The Metadata of the HJC Requests

While the rest of us were looking at the content of the letters the House Judiciary Committee was sending out to witnesses yesterday, @zedster was looking at the metadata. The requests have dates and times reflecting three different production days: towards end of the work day on March 1 (Friday), a slew starting just after 3PM on March 3 (Sunday), with some individualized documents between then and Sunday evening, with a ton of work being done until 1:30 AM March 4 (Monday morning), and four more trickling in after that.

I think the production dates likely reflect a number of different factors.

First, the letters are boilerplate, which may explain why most of those were done first. Three things might explain a delay on any of those letters: either a late decision to include them in the request, delayed approval by SDNY or Mueller for the request, or some difficulty finding the proper addressee for the letter (usually, but not always, the person’s counsel of record). Not all of these addresses are correct: as one example, Erik Prince reportedly has gotten a new lawyer since Victoria Toensing first represented him, but has refused to tell reporters who represents him now; his letter is addressed to Toensing.

One other possible explanation for late dates on the letters is that the decision to call them came out of Michael Cohen’s testimony last week (and some of those witnesses would have had to have been approved by SDNY as well). As an example, the last document in this set is the one to Viktor Vekelsberg, which clearly relates to Michael Cohen (though interest in him may have come out of Cohen’s HPSCI testimony).

The other two late letters are Cambridge Analytica and Donald Trump Revocable Trust. Both appear to be revisions — a third revision for the former and a second for the latter.

That said, the letters completed after March 1 are interesting: Aside from some institutional letters (like FBI and GSA), they appear to be likely subjects of ongoing investigative interest, whether because of the investigation into Trump’s inauguration, Roger Stone’s prosecution, Maria Butina’s cooperation, ongoing sensitivities relating to Paul Manafort, or the National Enquirer.

Some of these topics happen to be the last topics listed on the Schedule As (I got this from Jared Kushner’s Schedule A which is one of if not the most extensive), including WikiLeaks, Manafort’s sharing of polling data (with the Ukrainian oligarchs, but no Oleg Deripaska), Michael Cohen’s Russian-related graft, and Transition graft, including with the Gulf States. There’s no separate category of documents tied to the NRA.

The Schedule As were based off boilerplate and tailored very loosely based on the recipient; this may have been an area where prosecutors weighed in. These later approvals include a slew of Cambridge Analytica people (remember, Sam Patten, who had ties to the organization, was not included in this request at all). Alexander Nix’s Schedule A is a revision. So is Trump Organization lawyer Alan Garten’s. Some of the people central to any obstruction inquiry — Don McGahn, Jeff Sessions, former McGahn Chief of Staff Annie Donaldson, and Jay Sekulow — were among the last Schedule As printed out.

All of this is just reading tea leaves.

But it does seem to reflect some ongoing sensitivities (the Gulf States, Cambridge Analytica, and obstruction) that got approved last, with some areas (Oleg Deripaska) being significantly excluded.

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. 

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28 replies
  1. Francine Fein says:

    From David Leonhardt (NYTimes) this morning “The national security journalist Marcy Wheeler breaks down the House’s document requests into helpful categories, tying individuals to each….” Nice!

  2. Badger Robert says:

    Thanks again.
    Your analysis gives me the impression that they have the facts, and are building their own record. Also the targets of intense interest are mixed within with other recipients from whom little helpful documentation is expected.

  3. BlueStateRedhead says:

    PostbUp one hour and already quoted in the New York Times article. Nice to be in touch via Daily lurking with Marcy, Moderators and the always amusing . ( that’s a dot which is iPhone Voice text for the French word Punaise it’s self a rather large dot being a thumbtack.
    A thumbtacks who gets to the point always, sometimes in pointed rhymes and is never tacky in the English sense. Now returning to looking however
    Link to follow

    • punaise says:

      heh, I do prefer “thumbtack” to the equally valid but less pleasant “bedbug” (same word in French). Of course, a thumbtack can (be a) pr*ck…. :~)

  4. BlueStateRedhead says:

    Fat fingers needing corrections
    Looking =
    lurking
    Who’s = who.
    Point that survives the typos: three cheers for Emptywheel

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The lack of moderation in the title – in a blog run by an historian – does give one pause.

      I haven’t read TPM for some time, since before its pay wall restricted access to anything original, interesting or not a rehash of better work elsewhere. Its comment section was was poorly run and never a serious competitor of this site’s. OTOH, nakedcapitalism’s is quite good.

      • punaise says:

        My mileage varies. Long-time reader and Prime member, I find it’s worth it. And there are some good commenters there.

      • BobCon says:

        I’m inclined to cut TPM a good deal of slack even when I don’t agree with them. Marshall has a paid, unionized staff and that’s a decent achievement in this climate. He’s kept the enterprise free of the venture capital trap and stayed independent of billionaire dilettantes too.

        He puts out a pretty solid product in a brutal environment, and if I don’t always feel like it’s the most innovative content on the web, I also rarely feel like they’re regurgitating tired conventional wisdom. And they do present a decent amount of solid, original reporting.

        • punaise says:

          It’s also a pretty good springboard for up and coming journalists. If I’m not mistaken there are some distinguished alumni out there plying their trade.

        • Valley girl says:

          I confess that I stopped paying attention to Josh Marshal when he started supporting the 2003 invasion of Iraq. (not directed at Punaise, whose comment I hadn’t seen when I first started this response.)

        • Valley girl says:

          He changed his mind shortly before the invasion, as I have just learned by doing internet research. I noted his support b/c I knew that the invasion would be disastrous in outcome. How disastrous, I didn’t foresee.

  5. fikshun says:

    I half expect an Onion article, quoting William Barr saying “why does anyone care if I recuse myself or not? Even if I put out Mueller’s torch, Nadler has already set a bunch of fresh fires.”

    • viget says:

      This may very well be the reason why Mueller’s being pressured to wrap up (and possibly agreeing to do so). He’s getting very close to the incriminating stuff, and by making sure Congressional investigations continue apace (where Trump is powerless to stop them), he makes sure the info gets out to the American people.

      Hopefully, this doesn’t end up as Iran-Contra redux, though, with key witnesses (and possible defendants) being granted immunity for testimony, thus making prosecutions going forward nearly impossible. Given that Nadler has already conferred with the prosecutors, I hope they have learned their lessons about this.

  6. Thomas Selleck says:

    Do you think Kushner will have to share docs related to 666 5th Ave because of this wording:

    “Any foreign government discussing, offering, or providing, or being solicited to discuss, offer, or provide, any present or emolument of any kind whatever on or after November 8, 2016 to (a) Donald Trump or his Business Interests; (b) Trump Organization; (c) you or your Business Interests; (d) Ivanka Trump or her Business Interests; or (e) the 58thPresidential Inaugural Committee. “

  7. RWood says:

    Per WaPo the House Intelligence Panel has hired a big gun:

    “The appointment of Daniel Goldman, who oversaw prosecutions of Russian organized crime networks during his 10 years in the office of the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, suggests that the intelligence panel’s chairman, Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), plans to scrutinize Trump’s finances and foreign contacts as he investigates whether Trump colluded with foreign governments to sway the 2016 election.”

    Opinions on Goldman anyone?

    • Eureka says:

      Thanks, Vern- I posted an excerpt from NYT on this over on Rayne’s latest golf courses page where she raised this issue.

      • Eureka says:

        Clarifying: the post wasn’t topically restricted to the golf courses; she also raised the general issues cued by Cohen testimony re Trump Org asset valuation, and insurance matters being state regulated/subject to state-level investigation.

  8. Robert Swartz says:

    The ring is tightening. Derispashka being off the list is very interesting – I know they can’t get him or his docs in any case, but I wonder if what Mueller already has is too hot to hand over? Very interested to see Cambridge Analytica come into the light. Mueller’s kept that lantern well under his blanket so far. Several weeks ago, wasn’t Giuliani quoted as saying they know the report will be “devastating”? Seems like he was on to something.

    And speaking of lists, just re-watched The Death of Stalin. A farce about real events. Meanwhile, we are living real events as farce.

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