, reduce the impact of american sanctions on russia, and enrich members of the trump family.

  22. Keifus says:

    In the scenario that AG Barr decides to act as an agent for POTUS Trump and seriously restricts the SCO’s report, is that not just another reason to vote for a different candidate than POTUS Trump?  A candidate who vows to appoint an AG that will release the SCO’s report?  Whomever is the next AG will have the legal authority to release the report, correct?  Even if it is a year after the fact.

  23. P J Evans says:

    @earlofhuntingdon  February 24, 2019 at 8:59 pm
    Tr*mp should be aware of what the 4th of July is celebrating, but it’s possible that he slept through (or played hooky from) that part of his various history classes. He certainly shows no awareness of that part of US history.

  24. harpie says:

    A series of tweets:

    1] @realDonaldTrump 4:43 AM – 24 Feb 2019

    HOLD THE DATE! We will be having one of the biggest gatherings in the history of Washington, D.C., on July 4th. It will be called “A Salute To America” and will be held at the Lincoln Memorial. Major fireworks display, entertainment and an address by your favorite President, me!

    2] Bill Kristol 5:02 AM – 24 Feb 2019

    The last president to try to hijack July 4th was Richard Nixon, who staged Honor America Day on July 4, 1970. It was widely ridiculed. Nixon later left office in disgrace.

    3] https://twitter.com/KevinMKruse/status/1095371740610523136

    As I noted in my book One Nation Under God, when Nixon was under fire in early 1970, he and his supporters planned a Fourth of July rally at the Lincoln Memorial which they called “Honor America Day.” // Billy Graham and Bob Hope unveiled the plans this way: [screenshots]

    4] https://twitter.com/BeschlossDC/status/1099749460983328768 11:14 AM – 24 Feb 2019

    Protesters at Nixon’s July 4 celebration at Lincoln Memorial [link to photo] 

    Added: [Sorry…just copy/paste the links]

  25. Eureka says:

    @ EoH 549p, BROUX, Rayne thread:  He couldn’t wait the three weeks because inauguration graft.  Laundered inauguration tickets to collect, baby!  Though humor belies Trump’s desperation for cash.

    This was a subset quid pro quo for inauguration ticket purchases.  Surely.

    Add: I wonder how many of these receipts are dated in the public record

  26. Eureka says:

    (cont.- power issues thanx to “climate change”*):

    By subset qpq I mean part of the ever-flowing back-and-forths underneath the big picture qpq,  mirroring same in structure and intent, and including receipt collection.  I would bet that after Flynn’s reassurances, many such tickets were bought.  The ‘bad’ kind of tickets, laundered through American citizens.

    *  too passive a descriptor at this point, needs agency.

  27. Minnesota Faqs says:

    I am confused about the money involved in the alleged Quid Pro Quo between Trump and Putin.   EW mentions $300M associated with the Trump Moscow Tower deal that Sater and Cohen were negotiating.  But elsewhere a sum of $500M has been mentioned in association with the 0.5% commission on the sale of 19% of Rosneft’s outstanding stock which Page, and perhaps Papadopoulos, were connected with.  There appears to be no evidence that the $300M of the Trump Moscow Tower deal ever was ever transferred to Trump, although perhaps a $1M signing fee may have been payed to Trump at the time of signing in accordance with the text of the memo of agreement.  Oh the other hand, EW claims in association with the mystery appellant case that Mueller has evidence that Kushner received a “loan” of around $300M to $600M from the Qatar Investment Authority (QAI) that may have originated from the Rosneft deal.  My question is: Does the alleged Quid Pro Quo between Trump and Putin involve both these sums of money, or are these sums of money both the same in the long run? 
    It seems to me unlikely that these sums of money are independent because Russia would have then been paying Trump twice for the same result or “quo”, i.e., sanctions relief.  On the other hand, if they are in fact the same source of money, then this might explain why the Trump Moscow Tower deal was scuttled in mid-2016 while the Rosneft deal survived to the end of 2016.   In other words, if we think of Russia having a sum of money that they were willing to bribe Trump with, then the question arises of how to get this money to Trump in a way that appears to be legal.   Perhaps Russia originally planned to get it to Trump as part of a Trump Moscow Tower deal.  But when it appeared to Trump that this would not work because the tower deal would be challenged as a bribe if Trump were to become president, then an alternative transfer scheme was conceived that resulted in the transfer of the same funds through the Qatar Investment Authority.  This change in the money transfer vehicle would then explain why there was such a rush in the month before Trump’s inauguration to assure Russia that sanctions would be removed after Trump assumed office, because the Rosneft sale was being consummated at this same time.  Trump may have wanted Russia to know at this time that he was still expecting the Rosneft commission money in return for the relief of sanctions.   This may have been why he authorized Flynn to speak to Kisliak even though this was risky.  He couldn’t wait until after his inauguration to pass his agreement because the deal was being consummated in December 2016 and he may have wanted to make sure that his “commission” remained as part of the deal.  This may be why he had to take the risk to have Flynn speak to Kisliak to reaffirm his agreement with the deal.  This may give further evidence of a quid pro quo as the basis of a conspiracy between Trump and Russia involving a bribe to Trump to relieve sanctions against Russia.  If Mueller has evidence that this transfer of Rosneft funds was made from Russia through Qatar to Kushner on behalf of Trump, then this would be damning evidence of a conspiracy between Trump and Russia.

    [02-JUN-2022 — This commenter subsequently published remarks under different usernames “Concerned Citizen” “Minnesota Faqs” and “MinnesotaFaqs” exhibiting similar witting/unwitting lack of knowledge. /~Rayne]

    • Rayne says:

      Thanks for your comment, nice to see you again at emptywheel. Please use the same username each time you comment so community members can get to know you.

  28. Eureka says:

    re Eureka 10p, 1016p-  The best source I found for unmasking* inaugural donors is Christina Wilkie’s Trump Inaugural Donors Crowdsourced Research – Google Sheets, which is linked from her article, Trump’s inaugural committee fundraising was a mess from the start.  But I haven’t found a date-based analysis, looking at e.g. overall trends and bumps which may be linked to other events.  I am half tempted to do it myself (and would, if I had better software or if we don’t hear more on this from SCO near-term-eventually).

    And re identities, well, questions remain.  From the article:

    Take, for example, Frank A. Rodriguez, supposedly a resident of Singapore who is listed as having given $25,000 to Trump’s inaugural fund. The address listed for Rodriguez in Singapore, however, doesn’t match up with any residences, or offer any ways to follow up.

    There’s a similar conundrum with a Peter P. Drake in Houston, for whom there are no public records, but who apparently gave $37,500. And a David Durrant, who is listed as having donated $100,000 and living in Anaheim, California, but whose address doesn’t exist on any maps.

    Despite filing amended reports, the Trump inaugural committee has never shed any light on the identities of donors like these, despite requests over months from news agencies.

    *but there are still-additional straw layers suspected as per other reporting

      • Eureka says:

        Wouldn’t surprise me. Besides that they had used places like NASA and the Senate/House for addresses, The OC is ratfucker central (and home to one of Stone’s most fame-hungry students, as far as I know). Perhaps their most well-adapted clime outside Fla.

  29. Cathy says:

    Thanks Eureka @ 3:03 & 3:26 – for lighting the way into the subterranean passages. I feel like we’re visiting, during off-hours, a massive project to reclaim an ancient tin mine:  Workers are mapping the tunnels & rooms but they’re still installing the lighting system and handrails not erected yet…

    • Eureka says:

      You were of course couth enough to liken it to an old tin mine, but “subterranean” makes me think of a dank, drippy, MAGA ossuary.

      Soylent ratfucker is…where the bodies are buried.

      (And may I take this opportunity to note aloud that man, the WP spellchecker is draconian!)

      • Cathy says:

        Tin mines…stone quarries…humans are quite adept at repurposing…

        When looking for a place to stash cemetery contents “Paris authorities chose…the former Tombe-Issoire quarries under the plain of Montrouge. In operation since at least the fifteenth century and then abandoned, these quarries were a small part of the labyrinth that extended under the city over approximately 800 hectares.”

        Who’s to say some of the mine inspectors (both those represented by AFGE and those represented by SPJ) aren’t chasing down Morlocks trying to clear away the MAGA remains before the lighting crews arrive?

  30. Sans-Serf says:

    With regards to who Kilimnik was sharing the data with, If we go back to the transcript from the February 4th hearing, on page 83. Weissmann (erroneously attributed to Westling) says:

    […] — he understood that it was going to be given by [redacted – 12 chars] to the [redacted – 17 chars] and to Mr. [redacted – 9 chars], both.

    the following fit perfectly in those 3 redactions:

    1) Mr. Kilimnik

    2) Russia Goverment

    3) Deripaska

  31. Cathy says:

    @viget says: February 24, 2019 at 10:56 pm

    …why the GRU was parading around the DNC servers just asking to be found, while Cozy Bear had been up on the servers for almost a year, and they (the DNC) didn’t know.

    Suggest some prospecting in EW’s tag archive Guccifer 2.0.

    I hitched a ride on another commentariat member’s suggestion for background reading…includes coverage of both Cozy and Fancy Bear.  Although there may be posts about Cozy Bear without the Guccifer 2.0 tag, I’d expect comparisons of the two species to turn up there.

  32. orionATL says:

    eureka 2/25@3:03a

    this is probably your’s and wilkies’ point, but just to support that, when rayne and the commentatiat here were having fun talking about money laundering using golf courses in a post a couple of weeks ago, doing things like adding in dummy member names would have been just another trick to try. if trump, or not uncharacteristically for him someone once removed who did the laundering for him, wanted to play such tricks with the inaugural committee donors’ list there would be nothing to stop them and tracing would be difficult. there’s no grifting these crooks wouldn’t stoop to.

  33. earlofhuntingdon says:

    MSNBC describes the current crop of Dem presidential candidates as promoting “very big ideas.”  The WaPo describes them as “swinging for the fences”.  Bold new thinking!  Promises out of reach!

    Pooh.  Eisenhower, Johnson and the Congresses that passed Social Security and Medicare would not describe them as any such things.  Much of Europe would consider them unimaginative and boringly routine.

    Providing wrong, too little or no context is a chronic problem for the MSM.  It’s one reason it is so hard to move back toward where the US was decades ago.  It makes it hard to address new problems.

    An aching one is the virtual complete lack of privacy regulation in the US.  It makes collecting, aggregating and abusing private data a dark, many billions of dollars a year industry.  It’s the business model of the new behemoths, Amazn, Gggle, and older businesses alike (telecoms).  Their conduct cries out for tight regulation and reorganization under antitrust laws.  Regulating at the margin will have no affect.  Fcbk, for example, has acquiring and abusing private data at the core of its business model, they are its reason for being.

    • orionATL says:


      yeah. for the most part a bunch of low imagination, mediocre intellect, power-greedy showoffs.

      senator warren stands far apart from and above these others, but her candidacy has effectively been declared dead by the herd of media cognoscenti who happily deliver us bushandcheney and trump&co from time to time.

      adequate medical care for all is not new or radical. neither is some kind of basic income, not to mention food adequate with respect to nutrition and availability, and housing.

      the fact is that many tens of millions of americans have been way ahead of their stick-in-the-mud democratic leaders for a couple of decades. what the democratic party has lacked are leaders with a feel for the problems ordinary voters face and very strong speaking skills.

  34. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Don Jr, can we all use the past-lives excuse to avoid liability for serial criminal behavior in this one?

    You and your siblings suggest that human cloning is, in fact, an established practice, but it needs improvement. Genes for hair, IQ, and normal body weight, for example, do not seem to reliably replicate.

  35. OldMaineGuy says:

    A short while back I believe that it was Willis Warren (not positive on that) who posted a very short comment on a previous thread: “Kilimnik is GRU. Pechenkin is KGB.” Not recognizing Pechenkin, I looked around otherweb. Turns out he’s a former Colonel-General in the KGB, and is currently the right hand man/fixer for none other than Oleg Deripaska, who, IIRC, is the guy who’s got Manafort by the short hairs, not to mention a close Putin confidant. If Manafort was sharing polling data not only with Kilimnik but passing it along directly to Deripaska (to “ingratiate himself”, and to “attempt make things right” as far as the huge sum that Manafort ripped him off), does this not look like as much a pipeline to Russian intelligence as Kilimnik does? The directly-to-Deripaska angle doesn’t seem to have gotten much attention, but seems equally as damning when checking out Pechenkin and his obvious connection directly to the top of Russian intelligence. Here’s the link to Pechenkin story:


  36. AMG says:

    i’m still mulling over this recent new yorker article by masha gessen:

    The Trump-Russia Investigation and the Mafia State

    gessen essentially seems to be stating that there is a distinction to be made between the russian “government” and the russian “mafia state” and that this distinction is leading to a misunderstanding of our current predicament, which is NOT that “Russia as a normal state” undertook an “influence operation as an undertaking of the state” that was “aimed at furthering Russia’s national interests” but that “the Russian Mafia state is cultivating profit-yielding relationships with the aspiring Mafia boss of the U.S. and his band of crooks, subverting democratic institutions in the process.”

    i’ve recently been forced to reexamine my understanding of the scope of the mueller investigation and as an attempt to correct what i now think was a faulty understanding, i’m taking an extreme opposite position and framing the investigation in an extremely tight and narrow scope as being confined to an investigation of russian government activities as primary to the point where any other aspect is subordinate e.g., the investigation must always proceed from the russian government side first and any non-russian link that comes up outside of that, must be tied back to having originated from the russian government side or it falls outside of the scope.  for example: the pattern must end up as: 1) russian government -> 2) x -> 3) y, etc.  to be clear, the investigation can start from 3) y, but if that pattern can’t be established, it falls outside of the scope.

    now that i’m already out on a limb w/ my current “thought experiment” that makes the mueller investigation almost absurdly narrow in scope, i’m going to throw in another condition to make it even more absurdly narrow and see if the branch breaks under me :-P

    what if a proper understanding of the scope of the mueller investigation requires an understanding of the “gessen distinction”?  i.e., the distinction between the russian government and the russian mafia and what if mueller’s scope is even more narrowly confined and truly limited to russian government efforts where russian mafia efforts fall outside of his purview unless they can also be fit into the formula above?

    while i think gessen misses the boat on manafort by not including his link to kilimnik and thus to the russian government efforts, maybe she’s onto something with veselnitskaya and maybe mueller’s office is still trying to find a link back to the TT meeting that originates w/ the russian government efforts and not the russian mafia state efforts?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      We discussed that article a little while ago. Gessen is well-informed about Russia. But I think that piece overstates the distinction between a supposedly “normal” Russian state – a textbook entity – and the Russian mafia state, a more practical example comprised of Putin, organized crime, oligarchs, state intelligence agencies, and a portion of other bureaucracies.

      One could also distinguish between a Texas textbook description of American government and the lobbyist, dark money-funded state that governs many areas of the state and its economy. So far as the external world knows, state action is state action.

      Trump’s tweets are, for example, official statements by the president. Putin, in turn, might govern via shifting collections of oligarchs and a portion of the traditional bureaucratic state, but those are, in effect, internal differences. Externally, his acts are official acts of the Russian state.

      Co-opting and manipulating the president of the United States is good both for him and his oligarchs and for Russian state interests as he defines them. That Putin uses a few assets for one task and others for different tasks does not make his actions less the actions of the Russian state. Any journalist or opposition figure in parliament who disagrees openly with that should probably wear a parachute when visiting the higher floors of tall buildings.

  37. Don Stuckey says:

    Hi Marcy,

    Thank you for your great piece above; you are really helping us all understand the core of the SCO’s investigation.

    One question: do you think that Kilimnik might have passed the polling data obtained from Manafort to the Internet Research Agency (IRA), which the IRA could have used to help target their social media propaganda campaign? (Or perhaps Kilimnik could have passed it to Deripaska who then passed it to the IRA?)


    • Rayne says:

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

      • Rollo T says:

        I’m curious as to why the Trump campaign would choose to farm out the election ratfucking to the Russians? Did the campaign not have sufficient ratfucking infrastructure with Brad Parscale to do the job here at home?

        • Geoff says:

          My guess would be that doing this in the US would be much more easily discoverable. They probably used Russia 1) so that they could avoid a lot of scrutiny – I mean, look what we’ve had to dig in to over two years to figure this out? and 2) if they never figure out that the info came from Manafort and Gates, then they can just point a finger at Russia and blame them, then do what they are already doing, ignoring the fact that Russia was interfering in the election.

  38. pseudonymous in nc says:

    This past (long) weekend was the anniversary of the superseding indictment and the Gates plea deal, and I suppose it’s worth taking stock of what was already in the can by that point.

    With respect to Kilimnik, we’ve known for a year what kind of communications have been available to prosecutors, whether through subpoenas or 702, and ABJ has been overseeing all of that on the docket.


    So while plenty of the evidence in the most recent hearings may have been new to her, the provenance of much of that evidence is not. She’s seen enough Kilimnik-related stuff for long enough to know who he is.

  39. Herringbone says:

    @ AMG 11:00 am:

    I think you’re on to something, but I’d imagine that, for the purpose of justifying OSC’s choice to follow a lead, all Mueller has to do is establish a link to Putin, who the IC claims gave the go-ahead to election interference. Whether the president of the Russian Federation was acting in some sort of official government capacity or not, deeds done by people in his orbit would be fair game.

    I mean, when one of Kim Jung Un’s side hustles sells counterfeit Jordaches or whatever, I don’t think anyone’s going to say, “oh, that’s just Kim acting as a private citizen of North Korea.” In other words, when the state merges with the mafia, what makes that any different than the blend of feudalism and patronage that gave the world Louis XIV?

  40. Savage Librarian says:

    @Sans-Serf 8:46 am:

    Your suggestions were:

    ”the following fit perfectly in those 3 redactions:
    1) Mr. Kilimnik
    2) Russia Goverment
    3) Deripaska”

    I suggest that item #2 might be:

    Psy-Group Company

    or maybe, WikiStrat Company.

    Those are two of the operations run by Joel Zamel. He also had WhiteKnight.

  41. Mark Ospeck says:

    Babuschka100 at 24 Feb 7:14 pm- “Coen brothers ..do the movie ..thinking a Blood Simple / Miller’s Crossing sort of ..”
    yea, exactly. And certainly someone like the Coens w their millers crossing and blood simple. But also with a touch of their no country sprinkled in. And also one just can’t forget Cuaron, who did pan’s. And then Welles with his touch of evil. Oh well, he’s unavailable. Billy Wilder sadly likewise also.. but maybe include some elements from his double indemnity and witness for the prosecution?
    Also, should there be a final chase scene through the DC sewers, like there was in Vienna in Reed’s third man?
    Either the Coens or Cuaron could do a bang up job, but think somehow it’s all got to end with a dead guy floating upside down in a pool with a Bill Holden voiceover

  42. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Donald Trump now seems to value advice from Russia’s foreign ministry on how to deal with North Korea – at least how Russia wants the US to manage its relations with North Korea – more than he values the advice from his own intelligence and diplomatic services. The latter probably expect the Don to read, which is a non-starter, so I can see why the Don likes the pictures and promises coming out of the Kremlin better. Pity about the abandonment of US interests though.

  43. timbo says:

    Re: “a link to the Russian government”

    I’ve just read the justice.gov/file/1035477 pdf (the IRA indictment doc). This says that money for the projects at IRA came from the Concord group, and while is says that some entities in the Concord group have/had contracts with the Russian government, it isn’t explicit as to which entities had such contracts. For instance, was it Concord Catering that had contracts with the Russian government? Or was it the other data mining and social manipulation efforts that Concord funded that were directly supported by Russian government funding? A fine hair but still a hair? I suppose one might argue that a catering service is a good way to funnel intelligence funds to an NGO for purposes of manipulating a US election… but is there direct proof that Russian government funds were paid directly to IRA via Concord for explicit purposes? In any case, back to my original question…

    Is ABJ statement about a confirmed link to the Russian government implying that there is at least one US confirmed intelligence source showing that the polling data shared with Kilimnik (Aug 3 meeting) made its way into the hands of confirmed Russian government operatives and/or intelligence directorates? I read it that way but then the question of who/what are Russian government directed operatives enters the picture…

    I ask because it is not clear to me how/whether the US SCO can directly prove with publicly available information that the IRA is a Russian government intelligence resource; the case has not been tried in US courts as yet, correct? If someone has a link to information that shows that, much appreciated.

    With regard to the IRA, is there ample evidence publicly available that might tie the Aug 3 2016 meeting polling data with a change in strategy by that bot/troll farm? Is that, in fact, how SCO discovered Concord and IRA in the first place? Again, link(s) would be much appreciated.

    Finally, I would like to state the obvious—that Manafort giving Kilimnik the polling data at the meeting was an attempt at something that was at minimum shady. (And now I have to ask if Manafort ever signed an NDA with the Trump campaign itself…crazy.)

      • P J Evans says:

        Don’t some of them have actual restaurants in them? (“Actual” meaning with cooks and kitchens, not just heat lamps, chafing dishes, and microwave ovens.)

        • Rayne says:

          Yup, they do — but that doesn’t mean a facility doesn’t scale up service for special events (like weddings, golf outings, tournaments) by hiring caterers. Or backfill staff with catering staff.

          EDIT — I swear I’ve forgotten more stuff than I’ve learned. Just remembered a nearby course hired catering companies to run their clubhouse restaurant and bar which operated out of onsite kitchen. The course owner didn’t do anything except run the course, left anything related to food and beverage service to the catering company.

      • timbo says:

        lol. Yeah, isn’t that what several jurisdictions are looking into now? There are definitely restaurants… but money laundering isn’t the sole domain of Russian’s… still, I’d like more info on a precisely what US intelligence has on the polling data that Manafort handed off to Kilimnik, namely where this information got to and how quickly.

  44. SICK says:

    Is this a valid addition ?:

    1. “Quid Pro Quo” excludes the Flynn “Marshal Plan” to develop nukes in Saudi for lots of $ (requiring Russian assistance), and to “recolonize” the Middle East.

    2. and..,,,

    Does the sale of Rosneft shares to Qatar via Glencore (allegedly paying a large commission to Trump) relate to any of this…?

    I see it, sort of… or do I?


  45. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Just to set Donald Trump’s mind at ease while he’s having executive time in SE Asia (I’m still having a hard time imagining a US president being happy to be in Hanoi): Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh spent seven years, under two presidents, investigating the Iran-Contra scandal which involved presidents Reagan and Poppy Bush. Just saying.

  46. Thomas says:

    I want to concur with bmaz that “saying there is no proof beyond a reasonable doubt is not the same as saying there is no evidence.”
    I’d like to add that loyalty to a leader despite any evidence is not a reasonable doubt.

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