A Tale of Three (Former) Mueller Dockets

Because I’m wondering why Robert Mueller remains a DOJ employee, which makes it harder for the House Judiciary Committee to get his testimony by subpoenaing him, I wanted to observe the status of three different former Mueller dockets, three weeks after Mueller submitted his “final report.”

The mass swap: Paul Manafort

First, there’s Manafort’s (and Rick Gates’) docket. On March 25, the first work day after delivery of the report, every single Mueller prosecutor filed a notice of withdrawal (Kyle Freeny had already withdrawn on October 17, 2008):

  • Adam Jed
  • Andrew Weissmann
  • Elizabeth Prelogar
  • Greg Andres
  • Jeanie Rhee
  • Michael Dreeben
  • Scott Meisler

Those seven prosecutors were replaced with a remarkably large team, considering Manafort is supposedly done, Rick Gates only awaits sentencing, and Konstantin Kilimnik presumably will never show up in the US to be prosecuted on his single witness tampering charge. The team includes:

  • Deborah Curtis
  • Fernando Campoamor-Sanchez
  • Jonathan Kravis
  • Molly Gaston
  • Zia Mustafa Faruqui

The large team for a prosecution that’s supposedly over is interesting for two reasons. First, Campoamor-Sanchez and Gaston just filed a status report in Gates’ case saying he’s not ready for sentencing. They specifically mention both Greg Craig’s August 12 trial (both are on that prosecutorial team) and Roger Stone’s November 5 trial suggesting they’ll hold off on sentencing him until after those are done.

More interesting still has been the government response to WaPo’s effort to unseal the redactions in Manafort’s plea breach proceedings. At first, Dreeben and Jed filed appearances, signing a request for an extension on March 19, just three days before Mueller finished a report that included new details about issues (the sharing of polling data and the Ukraine “peace” deals) that made up one of the most redacted topics in the breach proceedings. On March 27, Dreeben, Jed, and DC AUSA Jonathan Kravis filed another request for an extension, citing the transfer of “this matter” to the DC US Attorney’s office. After securing that extension on March 28, Dreeben, but not Jed, filed a notice of withdrawal on March 29. On April 15, Kravis responded by saying that the government could not yet unseal the documents — it went through and listed all the documents at issue — because of ongoing investigations, plural, and privacy concerns; the filing said WaPo should check back in six months.

We know what some of the ongoing investigations are: there’s the government’s effort to learn via what kickback system Manafort got paid, as well as some other attempt to save Trump’s campaign in August 2016 where Manafort’s lies aligned with those of the person trying to avoid prosecution after he signed the plea.

Still, that doesn’t explain why the polling and Ukraine stuff can’t be unsealed. Unless the government’s trying to hide Manafort’s lies about it all. Or the government continues to investigate Manafort’s post-election efforts to help Russia carve up Ukraine.

The new addition: Mike Flynn

Compare that to Mike Flynn’s case, which seems to be a mid-point between Manafort and Gates’ status. There, Brandon Van Grack (who has been put in charge of DOJ’s new FARA unit) and Zainab Ahmad (who has moved back to her old prosecutor job) remain on the docket. On April 9, Deborah Curtis joined that docket. She seems to be dealing with the ongoing counterintelligence interests arising out of Flynn’s case. She has joined Brandon Van Grack in WaPo’s suit to obtain the sentencing documents not yet made public. The government has to submit a response to WaPo’s request in that case tomorrow.

And on May 7, prosecutors in the Bijan Kian case requested and got an extension on some discovery materials; previously there had been a delay in turning over materials related to Flynn’s cooperation with Mueller.

The hybrid: Roger Stone

Finally, there’s Stone’s case. That case is different because DC AUSAs were included from the time Stone was indicted.

  • Jonathan Kravis
  • Michael Marando

Several of the Mueller prosecutors filed withdrawal notices on April 16, presumably when the considerable work of redacting all the Stone references in the Mueller Report was done.

  • Jeannie Rhee
  • Rush Atkinson

Andrew Goldstein didn’t file his notice of withdrawal until April 30, the day of Stone’s last status hearing. Adam Jed, one of Mueller’s appellate specialists, filed a notice of appearance that day, not long after Stone submitted a bunch of largely frivolous challenges to his prosecution that tie in part to Mueller’s mandate. One other Mueller prosecutor, Aaron Zelinsky, remains on the docket.

Zelinsky’s continued presence on the docket may be tied to the Andrew Miller challenge to a subpoena. I’ve wondered if Mueller remains at DOJ to keep that and the Mystery Appellant subpoena challenges active.

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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52 replies
    • harpie says:

      …along with Kravis, Marando, and Zelinsky… I guess I’m not following well enough. [oy! As you know IANAL]

      • emptywheel says:

        No, that makes sense. Note that I said Jed joined Stone’s case on April 30. Given that many of the frivolous challenges are to Mueller’s authority, they’re bringing in an appellate guy from the start to respond to them. One of the challenges is that Stone should get the entire report.

        • harpie says:

          Thanks, Marcy. So when a lawyer “file[s] a notice of appearance” that means he will be on that case until he notifies the court otherwise?
          (You’d think after all these years of reading about this stuff, I’d understand it a bit more…) I appreciate your(+bmaz+ Rayne’s) patience!
          It’s frustrating to think that Stone/Miller/mystery appellant may have the power to keep Mueller from giving vital testimony to Congress.

          • bmaz says:

            Not on a criminal case necessarily, no. The general rule is that, once you file a notice of appearance on a criminal case and docket, you stay as attorney of record until you ask to be removed and the court sees fit to do so. It is far easier for prosecutors, because they always appear for “on behalf of the Government”. But it can, occasionally, be a real problem for defense attorneys. On the defense side, you and your firm appear as attorneys of record, and you stay in that status until you are not.

  1. harpie says:

    Marcy: “I’ve wondered if Mueller remains at DOJ to keep that and the Mystery Appellant subpoena challenges active.”

    What would happen to these cases if Mueller were no longer at DoJ?

    • P J Evans says:

      The impression I have is that Barr would like to order all the DOJ people off them, and drop them as quietly as possible.

      • harpie says:

        Barr just ordered a THIRD investigation into the investigation!
        https://twitter.com/nycsouthpaw/status/1128093530239512577
        5:23 PM – 13 May 2019

        We’re faced with the choice to grieve for the rule of law or admire the majestic hypocrisy of Barr starting a THIRD transparently political investigation with no evidentiary foundation into whether the Russia investigation was properly predicated. [NYT]

        ,,,just depressing…

        • P J Evans says:

          “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results” – somebody or other.

        • horses says:

          Which is the desired effect. Politically, the fewer people who are aware and engaged, the more likely their gambit is to succeed.

          My recommendation is to make them fight for every inch of ground, because fuck you.

        • OldTulsaDude says:

          We will know when the switch to full autocracy has been flipped when the DOJ goes after Jeff Bezos and the WaPo.

  2. viget says:

    EW—

    Could the continued redaction of the polling data info be because it is material and *linked* to the sealed case about saving Trump’s campaign?

    Hypothetically speaking, say there’s a firm from country B that provides material assistance in the form of polling data analysis, that is paid via laundered money from Russia/Ukraine, through country A, with an assist from laundered donations from countries C and D. Furthermore, say said “polling data” was then shared with Russia/Ukraine by Manafort in part to help target their troll operations (and to let them know what they had bought). Perhaps the government might want to still keep the nature of “polling data” and what Rick Gates knows about it from their investigation secret?

    Of course, the above is mere hypotheticals and speculation. I really have no inside information.

  3. harpie says:

    o/t from Ryan Goodman:
    https://twitter.com/rgoodlaw/status/1128283490112479233
    5:58 AM – 14 May 2019

    Missing from the larger conversation: Trump’s personal lawyers’ direct involvement in acts of obstruction, revealed in #MuellerReport
    We created a 9-page Chart tracking the actions of these lawyers—Giuliani, Sekulow, etc—according to the Special Counsel.

  4. MattyG says:

    Thanks for the round up. Summaries like this are so important when trying to keep all the moving parts in focus. Or simply to keep them from fading into grey.

  5. harpie says:

    [I’ll post the two more links in the next comment]
    Kyle Griffen:
    8:35 AM – 14 May 2019

    After FBI briefing, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says Russian hackers accessed voter databases in 2 Florida counties.

    Eric Geller reminds us:

    Mueller report said FBI believed that Russia hacked “at least one” Florida county. Specific number appears to be two.

    Then, from Marcy:
    https://twitter.com/emptywheel/status/1128324642224115714
    8:42 AM – 14 May 2019

    Reminder: DeSantis is one of the people who can most easily be shown to have benefitted from the 2016 hack-and-leak.

    THEN, retweeted by Laura Rozen, CNN’s:
    https://twitter.com/cnnadam/status/1128324047270498304
    8:39 AM – 14 May 2019

    MORE//DeSantis’s office tells @kevincollier @kevcon555 the governor was briefed Fri by the FBI and signed a nondisclosure agreement that prevents him from naming the 2 counties hacked in the 2016 election. The FBI is briefing Florida members of Congress on Thu

    A NON DISCLOSURE AGREEMENT…I could be wrong, but this seems a little wierd…

      • RWood says:

        Rick Scott won his senate seat 50.1% to 49.9 over Nelson, that was with 50 percent of likely voters viewing Scott unfavorably and only 42 percent favorably.

        DeSantis won 49.6 to 49.2.

        Two counties is all they both needed.

    • harpie says:

      Tampa Bay Times: Ron DeSantis ‘not allowed’ to disclose which two Florida counties were hacked by Russians Gov. Ron DeSantis said two counties had their elections information accessed, but the hackers weren’t able to change or “manipulate” any data
      https://www.tampabay.com/florida-politics/buzz/2019/05/14/which-florida-counties-had-election-hacks-russians-fbi-and-now-gov-ron-desantis-all-know-but-we-dont/

      […] “I’m not allowed to name the counties. I signed a (non)disclosure agreement,” DeSantis said, emphasizing that he “would be willing to name it” but “they asked me to sign it so I’m going to respect their wishes.” […]
      Still, DeSantis seemed unsure Tuesday of the FBI’s rationale behind the nondisclosure agreement.
      “I think they think if we name the counties, that may reveal information to the perpetrator that we know what they did, but you’d have to ask them,” he said when asked why the FBI had him sign it. “I think it should be named.”
      Years of case law suggests that confidentiality agreements signed by Florida government officials aren’t enforceable because of the state’s broad public records law, said Barbara Petersen, president of the First Amendment Foundation, an open-government group that counts the Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald as members.
      Legally speaking, “the promise of confidentiality is an empty promise in Florida,” she said. If DeSantis was shown any records related to this investigation, they would be considered public unless there is a specific state or federal exemption, Petersen added. […]

      Why should anyone believe DeSantis?

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Why do the Feds have this data, but not the FL sec’y of state? Why would the Feds demand that the info, all or material parts of it, remain secret but allow it to leak? (It would be prudent to assume the actual lede is buried by what’s been admitted.)

        WTF has a Trumpian NDA got to do with governance and federal-state relations? They are, however and unfortunately, commonly used by states and govt contractors hoping to hide their government work – much of it surveillance and electoral systems related.

        Assuming for argument’s sake that only two FL counties were affected, were they the two most Democratic leaning ones? Were they the two most GOP leaning ones, or were they apparently chosen at random? The implications vary considerably, including whether any FL statewide elections held in 2018 were valid.

        What were the electoral systems in those two counties? How common were they to other FL counties or to systems in other states? It’s hard to imagine the systems were unique; it’s easy to imagine they were similar to others in FL and elsewhere.

        Much wider access to the information the Feds want teased out but are otherwise trying to keep secret is essential. Did they force FL’s GOP governor to sign an NDA or did he ask for it or sign it willingly? Is it enforceable or Trumpian swagger?

        Putting aside for a moment the many substance and process issues implicated here, the leak aspects of this make the disclosure look like another distraction from WTF Trump is doing and has done to hide it.

        • P J Evans says:

          and also, did they do this NDA stuff with Wisconsin and Michigan, or any of the other states where hacking was tried?

        • harpie says:

          Thanks for asking the questions, EoH.
          On 5/13 Politico published:
          Wyden seeks answers in Florida election hacking allegations https://www.politico.com/story/2019/05/13/ron-wyden-florida-election-hacking-1427761
          05/13/2019 12:47 PM EDT

          Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has questions that a lot of people are still asking three years after the 2016 presidential race — what exactly happened with VR Systems, the Florida voter-registration software maker that the FBI apparently believes Russia hacked.[…]

          A search at emptywheel for “VR Systems” brings up 11 posts, the earliest of which is the following from 6/13/17:
          THE SOURCES FOR SOME RUSSIAN VOTING HACK STORIES WILL NOT BE PROSECUTED
          It begins:

          Yesterday, former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson spent 90 minutes meeting with the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Russian investigators.

          Today, Bloomberg reports that Russian probes of election-related targets was far more extensive than previously reported, reaching into 39 states. It relies on three unnamed sources for the story, either including, or in addition to, at least one former senior US official. […]

          Wyden is on the Intellegence Committee. So is Sen. Warner, Vice Chair, who on 5/10/19 answered some questions at the CS Monitor breakfast:
          https://twitter.com/Olivia_Gazis/status/1126491080952881152 [CBS News]
          7:16 AM – 9 May 2019

          At a @csmonitor breakfast this morning, @MarkWarner said SSCI’s final report will include areas that will be “much more extensive than what Mueller had,” especially as concerns Russian networks and their interactions with the Trump campaign. […]
          [email protected]: We will document in “much much greater detail” what the Russian gov’t, oligarchs, and an “extraordinarily extensive network” did in 2016.
          He said “90-95%” of what Mueller determined in terms of US contacts, “we had that information — and we will have other areas” […]

          I’m planning on trying to read through those 11 posts, today.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Yes, what other nasty bits of business are Trump’s NDAs hiding from the public he is employed to serve, protect, and defend?

          Like Dorian Gray, Trump hides his most important secrets, then claims they are not important. For government secrets, sunlight is always the best cure.

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Joltin’ Joe Biden continues his fellowship tour, um, electoral campaign. He claims that once Trump leaves office, the one Ring will no longer bind them and Republicans will magically become advocates of good faith, good will, and good cheer. To paraphrase the original Outer Limits, after a tense interlude, Americans will again be able freely to adjust their television dials.

    In Joe’s administration, Republicans will happily stop their wars; reverse their gerrymandering; join hands with minorities, unions, women, the poor and middle classes; learn to love government regulation; and give up their takeover of the judiciary by an army of fundamentalist youngsters.

    Joe doesn’t offer much about how that electoral loss, presidential departure, and return to normality will take place. (Is it Mitch McConnell’s normality or Newt Gingrich’s?) He only promises his Field of Dreams, process and results will take care of themselves. Happily for Joe, his formulation avoids discussion of his lack of ideas, his bankster priorities, and a closet full of inconvenient baggage.

    I don’t think I’ll join him in whatever he’s smoking.

    • P J Evans says:

      A lot of people are wondering where he’s pulling that talking point from, because it sounds like he’s slept through the last 10 years.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Well, Gingrich’s leadership of the House goes back to 1995, nearly twenty-five years. Dick Cheney’s absolutist support for presidential authority goes back further. He excoriated Nixon for “giving in” and resigning, despite his conviction in the Senate being a dead cert. Cheney recorded his views in detail ten years later, in his minority report to the House’s Iran-Contra report.

        I think it’s part of Joe’s schtick to get the mythological moderate undecided vote. Be nice and all will be well. It’s a greater fantasy than Donald Trump being for the little guy. Fortunately, he’s less convincing than the corporate HR flack who promises that your job is safe, just after returning from a long meeting in Vietnam.

        • bmaz says:

          As a funny aside, Barry Goldwater, famous for supposedly being a war hawk, had issues with Cheney in this regard.

    • bmaz says:

      I have been around for far too long. And have yet to smoke or ingest anything that powerful. Jeebus.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Says a lot about a lifelong resident liberal and a guy with degrees from at least two Arizona schools, what with the proverbial abundance of recreational substances and desert fungi floating about.

        Stereotypes and exaggeration aside, I’m fine with Joe living in dreamland. He just shouldn’t expect anyone else to join him in it or to vote for him.

        Meanwhile, in the real world, John Bolton wants to start a war with Iran because he’s always wanted to start a war with Iran, and because oil, and because a dog’s gotta wag its tail.

        • P J Evans says:

          Bolton ought to listen to the generals who will have to do the planning for that war, and find the warm bodies and the materiel and the money for it. It’s not going to be the walkover that he and his buddies in the GOP-T keep talking about. (Neither was Iraq, but they seem to have memory-holed that one.)

        • bmaz says:

          Hey, I had a houseboat on Lake Powell for 15 years. And still have not experienced the recreational area where what is happening now makes sense. But I am getting old, so I dunno…..

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            That location might be part of a dry lake bed now. Bmaz captaining a boat on Lake Powell for over a decade. Sounds like you might have contributed the odd bit of good partying between major wins.

            • bmaz says:

              No, Lake Powell is way too deep. A lot of things changed? Yep. And sadly so. It is hard to navigate now in many regards. But can still get to most of the places we used to go I think. Just harder now. And there have been good winters, and still not enough to feed what used to be as to depth.

              • bmaz says:

                I wish some of what we filmed and shot on 35mm was available for here. But here are a couple of good videos of our favorite spot on the biggest lake imaginable. That would be Cathedral Canyon. There are no words on a blog post that can describe it.

                Here, and

                Here.

                We went in with a houseboat, tethered into a wall with a piton, and then went further with the smaller ski boat and, finally,just swimming.

            • bmaz says:

              Wish I could do better. That I cannot is my fault. I never imagined back then how analog had to be transferred to digital. Proof positive I am a dope. Apology.

              • P J Evans says:

                I had some old (1940s) movies (three rolls of B&W, one of color) that my father made transferred to video after he died, and got those transferred to DVD last year or the year before. (They need someone competent at editing to fix the saturation and speed.) The color roll ended up at the Air&Space Museum – it had some footage of the Flying Wing leaving Northrop for the desert.

                • bmaz says:

                  It’s funny, we literally got a dumpster thing recently delivered and set in our driveway, and cleaned out decades of stuff from our storage shed in the back, workshop and garage. There was so much stuff. Included was a box of VHS tapes that may have had some of the Lake Powell adventures on them. Don’t even have a device that could play them to check any more. Changing information storage protocols are a real issue.

                  Also, the Flying Wing!! Incredibly awesome!

                  • P J Evans says:

                    They looked at it and were very happy (otherwise I think I’d have gotten it back with “we regret”). What I though was interesting was how many people were standing on the street side of the fence, watching it leave. Clearly it wasn’t a secret.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Cornel West and Adolph L. Reed Jr eviscerate Joe Biden’s progressive street cred: [https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/may/01/biden-2020-past-better-candidate]

      He has been “a consistent warmonger,” and remains “a pure, dyed-in-the-wool neoliberal, as much as ever a tool of Wall Street and corporations.”

      In the 1980s and 1990s, as a member of the pro-business Democratic Leadership Council, he helped pull “the party to the right by appealing to conservative white southern men, in part through stigmatizing and scapegoating poor African Americans.”

      “Biden’s history regarding women and gender issues is as checkered as his record on race. As clueless and distasteful as his history of smarmy dealings with individual women is, his public record is worse.”

      His management of the Clarence Thomas hearings and Anita Hill’s testimony was appalling. Biden’s “bipartisanship” helped install Thomas as, “one of the worst, most dangerously conservative supreme court appointees of the 20th century.”

      In the 1990s, Biden helped legislate the overtly racist carceral state. He was also a principal supporter of Bill Clinton’s 1996 welfare reform, “that ended the federal government’s 60-year commitment to direct provision of aid to poor and indigent people.”

      The thing Biden might prize most, after his pro-bankster 2005 bankruptcy reforms, is his image as being pro-worker. But he has been a devoted proponent of cuts to social programs that help working families most. “And, notwithstanding his photo-ops on picket lines and with union leaders…he kicked off his [2019] fundraising effort with a $2,800-a-plate event hosted by cable giant Comcast’s executive president and including Steven Cozen of the notorious union-busting law firm, Cozen O’Connor.”

      A fence post would be a more progressive Democratic candidate than Joe Biden.

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    This twitter essay by Sarah Kendzior vivisects the House Democratic leadership’s reluctance to begin an impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump. [https://twitter.com/sarahkendzior/status/1119040348918095872]

    A major theme is that the Republican Party is no longer an organization that can be reasoned or bargained with. Trump is not an aberration that, once removed, would allow the party to return to some supposed normal. Trump is a natural and logical consequence of what the Republican Party has spent decades becoming. He and it are one.

    This GOP has gone beyond partisan zealotry. It can no longer put country, national security or democratic governance ahead of party. Mitch McConnell’s response to Obama’s warning about Russian influence over Trump is one startling example.

    Kendzior’s argument also illustrates how impossible to sustain is Joe Biden’s position. The Democratic House leadership, however, seems prepared to follow him into la la land. If that continues through the election, it might well assure Trump and Senate Republicans of another victory. Then all bets are off as to what happens to this little experiment in throwing off the shackles of absolutist government.

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