One Man’s Declination Decision Is Another Man’s Criminal Suspect Failson

One thing Robert Mueller’s March 27 letter to Attorney General William Barr reveals — in addition to the fact that Mueller is as pissed as he has ever been in his career — is that the two men think very differently about the redactions in the now released report. DOJ has always said it redacted information for four reasons:

  • Grand jury material
  • Ongoing investigations
  • Investigative techniques (sources and methods)
  • Peripheral privacy

It was always clear the last category was — as described — abusively applied. That’s because a number of knowable PP details involve people who are not peripheral at all. For example, I suggested that the redacted description of someone who committed perjury on page 194 might be Carter Page (one other possibility, given the discrepancies between George Papadopoulos and Sam Clovis’ testimony, is the latter figure). One of the people whose lies are detailed on page 199 must be KT McFarland, who managed to correct the lies she told when first interviewed by the FBI in the wake of Mike Flynn’s plea deal.

But the most obvious example of this comes in the scope paragraph on page 12:

While the first redaction is uncertain, the second redaction of the expanded scope — which came after the investigation started focusing on the June 9 meeting — has to be Don Jr given the spacing on the second line, which can only be a suffix.

KT McFarland is not a peripheral figure by any shade. But the President’s son is the definition of a central player. And yet Bill Barr would have you believe that redaction is some coffee boy hired on a whim.

And the thing is, these redactions are hiding not just innocent bystanders. Don Jr is someone whom Mueller believed broke the law — at least on campaign finance and maybe on CFAA when he accessed a non-public site using a password obtained from WikiLeaks (I had thought the redaction on page 179 was of some script kiddies investigated in Philadelphia, but now that I realize these PP redactions are not of peripheral people at all, I’m reconsidering) — but who couldn’t or shouldn’t be charged.

Compare his treatment with that of Jeff Sessions’ forgetfulness about meeting with Sergey Kislyak, which the report presents as a complete exoneration. The discussion of that exoneration is unredacted in both the investigative scope on page 12 and declinations section (197-198).

Mueller in his letter makes it clear he doesn’t consider that PP category peripheral people. Rather, he treats it as a declination decision.

I previously sent you a letter dated March 25, 2019, that enclosed the introduction and executive summary for each volume of the Special Counsel’s report marked with redactions to remove any information that potentially could be protected by Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e); that concerned declination decisions; or that related to a charged case. [my emphasis]

The appropriateness of the redaction may be the same in both cases: clearly Mueller believes those not charged, even if it was a close call, should not be identified (with the notable exception of Jeff Sessions).

But Mueller is not pretending these are peripheral figures. The Attorney General is hiding the seriousness of potential criminal acts by at least five Trump flunkies — including Trump’s failson — by pretending these people are peripheral figures rather than central figures that, for whatever reason, the Special Counsel decided not to charge.

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. 

92 replies
  1. Spyros says:

    “Paul Manafort, Carter Page”

    Does that fit within the first block of redaction?

  2. Eureka says:

    There but for the graces of stupidity and ‘peripherality’ goes Junior. Like you said– or rather, as Donald Trump (now Sr.) reportedly prophesied long ago: failson.

    That’s some n-dimensional chess with the self-esteem at Trump Org. How to succeed by failing?

    • Eureka says:

      The name ‘Donald Trump(, Jr.)’ gets a personal privacy redaction, yet Ivana’s anecdote was allowed to publish in late 2017.
      From Julia Ioffe:

      According to his first wife, Ivana, Donald Trump was never keen on bequeathing his name to anybody. It was Ivana who wanted to call their newborn Donald junior. “You can’t do that!” Trump is quoted as saying in Ivana’s memoir, Raising Trump. “What if he’s a loser?”
      Don tells his own story about coming into the world on December 31, 1977. “I like to joke that my dad wanted to be able to claim me as a dependent on his taxes for 1977,” he once told Forbes, “so he told my mom she had to have me before midnight and, if she didn’t, he’d make her take a cab home.” (Ivana wrote about her labor being induced by doctors.)

      • P J Evans says:

        And that’s another story about Tr*mp that makes him look like a POS. (Not the induced labor, which may be one of those actions, but the bit about making her take a cab home.)

        • Eureka says:

          There’s an older story set in NYC (biographical vs fiction; former, I think) about a woman forced to either cab it or, lacking fare, walk home. Driving me nuts now that I can’t place it.

  3. CapeCodFisher says:

    Lol the spacing… brilliant… if the full name was not continued on the second line, the redaction would have been one solid black block? I heard there was some peripheral lawsuit which has given a separate independent judge the ability to review the redactions for appropriateness. I was hoping this check would intimidate Barr into not fudging the redactions, but apparently not…

  4. Peterr says:

    Imagine how broad the redactions would have been, had Mueller not objected IN WRITING to the way Barr rolled out the report and mis-represented its findings in his initial 4 page summary letter.

    • RWood says:

      Imagine if Trump had gotten rid of Sessions when he first wanted to and installed Barr much earlier. {shudder}

  5. MattyG says:

    “As part of a full and thorough investigation of the Russian government’s errorts to interfere witt the 2016 presidential election”. The wording “Russian governement’s afforts”, especially “efforts” would seem a very broad mandate to pursue the third-paries and intermediaries directed to carry out these “efforts”. I continue to be baffled and puzzled by the supposed firewall limiting the SCO only to “official” Russian connections between DT and the overall Russian effort.

    We’re pretty far along in all this – has the distinction between “official” Russian and “third party” facilitators been *legally* established? In the Report or anywhere else? From my reading the phraseology does not emphatically draw the line – in any way. The report refers to the official Russian government as an entity – but also refers to “efforts”, interference, meddling and so forth. I take the words as defining party titles, and not a specification for what can or can not be looked into with regatrd DTs dealings with Russian efforts.

    • AMG says:

      huh, interesting…fwiw, i’ve always taken the words “Russian Government” as a specification for what can or can not be looked into with regard to DTs dealings with Russian efforts and not as defining party titles.

      i’ve said before, my view of the scope of the investigation was reigned in very tightly after reading this article by wittes in lawfare – don’t focus on the main point but instead focus on how wittes very narrowly defines the scope of the investigation based in large part on testimony from comey and baker:
      What if the Obstruction Was the Collusion? On the New York Times’s Latest Bombshell

      • MattyG says:

        Language that refers to the “Russian Government” or “Russian efforts” etc., differs in the report and in the OSC mandate – I don’t see consitency. There is quite a difference between investigating ties between the “Trump campaign and the Russian government” on the one hand (narrow focus), and DT in relation to “Russian efforts” as in section of the report excerpted by EW above. Where is the narrow reading we all seem to agree was in place adopted? The limited focus appears to be just that – adopted – and even when the approach forces the investigation to avert it’s attention to activities involving DT and “Russian efforts” (read third parties). Was this just handed of “cough cough” to CI?

        • Avattoir says:

          Wittes has put together a very strong host platform and managed to attract an impressive and deep stable of competent qualified smart attorneys, including former government types and academics. I just wish he’d stop diminishing his website’s value by posting his own views; at best they show him holding insupportable or unsupported naively sunny views on an array of scammy establishment R and con DC figures and norms that he evidently mistakes for principles of the Rule of Law.

        • bmaz says:

          He may be sadly and relentlessly late to the game, but has done better overall job than a lot have that would normally trend on that side. There is something bigger here than that. If your goal is to see Wittes eating it, and not Trump, I am not sure how that makes sense.

        • janinsanfran says:

          Actually agree that Wittes has risen to our occasion far better than many. In consequence, I read him. And people from where he sits have to get it if we are to have a chance of digging out of this shit. But still, his process of gradual enlightenment feels kind of precious.

        • emptywheel says:

          One reason Wittes has risen to the occasion is bc he’s a Comey acolyte. He has a motivation, here.
          But I will take it. It’s refreshing to see him actually invest in analysis.

        • Ruthie says:

          IANAL, but I read his article in The Atlantic in response to Barr’s testimony. It was certainly compelling, and quite harsh in its judgement.

  6. dwfreeman says:

    Now, that we know the depth of Mueller’s “snitty” anger with “What’s up with the letter” Barr, I now fully expect the next big story to drop: early shutdown of the probe in some form by Barr.

    Sen. Hirono nailed Barr in her scathing indictment of his motive and actions in the Mueller investigation.

    Both Graham and Barr gave up their strategy in burying the report. claiming presidential exoneration on all counts, and an end to using the report as a political weapon. From now on the only hearings of substance will occur in the House, where today Nadler delivered a watchword warning for Democrats in holding this rogue-runaway administration accountable. No more time for talk; comes testimony, evidence and witnesses and then impeach. Constitutional obligation is on the line, and the clock is ticking.

    • Pat says:

      “I now fully expect the next big story to drop: early shutdown of the probe in some form by Barr.”

      This has been nagging at me since the announcement of the probe’s completion: hadn’t there been significant chatter (spurred by SC actions) immediately prior that the probe was in fact *not* nearing completion?

      • bmaz says:

        Any evidence you can point to about that, at least as of this date? No, there is not. Evidence need not be proof. but at least a shred of it would be welcomed.

        • Rugger9 says:

          Well, IIRC AG Barr didn’t answer the specific question about the other 12-14 probes except to say he wouldn’t recuse himself.

      • Jockobadger says:

        I have a question for the lawyers here with experience/knowledge of the inner workings of the DOJ.

        If Barr should decide to try to shut down what remains of the overall probe (as described upthread) e.g. the 12-? referrals, the SDNY investigation, DC, Stone, etc., is it possible that they might continue on in some sort of surreptitious way? Either by ASUA’s going rogue or by somehow shifting the investigations to state agencies, or something else? I know they are clever folk and I’m certain that the vast majority want to see justice done.

        Damn I hope so. Please advise. Earl? bmaz? Avattoir? Marcy? Someone!

        • Diviz says:

          Was any part of the “chatter” the mystery company from Country A? That was still pending at the time. Also, viget had a speculation list in this comment here from March 11. Is that a start to jog your memory JockoBadger?

          “Mystery Mueller Subpoena Fight Gets Supreme Court Look This Week” March 18, 2019

        • Jockobadger says:

          Thanks very much Diviz – excellent work! I recall reading viget’s spec list at the time and thought it was great. I especially like 6-10 (esp 6.) It’s hard to get my head around how much really is going on. Barr should have his hands full corralling all of those various lawyers, investigators and spooks.

        • viget says:

          Ha, someone noticed that! I had 10 on there, I wonder how many actually are in that 12-18 list.

          I just checked Vol.1, “Barrack” appears a grand total of 4 times, all on page 142 about Barrack recommending Manafort to Trump as campaign manager. So you would think some of those ongoing investigations have to relate to him.

          Also, we now know, thanks to Barr’s crony from Kirkland&Ellis and the waiver, that an EDNY investigation into 1MDB also concerns the Trump Victory Fund (his 2020 reelection fund). Perhaps this is where Mystery Appellant comes in, could be 1MDB? Intriguingly, 1MDB also has QIA ties too. Also, don’t forget that Zainab Ahmad, the former SCO prosecutor who was working on Mystery Appellant (and also Flynn) is back at EDNY now.

          She had been detailed to Main DOJ in 2016 under international affairs and transnational organized crime, and was a recipient, along with McCabe and Andrew Weissman of a Bruce Ohr briefing in August 2016 regarding information that Chris Steele had acquired.

        • Jockobadger says:

          Thank you kindly, Kat! Yep, I knew about that one. Letitia J doesn’t like djt at all and I hope she sticks it to him, but I hope that’s not all we can bring to bear on this criminal cretin and fam. I’m wondering if the DOJ investigations can or would go underground, so to speak. Probably wouldn’t be right if they did, but I might look the other way in this case.

  7. Areader2019 says:


    I posted a comment that those two characters had to be “jr”. Can I get an emptywheel coffee mug? You have those, right? I’ll pay shipping and handling.

        • AndTheSlithyToves says:

          Tee Shirts!!! “Un-Indicted Co-Conspirator” | “Tricky Dick Lives” | “You can’t always get what you want. –R. Stone” etc.

        • Areader2019 says:


          I’d buy one with a quote of bmaz ripping someone’s head off. The one right above at 12:39 would be good. Hahah.

        • PieIsDamnGood says:

          I’d like a shirt with my stupid comment and bmaz’s snarky response. Felt like home when that happened :`)

  8. JamesJoyce says:

    Sinclair v United States

    279 U.S. 263 (1929) • 49 S. Ct. 268 Decided Apr 8, 1929

    Footnote 6

    There is no merit in appellant’s contention that he is entitled to a new trial because the court excluded evidence that in refusing to answer he acted in good faith on the advice of competent counsel.

    The gist of the offense is refusal to answer pertinent questions.

    No moral turpitude is involved.

    Intentional violation is sufficient to constitute guilt. There was no misapprehension as
    to what was called for. The refusal to answer was deliberate. The facts sought were pertinent as a matter of law, and § 102 made it appellant’s duty to answer. He was bound rightly to construe the statute. His mistaken view of the law is no defense. Armour Packing Co. v. United States, 209 U.S. 56, 85. Standard Sanitary Mfg. Co. v.
    United States, 226 U.S. 20, 49.

    7. The conviction on the first count must be affirmed. There were ten counts, demurrer was sustained as to four nolle prosequi was entered in respect of two, and conviction was had on the first, fourth, fifth and ninth counts. As the sentence does not exceed the maximum authorized as punishment for the offense charged in the first count, we need not consider any other count. Abrams v. United States, 250 U.S. 616, 619.
    Judgment affirmed.”

  9. viget says:

    There’s definitely some hanky panky going on with both the PP and GJ redactions. There are a number of GJ redactions where the substance of what the person said to the GJ is not redacted, but the reference to their testimony is. However, it’s allowed because the SCO also has a FBI 302 that documents the same information, but is not subject to Rule 6(e) protections.

    I would imagine that for the vast majority of GJ material, the same game could be played. Yet there are an awful lot of GJ redactions with material likely damaging to the Trump campaign (see sections on Manafort’s, Gates’ GJ testimony; a whole bunch of GJ testimony related to Prince and Kirill; and then the Page testimony to the GJ). I assume some of this is legit (for example to hide the fact that perhaps Bannon, Page, Prince, etc. gave up the goods on other investigative leads that resulted in indictments), but I bet a lot is to keep the most embarrassing details out of the public record.

    • JamesJoyce says:

      Does not a public interest obliterate the need for grand jury secrecy with regards to congress when establishing probable cause that crimes may have been committed?

      Seems that the Judiciary and Congress are co-equal and have similar if not identical constitutional plenary powers in seeking justice against a *ascist in the White House?

      Intentional obstruction constitutes guilt.

      Now Barr is balls deep…

      Contempt is

      Duty is duty

      Jail is Jail

      • bmaz says:

        Well, maybe not necessarily. As to the public “right to know”, that has been restricted substantially in the pertinent DC Circuit quite recently in the case of McKeever v. Barr.

        Frankly, I think that was a very bad initial three judge panel, and a very bad holding from them. But have yet to see a request for an en banc consideration. So, we shall see.

        But, yes, in general, there are extremely good reasons for grand jury secrecy. Arguably not here, but there is a long held, and good, protocol in the lurch.

  10. InfiniteLoop says:

    The PP redaction rules weren’t consistent, that’s for sure. I have no issue with redacting the Facebook and Twitter users who got suckered into amplifying the IRA trolls. But Sessions wasn’t the only unredacted declination decision, and some of the others (notably the June 9 meeting) were close calls rather than full exonerations. The remaining redactions seem much dodgier by contrast — especially knowing how successfully the targets covered their tracks.

      • Bruce Olsen says:

        Not if investigators determined the particular users had been duped. I seem to recall one unknowing FB user put even put together a rally including Clinton wearing prison stripes and locked inside a cage.

  11. Terrapin says:

    Well, of course Barr is selectively protecting the privacy of so-called peripheral figures. And his criteria for protection seems to be the people his boss wants him to protect. It has been apparent for a long time that Barr is giving Trump what he says he wants–a fixer and protector as Attorney General. The question is why Barr, who must have been doing very well in private practice, wanted and actively lobbied for the job? He had to know that working for Trump would sooner or later sully his reputation. Yet he has embraced the role of Trump’s latest Roy Cohn with apparent enthusiasm. I guess he was desperate to be Attorney General again, since he was offered the chance to be Trump’s defense counsel and turned it down. So I guess having made a pile in private practice he missed the power and relishes the opportunity to fix things for Trump like did decades ago for the Iran-Contra defendants. Fixers have got to fix.

    • Ruthie says:

      Josh Marshall at TPM wrote a post exploring Barr’s motivation. Distilled to its essence, he believes Barr has been stewing in the toxic Fox News soup for so long he may actually believe what he’s saying. Benjamin Wittes’ piece in The Atlantic, which I think is linked above, ends with a reflection to the effect that if that’s true, it’s even worse than if he’s just being cynical.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        I just read the TPM analysis. Quite insightful.
        Also, ominous, but potentially extremely important.

        FWIW, it’s a relief to think that Mueller is righteously pissed: here’s hoping that he has a great deal of company.

        But he’s up against conservative Republican belief systems that have been shaped for decades by daily, hourly repetitions of Fox News. The neural patterns are probably deeply embedded, and they’ve shaped the thinking of millions, including AG Barr.

        It’s not a big leap of imagination to suppose that *if* Josh Marshall’s analysis of Barr as a long time Fox News watcher is correct, then it probably would affect: (1) who Barr deems ‘peripheral’, and also (2) what kinds of redactions he thinks he can pawn off on the public. Layered on top of previous work as a ‘legal fixer’ for Iran-Contra and other political-military-intel skulduggery, Barr may actually believe that he has the power to determine what the rest of us will be able to see. It’s worked well for him for a very long time.

        However, for those of us who have sought to expose ourselves to more legitimate, fact-based news for decades, it’s obvious that Trump’s son-in-law Jared, and son Don Jr., are ‘central’ to the plot.

        To offer a possibly weak GoT analogy, Barr seems to be claiming that John Snow is only ‘peripheral’ to the story, and must be redacted.

        It would be an interesting exercise to redact every mention of ‘John Snow’ in GoT, just to get a sense of the dynamics of what Barr is trying to pull off. Take 6 of the main GoT characters, redact their names and their dialog, and see how much sense the story makes. We’re in CloudCuckooLand.

        It’s a very safe bet that even people who don’t follow politics believe that a president’s family members and associates are ‘central’ to the story, rather than ‘peripheral’. Particularly when they meet with Russians in Trump Tower. Ahem…

        Reading EW’s remarks that Mueller is ‘pissed’ gives me hope. Another thing that gives me hope are the number of downloads for ‘Mueller Report’ – #1 on Amazon’s charts as I type this, with an Audible version set to launch (yippee!!). A final thing that gives me hope is the fact that millions of Americans follow complex plots **all the time** – in a wide range of stories.

        I personally would not want to be the asshat that tried to tell the American public that ‘John Snow’ could be redacted, along with every line of dialog that he ever spoke. Sweet Jesus, Barr is exhibiting a whole new level of ‘stupid’.

        Thanks for this post, EW.
        Exceptionally edifying.

        • Mooser says:

          “FWIW, it’s a relief to think that Mueller is righteously pissed”

          You must have heard all the news about ‘investigating the investigators’ and ‘attempted coup’. If Mueller doesn’t do something he’s toast.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          I saw somewhere that Mark Meadows is howling about ‘coup’ again. It’s more than a bit spooky that the very claims made in, say, Corruptionistan against legitimate law enforcement are coming out of the mouths of GOP electeds in America, and aimed at FBI and (what’s left of) DoJ.

          The Trumpsters and their enablers must be trying to keep the lid on more than we can possibly imagine.

          And then, of course, there are those odd reports of Jared handing nuclear secrets to the Saudi’s. Tidbits like that suggest that there are global interests conniving to ensure that many things never see the light of day.

          No wonder people who appear to be complicit are lashing out.

          Here’s hoping a few Hollywood heavyweights take on the task of creating a free podcast that reads the entire Mueller report, with soundtrack and sound effects, so that anyone can listen to the whole damn thing. Either that, or the Democratic Senators need to start a ‘read-a-thon’ right from the floor of the Senate, all 400 pages. Or both.

          It might help protect Mueller, in addition to helping protect democratic institutions.

    • RWood says:

      He either went voluntarily or was ordered to.

      With Barr’s ties to Alfa Bank, Vector Group, Och-Ziff Capital Management, Deutsche Bank, etc, the likelihood of some kompromat can’t be ruled out.

      • Mehitabel says:

        An interesting note in the comment section of the WaPo article “Barr no-show triggers….” lays out at least some of those links, but the writer believes that the implication is not kompromat, but direct financial benefit for Barr and family.

        • RWood says:

          That would be the carrot I imagine, it’s the stick I was wondering about.

          Or is that too PC? Perhaps I should adopt the term “Lead or Silver”?

          Novochok ili Serebebro?

  12. klynn says:

    Producing a read-a-long educational piece about the report to get the average person to understand the issues from legal/constitutional perspectives could be a great help to the general public – something like the Great Decisions coursework.

  13. Eureka says:

    HJC taking EW’s advice? ‘Breaking’ on MSNBC, HJC in talks directly (not via DOJ) with Mueller’s _team_ re testifying.

    emptywheel: “It strikes me that at least Andrew Weissmann is no longer a DOJ employee and he might be willing to testify to HJC while Attorney General Barr cowers under his desk.”

    “Weissmann was quite clear in Manafort’s breach determination that the reason why Manafort lied about why he was sharing polling data with a suspected Russian spy was bc lying about it increased his chances of a pardon.”

    • bmaz says:

      I would love to say this is Marcy’s advice, but it is not. This is the somewhat slow and feckless attempt at setting a record that HJC is engaging in because Pelosi will not give them the caucus wide headroom they need, but instead is more fearful about potential 2020 election dynamics than she is in honoring her oath of office to defend the Constitution.

      • Eureka says:

        Welp, this is why I have constituent-responsibility stress.

        The good news, though, is that this is a window of opportunity: the scripted responses are falling away, all are regrouping. NOW is the time for everyone to be contacting their reps hard.

        Congressional switchboard: 202-224-3121


        Very easily find your rep’s name here and click to get local office info:

        Directory of Representatives |

        • Doug R says:

          Impeachment is polling about 62% against, although investigations that could lead to impeachment is about 47% vs 51%.
          So I can see why Pelosi is taking her time pulling the trigger, thinking about a downside. Maybe she should talk to President Gore.

        • BobCon says:

          I can guarantee that most people are highly influenced by the GOP hatchet job following the Starr report, and that runs from regular voters to supposedly insider pundits.

          People don’t want a repeat of the quick rush to judgment that happened because Starr provided little substance and mostly hot air. The GOP spent little time in hearings and carried out almost no additional investigations because they had nothing major to work with. Public opinion of the Clinton Impeachment was low because people could see from the get go that the GOP was making a case out of cotton candy.

          There is no reason that the House Democrats need to procede that way. If they do a good job in holding hearings, fighting to force testimony, interviewing witnesses and gathering evidence, and then laying it all out in a systematic and comprehensible way, public opinion will follow. Democrats already have a great start with the work Mueller’s team has done. They need to trust that turning this work into their own process will have results far more substantial than the joke that Gingrich scrabbled together.

          Going down this path will not be as fast as 1998. Trump’s stonewalling will chew up time. But that hurts Trump’s credibility, not the Democrats’ credibility. And the more the Democrats can use this to clarify the case against Trump, the more he will be put on the defensive. And the more the GOP will be put on the defensive as well.

          But if the Democrats do not act to set the terms of debate, the GOP will set it for them.

        • P J Evans says:

          I think the biggest problem is getting the media out of their rut in reporting the GOP viewpoint on everything, and only allowing a few conservative Dems to appear in front of the cameras.

        • BobCon says:

          You are right, and the way to do that in part depends on spoon feeding them the evidence.

          The impeachment process in one sense is the spoon. It isn’t the end in itself. It’s the means to get the food into their mouth.

          The Democrats need to recognize that what they’re offering at this point isn’t spackling paste and dish soap, it’s real and appealing food, but they need something to carry it to the press bit by bit.

          And if they don’t Trump is going to come by with a turkey baster full of Diet Coke and jam it down the throats of the media.

        • RWood says:

          If Pelosi and others are waiting for poll numbers we need to fix that first.

          Instead of calling our congressmen, perhaps we should be placing calls to the media asking why they haven’t done a piece on the impeachment process and the difference between a Standard Investigation and an Impeachment Investigation?

          Stories like that would do more to sway the polls

        • Rayne says:

          Media isn’t going to do dick if you call them. They get crank messages nonstop. What works is news.

          Try the two-fer: why not organize a protest rally demanding impeachment in front of members of Congress’s in-state offices? Send a press release to local new stations beforehand and make sure everybody participating puts their best face forward for the camera/mic? Prep everybody with a soundbite, make sure hand-lettered signs are clear, snappy, camera-ready, safe for TV consumption. Keep showing up until there’s traction.

          Knock yourself out.

        • Vicks says:

          Why not just do a “slow burn” with public hearings while waiting to see which of these investigations have legs?
          If we find out Russia is holding the debt for his failed casinos or Rosenstein really was wearing a wire* memorializing the many times Trump was courteous and funny during thier private conversations the public will demand impeachment and Nancy & Co will know it’s time.
          *kidding, If anything turns up it will be will be the crimes long suspected, money laundering, stealing from his campaign, and receiving ginormous bribes from some some bad people.
          I WOULD like someone to figure out what Barr’s soul is worth and how is is being compensated for it.

  14. Willis Warren says:

    As soon as I read the Mueller report, it was obvious that Barr hadn’t. OBVIOUS. He went through and redacted names, but pretty much left a lot of shit in there that obliterated everything he said. The fat fuck has been sitting on the couch watching Fox news for 20 years. Jesus, what a joke.

  15. Willis Warren says:

    Has anyone read Emmett Flood’s letter? I tried, but it’s on Scribd, which is an obvious “fuck you” to anyone who isn’t on Windows 95.

    From what I can tell, he’s delimiting the SCO’s powers to “innocent until proven guilty” assumptions, without acknowledging that many lied under oath.

    I expected more from Flood.

    • Willis Warren says:

      The NBC version is easier for me than the Fox version. Or maybe it’s just easier on Chrome.

      Anyway, it seems patently obvious that Flood is just pretending that Watergate wasn’t a precedent and that the SCO is just a prosecutor. He ignores the Volume 2 assertion that the SCO’s job isn’t to give the evidence, sans assertion, that a President committed crimes.

      I find his argument specious. Is his reputation what’s keeping Pelosi from a formal impeachment inquiry? Also, “illegal leaks” is a huge accusation that could be scaring a lot of people into hiding. How this isn’t obstruction is beyond me.

      It’s time to gamble the farm, boys. Let’s call the bluff.

        • Jockobadger says:

          I read it yesterday and commented on the other current EW post. It’s sobering, but it just shows how all in these people are. It also suggests that Flood is very good at his job and someone to be watched and excised from the current situation if at all possible (doesn’t seem likely.).

        • P J Evans says:

          In my browser, there’s no link in it where there should be – and the other story I read went to Scribd, which is pretty useless. (Even screenshots in Twitter are better.)

  16. Willis Warren says:

    While I’m loaded and rambling, the coordinated “Azra Turk” bullshit seems to coincide with this. They’re basically threatening anyone who talks with prosecution or at least a year of legal bullshit.

    “interference with blah blah blah” (page 4/5) is all bluff.

  17. Tom says:

    Whatever happened to that 35-40 page counter-report to the Mueller report that Rudy G. was talking about a few weeks ago? Or is that what Emmett Flood’s letter is supposed to represent?

  18. K-spin says:

    Loving your commentary Marcy! Can I also – respectfully – suggest that you and like-minded (by which I mean intelligent) individuals now refer to AG Bill Barr as ‘TTT’. TTT stands for Trump’s Toadie Toad, and is – IMHO – a suitable characterisation of this individual’s character, in the same way that ‘BDTS’ so wonderfully captured the character of former Acting AG, Matt Whittaker.

    To those of you who require convincing, let me expand:

    Trump’s: of or belonging to ‘Trump’ (aka idiot, Orange buffoon, “stable genius”, POTUS, and others…)

    Toadie: (Coll.) Of a person who sacrifices self-respect, dignity, and integrity, to seek/secure the favour of someone who s/he admires, is dependent on, or would like to impress (aka ‘a brown-noser’).

    Toad: an amphibian with no demonstrable reflective capacity, characterised by a thick neck and general sluggishness. May emit a toxic poison.

    Ladies and gentlemen, I rest my case.

    • bmaz says:

      We try not to do stupid stuff like that here. A LOT of people read this blog. Including Federal and state judges and Congressional members and their staffers. And they quite often read the comments too. This is not some Reddit freakfest. Get a clue.

      Utilizing petty and bullshit tropes like that is stupid. Serious subjects are discussed here, and we do not need the understanding of the same impaired with this kind of bunk.

      Please, people, stop this shit. Use their names so we do not look like blihering idiots.

        • bmaz says:

          I take no joy in this duty. But the reason we still, unlike many of our initially contemporary blogs, have an open and fantastic comment section is because we do not tolerate bunk.

  19. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy. Mr. Comey seems to think that Bill Barr fell prey to Donald Trump’s “singular gift for corrupting people.” Not.

    Bill Barr’s “vaunted reputation” was an artifact of marketing. He was already corrupt when Donald Trump bought him. Ask, if you could. George H.W. Bush, Caspar Weinberger, the former heads of the CIA’s Europe desk and its clandestine service, among others. They benefited handsomely, and stayed out of jail, over the their parts in the Iran-Contra scandal owing to Bill Barr’s ability and willingness to stonewall and to obstruct.

    Nor did Donald Trump’s singular gift corrupt the Republican Party. It was that way already, a process fifty years in the making. To the contrary, that Donald Trump is president is an expression of the GOP’s singular corruptness.


  20. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Bill Barr’s views on the power of the presidency are mainstream. About as mainstream as Dick Cheney’s.

    Cheney was a vigorous critic of Dick Nixon – for giving an inch to Congress and, ultimately, for resigning rather than fight to the last man. As a congressman, Cheney was a vigorous supporter of Reagan and Bush in their successive, seven-year effort to stonewall the Independent Counsel’s investigation into their Iran-Contra scandal. The chief technician helping to coordinate that stonewalling from the DoJ was Bill Barr.

  21. fpo says:

    Thinking about the sad state of the DOJ, in the face of outright refusal to conform to the norms of behaviour when it comes to subpoenas, formal requests for documents, etc., disregard for OLC opinions wrt e.g., recusal, claims for the legitimacy of blanket, retroactive “executive privilege” by the Resident, the “cannot comment on…” blanket of secrecy afforded to ongoing investigations – all of is being used to effectively hide the truth from the public on all manner of very significant issues of the day…

    And we have Dem Judiciary Committee members acting like the class clowns at the school play.

    Were it not for Pelosi’s Thursday press conference that served to direct public attention to (a) McConnell’s outright refusal to legislate, even on bills that carry bi-partisan support as well as support among the public, and (b) the simple truths of the Barr testimony: He’s the Resident’s attorney and he lied to Congress, one could get seriously concerned about where all this is headed.

    With 20+ Dem candidates all vying for airtime, an administration that has strong economic numbers, an effective propaganda/secrecy strategy and a unified party, there is not a lot of room for error and missed opportunities, let alone SNLish pranks. (Couldn’t they even find a gd RUBBER chicken?)

    End of rant. Serious question: Can the AG quash public reporting of IG investigation findings? Thinking of the Azra Turk bs and whether or not the Dir. of FBI can NOW publicly explain the obvious rationale for placing a human resource in the campaign, given evidence available at the time. Not sure if that would be wrapped up in the (current?) investigation of the investigation Barr alluded to.

    • P J Evans says:

      The chicken got their point across via the media attention. Prank, maybe – but effective.

      • fpo says:

        IDK, seemed a marginally funny, odd juxtaposition to the heart attack-serious issues at hand. Doubting that anyone changed views/opinions as a result. Barr afraid? Really? Any PR is good PR…maybe. But we can agree to disagree on this one. ;))

  22. viget says:

    Somewhat OT–

    Since I cannot abide making a substantive argument in 280 characters, I refuse to join Twitter. I know about threading, so here’s a kind of threaded argument for Marcy for the denialists out there (The Tracy, Mate, Greenwald, Taibbi cabal).

    1. The Mueller report is a PROSECUTOR’S report. It is solely to discuss the evidence pro and con for a prosecution or declination. Any information extraneous to those decisions is NOT within the scope of the report.

    2. CROSSFIRE HURRICANE — which is the FBI COUNTERINTELLIGENCE investigation initiated by Peter Strozk on 7/31/16, is the backbone investigation for Mueller’s initial appointment, and is the investigation James Comey confirmed in March 2017. The predicate for this investigation was contacts from foreign intelligence agencies regarding George Papadopolous discussing potential Hillary Clinton emails as kompromat with Russian contacts.

    3. As primarily a CI investigation, all of the findings from Crossfire Hurricane WILL NOT be made pubilc, and MAY NOT support prosecutions. It was during this counterintelligence investigation that enough evidence was unearthed to support probable cause for a criminal probe into the actions of several individuals aligned with the Trump Campaign and their contacts with the Russian gov’t or other individuals aligned with the Russian Gov’t. This is all detailed in Vol 1, section IV of the Mueller report. The focus of the criminal probe was investigating ” any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump.”

    4. At the time the Special Counsel was appointed with the above mandate (plus the mandate to investigate obstruction,as per the Special Counsel Regs in CFR), he was also given authority to pursue “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”

    5. It was during the course of the criminal investigation that new information came to light, and the SCO TWICE sought clarification from DAG Rosenstein what he was permitted to investigate, and what should be farmed out.

    6. Certain things, such as Manafort’s activities in Ukraine with regards to the Party of Regions were permitted to be included in the SCO investigation, others, such as campaign finance irregularities with regards to payments made by Essential Consultants LLC by the direction of Michael Cohen, were farmed out to SDNY.

    7. Furthermore, during the course of the investigation by the SCO, it became clear that there were certain links between OTHER CI investigations that were active concurrently with CH. These investigations, such as operation DRAGON (looking into Russian “Active Measures” and run out of Washington Field Office), as well as two concurrent investigations: one in the SF Field office into DC Leaks/Guccifer 2.0, and one in the Pittsburgh/Philadelphia Field Offices into GRU hacking of the DNC/DCCC/Clinton Campaign servers (among other targets), were PARTIALLY SUBSUMED into the SCO investigation during the summer of 2017.

    7. The results of the above investigations that were relevant to the SCO investigation were RETAINED by the SCO office and eventually lead to the IRA and GRU indictments in the D.D.C. The PROSECUTORIAL information related to those indictments are detailed in sections II and III of Vol. 1 of the MUELLER report respectively.

    8. On Page 13 of the Mueller Report, it specifically states that “…[summaries of foreign intelligence and counterintelligence information] and other correspondence between the Office and the FBI contain information derived from the investigation, not all of which is contained in this Volume.”

    9. Thus, much of the counterintelligence information, such as Marcy has previously outlined here, is NOT included in the Mueller report. This does NOT mean that the investigation did not find these things not to be true. Absence of evidence is NOT evidence of absence.

    10. As a final proof of this, let’s take a for example. Several media reports have noted that Tom Barrack, Trump’s Inauguration Committee Chairman, has been under investigation for funneling illegal inauguration committee contributions from foreign nationals, including Russians. In December 2018, the WSJ CONFIRMED a SDNY criminal investigation into the commmittee’s spending and corruption involving favors for donors. This investigation was predicated, IN PART, based on materials seized during the April 2018 raid of Cohen’s office.

    11. In February 2019, multiple media outlets reported that a wide ranging subpoena was issued to the Trump Campaign office, seeking documents regarding donations and favors promised to donors in furtherance of an investigation probing, among other charges, CONSPIRACY AGAINST THE UNITED STATES.

    12. Similarly, Elliot Broidy, friend of Trump and previously deputy financial chair for the RNC had his LA office raided by the Feds in March 2019, on a search warrant from EDNY looking into his ties into the 1MDB scandal and work done on behalf of Jho Low, the 1MDB bagman, to lobby Trump and funnel donations to his reelection fund.

    13. Both Broidy and Barrack have NUMEROUS ties to targets of the Mueller investigation, and in Barrack’s case, directly to Trump himself. The most prominent tie comes through George Nader, an important witness in the Mueller Report. Broidy and Nader were in business together trying to get consulting contracts from Saudis and Emratis in 2017. Broidy also has ties with Michael Cohen, in that Cohen arranged for hush payments to a Playboy model he allegedly got pregnant. Barrack and Gates were co-chairs of the inauguration committee together, and Barrack also recommended Paul Manafort, along with Roger Stone.

    14. YET — Barrack shows up a grand total of 4 times in the Mueller Report (all dealing with an FBI interview he had to confirm that he recommended Manafort as a campaign manager). Broidy — not even once. Why is that do you think?

    15. Conclusion — Just because something is not mentioned in the Mueller Report, doesn’t mean it wasn’t investigated, and doesn’t mean that there still isn’t proof of conspiracy to elect DJT president. The Muller report, representing the findings from just SOME of the numerous investigations out there, is not meant to be the be all and end all on Trump’s dealings with Russia or other foreign actors.

    [This comment was stuck in auto-moderation because it’s 1002 words long — that should have been a clue to you. Either join Twitter or get your own blog. I will let this through this one time but future comments need concision./~Rayne]

    • Rayne says:

      You could have made your points in half the words and not annoyed other community members on mobile devices. So irritating.

      • viget says:

        By all means, please delete it then. You’re right, too long. I’ll hold on to it and save it for later.

        I hesitated posting it in the first place. I should have listened to the voice in the back of my head.

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