Mueller Is Close to Done, But the Andrew Weissmann Departure Is Overblown

As my docket tracker of the Mueller and related investigations shows, around August 1, 2018, after finalizing the GRU indictment, Ryan Dickey returned to his duties elsewhere at DOJ.

Around October 1, 2018, after submitting a filing saying Mike Flynn was ready to be sentenced, Brandon Van Grack moved back to his duties elsewhere at DOJ (though he continues to be named in documents in the case, as he was Tuesday). He is now starting a prosecutorial focus on FARA.

Around October 15, 2018, Kyle Freeny, who had worked the money laundering angle on the GRU and Manafort cases, moved back to her duties elsewhere at DOJ.

Around December 31, 2018, after successfully defending the Mystery Appellant challenge in the DC Circuit, Scott Meisler moved back to his duties elsewhere at DOJ.

Today, after getting Paul Manafort sentenced to 7.5 years in prison, imposing a $24 million restitution payment, and an $11 million forfeiture (including of Manafort’s Trump Tower condo), multiple outlets are reporting that the guy in charge of prosecuting Manafort’s corruption, Andrew Weissmann, is moving to a job at NYU.

After each prosecutor has finished their work on the Mueller team, he or she has moved on. Weissmann’s departure is more final, since he’s leaving DOJ. But his departure continues a pattern that was set last summer. Finish your work, and move on.

Nevertheless, his departure is being taken as a surefire sign the Mueller investigation is closing up.

Let me be clear: I do agree Mueller is just about done with the investigation. He’s waiting on Mystery Appellant, possibly on Andrew Miller’s testimony; he may have been waiting on formal publication of Jerome Corsi’s book yesterday. Multiple other details suggest that Mueller expects to be able to share things in a month that he’s unable to share today.

None of that tells us what will happen in the next few weeks. There is abundant evidence that Trump entered into a quid pro quo conspiracy with Russia, trading dirt and dollars for sanctions relief and other policy considerations. But it’s unclear whether Mueller has certainty that he’d have an 85% chance of winning convictions, which is around what he’d need to convince DOJ to charge it. There is also abundant evidence that Trump and others obstructed the investigation, but charging Trump in that presents constitutional questions.

If Mueller does charge either of those things, I’d still expect him to resign and either retire or move back to WilmerHale and let other prosecutors prosecute it. That’s what Leon Jaworski did in Watergate.

The far more interesting detail from Carrie Johnson’s Weissmann report is that just some of Mueller’s team are returning to WilmerHale.

WilmerHale, the law firm that Mueller and several other prosecutors left to help create the special counsel team, is preparing for the return of some of its onetime law partners, three lawyers have told NPR in recent weeks.

I’m far more interested in the plans of James Quarles (who has been liaising with the White House and so presumably has a key part of the obstruction investigation) or Jeannie Rhee (who seems to have been overseeing the conspiracy investigation) than Mueller or his Chief of Staff, Aaron Zebley. Their plans might tell us more about what to expect in the next month (though Rhee appeared in Roger Stone’s status hearing today, and may be sticking around for his prosecution, which just got scheduled for November 5).

In any case, though, we don’t have long to wait, so it’s not clear that misreading the departure of Weissmann — which is better understood as part of the normal pattern of Mueller’s prosecutors leaving when they’re done — tells us anything useful.

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. 

77 replies
  1. pseudonymous in nc says:

    If Mystery Appellant is granted cert, then Dreeben may end up arguing the case on behalf of Francisco and not Mueller — or at least with two hats — which feels like a kind of transition.

    • emptywheel says:

      Yup. But she’s in charge of Mystery Appellant. So once that comes in she will presumably move back to prosecuting other Trump international bribes.

      • fl-jf says:

        not that you care but my .02

        EW went out for years with such certainty on russia investigation being a conspiracy… perhaps you are right and still will be proven so. perhaps you are right and it doesn’t rise to level of punishable offense. Irrespective, it’s pretty hard to say looking back that the tone and certainty of your articles was really consistent with 3rd party reporting (not in all cases, will get to that in minute). I respect your intellect more than many reporters though, which is why I say I keep wondering if you’re ever going to really look at where you may have screwed up in overselling some of this.

        At one time I saw you as the one quasi-centrist author of this site, at least regarding natsec topics. But your political inclinations have become more naked in last year. I tried to keep your views on things outside of natsec and RI compartmentalized and not read those analyses, which were often quite polarized or political.

        You have been right on some big stuff, particularly in advance of stone indictments. You kept focus on some other things involving flynn and gates that seemed to be key drivers of SC investigation, even if they may not have (yet) lead to scenarios you… imagined? I’m probably not giving you enough credit here, you also had some softer influence like being one of more consistent voices behind the idea of speaking indictments.

        Still I mostly feel like you’re resetting your own goal posts in this and several of previous articles. If the mystery appellant case goes on for years, then you and president trump will be equally happy with each other’s coverage. It will be hard to say what your basis for some of these RI takes other than being partisan or self-serving. I guess I expected more from your site, perhaps that was unrealistic of me.

        Also note I’m not saying I disagree there could have been a conspiracy, or even that it’s more likely than not there was some openness to favor trading w/enemy power (although at same time it’s pretty clear nobody thought they’d win anything to trade). Who knows, Trump family may have already trademarked TRUMP FARA (as a lobbyist and/or scent for men and women).

        I keep coming back to the certainty to which you pitched this together with your presentation of your own testimony- combined with some subtle walking back the past month. Unless you’re leaving out some pretty huge anonymous sources (who you also love to criticize when they’re not yours)… it’s going to be hard for me to take you seriously in the future. Because you were overreading into the docs and didn’t take this into account. I don’t want to go so far as to say I hope you’re still proven right, because that would be awful too for country.

        Nobody is perfect and I generally consider myself a skeptical reader and it has little to do with the outcome. It’s better for country if they can’t prove collusion and that’s important to know. Based on # of redactions I still feel like we’re not getting whole story, which also sucks. Getting back to why I’m here now tho…

        I’d be interested in reading a self-assesment from EW on your own russian investigation coverage, especially if you analyze what you perhaps over or under weighted, even if it’s just a temporary self-assessment. At least I could sense that your intellect was taking in the whole- wins and losses- for the purpose of accuracy and getting better here. Unlike say our president.

        idk just my .02 but here’s hoping. be well EW

        [You’ve made repeated accusations that Marcy is partisan without pointing to specific examples. You take issue with content of posts without making concise, well-argued rebuttals. You’ve also ignored requests to stop sockpuppeting using multiple variants of usernames (see 20-FEB-2019) and asked to stop with your trolling (see 27-DEC-2018). Your policing what this site’s contributors write is just plain rude and officious. We simply don’t have time for this crap. /~Rayne]

        • holdingsteady says:

          Twenty-four I/me/my statements in this comment, fl-jf, if I counted correctly.
          Jeez, do you have anything to contribute? I come here to help my brain not hurt.
          Maybe you can come up with more than .02

        • Marinela says:

          So far, EW is exactly correct in dissecting what is going on.
          Speaking for myself, so grateful for the EW insights and this blog community.

        • TheraP says:

          The omniscience is making me LOL!

          “the quasi centrist author of the site”

          Yes, Marcy T Wheeler, aka M T Wheeler, aka emptywheel… is certainly the center, the moving force, the very meaning of this site. Which apparently flew over the omniscient one.

          Thanks for the hilarity.

        • elk_l says:

          Re: “I don’t want to go so far as to say I hope you’re still proven right, because that would be awful too for country.”

          But, of course, if there were an awful dangerously veiled truth in the bedrock, the country would need to effectively deal with its brutal prospect.

        • mac says:

          I too have followed Marcy’s writing with skepticism but value her relentless reading of court filings, transcripts, interviews, etc. Among the variety of analyses of the investigation, each one brings a bias, which is different than an agenda. I find many commentators trying to prosecute or defend the case, only showing evidence that fits their narrative.

          Marcy comes across as an investigator. She runs through scenarios that may lead to dead-ends days, weeks, or months later. However, I do not see her purposely obfuscating information that doesn’t fit her narrative. While “Trump’s Guilty” hopefuls will claim nothing in Steele dossier has been proven wrong, Marcy has written posts on the theory Russian authorities became aware of Steele’s work and started filling it w/ disinformation. You’ll find posts skeptical of McClatchy’s “Cohen’s phone pinged tower in Czechia” etc.

          Unlike some commentators, I find Marcy’s ultimate agenda is to find the truth, whatever that is. And I’m perfectly fine if her biases lead her to investigate the theory “Russia made attempts to aide Trump’s election. Trump’s a malignant narcissist likely to accept any aide offered to him, no matter the source. Did they work together?” before the theory “FBI & Dems conspired against Trump by paying for a dossier they kept quite about until after the election, while releasing a letter only acknowledging the investigation about the Dem nominee but not the investigation of Trump.”

          *Forgive my terrible grammar

          • bmaz says:

            Ah yes, yet another “skeptic” focused on the stupid dossier. You give yourself away the second you do that. It is the biggest red herring in history, and yet here you are bandying that bunk around like it is of central and critical importance. Absurd.

            • mac says:

              Can you explain what you mean by “I give myself away”? Like I have a true curiosity what my comment got me labeled as in your mind or others.

              I have a tendency of being misinterpreted. So i might re-explain. But probably should find out how I’m being perceived.

  2. Joe says:

    Insofar as Weissmann was the main person for financial crimes/fraud on the team, does this imply that Mueller is done with whatever inquiries he may made into Trump’s finances? It does seem like such inquiries are getting passed off to other offices.

    My gut reaction to this was that it probably indicated that any inquiries about Trump Tower Moscow were over, other than possible false statements charges. It seems like if Mueller was looking into quid pro quo, etc. involving complex financial dealings, he’d still want Weissmann on the team?

    [I am approving this comment provisionally – please create and use a more unique username, making sure to use the same one each time you comment here. Welcome to emptywheel. /~Rayne]

    • emptywheel says:

      He was not the only person for financial crimes and fraud on the team. He was teh person on the team dealing with Manafort’s financial crimes and fraud. Which is why he’s done.

      Zainab Ahmad, for example, is examining same.

      • Kevin says:

        I made the same point on another comment, but Rhee started sitting in at the prosecution’s table on the day of the plea deal. She had never been to court for Manafort before. This suggests that when they started asking him about other aspects of the investigation, she took over. Weissman leaving, as Marcy points out, really only tells us about the fraud investigation.

  3. Ruthie says:

    “There is abundant evidence that Trump entered into a quid pro quo conspiracy with Russia, trading dirt and dollars for sanctions relief and other policy considerations. But it’s unclear whether Mueller has certainty that he’d have an 85% chance of winning convictions, which is around what he’d need to convince DOJ to charge it.”

    Contemplating the evidence needed in order to convince those not already so, which presumably overlaps significantly with what would be needed to achieve that 85% probability, bottles the mind (with apologies to the BFG). I, for one, hope we get there – but I fear we won’t. Absent truly new and shocking evidence, Trump’s illegal acts are largely understood and baked in the cake.

    I understand the difficulty of impeachment in our current political climate, but part of the reason we are in this position is because we have failed to adequately deter illegal behavior on the part of past presidents. In fact, I would go so far as to say the consequences of that failure have become more extreme with every instance. If Democrats don’t stand up and say “No More” this time, I shudder to think of what might come next.

    • Jockobadger says:

      Reading the excellent EW piece and Ruthie’s comment above has got me curious about the 85% chance of winning conviction. I took a shot at Google and it was not very helpful – there was some stuff re: effect of jury size on conviction rate and rates of conviction for various felonies, but I couldn’t find anything about how a prosecutor/team go about computing their chances for a specific case/circumstance. I can think of a jillion variables one might play with e.g. quantity and quality of evidence, testimony, witness quantity/quality, etc. How much does simple experience count?

      Is there a methodology that’s taught in law school? I use stats/probability a bit in my own work and so I’m just curious. If it’s not too OT and not too much hassle, I’d sure like to hear a bit about it from you law experts. Thanks!

      • Maestro says:

        There’s no methodology or formula. It’s subjective assessment and reasonable minds can differ.

        Marcy says 85% because DOJ doesn’t bring cases unless it thinks it can prove what it needs to beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a high bar to meet. This is even more true in the political charged context we are dealing with here, where DOJ will want to be even more certain than they otherwise would be.

        • Jockobadger says:

          Thanks Maestro. Makes sense. I suspected as much based on my admittedly brief bit of research. So it’s subjective and is arrived at based on experience, intuition, gut feeling, etc. Damn, what a monumental decision Mueller, et al., must make. Given the state of our country, it feels almost existential (don’t like the word, but it seems fitting.) Well, I’m trying hard to remain optimistic. Karma’s going to get trump eventually anyway – maybe just not on my preferred schedule.

  4. Savage Librarian says:

    The useful thing that Weissmann’s departure tells me is one of reassurance. I am so glad that he will be teaching others how to adopt his skill set and apply ethical standards. And I am glad to know that integrity is still alive and well.

    Glad to learn about Rhee, too. Thanks for all this!

    • bmaz says:

      Welp, Weissman is indeed a hard charging prosecutor, but his “ethical standards” and “integrity” are a different matter. He was absolute shit on the disgraced Enron fast force.

      • Savage Librarian says:

        Thanks, bmaz. Hopefully there are lessons to learn there, as well. Doubtful that he would be able to avoid those.

        • bmaz says:

          Don’t get me wrong, I think Weissman is smart and effective. That may not always equate to ethical and integrity though. Weissman is hardly alone in that regard among prosecutors. Do not disagree with what you said about his work on this matter at all, just trying to give a bit of larger perspective.

          • Geoff says:

            I guess it depends on how he has evolved from the Enron days. Sometimes younger folks get wiser and more conscientious as they get older, and grow to be considerably less unethical when they are able to look back at the wreckage they’ve left in their wake via these behaviors. Others, well, they pull a Manafort, and just double down repeatedly. It’s kind of the difference between being an ignoramus and a sociopath, IMHO.

  5. RMD says:

    “To maintain that a sitting president cannot be indicted no matter how much evidence there is because he’s a sitting president, and then to withhold evidence of wrongdoing from Congress because the president cannot be charged, is to convert the DOJ policy into a the means for a cover up,” ~Nadler said on the House floor just before the vote.

  6. GusGus says:

    A very well laid out post arguing that Mueller has not finished yet. But I wonder if we can, in fact, discern something about Mueller’s strategy going forward from Andrew Weissmann’s departure?

    Weismann appears to have been handling the Manafort file. In addition to prosecuting the two trials, Weismann also argued that Manafort was in breach of the cooperation agreement. In the breach arguments it became public that Manafort shared confidential polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik, who is somehow connected to the Russian government. Weismann is at least familiar with that part of Manafort’s file.

    Does Mueller plan to charge Manafort for sharing this data with Kilimnik? At a minimum Manafort’s actions must be campaign finance violations, both in working with a foreigner, and not reporting that work. I am sure that we all agree that Manafort’s actions are part of something bigger, but at a minimum, they are this.

    Does Mueller plan to charge them? If he did, one might think that Weismann would handle that case. Weismann has already argued their import in front of Judge ABJ. It would seem natural that Weismann would be involved if Manafort was prosecuted over him sharing data with Klimnik.

    Does Weismann leaving suggest that Mueller does not plan to charge Manafort for his actions vis a vis Kilimnik? Or maybe Mueller will charge Manafort but does not expect to prosecute the case? Or perhaps Manafort’s actions here are being handled as part of a different case, say Jeannie Rhee handing a conspiracy case?

    While we haven’t seen most of what Mueller has, from what we have seen, Manafort giving confidential polling data to Kilimnik is the strongest evidence of conspiracy that we have seen. One would expect that charges revolving these actions will follow. If so, why is Weismann leaving?

    • Maestro says:

      The act of handing over polling data to Kilimnik, in isolation, is not itself illegal. Campaign finance laws prohibit *receiving* things of value from foreigners as donations. Manafort could hand over images of all the campaign’s data and that act alone would not be a violation of campaign finance.

      What the act could be is an element of a greater conspiracy to violate the law or defraud the United States. For example, if the SCO has determined that there was an agreement to hack Democratic Party or Clinton campaign servers as part of a broader plan to coordinate with RU, the overt act of handing over polling data could satisfy that element of a conspiracy charge.

      Conspiracy law requires two elements to be proven: an agreement between two or more persons to violate the law (or defraud the US), and an overt act in furtherance of that agreement. The overt act does not itself have to be illegal, and all participants in the conspiracy do not have to be aware of it.

      So, hypothetically, if the collection of Trump, Don Jr., Kushner, and Manafort agreed on June 9 to accept Russian assistance in the presidential election, and then later on August 2 Manafort went and handed Kilimnik internal campaign polling data, that would satisfy the elements of a conspiracy to defraud the United States, even if none of the other conspirators were aware that Manafort did that.

      • emptywheel says:

        Adding that he handed the data over amid a discussion of a Ukrainian “peace” deal that he knew would amount to sanctions relief. So the meeting combined what Mueller has elsewhere suggested was an ask for help with what the Russians were asking for in return, sanctions relief. That’s also why Manafort’s efforts, through when he was jailed, to push for that “peace” plan is so important.

      • gusgus says:

        “The act of handing over polling data to Kilimnik, in isolation, is not itself illegal.”

        Yes, but the two of them discussed the data, Manafort did walk Kilimnik through the data. Given that Kilimnik is a political operative, at a minimum he gave his silent agreement to whatever features Manafort pointed out.. In other words, Kilimnik opined on the data Manafort shared with him. Kilimnik’s opinion is a thing of value, after all, he has worked as a political consultant.

        I agree that handing over data is not by itself a campaign finance violation. Discussing the data is a violation though.

        Also, I agree with Marcy’s point that sharing the data while discussing the Ukrainian peace plan is important.

      • Yargelsnogger says:

        How does that compare with coordination with a Super PAC? I’m a layman, so I don’t know the details of the law, but my understanding is that coordinating activities with a Super PAC is illegal. That is why campaign spin off their staff that know the contours of their strategy so that after the separation they can follow the campaign’s lead on strategy without violating the law.

        This makes it sound like a foreign power that is basically acting as a Super PAC allows more coordination that an actual American-based organization? Is that anywhere close to right?

        • BroD says:

          I have no idea whether your Super-Pac analogy works in terms of applicable law but it sure makes sense to me.

    • Kevin says:

      One relevant point: Jeannie Rhee started being present in the courtroom sitting at the prosecution table only around the time of the plea and then breach determination. As far as we know, she is the senior assistant special counsel handling the Russia conspiracy (where Weissman was dealing with Manafort’s fraud). I suspect she was handling that aspect, and that’s why she was present in court for any hearings where Manafort’s cooperation on Russia might come up.

        • Kevin says:

          No problem. An advantage of living in DC is that I can go to these hearings. Who shows up for the prosecution is often not reported. Sadly, I have probably seen most of them (and PJM) for the last time.

          • GusGus says:

            “Sadly, I have probably seen most of them”

            “(and PJM) for the last time”

            My money is still on you having another opportunity to see Manafort in (federal) court.

    • ThomasPaine says:

      Weismann’s leaving is probably more for personal reasons than anything else. Manafort is headed to the Club Fed and then the Big House (Riker’s Island), so Weismann’s day job is done. He is going to do something more fun – teach future prosecuting attorneys how to catch sleaze balls. That doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have a part time Consulting Agreement with Mueller and the DoJ in his hip pocket to come back when needed.

      In addition, according to the eloquent Mimi Rocah, prosecutors are considered “fungible” in the DoJ. There are a LOT of good ones available in the DoJ to pick up the ball, file an indictment and prosecute a case as the result of the SCO’s investigative work who are ready to jump in right now. There are likely a bunch of prosecutors in SDNY who possess both the independence and competence who can do a better job of this by virtue of being outside of WDC. Finally, Robert Mueller himself is still there. Rocah believes that any big Conspiracy Indictment will have Mueller’s personal signature on it. Mr. Mueller wants to take the principals down himself.

      • GusGus says:

        “Weismann’s leaving is probably more for personal reasons than anything else.”

        You might be right with this, as well as the rest of your comments about Weismann being able to come back and lots of other talent being available at the DoJ.

        Something else that people do not really talk about is that Mueller’s team have all taken 2 years off of their career to take up this case. I am sure they are all anxious to get back to their original plans. Especially those who came over with Mueller from WilmerHale. They, if I recall correctly, were making well north of $1 million a year, which they gave up out of civic duty. One might argue that being involved in the biggest case since Watergate might help their future careers, but financially they have taken a big hit. It would not be a surprise to see many on the team to want to wrap up the probe as soon as possible.

        It seems that Robert Mueller may not even go back to WilmerHale. Basically he lost the earnings of his last two years of his career in this investigation. That money is not coming back.

  7. RMD says:

    Apologies for being off topic, but I wonder, Marcy, that there is, at this time, no comment at TI on this:

    The Intercept Shuts Down Access to Snowden Trove
    First Look Media announced Wednesday that it was shutting down access to whistleblower Edward Snowden’s massive trove of leaked National Security Agency documents.

  8. 'Sup Bro says:

    long time listener, first time caller:

    Many, including Marcy’s pal Aaron Mate` are making hay out of the fact that to-date, no one has been charged with conspiracy to defraud and that’s nearly definitive proof no such charges will ever emerge. Yet we know from the redaction failure that Manafort was sharing polling data with Kilimnick…… clearly an appropriate element of a conspiracy charge. But without that redaction error, the potential for a conspiracy charge would look even less likely.

    If Mate` and his ilk are to be believe (Andy McCarthy comes immediately to mind) that there is no chance conspiracy charges will ever emerge, why would the passing of polling data need to be redacted at all?

  9. Richard G says:

    In last paragraph, suggest to delete “misreading”

    In any case, though, we don’t have long to wait, so it’s not clear that misreading the departure of Weissmann — which is better understood as part of the normal pattern of Mueller’s prosecutors leaving when they’re done — tells us anything useful.

  10. Charles says:

    Looking at this strictly from the political angle, I think there’s a reduced chance that Trump or his family will be charged with conspiracy, and that unless that happens, impeachment is unlikely:
    * The legal record has very little to demonstrate conspiracy. The Manafort-Kilimnik polling data issue is the only one actually on the legal record. The Stone-Guccifer 2.0-Wikileaks contacts won’t formally emerge until November. Wikileaks hasn’t even been publicly charged, much less adjudicated to be acting as a Russian agent.
    * Impeachment is significantly less likely to happen in an election year because it will look political. The Watergate experience suggests that until a number of Republicans support impeachment, nothing will move forward. That was signaled by a drop of public support for Nixon. Trump support is very steady.
    * Obviously this could change if the Mystery Appellant (or some other witness) has direct evidence that will puncture the denials of the conspirators. Mystery Appellant has shown no sensitivity to paying money to delay its testimony and it seems clear that Andrew Miller is prepared to throw up extraordinary roadblocks. If he’s willing to go to jail to avoid testimony and Mystery Appellant has $10M to spare, it’s hard to see how Mueller gets the testimony he needs to break the conspirators.
    At this point, I think our legal system has failed. It knew about Trump’s sketchy past, and (Cy Vance) gave him a pass on prosecution. During the election, it knew that a serious attack by a foreign power was underway and it had ample reason to think that Trump had foreknowledge of that attack. It opened a counterintelligence investigation against him because it believed it not only possible but reasonably likely that he would act on behalf of that foreign power. And yet it has left him in place for two years–and counting– to inflict serious damage on the country.

    We’re told that the institutions will defend us. And I give a lot of credit to people like Rod Rosenstein, Andrew McCabe, and others in DoJ for managing to protect the Special Counsel thus far. But the institutions are also filled with people like Judge Thomas Ellis and Justice Clarence Thomas who for their own venal and probably political reasons undermine the process of seeking the truth. Corruption runs deep in this country, and it isn’t restricted to Russian interference. It permeates all of conservative politics and much of business and government, and it involves countries from all over the world. If Trump goes down, a lot of people will go down with him, enough to shake this country to its core.All of them will be pulling to hold the mess together.
    So here’s hoping that Mueller is not just successful, but in time.

    • bmaz says:

      You have no idea in the world what the “legal record” is unless you are part of Mueller’s team or a grand juror. You are neither.

      And when you say “At this point, I think our legal system has failed”, you evidence nothing but ignorance. I would suggest you do not really know jack shit about “our legal system”.

      • Charles says:

        Thanks for your always insightful and substantive opinion, bmaz.

        Substitute “public legal record” for “legal record” to satisfy your objection.

        • bmaz says:

          Fair enough. That said, you still underestimate and misdescribe the public record to date. It is chock full of evidence of conspiracy. Is it proof beyond a reasonable doubt? No, because only a court can determine that. And you shit on those very courts without having a clue about how they function day to day. Is Clarence Thomas bad? Sure. But every judge carries their beliefs into their job. Is TS Ellis “corrupt” because you disagree with his handling of Manafort? No, that is an asinine thought. Ellis is a cantankerous judge. He always has been. But he is not a bad judge. Despite your ill informed knee jerk bullshit.

          • Marinela says:

            Well, I had to look up cantankerous. Means bad-tempered, argumentative, and uncooperative.
            For Manaford trial case, Ellis could’ve been “cantankerous” to Manaford detriment, not to his benefit. How much of it was conscious or unconscious?
            I think he had an impartiality bias, but he didn’t even attempt to appear impartial, he went full “cantankerous”.

            On the other hand, ABJ, is going out of the way to appear impartial, with all the stuff she needs to put up.

            This is the one wild card that gets me thinking if Weissman would’ve been able to flip Manaford with a different non cantankerous judge.

            I agree judges are bringing their beliefs to their jobs.

          • Charles says:

            Let’s take this line by line and see how it measures up. You say:

            “That said, you still underestimate and misdescribe the public record to date.”

            But of course, I did not say “the public record.” I said the legal record–and clarified because it was for some reason necessary–that I was referring to the *public* legal record, because of course none of us has access to documents that are not available to the record.

            You proceed: “It is chock full of evidence of conspiracy. Is it proof beyond a reasonable doubt? No, because only a court can determine that.”

            But of course the context is that my post is, and I quote, “Looking at this strictly from the political angle.” From the political angle, legal issues do not control. Public opinion controls, and public opinion is far from being convinced that there was a conspiracy between Trump and Russia.

            You say, “And you shit on those very courts without having a clue about how they function day to day.”

            But of course I made no general comment about the courts. I criticized two specific judges, one of whom is credibly accused of making false statements under oath to the US Senate. Apparently you conflated that criticism of two judges with a comment that followed regarding corruption in the United States. But of course corruption in the US is a fact beyond arguing: Transparency International rates the United States below almost all industrialized nations, just above Uruguay and the

            You say, “Ellis is a cantankerous judge. He always has been. But he is not a bad judge. ”

            You are certainly welcome to your opinion. You may be surprised that there are other opinions in this world, including that of Judge Nancy Gertner, who found Ellis’ behavior “unusual,” noting that he had ” disparaged the prosecution’s evidence, misstated its legal theories, even implied that prosecutors had disobeyed his orders when they had not…” and leading the author of this piece to conclude that Ellis had damaged the justice system itself ( This commentator points out the impossible disparity between the sentencing of William Jefferson and Paul Manafort. ( Former USA Joyce Vance found his sente “atrocious” On and on, there are opinions about Ellis. And mine is not that he is corrupt, but that his behavior shows him to be venal.

            People who are, in your phrase, “cantankerous” when their job is to be fair and honest are, by definition, venal.

            • bmaz says:

              Heh. You just keep proving that you are full of shit. And, no, I really do not care what a couple of other lawyers say on TV. And calling Ellis “venal” is simply asinine. I have news for you, most federal judges are cantankerous to some extent, some, like Ellis, more than others. It is just the way it is. Heck, I even let one of them sit on a jury in one of my cases.

              I have yet to see one that could be described as venal, which Webster’s defines as “capable of being bought or obtained for money or other valuable consideration : purchasable especially”. If you have one shred of evidence that applies to Ellis, state it now. Otherwise, you are just a dope that tried to play the dictionary game, and lost.

      • Charles says:

        His approval rating is within statistical error of where it has been since March 2017. See

        You can see Richard Nixon’s here:

        In 1973, it dropped from above 60% to about 25%.

        In the chronology (see here:, Senate impeachment hearings only began in mid-May, after Nixon’s approval had dropped by roughly 20 points.

        Granted, Trump’s approvals start from a lower level, but IMO more powerful forces are threatened by losing Trump than they were from losing Nixon.

        • P J Evans says:

          Polls are not reality. Tr*mp’s polling is relatively steady because his base isn’t about to change their views, until they’re seriously impacted, and maybe not then either. They’re about 30% of the electorate.

          • Rayne says:

            Let’s not forget polls can be manipulated and we don’t know if polls we’ve seen haven’t been tweaked. The public also doesn’t bother to check methodology.

            • P J Evans says:

              Methodology definitely matters. So does the wording of the questions being asked. (I generally hang up on pollsters. I’ve answered a couple of on-line polls that showed up in my email box, but it was really obvious from some of the questions who they were being done for.)

            • Badger Robert says:

              The Congressional election was a record of actual votes. The sample size: virtually the entire country. The Dems won by 8.6%. Nothing since that time has created solid evidence that their % has decreased. The methodology of the 538 web page shows the net disapproval rating stay at 9%. So those two numbers are in agreement.
              In addition the approval numbers have responded to the full disclosure of the Access Hollywood tape, and the start of the foreign influence scandal. Ms. Clifford’s revelations had the effect that would be expected. The Trump magic was probably BS anyway. The Reps had probably built a big backlash vote, no matter who the nominee.
              And yes the polls are an attempt to hide how big a drag Trump is going to be on the Senate races.

              • Rayne says:

                What is the methodology behind the surveys? Are they polling land lines or cell phones? Have the pollsters validated whether the phones called are owned by voters? How are any other demographics obtained validated?

                I know the pollsters who call my house ask for the conservative male ID attached to the land line but they only get me. Funny how these pollsters never call my cell phone.

            • Eureka says:

              Yes to all that,* plus I suspect a lot of what I would call ‘protest poll responding’ (cf. protest masculinity, etc.). Including in the senate.

              *As just one example of one subset, I know when phone polls are going out because my blue area code/exchange gets flooded with masking/deterring spam calls. Lather, rinse, repeat. Reminds me of Cheri Jacobus tweeting about the ratfuckers hiring call centers (which they apparently told her before they ratfucked her, IIRC).

        • Robert Swartz says:

          Nixon’s job approval held above 40% through the Senate Watergate (not impeachment) hearings in 1973. It went south after the Saturday Night Massacre
          on October 20th 1973 and the Arab oil embargo that followed the October 06-26 Arab-Israeli war, and cratered after revelations about his tax dodging and using government funds to improve his private properties in Key Biscayne and San Clemente, which prompted his November 17th, “I’m not a crook” speech, which despite popular memory, wasn’t about Watergate after all. Still, Republicans supported him until the “smoking gun” tape was released.

  11. Njrun says:

    It seems there is so much information out there about illegal activity that has gone completely silent from the public record — what about the leads from the cooperation of Mike Flynn, George Nader and others? — so many loose ends — what about Cambridge Analytica, Jared’s sale of foreign policy involving the Middle East nuclear reactors, the fee for the sale of the Russian energy firm Gasprom, and so on? — and so much perjury still unaccounted for by Eric Prince, the Trump kids and others. To say nothing about Trump himself.

    I don’t even know what I’m trying to say, but I t would seem befuddling if the investigation merely ended with a report and no more charges.

    Is it possible that Mueller is saving all the big stuff about the people closest to Trump for one big finale that would make it almost impossible for him to issue quick pardons? Because if they don’t all get charged for at least the stuff that we know about — and I’m sure there’s a huge amount of criminal activity we haven’t even considered — I despair for the rule of law in America.

  12. Martin Schwimmer says:

    “there is abundant evidence that Trump entered into a quid pro quo conspiracy with Russia, trading dirt and dollars for sanctions relief and other policy considerations. But it’s unclear whether Mueller has certainty that he’d have an 85% chance of winning convictions, which is around what he’d need to convince DOJ to charge it. ”

    Charge who? To be prosecuted by whom?

  13. Michael says:

    About Andrew Miller- when is the deadline for him to file his appeal? It’s been over two weeks.

  14. Pete says:

    The Grand Jury for the OSC has not met, if I recall correctly, since January 24, 2019 – an unusual Thursday one day before Roger Stone’s indictment/arrest on January 25, 2019, but its term was extended six months in early January 2019.

    Would this Grand Jury live on until the end of its term (July 2019) if Mueller wraps up earlier? I assume no.

    Would seem that there would be GJ activity if either more testimony was to be heard and/or if “last wave” indictments were to be let. DO keep an eye out on at the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse?!

    Is it possible there are still sealed indictments yet to be served?

    How are the prosecutors chosen for trials (or even plea deals) after the OSC wraps up?

    I assume that even after the OSC wraps up that the Congressional Committees (House most likely) could refer or trigger more criminal activity that could have been in the OSCs’ purview and that those could be investigated, etc. through normal channels – even if it were ConFraudUS related.

    • JPKK says:

      I have seen several reporters point out that the GJ could meet in other places. Given the SCO’s record of trying to keep leaks to a minimum and what happened with the Stone tip-off from staking out the GJ, its possible they moved locations to thwart staking out of the GJ.

  15. Badger Robert says:

    That the SCO is agreeing that Gates should not be sentenced is consistent with the disclosure of a Consp. to Defraud revelation. That would seem to be directed at high level officials in Russia. That would involve a struggle at the highest level between the SCO and the White House, with the AG trying to break up the report into manageable pieces.
    Gates must be providing some incredible evidence to earn what amounts to a post plea amnesty. But will it ever get public?

  16. Jenny says:

    Will Mueller ever be done? This is continues to unfold from one person and one crime at a time. Gates is getting an extension – more buried crimes to be unearthed?

  17. Yordan says:

    Why do you think that Mueller may have waited for the publication of Corsi’s book? I mean his FBI interviews are way more crucial to any decision regarding further indictments.

    (Sorry, if I didn’t catch the irony)

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