Two Factors that May Change the Impeachment Calculus, Part Two: Criminalizing a Roger Stone Pardon

In this post, I described how recent developments in Michael Cohen’s case give Congress a number of reasons to use it as a basis for impeachment. The neat fit of so many details might affect the calculus on whether Democrats carry out an impeachment inquiry on Trump.

In this post, I’ll point to a cynical electoral reason to begin impeachment: to prevent Trump from preempting Stone’s pre-election trial which, if it takes place in November 2019 as scheduled, will be utterly damning to the President. Don’t get me wrong — Democrats should move to stop Trump from using pardons to suborn perjury as a basic rule of law thing. But the timing of Stone’s trial and the extent to which it will implicate the President makes that imperative electorally beneficial for Democrats as well.

Even as currently charged, Stone’s case implicates the President directly

As I’ve noted, because everything in the Mueller Report pertaining to Roger Stone got redacted to (appropriately) preserve Stone’s right to a fair trial, lots of details on how Trump himself was involved in pushing Stone to optimize the WikiLeaks releases is redacted.

[I]t seems highly likely that some of the information in these redacted passages is stuff that would only prejudice Stone’s case by raising the import of it to Trump.

Consider, for starters, that (unless I’m mistaken) not a word from Stone’s indictment appears in this Report. [For example,] the indictment makes it clear that Stone was talking to the campaign about WikiLeaks releases.

ROGER JASON STONE, JR. was a political consultant who worked for decades in U.S. politics and on U.S. political campaigns. STONE was an official on the U.S. presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump (“Trump Campaign”) until in or around August 2015, and maintained regular contact with and publicly supported the Trump Campaign through the 2016 election.

During the summer of 2016, STONE spoke to senior Trump Campaign officials about Organization 1 and information it might have had that would be damaging to the Clinton Campaign. STONE was contacted by senior Trump Campaign officials to inquire about future releases by Organization 1.


By in or around June and July 2016, STONE informed senior Trump Campaign officials that he had information indicating Organization 1 had documents whose release would be damaging to the Clinton Campaign. The head of Organization 1 was located at all relevant times at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, United Kingdom.

After the July 22, 2016 release of stolen DNC emails by Organization 1, a senior Trump Campaign official was directed to contact STONE about any additional releases and what other damaging information Organization 1 had regarding the Clinton Campaign. STONE thereafter told the Trump Campaign about potential future releases of damaging material by Organization 1.

We see outlines of precisely who those references are to in the report.

Most notably, after describing Trump’s enthusiasm after Stone told Trump while Michael Cohen was listening on the speaker phone that the DNC emails would drop in a few days just before they did (which Cohen described in his testimony to Oversight), these two paragraphs, appear to to describe Manafort and Trump’s enthusiasm after the DNC release, with Manafort telling both Stone directly and Gates that he wanted to be kept informed via Stone of what was coming. And having gotten some indication of what was coming, the campaign started making plans to optimize those releases. It appears that Gates, like Cohen before him, witnessed a Stone-Trump call where the rat-fucker told the candidate what was coming.

These pages also have more background about how important all this was to Trump, who was frustrated that Hillary’s deleted emails hadn’t been found (something also told, in Flynn’s voice, in the Peter Smith section).

The references to Stone in these passages may well be appropriately redacted. But the descriptions of conversations between Trump and Manafort or Gates should not impact Stone’s defense — unless you want to argue that Trump’s personal involvement in Stone’s rat-fucking might change the deliberations for a jury. They don’t serve to hide Stone’s actions. They hide Trump’s enthusiasm for using materials stolen by Russia to win.

So the part of the 2016 operation that clearly amounted to coordination but was not charged because of First Amendment considerations, and the part of the 2016 operation for which (perhaps because witnesses learned it would not be charged as a conspiracy) there’s the most evidence of Trump’s direct involvement, remains hidden from view out of concerns for Stone’s due process rights.

Right now, Stone’s trial is scheduled to start on November 5. A recent status report on Rick Gates’ cooperation makes it clear he is likely to be a witness at Stone’s trial. While Gates’ testimony is probably not necessary to prove that Stone lied to HPSCI, it would be useful to explain Stone’s motive: significantly, protecting Trump.

If Andrew Miller’s testimony leads to new charges, the tie to Trump may be still more damning

Tuesday, the DC Circuit Court issued its final order in Stone associate Andrew Miller’s challenge to a grand jury subpoena.

Yesterday — technically minutes after Mueller’s press conference announcing the investigation was completed and he’s going home — Judge Beryl Howell rejected another attempt by Miller to challenge the subpoena. Multiple outlets report that he has agreed to testify Friday at 9:30.

Miller’s testimony Friday is premised on potential new charges against Stone and before Howell rejected Miller’s challenge, Aaron “Zelinsky and Jonathan Kravis from the US Attorney’s Office in DC told the judge privately why they still needed Miller.”

Last night, Howell released some of the details behind Miller’s most recent challenge. Along with a useful timeline from Miller’s lawyers on their challenge, it makes it pretty clear that prosecutors are still looking for information on (as Miller lawyer Paul Kamenar describes it) “Roger Stone’s actions during the 2016 election and his involvement in WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, and the hacking of Hillary Clinton’s and the DNC’s emails and any collusion with Russia” or (as Aaron Zelinsky has described it), “Roger Stone’s connection to WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, Guccifer 2.0, Russia.”

In other words, it appears that prosecutors might still indict Stone with new crimes pertaining to the core issues that were under investigation.

That’s one reason I find the timing of Mueller’s announcement so interesting. The Howell hearing yesterday was technically after Mueller’s statement finished. I don’t know when yesterday’s announcement will become official, but it would seem to be final before Friday’s Miller grand jury appearance.

That would mean any charges that former Mueller prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky (as well as DC AUSA Jonathan Kravis, who has picked up the bulk of the ongoing matters from Mueller’s team) might decide to pursue after Friday would be subject neither to the logic of the Mueller investigation — which decided not to charge Stone for some WikiLeaks-related crimes in part based on First Amendment considerations, nor to the direct supervision of Attorney General Barr.

As I’ve noted, the logic EDVA used in its superseding indictment of Assange is in direct conflict with the logic Mueller used in deciding that WikiLeaks’ and Trump’s “wish lists” for Hillary emails do not establish a basis for a conspiracy charge in the same way WikiLeaks’ wish list for classified materials was used. That might mean that decisions made after Miller’s testimony Friday would work out differently than decisions on Stone’s charges in January. Mueller’s off the case. It’s DC US Attorney Jesse Liu’s decision now.

All of which is to say, even assuming Friday’s testimony doesn’t lead to new charges, unless Trump finds a way to pre-empt Stone’s trial, it will mean some of the most damning information about Trump’s involvement in what Mueller didn’t charge as conspiracy but which by most definitions would count as “collusion” will get aired less than a year before the 2020 election.

Given how rock solid that Stone indictment is, there are just two ways to avoid that: for Stone to flip on Trump or others (though prosecutors are unlikely to give Stone a deal without vetting his claims after the way Paul Manafort abused the process, and it would be too late to flip on Assange). Or for Trump to pardon Stone.

Some of the clearest evidence of obstruction of justice in the Mueller Report pertains to Trump floating pardons, including a 2.5 page redacted passage (Volume II pages 128-130) pertaining to Stone himself. Even Bill Barr says it would be a crime to float pardons to prevent someone from testifying truthfully. Note, too, that Mueller asked Trump whether he considered pardoning Assange before he was inaugurated (to which Trump gave a typically contemptuous non-answer), and Stone was involved in an attempt to pardon Assange as recently as January 2018, which has been the subject of Mueller’s questioning.

The political hit from a Stone trial — and the kind of pardon-related obstruction that Barr himself conducted to kill the Iran-Contra investigation — might well be enough for Trump to prefer the political hit of pardoning Stone. Democrats have one way of altering that calculus to ensure the Stone trial — with all the damning details of Trump’s actions it’ll reveal — happens as scheduled.

While I’m not, at all, a fan of gaming trials for political effect, the fact of the matter is that if Stone’s trial goes forward, it would present as damning a case against Trump’s cheating as any impeachment trial could do. But to ensure that happens, Democrats need to make it clear that pardoning his way out of this will incur even greater costs for the President.

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. 

181 replies
  1. Badger Robert says:

    Thanks for writing this. If I was DC federal prosecutor, wanting to please the President, I would manage to disobey a court order and produce a dismissal. Failing that, an incompetent prosecution that gets Stone acquitted would be the second option. Which suggests the question: who are those prosecutors? And what are their motivations?

    • George Proust says:

      And I worry that the Assange indictments have been written corruptly – to ensure that Assange is found not guilty on a technicality, and he will know that this is what is happening beforehand, and therefore won’t flip.

  2. EyeInHand says:

    Given the timing, the recent DOJ charges against Assange may be intended to assert ironclad leverage over him. He’s the hinge between Trumpworld and Putinworld, and may have wanted to use that position for leverage of his own, refusing to play ball. A man very much in search of leverage to pry himself out of multiple jams, and well versed in using information to exert power over the powerful. Stone floating the idea of a pardon for Assange makes it clear the Trump people were aware of this, and made efforts to use that position to advantage. The charges are their way of playing hardball.

    • MattyG says:

      He may well be a hinge, but certainly not the only one… There are so many doors between DTworld and PutinWorld you got a whole box of hinges!

  3. Areader2019 says:

    “While I’m not, at all, a fan of gaming trials for political effect,”

    I think in this case, I am OK with that. Stone’s trial, the redacted cases in the Mueller report, the state level cases….they could all come at Trump from different directions. An impeachment trial focuses it all on one question….remove or not?

    • bmaz says:

      Why in the world would any decent citizen be in favor of “gaming trials for political effect”? What kind of person says that?

      And if you think the current question as to whether to open an impeachment inquiry is about whether Trump gets “removed” or not, you have not been paying attention whatsoever.

      • George Proust says:

        Well, everybody’s saying it. The biggest trial in our history is being discussed right now (impeachment/trial) and a big part of the discussion is about gaming it for political effect.

        And there’s nothing wrong with that. There was strong evidence by May 2017. There was more evidence every month after that. There were strong reasons on several fronts every step of the way. This trial is definitely one to be gamed.

        And the GOP would laugh if you disagreed.

        • bmaz says:

          “Everybody is saying” what, exactly. Further, anybody talking about the current issue in terms of a “trial” which could only happen if articles of impeachment were voted out of the House and sent to the Senate.

          And, so, yes, I disagree, and do so vehemently. The meme you are pushing is exactly the complete LIE that Pelosi is pushing. Opening a mere impeachment inquiry to solidify the House’s legal position is not only smart, it is derelict to not do so. It has absolutely NOTHING to do with a “trial” in the Senate, much less formal articles of impeachment being voted out of the House for that purpose.

          What is it about this you do not get?

        • George Proust says:

          There were solid grounds to begin impeachment in summer 2017, as a minimum for national security reasons. But I understand why some, if not most people would argue that that would have been too early.

          There are solid grounds to begin impeachment today. But I understand why some would want to “game” this and wait for a changed political climate.

          We are dealing with a criminal attorney-general, a treasonous and Mafia-connected president, and a criminal GOP leadership that has taken Russian money and received Russian assistance in corrupting an election. And a propaganda network, Fox, that also seems to be criminal.

          So, yes, the trial of Trump should be gamed.

        • bmaz says:

          That is bunk. If you have grounds, and protection of the Constitution requires it, you move. If not, you are, like Pelosi, Jeffreys, Hoyer and other leadership, a coward and derelict in your oath of office.

        • George Proust says:

          Hmmm… I can see that you think that this is an existential issue – that our Constitution is under attack. As do I.

          So our differences are in tactics. You think you jump onto impeachment as soon as there is evidence; I think you go for impeachment once you’re more confident of winning the trial. I think my tactic has a greater probability of saving the Constitution.

        • Rayne says:

          Keep in mind how many federal prosecutors have already signed a letter after reading the Special Counsel report and come to the same conclusion that Trump has committed obstruction of justice. bmaz is a practicing attorney; he’s not swagging a guess there is adequate cause to begin an impeachment inquiry.

          And the measure here isn’t “evidence” for “winning the trial.” The impeachment process is non-judicial; it’s a political process to be used when the criminal process within the executive branch is not available.

        • bmaz says:

          Jesus, there almost certainly will never be s trial. Talk of trial is irrelevant at this point. You open the in query in order to gather evidence and strengthen the ability of the House to do common oversight, which the Trump Admin is denying across the board. If you can’t understand this, not sure what I can do for you. The duty is absolutely owed to the Constitution and the Article I branch right now. Today.

        • George Proust says:

          There will NOT be a trial in the Senate?


          You’re demanding impeachment start now, but you think it won’t lead to a trial????????

        • Rayne says:

          How do you propose to get around Mitch McConnell? The question is the same one with regard to at least one hundred bills the House has passed and now sit idle, bottlenecked by the Senate Majority Leader.

          Do you know of some legal means to force McConnell to take up after the House impeaches Trump? Because we, the entire U.S., are all ears.

          Read the Constitution carefully and point to the mechanism by which it the Senate will take up an investigation ostensibly leading to conviction. Cut and paste it here into a comment. Thanks.

        • Badger Robert says:

          If articles of impeachment are introduced in the House committee, there are still about three major steps before there is a trial. The House could even vote to impeach, and the trial in the Senate could be strictly on the established record. If that happens the House will have done its duty, and the Senate has to take responsibility for facilitating foreign interference in elections, and obstruction.
          This is one of the primary concerns of the founders, that one of the European empires would offer a title to an American president, who would sell out the country, and flee to Europe.

        • bmaz says:

          Yes, I am quite familiar with the process. Talk of voting on articles and subsequent trial is simply misleading and wrongheaded. The only issue right now is simply opening the formal inquiry. That is it. The rest is noise that Pelosi and her cohort are duplicitously using to mislead people and scare them.

        • Badger Robert says:

          The other major concern of the founders is that slavery would be discarded as impractical in the northern states, but it would get stronger in the Gulf states of the south. If that happened, without powerful nationalizing institutions, the country would divide.
          Both problems have arisen anew, in conjunction with each other.

        • Badger Robert says:

          The House could vote that the record justifies impeachment, while still recognizing the Senate’s intransigence on the issue.

        • bmaz says:

          They don’t need to vote on anything whatsoever but opening a freaking inquiry. That is it. Opening an inquiry does NOT mean voting on the evidence, it means solidifying the means to gather evidence and perform oversight. That’s it.

        • Badger Robert says:

          They have to vote it out of committee.
          And that could be where it ends. Time and the election cycle could be the excuses to never have a full House vote.

        • Badger Robert says:

          My meaning was that I think voting it out of committee is the best result. That creates the record, without consuming months with a vote that isn’t going anywhere.

        • bmaz says:

          What does that even mean? Prior impeachment investigations were voted on the floor before being deemed open. It is unclear that a mere committee vote is either sufficient or advisable.

        • Callender says:

          If opening an impeachment inquiry is required, why now? Why are you in such a hurry? Let the process run its course.

          Timing is everything. And you don’t know everything. As I said earlier, Pelosi has forgotten more politics than most of us have ever learned.

          Let the process run. I argue the dems are proceeding towards impeachment with the current investigations and court fights.

        • WiserWords2 says:

          You’re right. Both Pelosi and Nadler have stated repeatedly that they “are proceeding towards impeachment with the current investigations and court fights”. They also want to use hearings to present the facts to the public and get their support for impeachment. Nadler made the point, in an interview today, that it has only been 5 months since the Dems took control of the House.

          Those screaming “IMPEACH NOW” are reacting out of emotion. That’s not how experienced people, like Pelosi, make decisions.

        • bmaz says:

          Excepth Pelosi is perpetuating a pack of lies that merely opening an inquiry, in order to gather evidence and facilitate oversight, is tantamount to voting actual articles of impeachment and trial in the Senate.

          And it is a complete fraud and lie. So, please, do NOT give me that simplistic and uninformed bullshit and out “impeach now”. And that is how people who actually understand law and process. unlike you (I think Pelosi does but is cravenly ignoring the same) “make decisions”. Spare me the rest

      • JamesJoyce says:

        Some will never and can’t pay attention. Credulous believers are factual fools….

        Fascists are about gaming trials for political effect.

        Spencer Tracy once played the character of a Judge as Gregory Peck once played a Lawyer….

        We should revisit those ideals and concepts before collective dementia afflicts society.

        It might already be too late.

  4. Veni Vidi Vasi says:

    As I understand it, accepting a pardon constitutes an admission of guilt. Is this not the case?

    • bmaz says:

      No, and to the extent it does it is likely only when the pardoned person affirmatively asserts it in a court action. The old wives tale that accepting a pardon is acceptance of guilt comes from a case more than 100 years old, Burdick v. United States that did not really hold that at all. The inference was contained in dicta only. It is hard to see any modern court making such a finding.

      • Rayne says:

        Isn’t it really opinion that “accepting a pardon is acceptance of guilt” is an “old wives tale”?

        As far as I can tell law schools are still teaching this point is not clear. It’s implied Nixon understood he was making an admission of guilt when he willingly accepted his pardon as Burdick’s imputation of guilt had been presented to him during negotiations leading to his pardon.

        (Disliking the fact I dropped everything to read Ex parte Garland just now. Presidential pardon cannot change the reality that Garland was a member of the Confederacy. :-/)

        • Tom says:

          FWIW, Conrad Black recently accepted a pardon from the President even though he has continued to maintain his innocence.

        • Rayne says:

          Yeah. Mm-hmm. He didn’t have to accept the pardon; unlike a commutation, a pardon can’t happen without the recipient’s assent. Black was good with being used as the orange moron’s demonstration tool, i.e., write something fluffy and ass-kissy about Trump and he’ll pardon you when it serves his interest to encourage unlawful behavior among key audiences like armed border patrol personnel.

          ~Barf~ Trump is completely destroying the integrity of the office of the presidency.

        • Tom says:

          That makes sense. If you’re maintaining your innocence, you don’t want to be perceived to be accepting guilt by having a pardon forced upon you for something you claim you didn’t do.

        • bmaz says:

          You don’t have to accept a pardon, it is effective the moment a President makes it. You can then renounce it if you wish. But it is operative when issued.

          And the claim that acceptance of a pardon means acceptance of guilt is an old wives tale that is bogus. It comes from dicta in a hundred year old case known as Burdick, and has as close to zero meaning now as you can get. It is just not so.

    • Ruthie says:

      I see no indication that she’s anything but reluctant to instigate impeachment proceedings. I assume if public pressure to do so increases enough she will change her mind, but without hearings that will be difficult. It’s a classic catch-22.

      • Avattoir says:

        It sure doesn’t seem to fit any “classic” mold in this context. Recall that Nixon was never actually impeached by the House, leave aside a bill of impeachment being delivered the Senate. But there sure were a whole lot of Watergate hearings, which those of us alive and sentient in those days vividly recall following – on of those undoubtedly being Nancy, who not 2 years after Nixon left office pursued and received her first status as a member of the DNC — not an office one can realistically hope to obtain without a whole lot of politicking over a lot more than 2 years.
        So when Speaker Pelosi uses the term “iron clad” in terms of what she’d look for as justifying support for impeachment, I think she’s referring to something like what we came to know from the Oval Office tapes, or at the very least the testimony of some figure more or less equivalent to John Dean’s in that Watergate investigation context. I suspect that she’s not at all confident that the Congressional Dems can succeed in marketing any particular content of the Mueller Report on a broad enough scale to overcome the sort of damage Beltline Conventional Wisdom claims was incurred by the Rs for impeaching Bill Clinton. I don’t agree with that assessment, but as well I don’t claim to be in a better position than Speaker Pelosi is to make that assessment.

        • timbo says:

          Uh… except that theory presupposes that it’ll be possible to find such a thing without an impeachment committee empaneled in the House? Makes zero sense. In order to uncover a cover-up, you have to have some sort of stick, not just some sort of vain hope. No, frankly, Pelosi is not keen on giving such power to a House impeachment committee…

        • bmaz says:

          So, Timbo, you think the House should tie its hands behind its backs, and kneel down, because of common electoral concerns?

          You think that common electoral concerns of Representatives that swore an oath of office to defend the Constitution should trump doing what they can to actually defend the Constitution?

          Is THAT your argument? Because if it is, that is lame beyond belief.

        • Callender says:

          BMAZ, the oath to defend the constitution does not require impeachment. I would argue defending the constitution could be keeping your powder dry, allowing events to run their course, let Trump slip his neck further into the noose, and then spring.
          Defending the constitution, could be, as I would argue, doing what Pelosi is doing right now. Leaping off the cliff of impeachment, losing the removal vote in the Senate, allowing Trump to win, running on the fact he was “found not guilty,” and losing the house isn’t defending the constitution.
          It’s stupid.

        • bmaz says:

          What a fucking cowardly load of simpering shit. Truly pathetic.

          And, by the way, are you aware that opening a mere impeachment inquiry has nothing whatsoever to do with voting on articles of impeachment and transfer to the Senate for trial, or are you just disingenuously blowing shit up our readers’ asses?

        • George Proust says:

          I’m getting the idea that bmaz is a speed-reading demon. Meaning, his comprehension score is low.

          He misread me, he misread you, he misread timbo. And he tops it off with insults.

          Not a good look.

        • Rayne says:

          We do not owe anyone anything here. Since you haven’t figured it out I’ll spell it out for you: This site draws trolls/bots/provocateurs because of the content it publishes and its commentariat, not just because it has open comments. Some of the trolls/provocateurs are particularly subtle though most out themselves immediately.

          You and Callender between you don’t have quite two dozen comments. You do not have a long track record at the site with a large body of commentary by which we have gotten to know you and you’ve yet to earn an automatic belief in good faith on your part.

          Does it feel like a shakedown? I’m betting it might. But community members who are serious about participation here put in the effort to make well-reasoned arguments complete with supporting citations. They ask questions they have already attempted to research before they arrived here and don’t make demands they aren’t willing to fulfill on their own.

          Look around and read the room. Figure it out.

        • Callender says:

          Rayne, I don’t have a lot of comments here, but I’m not troll.
          I’m a solid supporter of Marcy and what she does. I usually keep my mouth shut and prefer to learn. There’s a lot to learn here.
          But BMAZ is a bully. He’s quick to jump mad, and as the other commenter said, I think he speed reads and jumps, lots of times to the wrong conclusion.
          We could debate Pelosi’s strategy till the cows come home.
          I think she’s right. BMAZ thinks she’s wrong, but the problem with his position is he’s immediately ready to impugn bad motives to anyone who disagrees.
          If he could just answer one question: Why now? What is the difference if we wait for more facts and proceed officially towards impeachment later this summer, when maybe Trump has defied a court order and public opinion has sunk lower?
          He can’t answer that. He’s a blowhard.

        • bmaz says:

          I’ll answer if you will grow a spine and quit whining. First off, do you even read the comments here other than your own? Because I have been answering your “question” for over a month. I have done so, yet again, multiple times already this morning. See comments at 11:10 am and 11:13 am. Both well before you posted this screed.

          You want to know who is a “blowhard”? Maybe take a look in the mirror next time before using that word.

        • Rayne says:

          Look, bmaz and I don’t agree either. But I’m not poking the bear (much); he’s here because we have a spot on the team for a bear with big teeth.

          Focus on movable versus immovable. Move on to a new subject.

        • bmaz says:

          Oh, and here is the answer to your question that you said I “can’t answer”:

          I cannot emphasize this enough: The ONLY question on deck is whether to open a mere impeachment inquiry in order to facilitate investigation, evidence gathering, make court arguments on the same bulletproof, and conduct oversight that is cravenly being denied by the Trump Admin. That is the ONLY thing at issue.

          You seem to have bitten off on popular nonsense that it is tantamount to voting articles of impeachment and trial in the Senate. That is an outright lie, don’t fall for that.

          That is the same thing I have argued for over a month. So, saying I cannot “answer the question” is just duplicitous baloney from you. Apparently you cannot understand the answer. Also, it is Pelosi’s duty to defend the Constitution under her oath of office. That doesn’t mean when it is convenient for her little political sensibilities, that means when the Constitution is in danger, which it, and the Separation of Powers, are right this very second. So, at least you are honest enough to admit you care more about rote political expediency than you do protecting the Constitution. Good to know where your morals and ethics are.

        • bmaz says:

          My reading comprehension is fine. When I truly misread something, I admit it and apologize. I wonder if maybe, just maybe, certain commenter skills are lacking if they cannot be read fairly by their own eye. Just a thought….

        • timbo says:

          Meh. I’ve been advocating for impeachment committee here in earlier posts. Haven’t changed my opinion there at all. I think Pelosi is a party hack, frankly, someone more interested in not investigating campaign financing and other things too close to home, etc, etc.

        • timbo says:

          Bmaz, I’m on board with moving ahead with an impeachment inquiry. Pelosi’s “tactics” rankle me now end. I think she doesn’t want to find out what might be found out. And I think she’s unwilling to force McConnell to have to face any charges that might arise.

          Since I posted my comment above, someone else has pointed out that the issue of McConnell stymieing the Senate should impeachment charges actually be sent there might be part of these calculations. Yet another stupid thing to consider.

          Let’s get on with an official impeachment panel in the House already! It should have happened in March after Cohen’s testimony…

        • bmaz says:

          Yep. Frankly, I would….. I think…. be fine with doing the inquiry and getting at the facts any just using that too inform voters. Worrying about a Senate vote that may never occur is a foolish argument to stymie the investigation.

  5. Peterr says:

    That’s one reason I find the timing of Mueller’s announcement so interesting. The Howell hearing yesterday was technically after Mueller’s statement finished. I don’t know when yesterday’s announcement will become official, but it would seem to be final before Friday’s Miller grand jury appearance.

    That would mean any charges that former Mueller prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky (as well as DC AUSA Jonathan Kravis, who has picked up the bulk of the ongoing matters from Mueller’s team) might decide to pursue after Friday would be subject neither to the logic of the Mueller investigation — which decided not to charge Stone for some WikiLeaks-related crimes in part based on First Amendment considerations, nor to the direct supervision of Attorney General Barr.

    As I’ve noted, the logic EDVA used in its superseding indictment of Assange is in direct conflict with the logic Mueller used in deciding that WikiLeaks’ and Trump’s “wish lists” for Hillary emails do not establish a basis for a conspiracy charge in the same way WikiLeaks’ wish list for classified materials was used. That might mean that decisions made after Miller’s testimony Friday would work out differently than decisions on Stone’s charges in January. Mueller’s off the case. It’s DC US Attorney Jesse Liu’s decision now.

    This is the thing I find most curious about Mueller issuing his report when he did. The investigation he led is clearly not finished, with Stone’s trial being the most obvious ongoing matter. Even so, he wrote his report, filed it with Barr, and now is trying to ride off into the sunset, never to be heard from again. IRCC, every other special counsel/independent prosecutor/special prosecutor issued a report AFTER everything was over. But not Mueller.

    One factor that has been worked over already is the Barr-Mueller interactions.

    This, though, raises another possibility. Could Mueller have filed his report and resigned so as to remove charging decisions from both his office and Barr as his direct supervisor, and place them in the hands of a line USAttorney like Liu? From both his report and his statement yesterday, he clearly felt constrained by various factors. Is it possible that he’s hoping the Liu would be willing/able to get around some of these constraints?

    For instance, like it or not, Mueller attracted intense partisan attention. Liu, while appointed by a GOP president and confirmed by a GOP-dominated Senate, is not automatically the focus of the media in the way that Mueller was, is, and evermore shall be. Might this give Liu room to operate that Mueller lacked?

    • Rayne says:

      The timing of the statement yesterday was so loaded. I think the fact nobody seemed to know more than an hour or two in advance Mueller was going to make a statement said a lot.

    • timbo says:

      Huh. An interesting point. The OSC reports directly to the AG while, to interfere in an on-going investigation where there is good evidence that crimes were committed in a jurisdiction outside of the OSC regs… yeah, maybe it did have something to do with making it harder for Barr to shut things down without being openly in violation of the obstruction laws. bmaz? anyone else?

    • emptywheel says:

      I was sort of trying to go there in this post. There are a lot of reasons I can imagine Mueller might have wanted to shepherd certain things but then bow out at a key moment. And this feels like that.

      Or maybe it’s just that he was sure he had brought both Mystery Appellant and Miller in. I don’t know. But the former is intriguing.

      • Gnome de Plume says:

        I wondered, too, if Mueller is leaving like this for reasons we can’t know just yet.

      • sneakynordic says:

        Has there been any confirmation that the Mystery Appellant complied with the subpoena?

        One of your earlier articles speculated that Mueller already knew what the evidence from the Mystery Appellant was but he needed it in admissible form. Seems to be a likely scenario given 2 facts: 1) Judge Howell described the evidence as “relevant to the investigation” into “foreign interference in the 2016 presidential election” (i.e,. squarely within Mueller’s appointment order), and 2) Mueller concluded his investigation before the Mystery Appellant complied with the subpoena, which we know because the Mystery Appellant had not complied before Judge Howell’s April 1, 2019 Order.

        The confusing part is if the evidence was relevant to Mueller’s investigation, and it is still needed by the grand jury for new charges, why didn’t Mueller bring those new charges? Why would Mueller pass off charges that are based on evidence that was “relevant” to the core part of his investigation?

        • bmaz says:

          As to first question, to my knowledge, no. As to the further issues, just because Mueller closed his shop does not mean that any investigation the material was germane to is over. Not at all.

        • P J Evans says:

          He put together a pretty solid team, and I think any cases they sent to the courts are well-built.

  6. klynn says:

    OT sort of…
    Love this idea just posted on EW’s tweet regarding Manafort’s Trump Tower Condo.

    “Quite probable that Manafort bought it at an inflated rate and feds could go after Trump Inc for any overpricing, recover it, and examine pricing at Trump-owned properties.”

    Man, that idea would build some amazing evidence…especially in FL.

  7. Badger Robert says:

    The incentive for Trump is to pardon Stone and take the hit. The only alternative is for Barr to interfere with the prosecution and prejudice Stone’s defense. It would have to be artful, but Barr is clever.

  8. Badger Robert says:

    It is difficult to see how Assange ends up in the US. The intelligence agencies want that but Trump will thwart them and Britain would like to get rid of him as soon as possible, health providing.

    • timbo says:

      The US has already made the request and as already charged Assange with multiple crimes. The US is currently in the process of attempting to extradite him. Seems like that’s not going to stop just because the President says so at this point… What next? Trump pardons Manning so that Assange is no longer prosecutable? That’s the level of silliness you’re positing, right?

      • bmaz says:

        What?? Manning already was commuted. If Trump “pardons” her (which will never happen) so what is your point? Before Marcy sees your dubious comment, Manning is a she, not a he. You appear to know absolutely noting about the extradition process. Trump does not have that kind of ultimate veto or acquiescence.

        Extradition is run through state departments. And international treaties control. If you want to talk silly, maybe turn your focus inward. I have never seen you be so obtuse as a commenter, what is up?

        • timbo says:

          What are you smoking? The “he” refers to Assange. Manning was cited with contempt and is being threatened with more charges to get him to testify against Assange (if/when >he< arrives in the US).

        • bmaz says:

          That is a complete boatload of bunk. Not only is Manning not “being threatened with more charges” to get her (you called her a him while protesting that you did not do so before) to “testify against Assange”; in fact, she was officially given full immunity from further charges, across the board, both as to DOJ/civilian and UCMJ/military in relation to her subpoena.

          I am not smoking anything. What are you smoking to so ask?

  9. Badger Robert says:

    The Speaker thinks the Committees can produce a stronger record, prior to impeachment. I don’t see the House doing a better job than the professionals of the OSC. This especially unlikely as absolute defiance of investigatory power becomes the new norm.
    There have been some trial court victories, but not very many financial disclosures have been provided yet, and McGahn has not testified. It makes sense that he would have to testify about potential criminal conduct, but many things that make sense have yet to occur.

  10. Badger Robert says:

    Mueller resigned, in my opinion, so that he could speak publicly about the main problem: Russian interference.

  11. Badger Robert says:

    Thanks again to Ms. Wheeler as it is a privilege to be able to read about this online.

  12. Areader2019 says:

    Either Mueller is lying or Barr is lying. And I will bet you my right arm and I will throw in my left as a bonus, that Bob Mueller just lied to the American people, about a conversation he had with Bill Barr because he was losing the narrative. (Fox’s Dan Bongino)

    Hahha. I’m looking forward to a photoshopped meme of this guy with no arms.

    • bmaz says:

      So, you spew that with absolutely nothing to back it up? You think Barr is the more honest chap and base that on Fox and Dan Bongino??

      You have had two takes today. Both are beyond bogus.

      • Quake says:


        I think AReader2019 was being sarcastic—poking fun at Bognino, not supporting him.

        • bmaz says:

          If so, I did not catch it, and I apologize. The last couple of days have been fairly intense, and sometimes it is hard to tell.

        • Areader2019 says:

          That’s fine. Humor often misses in short texts.

          Yeah, Bognino is someone so committed to the red bubble that he is shocked that Mueller got up and said what he said. Maybe now he will read the report.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      If you know anything about Bill Barr’s prior work for Reagan and Bush and against Lawrence Walsh, and you still think Barr’s the one telling the truth, I’ve got a bridge to sell you. Do svidaniya, reader.

  13. Eureka says:

    Clip of Trump adding to his psychographic profile with all the foreign intel agencies; also, he could be using these words quite deliberately* to program listening authoritarian-leaners against impeachment (and media are amplifying it; he also called it a ‘scam’ but that’s not running on the chyrons):

    CNN Politics: “President Trump calls impeachment a “dirty, filthy, disgusting word” and says it has “nothing to do with” him. (embedded clip)”

    *Rayne has commented recently-ish about the disgust issue with certain types of conservatives; I have commented about the Nixon-era+ GOPers hiring linguists to manipulate the populace.

  14. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The NYT is doubling down on its war on its critics. It is boycotting Rachel Maddow, claiming bias: “[T]he Times asks members of the newsroom not to appear on opinionated shows to discuss political subjects.”

    Given the state of play in Washington, Dean Baquet’s position seems blinkered, an absolutely head-in-sand attitude. It’s as if he thinks his people won’t be able to withstand the cold winds outside of their glass greenhouse. Perhaps he’s right.


    • klynn says:

      Interesting. Maddow is the daughter of a former Air Force Captain. She has often said her father’s service to the country drives her investigative work. If the NYTs was real news, Dean would equally ban Fox news shows as well. Amazing what a puff publication will do to keep their WH access. This just means Maddow is pushing the right buttons.

      • klynn says:

        A commenter on the Vanity Fair article regarding the NYTs decision posted:

        “Makes zero sense why this reporter can’t go on Maddow to talk about his amazing research into Deutsche Bank and Trump/Kushner but it’s ok for Mike Schmitt and Maggie Haberman to be paid contributors at MSNBC and CNN respectively.”

        • BobCon says:

          It’s not unlike their Twitter policy, where they admonish reporters from time to time for getting too far into commentary — but they are also clearly pushing reporters to boost their Twitter presence and engagement with hot takes.

          Editors spike stories because of supposed lack of balance, but then assign reporters to write up hackneyed takes about Trump loyalists in Youngstown Ohio who actually live well outside of Youngstown.

        • bmaz says:

          Dean Baquet is a ridiculously bad managing editor. This is just an absurd policy. And it is counterproductive, as it will mean that Washington Post, Bloomberg, McClatchy and other outlets will get that publicity and coverage.

  15. Eureka says:

    One thought-set on my mind related to comments* I made the other day and this post: I think Stone was cloaking himself in First Amendment protections by pushing the WikiLeaks route while his official account decidedly avoided certain talk with Guccifer 2.0; he certainly acted like he knew the difference, especially considering the timing of his ‘Romanian hacker’ article.

    Perhaps we’ll learn more (subsequent to) tomorrow. Big sigh. I still think Stone’s ratfuckery (toss in Manafort excerpts) is the heart of the conspiracy story that people far and wide would hear. HJC has to get those stories told. “Well done” and all.

    *comment string with links/cites:

    • Eureka says:

      Also, unless Guccifer sent this message to Stone twice, there is an error in the DNC Second Amended Complaint. Don’t know if it was addressed as I am not up on the goings-on with this case:

      Correct, para 167 (tho worth noting it’s via DM, not openly tweeted); gets repeated between date that goes with otherwise correct text in para 179:

      167.On August 14, 2016, Stone began secretly communicating with GRU operatives posing as Guccifer 2.0.142On August 17, 2016, one of these operatives tweeted to Stone, “please tell me if i can help u anyhow. it would be a great pleasure to me.”143That same day, Trump was briefed by US intelligence agencies that Russia was implicated in the hacking of DNC servers.144

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

      • Eureka says:

        re August 17th: “please tell me if i can help u anyhow
        it would be a great pleasure to me.”

  16. earlofhuntingdon says:

    MSNBC’s early “impeachment” coverage today is appalling. Walter Isaacson, a journalist, biographer, and former president of the Aspen Institute, claims that it would be a “clown show” if the House formally impeached but the Senate refused to convict. In the face of a 24/7 propaganda assault by the president and the GOP, this sort of Pelosian, go slow, don’t rock the boat approach is legally foolish and politically self-destructive.

    The clown show would be for the House to ignore this president’s behavior, only to invite much more serious wrongs than he has already committed. Robert Mueller went out of the way at his unusual presser to say that one of those wrongs will be Donald Trump again accepting foreign government help to win election.

    The clown show would be waiting until the heat of the formal election campaign next year to complain about Trump’s wrongs. That would allow him to characterize the “criticism” as politically inspired, not serious, not legitimate, and fake news. That long a delay would make him right. It would hand the legal case to Trump, it would hand the election to him as well.

    • bmaz says:

      Yeah, I caught a bit of it and it was beyond horrible. Not just Isaackson, but they then got Reverand Al and Donnie Deutsch going on both spewing absolute garbled nonsense. It was just insane.

    • Tom says:

      I keep thinking of the old military adage that: “A good plan carried out vigorously now is better than a perfect plan next week.” By delaying on impeachment hearings in expectation of an optimal political situation arising, the Democrats are only allowing time for the Crazy Glue in Washington to set.

      • bmaz says:

        This is exactly correct. And they are being frustrated on every witness and every document request. In the court fights over this, their position is geometrically strengthened by having it under the penumbra of an impeachment inquiry. The only hearings they are having now are with empty witness chairs.

      • Ruthie says:

        Exactly! I’ve been harping on Speaker Pelosi’s inaction since Mueller’s speech because I just don’t believe she has some eleventy dimensional maneuvers planned, or if she does she’s badly misreading the moment. I think someone in the the comments yesterday pointed out how her rhetoric needles Trump more than practically anyone else, and that’s great. I just don’t think that accomplishes more to keep him off balance than an actual impeachment inquiry would. And that’s only one issue. In the most recent episode of Pod Save America, Dan Pfeiffer – no raving liberal – pointed out that the 2018 midterms were won in large part on promises to hold the Trump administration accountable. How will all of the activists and voters who made that happen react to the apathy of the Democrats now that they control the House? Not well if I’m any example…

        • Callender says:

          You’re confusing strategic patience for apathy. The courts will eventually put Trump further behind the 8 ball. By this summer the political picuture may change dramatically, especially if Trump does something stupid like defy a court order, which I’d bet a good chunk of change he will absolutely do.
          When he does that, the impeachment picture will change.

        • Callender says:

          I defy you to show one piece of misinformation in my posts, except perhaps calling you Matlock.

        • bmaz says:

          Frankly, I think most all of your posts are misinformation and disinformation. You also took it upon yourself to call me a “bully” and a “skunk”. You can flat piss off.

        • Eureka says:

          I hope that you and others newly piqued by Mueller’s speech are calling your reps (regardless of party) and telling them you want them to open an impeachment inquiry. And if the rep is on record already as ‘for’ it, then try talking to friends/fam/coworkers/neighbors in different districts, or to other people in other local districts, etc.

          This matters for at least two related reasons: first, the more reps that come forward, the more reps and constituents that come forward– at least that is how it is going lately, as a feed-forward process.

          Second, by the most certain route, the House would have to vote on a resolution to do so. Per the public numbers, there is not a majority who would vote for this yet. The ‘yeas’ are growing (over 50), but far short of what’s needed.

    • Rayne says:

      Ken Dilanian tweeted some crap yesterday talking down about impeachment. Worse than listening to some old conservative-libertarian type like Isaacson puling about a “clown show” (look in the mirror, Isaacson) because Dilanian appears as a reporter on MSNBC — his crack was hardly a neutral observation. The “clown show” isn’t the House Dems right now, it’s how this situation is being teed up and framed to create a circus.

      • bmaz says:

        That is baloney from Dilanian. The way to get the public up to speed is to start putting the evidence in front of them. And that is the goal, not removal of Trump from office. Not to mention that there is absolutely no legislation from House Dems that McConnell will move on inch. None. Lastly, the show legislation Pelosi envisions can still be worked on. They can do more than one thing at a time, right?

    • BobCon says:

      It’s astonishing to me how little people understand about impeachment, and this is an area where Pelosi ought to be speaking up.

      There is a ridiculous unspoken assumption that impeachment is necessarily a repeat of Gingrich and the House GOP grabbing a tissue paper thin political hack report qnd rushing through a vote on the House floor.

      Impeachment in the decades before that was a careful, evidence heavy, deliberative process. Not just Richard Nixon, but judges Harry Claiborne, Walter Nixon and Alcee Hastings.

      Pelosi needs to make clear that she is not Gingrich, that Mueller is not Starr. She should make clear that there will be no corners cut and no rush to judgment.

      The large majority of wavering Americans don’t oppose impeachment, they oppose a repeat of Gingrich shenanigans. It’s up to Pelosi to make it clear that she won’t let that happen. But the more she diters, the harder it will be to keep that promise.

      • bmaz says:

        Exactly right. Open the inquiry. Gather the evidence and have some hearings to educate the public. I am perfectly fine with them doing that for a year and then saying “The evidence is damning, it is clear what occurred on every front. But we are now close enough to an election that we are going to leave it up to the voters now that the record has been made. We believe in the Constitution and democracy, and we have seen fit to honor both”.

        • Ruthie says:

          That’s an outcome that hadn’t even occurred to me! The Libra/literal side of me doesn’t like it one bit, but I make every effort to let more rational voices prevail.

        • bmaz says:

          The operative point is that opening the inquiry is NOT tantamount to voting out actual articles and trial in the Senate for removal. It could end up getting there…who knows…but it does not necessarily have to be. Use the power to investigate that the Constitution specifically provides, and see where it goes. But it protects the Article I branch, and strengthens investigatory power in the meantime.

        • P J Evans says:

          That’s pretty much what they did with Watergate: they had the investigative hearing, and then Nixon resigned, because it was obvious to most people in Congress what he’d done.

          (Whether the Tr*mp-cultists in this Congress can get there is another question.)

        • Ruthie says:

          I get your point about the outcome being uncertain. What struck me is that for those in Congress who are wavering because of the potential dangers of an acquittal in the Senate, this could offer a middle ground approach, albeit not stated explicitly.

        • bmaz says:

          Any Congressmember worried at the front end about “trial in the Senate” is an uninformed blithering idiot. The ONLY question is bout opening a mere inquiry. The rest is complete bullshit.

        • BobCon says:

          If they do their job right in the House (not a sure thing, to be certain) having the GOP Senate cement its reputation as a bunch of hacks is not a losing position.

        • Ruthie says:

          I don’t disagree. Just acknowledging that there are apparently quite a number of blithering idiots in the House.

        • P J Evans says:

          A mandatory-attendance meeting where they’re told how impeachment works, since they seem to either have forgotten Nixon and Watergate, or they never learned in the first place. (Srsly, can’t they be required to at least read the doc they’re sworn to “support and defend”?)

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          Timing matters, but Shakespeare also had a point, “Our doubts are traitors that steal the good we yet might do, by fearing to attempt.”

          Enough with the Dem’s Hamlet-like prevaricating: ‘to hold hearings, or not to hold hearings…’ is no longer a question. It is increasingly urgent in a world spiraling into a chasm of lies.

          It’s increasingly costly not to hold hearings: if the House fails to open hearings, 30% of the US public will believe Barr. He’s already poisoned the well, so persuading a great portion of the public will be an uphill climb. But when was life simple or easy? The Dems need to show some guts.

          The only way the rest of us have a fighting chance at figuring out what’s happened is to have hearings that lay out, day-by-day:
          — how the elections were hacked,
          — how the money was laundered,
          — how Cambridge Analytica played parents, grandparents, and everyone else for dupes and insidiously manipulated public opinion.

          I’m in the process of creating a diagram for the Mueller Report — reading it puts me in mind of reading War & Peace, given the unfamiliar names, relationships, and vast array of people. I need a quick reference to remind myself ‘who is who’.

          The House needs to dummy up some diagrams of the Mueller Report, and Photoshop timeline overlays on top of them so the public has some good reference materials to follow the main threads.

          Also, my wish list includes: Pelosi and the Dems need to make absolutely clear:
          *** Ken Starr spent +/- $200,000,000 and went on for X months
          ***Iran-Contra spent ?? and went on for X months, and Barr had a key role, which was…
          *** Mueller spent $25,000,000? in X months, but got money back from Manafort’s ostrich jackets and condos… so for those ‘cost conscious Fox types’, the cost effectiveness of the Mueller investigation make a slight impression.
          Also, Barr’s redux needs to be highlighted, because I know very smart people who do not connect him to burying Iran-Contra.

          IOW, the Dems need to lay out HOW Mueller’s investigation is *different from* all the others (money, time, charges), as well as the same (Barr, subpoenas).

          That simple exercise alone would help people understand how these investigations were similar, but also how they were different — whether the comparison is done on a spreadsheet, an infographic, or a document, might help the House leadership realize that the Mueller operation was shorter, more targeted, more fiscally responsible, that other ‘impeachment procedures’ of past years.

          The Dems need to channel Mr. Rogers: “one of these [investigations] is not like the others…”

          It would be clarifying to see a diagrammed comparison of the impeachment investigations: an infographic comparing Starr, Walsh, and Mueller would be a true public service.

          Currently, these ‘impeachment investigations’ are all muddled together in the minds of a lot of us. A few infographics could solve that problem.

          Plus, we could have a new Trivia Question: ‘if a Manafort ostrich jacket were priced at $15,000, how many ostrich jackets would the Starr investigation have paid for…?’

          Also, ‘if the NRA received $40,000,000 from Russia, how much more money is that than the cost of the Mueller Report?’ [Hint: more than a lot of school districts spend in an annual budget.]

          Some clever bloke could make a nice side income creating a Mueller Deck of cards for the investigation. I would buy a deck on Etsy, assuming the artwork was sassy ;-)

          The Dems really need to move out of Hamlet mode and have a little fun — it’s not Trivial, but it’s a very honorable pursuit. They should stop dithering.

      • fpo says:

        It took a Republican to state the obvious on this issue…and he got a standing ‘O’ from his constituents.

        It’s time for Dem leadership to give their constituents a little credit and consideration. Open the inquiry – morale is a fragile commodity right now.

    • Hops says:

      As I understand the process, the Chief Justice would preside and the trial starts with everyone taking an oath.

      We’d see if McGahn and others want to show contempt for that trial, and who risks contempt during the process.

      I’m warming up to the idea…

  17. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Bill Barr’s claim that Bob Mueller could and should have “reached a conclusion” about charging Donald Trump is bizarre, in his trademarked Baloo Bear meets Roy Cohn way. His claim that Bob Mueller used the “wrong law” to evaluate Trump’s conduct is equally bizarre. Bill Barr can have his own opinions, but not his own law. His claim is factually wrong, but politically convenient for Donald Trump.

    Bill Barr’s history and DoJ policy make clear that he does not mean that Mueller should have indicted Trump, the conclusion suggested by his report. What Barr must mean, then, is that Bob Mueller should have exonerated Trump. Unlike Barr, Bob Mueller is neither that political nor that bent. But his propriety and professionalism underline how little of that remains in Congress.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      If Bob Mueller had really used the “wrong law,” as Bill Barr – now on vacation far from DC – claims, it would be a first. It would be professional negligence. The odds of the claim being true are zero and none.

      Bob Mueller had top DoJ lawyers on his staff. They would have determined the correct law, process, analysis, and conclusions. They would have checked each other’s work closely, given that any part of their work product might well have had to survive S.Ct. review.

      Had Bob Mueller used the wrong law or process, Rosenstein and Barr would have stepped in to demand they correct their mistake. Not doing that would have been professionally negligent.

      We know that Mueller, Rosenstein, and Barr are too talented, experienced. and street smart to have exposed themselves in such an obtuse way. Which means that Bill Barr is raising a strawman argument to promote his political ends.

      Bill Barr is being deeply dishonest. His is the sort of cheap shot reputedly common among elite university faculty. Henry Kissinger’s shorthand for it, not original with him, was that, “academic politics are so fierce because the stakes are so low.” Barr is borrowing from the master.

      If Bob Mueller has friends like Bill Barr, he doesn’t need any enemies.

  18. harpie says:

    I’m sorry for this drive-by O/T…I won’t be around for most of the day, but just wanted to say that I think this, even with every other thing going on, is the most important story today:>>>
    Deceased G.O.P. Strategist’s Hard Drives Reveal New Details on the Census Citizenship Question 5/30/19

    Thomas B. Hofeller achieved near-mythic status in the Republican Party as the Michelangelo of gerrymandering, the architect of partisan political maps that cemented the party’s dominance across the country. // But after he died last summer, his estranged daughter discovered hard drives in her father’s home that revealed something else: Mr. Hofeller had played a crucial role in the Trump administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. […]

    • Ruthie says:

      I agree. It will be telling to see how the SC rules on the 2 cases currently before it which could be affected by the smoking gun.

    • bmaz says:

      Little chance that SCOTUS will invade the current record to consider this. And, arguably, they should not. This attempt by the ACLU was to seed the minds of SCOTUS, not to really supplement the record.

      • BobCon says:

        I see the Supreme Court conservatives about as likely to change their minds about this as Clarence Thomas would be to think about irrefutable DNA evidence proving the innocence of a prisoner filing a last minute appeal of his execution.

  19. earlofhuntingdon says:

    What is Pelosi on about with this argument: impeaching the president in the House but failing to convict after trial in the Senate might preclude a later federal criminal prosecution for the same alleged “high crimes and misdemeanors.”


    The argument seems untenable. Impeachment as a process is civil and political. Consequences on conviction are removal from office, not prison. The “high crimes and misdemeanors” do not necessarily match criminal statutes. They could and should include abuses of power that are immoral and politically wrong, but need not be criminal.

    The biggest difference is that voting on guilt or innocence is inherently political. Jurors are not chosen and removed for bias or other wrongs. They are Senators. They vote according to admitted political calculation as well as on the facts. Unlike a criminal trial, there is also no rule that would prohibit a retrial.

    Pelosi is working hard to put roadblocks on the way to an impeachment inquiry. She should be more honest about her calculations. We are all going to live with the consequences.

    • P J Evans says:

      dammit, she should listen to the lawyers who are trying to run the investigations – they know it’s not a court of law, and they also know what crimes are involved.

      And I just wrote her and said that it isn’t used *enough* on those who deserve it.

    • bmaz says:

      Earl, it is absolutely fucking insane. Could it be used as evidence for the defense to establish reasonable doubt in a later criminal trial? Um, maybe, but not sure a court would let that formally into evidence to a jury. But, more importantly, there need not ever even be a trial in the Senate that could provide such a prior determination. Nancy Pelosi, as great of a Speaker as she has been, and she has, is straight up putting on a fraud in trying to quash even an impeachment inquiry. It is craven.

      Adding, it is not the prerogative of the Speaker of the House to worry about criminal prosecutions way in the future, that will almost surely never happen, it is her oath of office to defend the Constitution where she works. That is the House, and her duty is to not just defend the Constitution, but to protect the oversight and functionality of the House, and defend the Separation of Powers that the checks and balances of the Constitution is premised on. That is her oath, and it is her duty.

      • Badger Robert says:

        The duty of the House is to protect the US from further Russian interference in elections. Impeachment serves that purpose by creating a venue to put that information before the public. There are several ways a vote could be scheduled on some procedural matter, or on just adding one Article, well before the report and impeachment are referred to the Senate.

        • bmaz says:

          Baloney. The “duty of the House” is to its oath of office, which is to defend the Constitution. You are STILL bogusly focused on substantive articles and trial in the Senate. That is entirely irrelevant to opening an inquiry. You are biting off on pure unadulterated bullshit.

      • Ruthie says:

        Again, I couldn’t agree more. As to her skill as a Speaker, she’s certainly demonstrated an ability to shepherd difficult legislation through the House and hold her caucus together. However, those accomplishments were pre-Trump, and the rules of the game just aren’t the same. Does she recognize the fundamentally different world she’s operating in now? I don’t have confidence that she does.

    • BobCon says:

      She knows the impeachment process is on a separate track from the courts.

      She voted with the majority to impeach Judge Alcee Hastings in the late 80s after he was found not guilty by a jury.

      One does not determine the other.

    • BobCon says:

      There is no reason to say it ends when he is defeated, either (knock on wood).

      He will never stop lying or trying to sustain the coverup. It simply won’t be an impeachment effort.

  20. P J Evans says:

    Pelosi was on Jimmy Kimmel last night, and she seems to know what she’s doing.

    When we go down this path, we have to be ready, and it has to be clear to the American people," Pelosi said, adding that Democrats were still gathering information. “The public deserves to know the truth, the facts.”

    Perhaps the most interesting part of the interview came when Pelosi suggested that she knew better than almost anyone what Trump's infractions were. “Let me just say this immodestly—I probably have a better idea as to what the president has to be held accountable for than anyone,” Pelosi remarked. “The only person who knows better than I do is the president of the United States. He knows what his violations have been.”

    (He may know – but he doesn’t have a clue about accountability.)

    • Rayne says:

      I don’t know how that entire setup — Pelosi being on Kimmel, saying what she said — isn’t a Poke-The-Bear moment.

      • P J Evans says:

        She sounds like she’s read the report – or at least the summaries. (Which appears to be more than a lot of the House has done.) There’s an interesting point brought up in that post: what else does she know, that she can’t tell us?

        • bmaz says:

          What, you think I am not aware of that? Are you aware the Gangs have not been getting briefed appropriately? Do you think their briefings, even to the extent they do get them, are necessarily the same as what Mueller collected (Hint: even at best, they are very different). Gang of Eight is about intel, not criminal discovery. Please. Pelosi is spreading misinformation out of her ass.

        • Hops says:

          Actually, I did know about the briefing issue. I think it was an e-mail from Schiff. I gave his campaign a little money to show some support, so now I get e-mails about things that piss me off and ask for more money, lol.

          So, do you think Mueller knows things not in the report? Is it possible Pelosi found out what’s redacted via some leak? Who knows who talks to whom in DC…

      • Badger Robert says:

        I would not discount that possibility. There may be people in San Francisco, in Bellevue, and in Europe, that have information by extra legal means, that cannot be disclosed.
        There are probably non OSC investigations that have uncovered some of the conspiracy links. Its impossible for us to know.

        • bmaz says:

          Baloney. Mueller had full clearance to receive that, as did the FBi where the CI investigation started. To think that a non lawyer politician knows more than Mueller regarding criminal conduct is completely absurd. Especially when the briefings given the “Gangs” have been dubious and haphazard. Pelosi is blowing shit up the nation’s ass.

        • AitchD says:

          Then what you’re saying is that her entire fallacy is wrong (h/t McLuhan). Only now do I think I understand the meaning of Michael Cohen’s testimony, to the effect that Trump ordered him to threaten Trump’s schools if they leaked or issued any stuff about Trump. At the time I was puzzled since schools will not divulge stuff without strict and proper consent. (I also thought that the Pennsylvania Higher Education Accrediting Agency ought to review U of Pennsylvania, and the Ivy League should expel it.)

          Now I believe that Trump learned that Pelosi knows about his military school stuff, even earlier stuff, all expunged, bought off, typical crap. (She probably knows Obama’s Columbia records.)

          You know how much stuff journalists, elected officials, and DA’s get that’s evidentiary but won’t act upon it or report it.

          Let her wait until the Ninth District seats a member in its re-vote, or until Trump self-destructs, whichever happens first.

          The Ninth is my district.

        • Hops says:

          What does the Ninth District have to do with this?

          I know it’s tempting to rant, but please provide context for assertions.

        • Areader2019 says:

          “Pelosi is blowing shit up the nation’s ass.”

          Haha. Well, you win the internet today for the most colorful graphic language.

      • Stacey says:

        We are coming to find out that Mueller put himself in a pretty small paddock to investigate inside of. Several folks on House and Senate committees have been on Rachel Maddow and indicated for some time now that they feared Mueller did not follow the money or look at really anything that was outside that tiny remit he had from Rosenstein.

        We’ve all been saying that “Mueller knows EVERYTHING Trump’s ever done” for so long now that we’ve come to believe it! Actually Mueller dug really deep holes in a small number of places inside a fenced in area. Anyone that hasn’t been living under a rock for 40 years knows Trump has financial illegalities up the yin-yang, but if Mueller did not look at that, and apparently he did not, then yeah, Pelosi may well know more Trump dirt that Mueller allowed himself to look for.

        And what’s more, she may have threads they are pulling that are far easier to understand by the general public than his other crimes that have been laid out for people to see. When the banking and tax stuff comes in, I expect people will have an easier time focusing on that stuff because it’s more common ‘crook’ behavior and just easier to understand by the less educated public.

        Any evidence that a guy fights THIS hard to keep secret is a good bet that you’re opening the cabinet he keeps the good stuff in! And it’s a two-for, 1) money laundering and just straight up stealing shit is easy to understand and to get aggrieved over and 2) showing Donald that “he’s not rich” is like pouring water on the green witch! The sound he’ll make, alone will be worth it!

        • bmaz says:

          To Stacey and Hops previously at 1:39 pm, yes, it is crystal clear Mueller knows a LOT more than is in the report. But a lot of evidence he gathered he checked to see if it held anything for his remit, and if it did not, it is not in the report, and properly so actually.

        • Rayne says:

          Mueller did not do this: “We are coming to find out that Mueller put himself in a pretty small paddock to investigate inside of.”

          Rosenstein did. The constraints necessary to ensure a fair and successful trial for criminal charges post-term didn’t help.

  21. Troutwaxer says:

    I think the strategy of holding committee hearings for the next 4-5 months, then reluctantly declaring that we must impeach, then holding more hearings, then sending the evidence up to the Senate for consideration just after the Republican national convention… this would be a magnificent strategy, and I looks like that’s where we’re headed. I just wish I could trust the senior Democratic leadership, from their headquarters deep inside the pockets of big corporations, and terrified of Faux News, to execute that strategy worth a damn, or worse yet, to refrain from playing both sides against the middle, or manage not to chicken out when it’s time to get off the pot.

    Or to put it another way, the problem isn’t the strategy – there are probably several viable ways to make Mueller investigation pay big dividends and help crush Trump – it’s the question of whether we have leadership we can trust. Maybe it’s time to send Pelosi a white feather or a wooden sword!

    • Tom says:

      Waiting to complete four to five months of committee hearings before deciding to begin impeachment proceedings sounds a little like General McClellan wanting the Army of the Potomac to have every last button polished before facing the Rebels on the battlefield. The risk is that the Orange Fox, mounted on his golf cart Traveler, may steal a march on the Democrats by generating more ad hoc chaos over the coming months with the result that any committee hearings will just sink into background noise. Speaker Pelosi should open impeachment hearings now with the determination to “fight it out on this line if it takes all summer.”

      • Troutwaxer says:

        I don’t think we’re in fundamental disagreement here. I can see any number of strategies as successful (or not successful.) The big problem is that the Democratic establishment doesn’t have the balls to get down in the trenches and really fight a serious war with Trump. And this is why we see such raging disagreements and even a little ugliness in the comments above; the troops don’t have any trust in their generals, so we all want to be in charge of the war.

        In this case, the main issue isn’t strategic, it’s psychological.

        • Rayne says:

          Keep in mind the deliberately manipulation of schisms cultivated among groups across the left — ex. the methods attacking BLM movement — and how the disagreements between Democrats may be/have already been used to sow disunity and prevent focus.

          Can we actually rule out this is not already a factor contributing to disagreements between Democrats?

          Media is NOT helping, either. They are too easily gamed, are simply not aware of or thinking about how they are manipulated and used to effect. They’re only focusing on clicks for ad revenue. Every single article published must be viewed with skepticism and analyzed for its utility in an ongoing information warfare.

          And don’t think I’m not watching for the same warfare here in comments. Trolls/provocateurs will complain about groupthink, but finding common ground will be critical to pulling ourselves out of a death spiral.

        • Troutwaxer says:

          Agreed completely. Every word. And Democrats need to give up on the media and just do what needs doing.

    • bmaz says:

      You want to investigate and have hearings? Excellent. Opening a simple inquiry will facilitate that geometrically. Opening the inquiry to so facilitate does NOT mean actual articles of impeachment and trial thereon. I have been patiently explaining this for a long time. Apparently people either do not read, or cannot grasp. Jeebus, this is truly maddening.

      • Tom says:

        Perhaps it’s a manifestation of what Nicholas Carr wrote about in that 2008 article in The Atlantic “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” We’re losing the ability to read deeply or read at all for any length of time, so we long for the communal experience of listening to Bob Mueller on TV instead. Actually, the Mueller Report is pretty well organized into lots of short sections and sub-sections so it’s not that hard to get through.

        • bmaz says:

          It is really not! To complete it takes a good amount of time, sure. But, as you say, it breaks up into easy sections and places you can stop, and then return to later.

        • P J Evans says:

          I’m still dealing with getting my brain back after chemo – my attention span is about 15 minutes. Reading is one of the few things I can do for longer than that – and even then, I’m likely to take frequent breaks.

      • Savage Librarian says:

        If it’s any consolation, in a training class at work, we were taught that it takes about 7 repetitions before people absorb information. Some are more adept at doing this through hearing it, others through seeing it or reading it.

        But I am all in with your recommendation, bmaz. I have been for some time now. So, I share your frustration. As far as I can tell, an inquiry is the only avenue to any hope for some kind of make whole remedy. And it needs to begin now.

        • Troutwaxer says:

          Democrats need to be as stubborn as the king in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. “The first castle sank into the swamp…”

      • Troutwaxer says:

        IMHO start hearings now, use inherent contempt, and when the case is rock-solid – which it will be – start the impeachment. But the high-level dems need to fight like they mean it.

        • bmaz says:

          Inherent contempt?? Which has not been used since 1934? How in the world do you think that is going to work??? You think the House Sergeant at Arms is going to arrest and jail Administration officials that have Secret Service details? Where would the Sgt at Arms keep them, since he has no detention facility? Do you think a federal judge would not sign a writ of habeas corpus immediately (trust me, any judge would). Do you think the Sgt at Arms is going to go seize bank funds from these people? Under what mechanism? How’s that going to work???

          And, you, as seems to be rampant with people here, cannot seem to separate the investigation from the idea of voting out articles and sending them to the Senate for trial. This is simply a rampant lie. They are not anywhere near equivalent. And if you want hearings with any witnesses and documentation able to be evidenced, then you should agree to have the House maximize their power to so obtain. Opening an inquiry is not voting for actual impeachment. Not at all.

        • Troutwaxer says:

          “Opening an inquiry is not voting for actual impeachment. Not at all.”

          I understand that completely. I’m just impatient and very unhappy with the Democratic “leadership.”

          As to inherent contempt, if you don’t use your powers, you eventually lose them. Why should the Democrats go to the courts when the House has the power to compel on it’s own? This is not how you play hardball.

        • Rayne says:

          You don’t use powers if you don’t have a foolproof method of execution. Game it out: let’s say they go the inherent contempt route. What happens next? What does it look like? What does “hardball” look like? What countermeasures could be expected and pre-empted to assure success?

          Given the scofflaws we’re up against, I’m betting this only establishes inherent contempt as a quaint toothless concept, particularly since it isn’t an implicit power delineated under Article I. A declaration of contempt is effective only as long as the executive branch and the judiciary believe in, observe, and obey the law in which it is embedded.

        • timbo says:

          So you are arguing that the Congress should not explore this as a possibility? It is certainly hard to imagine how the Congress can retain some semblance of control over the Executive or the Judiciary if it must rely on either of those two branches to enforce its own impeachment inquiries.

  22. Americana says:

    The only good thing I see about delaying Trump’s impeachment is the evidence introduced during the ROGER STONE TRIAL and the ANDREW MILLER TRIAL because I think both trials will supply substantial evidence that would be extremely difficult, if NOT IMPOSSIBLE, to deflect or defuse during Trump’s impeachment. I also think the distancing of Roger Stone from the Trump campaign will likely be proven to have occurred in order to better use Roger Stone as a deniable tactical cut-out. Just how often Trump will be able to use other individuals as cut-outs when he knows something about the activities in which they’re engaged is going to begin to stink to high heaven. For instance, the fact MICHAEL COHEN BRIED DON JR. and IVANKA 10 TIMES about TRUMP TOWER MOSCOW should be seen as being tantamount to briefing Donald Trump Sr. This is particularly true since Trump Sr. left his daily business operations to Don Jr. and Eric and yet despite that claim, Trump has been receiving briefings from Don Jr. on a monthly, if not bi-monthly, basis. Trump’s use of CUT-OUTS should be seen for what it is — A TACTICAL ROUTE OF LEGAL DENIALISM THAT JUST DOESN’T RING TRUE. How many instances of Trump Sr’s use of cut-outs must be produced in order for that factual detail to be proven is anyone’s guess.

  23. P J Evans says:

    I understand the House will vote next week on contempt charges for Barr, and maybe also McGahn.

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