Roger Stone Does the RICO Defense

Most of the Russian investigation beat journalists are analyzing Amy Berman Jackson’s latest smackdown of Roger Stone, in which she requires him to comply with her gag order even though (he claims) the book forward that conflicts with it was planned in advance of her gag. I’ll leave that to other journalists for now (though I will note that in the order, she relies on all the traps she set in the hearing on the gag, including Stone’s admission he doesn’t need the book for his livelihood and Stone’s lawyer’s concession that Stone shouldn’t speak about his case). Effectively, she’s still letting their stunt in that hearing make her ruling for her.

I’ve been engaged in the far more mundane analysis of how Stone’s defense against the DNC lawsuit has evolved, possibly in conjunction with his indictment and the prospect of further information coming out.

Yesterday, all the defendants who have accepted service in the DNC lawsuit against Trump’s campaign, WikiLeaks, the Agalarovs, and GRU submitted their motions to dismiss a second amended complaint (SAC). Because of the timing of all this, I wanted to compare Roger Stone’s last response (Second Motion) with the one submitted yesterday (Third Motion).

The last motions to dismiss were submitted December 7. The SAC, filed January 18, added allegations tied to Jerome Corsi’s draft plea agreement and related revelations, but not Stone’s indictment (which was filed a week after the SAC). But Stone’s response, submitted March 4, reflects the indictment, and presumably may reflect what his lawyers are seeing in discovery.

So comparing the two motions provides a sense of what Stone’s lawyers are seeing and how they imagine they’ll defend him against his indictment.

The SAC mentions Stone around 112 times; his actions (described starting at ¶161) form a key part of the Democratic narrative, and is key to tying the Trump associates named in the suit to the Russian and WikiLeaks efforts to exploit the stolen documents.

There are three key differences in Stone’s Third Motion and the Second.

Stone stops quoting the accusations against him

The Second Motion takes on the specific accusations against him, quoting some of the key paragraphs.

The specific facts alleged as to Roger Stone make him a unique defendant. While analyzing these allegations, it is critical for the Court to note when Stone is alleged, by Plaintiff to have joined the conspiracy (post-July 22, 2016, first DNC dissemination), what acts he allegedly committed to in fact join the conspiracy, and do those acts allege a conspiracy to which the DNC can seek a remedy in this Court. As to Roger Stone, the amended complaint alleges:

19. Throughout the summer and fall of 2016, during the height of the Presidential campaign, Trump’s associates continued to communicate secretly with Russian agents and WikiLeaks, who strategically disseminated information stolen from Democratic targets. For example, in August 2016, Stone began communicating secretly with GRU operatives and bragged about his contacts with Assange. Similarly, Gates, who served as the Trump Campaign’s deputy chairman and then liaison to the Republican National Committee, maintained secret communications with an individual he knew to be connected to the GRU. (emphasis added).

Other than the private messages (communication on the social network platform, twitter), between Guccifer 2.0 and Stone there are no additional allegations about what they communicated about. The communications are attached as exhibits to this motion.

20. In the summer and fall of 2016, Stone revealed information that he could not have had unless he were communicating with WikiLeaks, Russian operatives, or both about their hacking operations in the United States. For instance, in August of 2016, nobody in the public sphere knew that Russia had stolen emails from John Podesta, the chairman of Secretary Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Nevertheless, on August 21, 2016, Stone predicted that damaging information about Podesta would be released, tweeting “it will soon [be] the Podesta’s time in the barrel.” Weeks later, WikiLeaks began releasing batches of Podesta’s emails on a near-daily basis until Election Day—as Stone had predicted. Similarly, in mid-September 2016, Stone said that he expected “Julian Assange and the WikiLeaks people to drop a payload of new documents on Hillary [Clinton] on a weekly basis fairly soon.” And, beginning on October 7, 2016, WikiLeaks began releasing stolen emails at least once a week—as Stone had predicted. (emphasis added).

WikiLeaks merely telling Stone that it has specific information is not a tort. Additionally, since the DNC alleged that Stone’s prediction about “the Podesta’s” proves Stone joined the relevant conspiracy is belied by the fact John Podesta’s emails were not on the DNC server. The DNC cannot properly allege Stone joined the conspiracy and committed torts based upon this allegation in which the DNC cannot claim a concrete injury fairly traceable to Stone. An analysis of the DNC’s standing and misuse of inferences to attempt to sufficiently plead this conspiracy will be discussed below.

That same passage in yesterday’s motion to dismiss is far more abbreviated and — in the passage that most directly addresses the charges against him — doesn’t cite the DNC’s full accusations against him directly.

In the summer and fall of 2016, Stone revealed information that he could not have had unless he were communicating with WikiLeaks, Russian operatives, or both about their hacking operations in the United States. For instance, in August of 2016, nobody in the public sphere knew that Russia had stolen emails from John Podesta, the chairman of Secretary Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Nevertheless, on August 21, 2016, Stone predicted that damaging information about Podesta would be released, tweeting “it will soon [be] the Podesta’s time in the barrel.” Weeks later, WikiLeaks began releasing batches of Podesta’s emails on a near-daily basis until Election Day—as Stone had predicted. Similarly, in mid-September 2016, Stone said that he expected “Julian Assange and the WikiLeaks people to drop a payload of new documents on Hillary [Clinton] on a weekly basis fairly soon.” And, beginning on October 7, 2016, WikiLeaks began releasing stolen emails at least once a week—as Stone had predicted.

Next, the DNC alleges Roger Stone was prophetic because he “revealed information he could not have had unless he were communicating with WikiLeaks, Russian operatives or both. (SAC ¶ 22). An example cited is: In August of 2016, nobody in the public sphere knew that Russia had stolen emails from John Podesta, Stone predicted that damaging information about Podesta would be released, tweeting: “it will soon [be] the Podesta’s time in the barrel.” Weeks later, WikiLeaks began releasing batches of Podesta’s emails on a near-daily basis until Election Day—as Stone had predicted. (SAC ¶91).

WikiLeaks merely telling Stone that it has non-specific information is not a tort. But the DNC emphasizes that “Stone discussed highly confidential and strategic information stolen from another Democratic party institution and disseminated to the public.” (SAC ¶ 23). This admission in and of itself proves that the Podesta emails were not part of the DNC records. Since the DNC alleged that Stone’s prediction about “the Podesta’s” proves Stone joined the relevant conspiracy and enterprise it is absolutely defeated by the fact John Podesta’s emails were not on the DNC server or that of the other “Democratic party institution.” Similarly, in midSeptember 2016, Stone said that he expected “Julian Assange and the WikiLeaks people to drop a payload of new documents on Hillary [Clinton] on a weekly basis fairly soon.” Id. And, beginning on October 7, 2016, WikiLeaks began releasing stolen emails at least once a week—as Stone had predicted. Id.

Then the DNC alleges Stone and other defendants misled various government agencies. Stone did not lie to the Special Counsel or the FBI; he only appeared or testified to one congressional committee. 3 He is alleged to have intimidated a witness who “threatened to contradict his narrative about his communications with WikiLeaks.” (SAC ¶ 30). But neither the testimony to Congress, nor the “intimidation” occurred prior to the 2016 presidential election.

3 Roger Stone has been indicted in the District of the District of Columbia. (Case No. 1:19-cr-18-ABJ). The indictment charges Stone with lying to Congress and intimidating a witness, Randy Credico in relation to Credico asserting his Fifth Amendment right to a House Committee. The indictment is not for conspiracy, RICO, theft, or trespass. The DNC alleges an open-ended RICO, something the Special Counsel has not been willing to allege against any American.

By telling this instead as a narrative rather than quoting the actual paragraphs, Stone minimizes the accusations against him, which the DNC could now fill out with more from his indictment.

Ultimately, Stone’s defense remains, as it has been from the start, that any foreknowledge of the John Podesta emails is useless to the Democrats’ lawsuit because Podesta’s emails were not stolen from a DNC server, and that he had no foreknowledge of the DNC release to WikiLeaks (he also leans heavily on WikiLeaks not having engaged in a tort, which may get him in trouble if WikiLeaks does get charged with something).

The possibility that Stone saw the Podesta emails in advance may explain this strategy. After all, if it comes out that he did receive the Podesta emails in advance, then his defense here (that the emails don’t amount to economic espionage) still might fly given that Podesta was not part of the DNC.

But now that Cohen has described Stone warning Trump of the July 22 release, that strategy may begin to crumble.

Stone drops his claim not to be part of the campaign

In the Second Motion, in an effort to distance himself from the network of conspirators, Stone denied that he was part of the campaign.

Conspiracy between Stone and the Campaign.

Plaintiffs do not state a proper theory of conspiracy to support any claim. An agent of a corporation cannot conspire with the corporation itself. Executive Sandwich Shoppe, Inc. v. Carr Realty Corp., 749 A.2d 724, 739 (D.C. 2000) (referred to as the “intracorporate conspiracy doctrine”); Little Professor Book Co. v. Reston N. Pt. Vill., 41 Va. Cir. 73 (1996) (circuit court opinion); Reich v. Lopez, 38 F. Supp. 3d 436, 464 (S.D.N.Y. 2014), aff’d, 858 F.3d 55 (2d Cir. 2017); Tabb v. D.C., 477 F. Supp. 2d 185, 190 (D.D.C. 2007) (citing Dickerson v. Alachua County Comm., 200 F.3d 761, 767 (11th Cir. 2000)). Stone worked as an independent contractor for the Campaign for a few months in 2015. In short, the amended complaint alleges Stone was always acting as an agent of the Trump Campaign for President. In the only footnote in the amended complaint, the term “Trump Associate” is defined as an agent of the Campaign. (Am. Compl. at 16 *). The D.C.-law and Virginia law, therefore, does not support a claim of conspiracy between Stone and the Campaign.

That footnote in the SAC has been rewritten to define Trump associate this way:

“Trump Associates” refers to the Trump advisors and confidants named as Defendants herein: Trump, Jr., Manafort, Kushner, Stone, and Papadopoulos.

In the section disclaiming a role in managing the RICO enterprise, Stone also drops an argument that the complaint doesn’t allege “that he was even communicating with the other ‘Trump associates’,” leaving this argument denying that he played a key role in the conspiracy.

The lawsuit does not allege Roger Stone had a management or operational position in the Campaign at all. He was merely an informal adviser. In short, Stone did not have any part in directing the enterprise’s affairs as required by the law in this Circuit. See id. At best, Stone is talking to an alleged Russian hacker on twitter about a hack and theft after the DNC’s data was stolen.

In the wake of his indictment — which gets closer to suggesting Stone got the October release timed to drown out the Access Hollywood release (a claim Jerome Corsi has sometimes backed), not to mention Michael Cohen’s claim that Stone told the President about the initial July 22 email dump several days in advance — this claim may get harder to sustain.

Indeed, as it is, if Stone goes to trial multiple communications with the campaign about WikiLeaks’ releases will become public. But Cohen’s allusion to corroboration about the July 18 or 19 Stone call to Trump suggests that information could become public even sooner.

Stone continues to ignore potential CFAA exposure

As in the Second Motion, there’s a key part of the Democratic narrative that Stone ignores in the Third Motion: the hack of the Dem’s analytics on AWS, which post-dates Guccifer 2.0’s offer to help Stone and offer of the DCCC analytics in early September, which starts this way (I discuss and quote this in more depth in this post).

N. The GRU Reaches Out To Stone About Democratic Party Turnout Models

177. On August 22, 2016, GRU operatives transmitted several gigabytes of data stolen from another Democratic party target to a Republican party strategist in Florida. The data included voter turnout analyses for Florida and other states.160

178. Between September 7 and September 8, 2016, the GOP strategist exchanged private messages with GRU operatives posing as Guccifer 2.0 in which he explained the substantial value of the stolen data he had received from them.161

179. On September 9, 2016, GRU operatives posing as Guccifer 2.0 contacted Stone, writing him “please tell me if I can help u anyhow[,]” and adding “it would be a great pleasure to me.” The operatives then asked Stone for his reaction to the “turnout model for the Democrats’ entire presidential campaign.” Stone replied, “[p]retty standard.” 162

O. Russia Launches Another Attack On DNC Servers Housing Sensitive And Valuable Trade Secrets

180. On September 20, 2016, CrowdStrike’s monitoring service discovered that unauthorized users—later discovered to be GRU officers—had accessed the DNC’s cloud-computing service. The cloud-computing service housed test applications related to the DNC’s analytics. The DNC’s analytics are its most important, valuable, and highly confidential tools. While the DNC did not detect unauthorized access to its voter file, access to these test applications could have provided the GRU with the ability to see how the DNC was evaluating and processing data critical to its principal goal of winning elections. Forensic analysis showed that the unauthorized users had stolen the contents of these virtual servers by making exact duplicates (“snapshots”) of them and moving those snapshots to other accounts they owned on the same service. The GRU stole multiple snapshots of these virtual servers between September 5, 2016 and September 22, 2016. The U.S. government later concluded that this cyberattack had been executed by the GRU as part of its broader campaign to damage to the Democratic party.

DNC’s allegation that Stone informed Guccifer 2.0 he was unimpressed with the DCCC oppo research released in early September, followed shortly by GRU’s hack of the crown jewels, would seem to undermine Stone’s entire defense, given that his claims that his conversations with Guccifer 2.0 preceded all hacks (it doesn’t — indeed, it happens as the hacks are occurring) and his claims that the Podesta release is unrelated because is not DNC does not apply to the analytics.

But thus far, he’s just ignoring those allegations.

None of the new details about Stone’s conduct will really get the DNC to The RICO. But it may put Stone at more risk of other exposure.

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. 

87 replies
  1. Frank Probst says:

    I think Stone’s going to jail, and I don’t think many people will miss him. Judy Miller thought that there would be ongoing outrage from the journalism community when she got jailed, and she was surprised to find out that she wasn’t a big news story after a few days. Stone’s merry band of fools will try to keep the story alive, but I don’t think they’re going to have too much success.

    My hot take (haven’t read the order yet) is that either (A) the book really was published on February 19th, in which case Stone probably is probably making money off of it. If he didn’t get an advance, I suppose he can claim that the first royalty check has arrived yet, but I don’t think that’s very compelling. It’s like saying you don’t make any money doing your job, because today is Tuesday, and you don’t get paid until Friday. Or (B) the book WASN’T out yet, in which case Stone released it and then somehow had the publication date backdated. Anyone else involved (like amazon) in backdating the publication date is going to fess up pretty quickly, I think.

    A is probably perjury, and B is probably a violation of the gag order with a cover-up on top. And the two Instagram posts over the weekend are two extra gag order violations. Plus however many more violations he makes before next week. It should be interesting to see the full list when ABJ issues her ruling.

    • orionATL says:

      this comment does not belong here. it belongs at the bottom as reply to orionATL 3/8@8:45am

      the stolen nsa hacking tools had far more than than microsoft capability; see the mcclatchy article.

      given that the gru has now been fingered as the thief of the nsa hacking tools (isn’t that is one neat surrendipitous fit), that makes it makes it near certain that that theft, opportunistic though it may have been (was it connected thru the opm hack?), provided valuable protection to the russian military and civilian govt for their effort to defeat clinton and exploit the electoral college to put their puppet in power as president.

  2. Frank Probst says:

    P.S. to bmaz: How do I make my gizmos stop saying “RICO!!! RICO!!! RICO!!!” ? It’s been happing all afternoon.

  3. Vern says:

    Speaking of RICO (this seems like a significant development so I’ll take my drubbing bc I’m interested in your and bmaz’s take):

    Today on MSNBC, Frank Figliuzzi (former FBI counter intel) said:

    “There’s a way we address mob families and organizations and it’s called RICO. The basic notion is that the sum is greater than the parts. So you can go ahead and attack an organization by hitting individuals with prosecutions on this charge and that charge — and it’s very unwieldy and takes a long time and then you really never essentially get to the boss.”

    “RICO is designed to get to the boss, because if you charge the underlings and they don’t talk because they use the omertà code — the code of silence — we’ve seen that even in this organization, then you may never get him. So RICO says, look, all of this together is much larger than the individual parts, and there’s a leader behind this. And that’s what RICO’s designed to do.”

    “I’ll tell you when the light bulb went off over my head, I said this has got to be a RICO consideration, which is Michael Cohen’s testimony. Michael Cohen’s testimony did it for me.

    “This was essentially a mob informant talking about the [caporegime] and I’d be surprised if Southern District or some other prosecution arm is not seriously approaching this as a RICO.

    Starts about 6:30 in the clip below.

  4. gedouttahear says:

    ABJ’s order makes the heart sing.
    Shorter ABJ order: “Dear Defendant Roger, please list for me (I’ve provided questions to make it easier for you) all the ways in which you violated my prior order so that I can punish your stupid contemptuous ass.”

  5. Zinsky says:

    There is one cardinal rule to always remember when discussing Donald Trump and his close associates like Stone – (1) He (and Stone) is a dirty, filthy liar. In all other situations, refer to Rule (1).

    Also, I thought someone upthread suggested that Roger Stone was a “journalist”. Roger Stone has as much to do with journalism as Bozo the Clown has to do with Shakespearean drama. I really hope that I misunderstood!

  6. BobCon says:

    What is the DNC strategy wih this suit? Is it simply a narrow effort to punish Stone by driving up his legal fees? Is it just hoping to get extensive discovery qnd see what they can shake loose? Is it simply to win on the merits?

    Or are they playing a longer game of some kind? For instance, getting Stone on the record in ways that hem him in with prosecutors, or somehow give them an entry point to suing a bigger target?

    I guess what’s not clear is whether this is an end in and of itself, or if it is a stepping stone to something else.

    • CaliLawyer says:

      RICO is pretty aggressive here but predicate acts go back ten years I think, so it might expand the discovery window. It does provide treble damages, but I suspect they mostly want aggressive discovery, with garden-variety conspiracy as the likely fall back position. A lot of attorneys plead aggressively to maximize discovery, and so they’ll plead whatever they think the court might find at all plausible.

    • CaliLawyer says:

      It also allows their own attorneys to control the process, rather than relying on the SCO, which has a different remit (and client).

        • CaliLawyer says:

          Not a part of my practice, so feel free to expand or elaborate as you see fit. Just try not to be a tool about it.

          • bmaz says:

            Tool? Really? Please explain. Otherwise, I have no idea what you are implying. It does not seem copacetic. Are you admitting you do not have any experience with RICO? And I will expand that to both civil and criminal.

            • Wajim says:

              Tool? Rhetorical bait for a shark hook in a cloud of emotional chum. Save your teeth for meatier things.

            • CaliLawyer says:

              You need to stop peeing your pants every time the RICO statute comes up. If you’re the RICO ninja then you need to explain, constructively, your theory of why an established (and presumably pretty competent) mid-sized NYC law firm would tack a civil RICO claim onto a common law conspiracy claim. I threw mine out there. If you think my theory is flawed, that’s fine, but explain yourself. It’s not criminal, so it can’t relate to the additional criminal penalties incurred above and beyond common law conspiracy criminal penalties. So what is your theory of why RICO got included? All they need is a prima facie case at this point – which is done to allow discovery of more facts. If it isn’t discovery related, well, what is it? I’m all ears if you’ve got a better argument, but you’ve yet to provide any argument at all. If you don’t have an actual argument to make, then STFU.

              • bmaz says:

                And you can fuck right off Mr. “Cali Lawyer”. I am all ears for “your” brilliance. I have repeatedly explained my position, you have done dick except whine. What you got Mr. Cali? Also, pee in your own pants jackass.

                Also, “prima facie case”? Can you please, pray tell, explain what that means in your comment? Civil? Criminal? Exactly how? Do you even have a clue? Please expound.

          • BobCon says:

            I guess another way to look at what I’m puzzling over is this —

            I recognize that RICO suits are really tough to win, and I assume the DNC knows this as well. So what is their aim in bringing this?

            Popehat in his ‘splainer says

            “mostly I think it’s a scare tactic and a propaganda tool, as its idiotic rhetorical misuse suggests. Lawyers bring RICO claims so they can say “the defendant’s behavior is so criminal that we sued them for RICO!” Dupes play along by describing RICO claims as “charges,” and generally by acting like a RICO claim suggests that there’s already been a finding that someone did something wrong.”

            Is that all there is, along with things like trying to cost a guy a bunch of legal fees? Or is there any other tangible benefit — do these cases sometimes get at least far enough to trigger discovery or something else that somebody might want? Or are they really just completely dry wells?

            • bmaz says:

              Not always, but almost always, dry wells. As Ken said, it is a boogitty boogitty scare tactic far more than it is really a useful charge.

      • BobCon says:

        So potentially expand the universe of things he has to defend, and also potentially get a lot more information out of him?

        If the suit gets far enough along, I assume that would mean they get to depose people like Corsi and Miller, which keeps the pressure up on them.

        If Mueller does show that the DNC analytics weren’t just stolen but were actually put to use, does that create a potential opening to expand this suit, or does the DNC need to refile a new suit against whoever was using it? Or is that just too hypothetical to really answer….

  7. punaise says:

    (sorry Patti)

    RICO the night belongs to lawyers
    RICO the night belongs to U.S.
    Because the night belongs to lawyers
    RICO the night belongs to U.S.

    Have I doubts, maybe, when I’m alone
    Gov. is a tap on the telephone
    Gov. has an angle, an SDNY bust
    Here in our heads ’til the morning comes

    • Eureka says:

      Bravo ;)
      It’s also a welcome respite from the Margaritaville playing in the background as I read the main post, perhaps apropos of ~ “It’s my own damn fault” (first person voice being Roger ratfucker).

      • punaise says:

        Roger’s got:

        Nothing to show but his lame ass tattoo
        But it’s a real beauty
        A Nixonian duty
        How it got here he hasn’t a clue

        Whilin’ away again in Muelleritaville
        Waitin’ for the roast from the WikiLeaks to halt
        Some people claim that there’s a Putin to blame
        Now I think hell it could be his fault

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Don’t step on the pop top. But do resort to the “booze in the blender” and “that frozen concoction that helps” us hang on.

          Nicely done, as usual.

          • Peacerme says:

            You people are suffering from an intractable condition. It’s called polylyrica. It’s has no cure. It is progressive in that it sometimes duplicates, and expands into polycinematica.

            Rock on.

        • Eureka says:

          Roger’s a beauty, alright:

          You can lurch outside your ratty world
          You can tweet to a petty GRU
          He’s got everything you dream to rout

          (But don’t fall in love) He’s a Pooty
          (He’s one in a million urls) One in a million urls
          (Why did you lie?) What did you buy?

          This went down the tubes pretty quickly.

  8. Eureka says:

    Thanks for focusing on this. Considering that/how he is responsive to his indictment in this motion to DNC, it seems Stone is waiting to see what SCO’s got as regards the DNC analytics, or if they’ll charge a(n American) conspiracy, before he dares commit to yet another defense from which he’ll have to wriggle.

    Perhaps there is a lot less wiggle-room for Stone there, as implied in the public record thus far– including that dumb chart from (I think the) first motion. Anyway, I’ll take this for now as a sign of fear, rather than, say, a knowledge or belief among the conspirators that such will not be charged.

    Still musing on the second point re dropping his denial of being part of the campaign…

  9. earlofhuntingon says:

    Poor, poor, Sir Roger. He has to defend a private suit that makes RICO claims, while defending federal criminal charges. I’m glad we have EW to parse through these things. The MSM would never deal responsibly with the nuance and detail, not if its horse race coverage of Dem presidential candidates is any guide.

    MSNBC, for example, thinks Joe Biden is the perfect candidate. Its frame is that the Dems can choose a sexy liberal whose hot in the primaries, or someone who can get elected when running against Trump, like Joltin’ Joe. Strikes me as horse shit.

    Millions of people are alienated by both parties ignoring them and focusing almost exclusively on the interests of their wealthiest donors. That fuels much of Trump’s base as well as lethargy and disenchantment among progressives and the voting population generally. The Dems need to appeal to that lost generation with real policies that will help those millions. If Dick Cheney left no other legacy, it is that personnel is policy.

    Joe Biden is a poster child for the policies that led to that alienation and disenchantment. He worked long and hard with the GOP in 2005, for example, to make bankruptcy relief virtually unavailable to consumers, but highly profitable to lenders. That is only one example from a career spent working to enhance the interests and incomes of the wealthy at the expense of everyone else.

    Choosing Biden would tell the vast majority of voters that the bipartisan, wealth enhancement for the wealthy, is the normal that the Dems want to return to. That’s not a ticket to victory or to a better America for Americans. But the banks would love it.

    • P J Evans says:

      Biden seems to be behind in polls of voters who aren’t white and over 60. (I’m in that group, and I’m not going to vote for him or for Sanders, unless they can convince a whole lot more people than last time around.)

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Excellent article. Joe’s populism, like his bipartisanship, is superficial. It’s well-marketed in an Obamaesque sort of way, but it would help no one who needs help.

        Fortunately, I think a lot of Dems understand that while Joe has name recognition, he is not the future of the party or the horse that can win the next big election. He’s a man of the status quo because he built it, one reason he appealed so mightily to Obama.

        We have Trump because both parties liked that status quo, they fought to build it so that their donors would come, and because the GOP has lost its soul along with its backbone and any residual belief in the rule of law. It wants to hold on to naked power with a shrinking base, regardless of what it does to the interests of that base or to anyone else. McConnell and the FedSoc’s federal judicial nominees alone are proof of that.

        The Dems have an opportunity they may not have again. Real change is both right and necessary, and it’s a winner. It will rebuild the community we’ve lost under Trump and, before him, under the bipartisan consensus Biden did so much to build.

        As for the MSNBC and the rest of the MSM, they are doing what Chomsky predicted they would do: they are working hard to manufacture consent and to keep that status quo. Real change, a government where AOC was a middle of the roader rather than a novel member of Congress, is not what its corporate owners want either.

    • Vinnie Gambone says:

      You describe Biden and the battle %100 accurately.
      Biden overdoes the authenticity thing.

      ” Too sweet to be wholesome.” as Grandma warned.”

  10. vvvm says:

    In response to: punaise says:
    March 5, 2019 at 7:43 pm

    Broooce wrote it, Patti sang it first.

  11. Areader2019 says:

    Whilin’ away again in Muelleritaville….

    Muelleritaville….looking for my lost shaker of salt…

    …oh…I hope someday I can unsee that.

    • Geoff says:

      Well, I know where Bmaz stands on this, and have read Ken’s article. And generally, am in agreement and take that advice. I’m not arguing with his take, but when I read Ken’s article, and think, what would be the best you could do if you HAD to attempt a RICO with this crime family, I would think you’d likely be looking at the Trump Organization as the “enterprise” and then you’d have to go from there. I think the defendant might have to be Wesselberg, and his conduct, and perhaps others, would be in question. IA(clearly)NAL so I dont know what the Federal crimes would be.

      • Geoff says:

        I guess my other point on this is, what exactly about this RICO method is so special that you can’t just go after these various crimes as they are, just crimes. (?) I don’t see what RICO does to help out in any way. It just seems stupid to even bring it up, as it complicates an already complicated situation.

        The worst part now is that we are going to see more f-ing obstruction of the congressional inquiry, and a seemingly interminable battle that wastes tons of time. I think they need to just issue the subpoenas and stop waiting for obstructionists to comply. But even if you do, then it’s a long slog through the courts, and you end up pinning your hopes on Roberts saving the country.

        At this rate, no way you ever get to impeachment. Which, perhaps, the Democrats really don’t care about anyway. So maybe that is why they will slow walk this, make it look like they are doing the best they can, giving the administration all the chances it can have, and in the end, throw the whole lot on the states, and hope the reputational damage they inflicted is enough to turn enough of the population to vote Trump out of office.

        My worry is that that the obstruction will keep the core voters intact, the economy will go down the tubes, they will blame it on the Dems for not doing anything and spending the time investigating, and we will end up with Captain Chaos for four more years. I know, I worry too much. I’m just feeling a bit despondent that we cant get rid of this cancer on our country, and that one of the primary reasons we can’t is because of the Republicans — the plague that we also can’t get rid of quickly enough. I don’t know any better plan of attack though at this point. So, we wait, and hope that it all somehow works out. Grrrr….

        • Badger Robert says:

          The RICO penalties are more of a threat than a reality. The threat only works with respect to rational people who are part of the Trump inner circle. Kushner might be one such person, so investigators may be watching his financial moves. The odds of a post Trump world occurring sooner have increased.
          With respect to the rest, its politics, and I am more hopeful that Trump’s non trivial problems with women and young voters are not solvable.
          I have to wonder if the DNC and the SCO are trying to find out where Stone is getting financial support.

      • Willis Warren says:

        I would argue that the best chance for RICO in this mess is against the Russian mob. UPDATED: the purpose of the RICO is to penalize financially, if I understand correctly. The Mueller investigation could profit 3 fold

        • bmaz says:

          I think Geoff hit the nail on the head in his first paragraph. You do not get to “The RICO” without the underlying crimes. Those are far more viable paths to plow, RICO is a ready made scapegoat for overreach. I learned this lesson the hard way early on as a lawyer. It feels great to list out your claims and then throw in a RICO! claim and demand for treble damages. It is also idiotic, it turns out, and damages your case. RICO is for suckers. There are plenty of garden variety crimes and claims, do those, not The RICO. Because that way go silly people.

          • NorskieFlamethrower says:

            Thank you bmaz, this explains why going after the underlying crimes is the only way to take the existing on-going conspiracy down but also to expose the etiology of the corruption that extends far beyond this coup.

        • Geoff says:

          The ironic thing about Trump saying his tax returns are under audit, which they likely are not, is that, if they were, and the IRS legitimately did its job, based on what was in the NYTimes article on how Trump has run his various businesses over the years, there should be a ton of $ to claw back already. So, once again, there isn’t a need for RICO if its financial penalties you are after. At least, as far as I see…

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            Trump the taxpayer can release his tax returns from any year, regardless of whether they are under audit. He’s lyin’ and hidin’.

            Of equal or greater interest are his business returns, including his plethora of shell companies. I can’t imagine that the accounting for those is correct, because Trump hides to much, he is a world class cheapskate, and he is so vehemently disdainful about process.

            Any consolidated returns would have the basic problem known to computer users as shit in, shit out. SDNY and everyone else wanting to see those returns will have to be prepared to do forensic accounting to make sense of them. Plus, since these are private closely-held companies, who knows when they were last audited.

  12. JamesJoyce says:

    From Red Scare Joe, to the trickery of a Dick to Roger Stone, Wikileaks Trump and Russia?

    Sounds like Benito’s Italy and the Blackshirts.

    Nice folks in Charlottesville Mr. Trump; Aye?

    I know my Uncle Killed Nazis for a reason.
    F Company Army Ranger!

    Fascism is here folks.

    Sadly some can’t discern it anymore.

    The “inoculations” are gone. -Paxton-

    Fascism is fraud on its face. It is an assault on the rule of law. These new normals are not new at all.

    It is fascism, period. Fascists are conmen, period. This is not new.

    It is what Americans and allies ended.

    America needs a history lesson.

    Benito, Hitler and Tojo

    Trump, Putin and MBS?

    Putin kills Magnitsky
    MBS kills Khossoggi

    Me thinks “Cohen” needs a body guard since our President seems to have affinity for murderes and butchers, here, there and everywhere.

    So much for leading a better life and love?


  13. Mark Ospeck says:

    Old Roger draft dodger Leavin’ by the basement door
    Everybody knows what he’s Tippy-toeing down there for
    (sound of slamming door followed by sounds of guy falling down the steps)

  14. NorskieFlamethrower says:

    OT but Alisyn Camerota just got Maggie Haberman to expose herself as a complete tool while actually claiming that “there were others (presidents) who were wealthy who had to take care of private citizen business”. Camerota responded “That is absurd, Maggie”.

    • RWood says:

      Saw that and had to laugh.

      I half expected her to say “He didn’t write ‘Hush money to Porn Star’ down in the corner, so how can you say that’s what it was for?”

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    David Brooks offers up his usual manufactured consent for the conservative elite. [] Driftglass takes a creative and funny poke at him, with a mahvuluss historical timeline of his many wrong opinions. []

    Taking a poke at David Brooks is shootin’ fish in a barrel, but I’ll take one, because the NYT keeps renting him an allotment in the most expensive OpEd real estate in America, and it pays him millions to till that soil and to sell the curiously twisted things that grow in it.

    In Brooks’s March 4th column, for example, he assures his reader that s/he has nothing to fear from those who want to make wholesale changes to the way Americans obtain and pay for health care. That’s because, while he admires his friends in Canada and the UK – who enjoy imperfect but universal health care – if you live in America, you can’t get there from here. You’d have to go back to 1776 and start over even to make a go at it. Being snide and hyperbolic seems to be his point: it makes opponents of change and beneficiaries of the status quo more comfortable, which is his purpose at the NYT.

    His framing ignores how the Brits and Canadians managed to build their post-war universal care systems. He ignores that they accomplished it precisely because they had the political will to impose change on their insurers, hospitals and medical care providers. And he ignores one reason Americans might want and need wholesale changes: America has the highest cost health care system in the world, but only middling and falling outcomes.

    Brooks has two scare points: changing the way Americans access and pay for health care would require transitions (!!!) and it would be hard and expensive (!!!). His argument boils down to the lament that change would deprive profits from the few and deprive the many of work.

    My list of people affected by change would start with health care CEOs, insurance company CEO’s and VPs, insurance brokers, highly paid hospital administrators and for-profit outsourced ER specialists (who often substitute for the family GP), employer health administrators, billing specialists (who will no longer needed their degrees in complex medical billing).

    Transitions, David tells us, would affect many, includig government workers. My example of that – bankruptcy courts – is not as dramatic as the changes and union bashing that accompanied the creation of the Heimat Sicherheits Dienst, the DHS now run by the truth-challenged Kirstjen Nielsen. Bankruptcy courts, though, would lose the plurality of their customers. That would leave them only the unemployed and divorced, the unlucky, the profligate, and the strategic corporate reshufflers (PG&E, GM).

    David says change would be expensive. But he doesn’t really compare the costs of not doing it, or analyze the net re-allocation of costs from employer (and employee) and privately paid insurance system to some government managed system. Nor does he assess the many possible hybrid systems that make room for private insurance and health care providers, but which provide baseline care through government or highly regulated private companies. Analyzing those things might provide obvious guides for how to get there from here.

    The Dutch and French systems, for example, use health insurers as intermediaries between providers and people. They do what American insurers used to do, process payments quickly and efficiently for a modest fee. They are not the darlings of financial speculators and do not attract CEOs that want to make many millions. American insurers, in effect, now practice medicine without a license by dictating treatment regimes, and using refusals and delay to make enormous profits.

    In the Dutch and French systems, many of those techniques would be illegal. Payment processors in those countries are expected to process claims and pay providers quickly. They are penalized for being slow and would be severely punished for refusing coverage as a money-making technique. Consider that next time you have weeks’ long arguments with your insurer over paying an obviously covered expense, or have to wrestle with ER charges for treatment because you don’t have and can’t afford a visit to a family GP.

    Brooks’ argument ignores the heavy indirect costs for the present system. Health insurance is expensive and yet covers only some costs, leading many who have insurance not to use it. Social costs incurred by those with too little or no insurance are immensely expensive. Consider the costs of untreated diabetes, the vulnerable who cannot afford a flu shot, unvaccinated children, and those who have to choose between buying prescription drugs and paying for food or rent.

    But Brooks isn’t trying to make an argument. He’s trying to assure his reader that nuthin’ much is gonna change just because the Democrats want it to.

    • punaise says:

      stellar comment, EoH!
      d r i f t g l a s s has made a cottage industry of Brooks-shaming, and he does it well.

    • P J Evans says:

      have to wrestle with ER charges for treatment because you don’t have and can’t afford a visit to a family GP

      Or go to an “urgent care” place because they’re the only non-ER doctors available. Many of those are part of for-profit chains, too. (The one I’ve used isn’t – but it’s small.)

    • e.a.f. says:

      That was an interesting read and if I were ever going to have anything semi secret going on, I’d have at least a typewriter or computer/word processor off line to do my work.

      To those of you who wrote the cute poems/ songs, they’re cute, they’re funny, but I prefer Keith Whitley’s old stuff along with Kenny Rogers, the Gambler. Most of those involved in all this stuff just didn’t know “when to fold them”.

      I’m of the opinion they pay Brooks so much money because he doesn’t look threatening. he doesn’t even look that bright. Now as to Canadian health care, we went with the public system because a couple of politicians back in the day, got elected to be the government of Sask (C.C.F. predecessor to the N.D.P.) and in Sask. where there were a lot of farmers, who didn’t always make money. The C.F. F. decided there ought to be a health care system. Now one of those guys was Tommy Douglas, the Premier of Sask., who believed in social justice as its out lined in the Bible. They took some of the teachings to heart, like look after kids, share, etc. They’re big on out reach before it was popular. Now to the best of my memory and the news on the radio of the time, back in the late 1950s early 1960s, the doctors of the province went on strike, they brought in doctors from elsewhere, a couple of people died, the strike was over. Sask. had “government health care”. Fast forward into the latter part of the 1960s, when university students “discovered” weed, and the federal Liberals had a minority government in Parliament. To form government they needed the support of another party and the only one around was the NDP, the Conservatives were the opposition. The N.D.P. agreed to support the Liberals but they had to pass the National Health care act, which they did some time around 1968. At the time we didn’t have a large population and we hadn’t really hit the “big time” when it came to wages, so it was welcomed by most if not all workers. British Columbia’s labour movement was starting to ramp up but not all provinces had that happening. Workers no longer had to worry if they lost their jobs and with that their health insurance through their employers. Hey it set workers free. Remember that clearly from the parental units.

      Tommy Douglas was Canada’s greatest politician and also the “parental unit” for Canada’s Canada Pension Plan, another one of those things where he had the federal Liberals over a barrel. he was actually a rather short man, slight built, wore glass, and the most amazing speaker. Remember him getting on a wooden box, he was short, and speaking to a crowd on Mayne Island, a Gulf Island in B.C. He was mesmerizing.

      Now the Dutch health care system works well because when it doesn’t, it cost money and if there is one thing I can say about the Dutch, its usually about the money. (born in Netherlands) They discovered a long time ago, that it usually saves money to spend it up front to avoid other problems.

      We in Canada spend less per person on health care than the U.S.A. and we manage to cover every thing and any thing. Yes, there are wait lists but not if you need that heart surgery or break you leg or need that cancer surgery. Yes, we wait for hip and knee replacements, some times from anywhere from 8 weeks to a year but you get it and its free. There is a lot to say for that. Mom’s get pre natal care and kids are born in hospitals with doctors present. Car accidents first rate health care. They operate on your brains, legs, back, put you back together, etc. Now some who are upset with some of the gang shootings In B.C. were suggesting those gangster ought to pay for their health care, full price, but that didn’t get much traction. Only British Columbia has monthly fees, of $35 per person or $70 per couple. David Brooks most likely doesn’t like our system because he is rich. if you’re not wealthy and real wealthy, our system works like a hot dam for the most of your citizens. We do get free flu shoots! kids get vaccinated for free because it costs less in the long term. Even before we had socialized medicine we had school nurses in the 1950s and the School Board had a dentist. (O.K. of my carrying on).

      • orionATL says:


        thanks for the delightful story – about the ccf/ndp’s tommy douglas. i think i’m with douglas on biblical caring (see Amos). our tommy douglas may have been mario cuomo (not his stunted dem scion andy) former gov of new york.

        as for the dutch and money and making things work right, delightfully true, but with regard to their medical care system the dutch are said to be a bit casual about tests and waiting to see if nature will do the healing for free :), but so are some well-trained american doctors not looking for fees.

  16. Mark Ospeck says:

    Listed in straight up order from my always trustworthy Google news feed:

    Arizona GOP Sen. Martha McSally says she was ‘preyed upon and then raped’ in Air Force by superior officer-Fox News

    Trump dealt blow as US trade deficit jumps-BBC News

    Donald Trump is laying the groundwork to de-legitimize the 2020-CNN

    Thunder, lightning-LA Times

    For You Recommended-Captain Marvel: A soaring tale-CNET

    Homeland Security Secretary testifies: live updates-CNN

    How Fukushima’s massive ice wall keeps nuclear radiation at bay-CNET

    Billionaire diamond trader dies during penis enhancement procedure, reports say-Fox News

    Feel there are lessons to be learned and correlation functions to be drawn from these.
    Also..there must be some kind of way out of here said the joker to the thief

    • P J Evans says:

      The thunder and lightning story has impressive photos – from Santa Barbara. Five and six strikes in one shot – they had 1200 strikes in FIVE MINUTES. (It wasn’t nearly that bad in my area. But the one shortly before 5am was loud.)

  17. earlofhuntingdon says:

    White House stenographer Maggie Haberman is convinced that rich “people like Trump” sign big checks all the time without knowing what the money is for. []

    I’m not sure what Maggie is smoking, but I’d like a hit. Legendary micro-manager, cheap shit, and cheater Donald Trump would not hand-sign checks for $35,000, written on his own account, without knowing exactly what the money was for, and not without assurances that there was no one else he could make pay the debt.

    First off, I’m not sure how many rich people are like Donald Trump. He is peculiar by any standard. The much richer Warren Buffett, for example, is famous for bragging that he would not walk past a bent dime without picking it up. If he were personally writing a check that size, he would know what it was for. But he would probably not personally write routine checks like that. Ivanka might spend $35,000 every month on clothes, but would she pay the credit card bill herself, or check the receipts against the cash management card, or have the family accountant do it?

    Families with a tenth of the wealth Trump claims to have operate family business organizations. In effect, they manage their wealth as if it were a business and employ professional staff to keep track of their money, to keep it working, and to manage, account for, and pay routine expenses.

    One reason for that is that those staff typically manage their principals’ tax exposure, ultimately including estate tax exposure. Managing the correct payment of expenses is central to that.

    Family members might personally write large checks, but my guess is that’s unusual, and they would normally send off a note to their staff about it so that it could be accounted for properly. If not, their accountant would bug them every month with questions about bank statements. All that might be done with various levels of informality. But wealthy families that manage their wealth along those lines stay wealthier longer than those who don’t.

    Maggie Haberman undoubtedly personally knows a lot of wealthy people, but whether she knows how they manage their personal and business expenses I’m less certain about. But I’m pretty sure she’s wrong about Donald Trump.

    • P J Evans says:

      I sure don’t write checks without knowing what they’re for. (The biggest check I’ve ever written was for a car [money loaned via credit union]. And the ones I’ve been writing in the last year, for medical care, aren’t small, but they’re all four digits left of the decimal. I made sure my investment guy knew they were coming, too.)

    • bmaz says:

      Earl, Mag Habs was on CNN for an extended hit earlier today pitching the same insane bunk. It is really quite amazing how she vacillates from decent reporter to total Trump stenographer shill.

  18. e. a. f. says:

    it is unlikely Trump signs checks without knowing what the money is for because he is a cheap skate. He hired people who are not legally in the U.S.A. and people who do that, do it so they can pay them less. When Chris Christy was interviewed or perhaps it was in his book, he talks about Trump not wanting to pay for the staff for the transition. Like you’ve been elected Pres. of the U.S.A and you don’t want to pay for the transition team, that’s cheap. When Christy went out and raised money for it, Trump read about the money he’d raised and came to ask him about “his money”. Trump is a cheap skate and he won’t spend a dime he doesn’t have to. Just remember his using funds from some where else to pay for the portrait of him for a charity event. No this guy is a cheap skate.

    if your family or just you have in the neighbourhood of a billion, you keep track of it, because there is a good chance you earned it one way or another, you don’t sign $35K cheques without looking. Your accountant will want to know about it. You may go out and buy a $400k car, but you know what you’re paying for and you have the cheque. A cheque is a cheque and most people take are of it.

    If Ms. Haberman thinks Trump isn’t watching what he spends, she doesn’t know the guy. Lets not forget his pre nup. with wife # 2, was really cheap. Wife #3 won’t do much better, because he’s cheap. Trump reminds me of one of those types who pretends he’s rich, but watches every nickel. Trump isn’t generous either, so he’d know if he signed a $35k cheque or any cheque for that matter. Don’t know who the woman is but she doesn’t know Trump and she doesn’t know a lot of rich people, because most of them keep very good track of their money, even those who are laundering it via casinos and carry it in suitcases. .

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Yes, but there’s an equally good chance that if you have many millions at your disposal, you inherited it. The unearned, one-in-a-hundred lightning strikes lottery winner aspect of wealth should not be underestimated. It’s also a great argument for a wealth tax, lest we find ourselves with a hundred Trumps.

      As for Trump, he would be worth a great deal more if he had invested his inherited $400 million or so in a stock index fund. His celebrated management talents over several decades and in the face of exceptional stock gains has probably left him what his dad gave him. David Cay Johnston thinks it’s less.

      • e.a.f. says:

        sometimes you don’t need a lot of money, you just need a cash flow and if you are good a juggling and one of the balls fall at the same time, you can live quite well. It will appear you have way more money than you do, although Trump doesn’t look like his “athletic” enough to be a juggler. Never knew a fat one yet.

    • orionATL says:

      this comment is not a response to eaf. it belongs down below at the end of other commentary, but this is where it ended up.

      roger stone’s latest, best defense to the dnc lawsuit seems to be to ignore some parts, e.g., CFAA, by not listing or discussing the legal charges against him in traditional terms of laws and court decisions on those laws, but rather by writing up a nice little story about roger. his lawyers ought be careful they don’t let their inner s.story witer become an inner novella type lest his submission be booted for re-writing.

      “… DNC’s allegation that Stone informed Guccifer 2.0 he was unimpressed with the DCCC oppo research released in early September, followed shortly by GRU’s hack of the crown jewels, would seem to undermine Stone’s entire defense, given that his claims that his conversations with Guccifer 2.0 preceded all hacks (it doesn’t — indeed, it happens as the hacks are occurring) and his claims that the Podesta release is unrelated because is not DNC does not apply to the analytics.
      But thus far, he’s just ignoring those allegations…”.

      on an eccentric tact, it seems likely that stone would have had no interest in the hack of the nsa’s microsoft spying tools:

      but on the other hand :), he or others similarly aligned politically might have recognized that the theft of the nsa equation group’s hacking tools would severely mute any hacking response to the russian attack on the clinton campaign and efgorts to help trump beat clinton n the rlectoral college “… the DCCC oppo research released in early September, followed shortly by GRU’s hack of the crown jewels…”.

      the theft of the nsa ‘crown jewels’ may have been connected to the russian intervention.

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