How to Read the Mueller Report Referrals

A filing in the BuzzFeed/EPIC FOIA lawsuits to liberate an unredacted copy of the Mueller Report provides new insight on how to read the referral section at the back of the report. (Here’s BuzzFeed’s own report on the filing.) The filing provides a more specific breakdown of the exemptions used to withhold parts of the report, especially the b7 redactions.

As it explains, it uses four categories of b7C, which protects, “information ‘compiled for law enforcement purposes’ when disclosure ‘could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.'” These distinguish between four kinds of people: those unwittingly involved, those who were considered for charges but ultimately not charged, those “concerning a subject of the investigation,” and those whose non-criminal activity got described in the report.

  • (b)(6)/(7)(C)-1: names, social media account information, and other contact information of unwitting third parties;
  • (b)(6)/(7)(C)-2: names and personally-identifiable information about individuals not charged by the SCO;
  • (b)(6)/(7)(C)-3: information concerning a subject of the investigation by the SCO; and
  • (b)(6)/(7)(C)-4: names, social media account information, contact information, and other personally-identifiable information of individuals merely mentioned in the Report

The description of the third category claims that all the b7C-3 redactions hide information about Roger Stone or “also … other individuals discussed in connection with the facts related to Mr. Stone’s criminal case.”

72. The third category of privacy-based withholdings protects information pertaining to an individual who was a subject of the investigation by the SCO, and is coded as “(b)(6)/(7)(C)- 3.” Within this category, OIP has protected non-public information pertaining to Roger Stone and/or his pending criminal case in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The redactions in this category include information pertaining to Mr. Stone, but also to other individuals discussed in connection with the facts related to Mr. Stone’s criminal case. 17 The information related to the investigative subject or subjects that has been protected in this category would, if released, clearly invade the individual’s or individuals’ personal privacy and in particular, Mr. Stone’s ability to receive a fair trial and to respond to the charges against him in court without compounding the pre-trial publicity that his case has already received.

73. As noted above, in order to withhold information pursuant to Exemptions 6 and 7(C), a balancing of the privacy interests of the individuals mentioned in the Report against any FOIA public interest in disclosure must weigh in favor of non-disclosure. Given the intense public interest surrounding the SCO’s work as well as the public and media attention surrounding this individual’s ongoing court case, and the significant attention that any new fact made public will receive, disclosure of any additional non-public information about the individual or individuals protected in this category would certainly subject them to unwarranted harassment, stigma, further reputational or even physical harm. Individuals have protectable privacy interests in premature release of investigatory details relevant to criminal law enforcement proceedings against them, beyond what is made public in connection with their criminal justice proceedings. That interest is magnified here, where Mr. Stone’s trial is imminent, and any further public disclosure of details regarding the case against him will impact his ability to amount an effective defense and deprive him of the right to a fair trial.

This would obviously include information on Jerome Corsi and Randy Credico, at least the latter of whom will be a witness at Stone’s trial. But it almost certainly includes WikiLeaks, because the redaction started on page 176 of Volume I describes why publishing stolen information was not prosecuted.

Then there’s category b7C-4, which hides the sensitive information about people who had a role in the operation (including as victims), but were not subjects of Mueller’s investigation. So among other things, this redaction is used to hide the identities of people who were referred for criminal prosecution for things unrelated to the Mueller investigation (like, say, George Nader’s child porn). It covers,

names and related personally-identifiable information of individuals for whom evidence of potential criminal activity was referred by the Special Counsel to appropriate law enforcement authorities. With respect to the latter group of individuals, who are mentioned in Section B (“Referrals”) of Appendix D to the Report, these individuals were not subjects of the SCO investigation. Rather, they are included in an appendix to the Report only because evidence of potential criminal activity periodically surfaced during the course of the SCO’s investigation.19

But as this footnote describes, two of the people in the referrals are “individual or individuals” labeled with the designation limited to Stone’s case. Another appears to be someone whom Mueller decided not to charge for Russian related activities, but whom Mueller referred for something else.

19 Two entries in Section B of Appendix D relate to an individual or individuals whose privacy information has been categorized and coded as (b)(6)/(7)(C)-3, discussed supra in ¶¶ 72-75. Another entry in Section B of Appendix D relates to an individual against whom the SCO contemplated, but did not pursue, charges related to the Special Counsel’s investigation. Although information about this individual is considered a “mere mention” in the context of Appendix D, this individual’s privacy information has separately been categorized and coded as (b)(6)/(7)(C)-2, elsewhere in the Report.

In other words, people or subjects referred to in the referrals section appear to be:

  • b7A: People or subjects (these can be criminal or national security investigations) not mentioned in the report (in the transfers section, this is likely used to hide the names of people like Tony Podesta and Vin Weber who are tied to Manafort’s Ukrainian graft)
  • b7C-3: People who have some tie to the Stone case referred on their own right
  • b7C-4: People who appear in some non-criminal fashion in the Mueller Report, but who got referred for unrelated possible crimes (again, George Nader might be included in this category)

Here’s the updated FOIA version.

This redaction could be of Jerome Corsi for his false statements (though that would mean someone who fit between Cohen and Corsi in the alphabet would be included).

I’ve suspected that this redaction pertains to WikiLeaks (this part of the report is in alphabetical order and this is the last entry).

If all that’s right, it would mean the referrals include:

  • Michael Cohen
  • Greg Craig and related
  • 4 and 14: Two people associated with Stone (possibly Corsi and WikiLeaks)
  • 1, 3, 6-9, 11-12: Eight people who play a non-criminal role in the Mueller Report, but were referred for some other crime
  • 10, 13: People or subjects not mentioned in the report, but referred for prosecution for some other crime or national security investigation

And one of those category b7C-4 people was considered, but not charged, in the Russia investigation but was referred for investigation for something else.

Update: Fixed the referrals for people who play a non-criminal role in the Mueller Report but were referred for some other potential crime. H/t EB.

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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43 replies
  1. klynn says:

    Thank you. This helps make sense of this section.

    In a related Mueller Report item…Barr lied about his not needing a Homeric legacy…he clearly does not want to go down as an AG who is charged with contempt. IANAL, could the contempt charge be grounds for (excuse the pun) disbarment? And if so, would he not have to step down as AG?

    • Savage Librarian says:

      I love this idea. Another thing about the Homeric legacy: wouldn’t denial of this also be inconsistent with Christian theology? After all, that is a belief system that, not only incorporates a heroic legacy but, goes well beyond it. So, where does that leave Barr and his faith? If he doesn’t believe in trying to be a hero, what alternatives does that leave him?

        • klynn says:

          Oh, when I first commented on his odd turn of phrase a few posts back, I was aware it was serving as a dog whistle…but less to white nationalist and more to Ru contacts. Homer has a long history in Ru. But agree it could also be a white nationalist dog whistle. That aside, he hoped the average listener would hear him being humble and selfless. Still, backpedaling in the face of contempt charges is historic in its’ context.

        • Mongoose says:

          He most likely picked it up at one of his Opus Dei meetings, which tend to be frequented by self-styled “intellectuals” in search of an audience.

      • BobCon says:

        I’m heavily leaning to it just being an echo of the core curriculum from his undergrad days at Columbia.

        A more conspiratorial alley might be a hint at Leo Strauss, godfather to the Neocons. But I’m really leaning to it being just George Will style GOP culture.

    • Vicks says:

      I find it hard to believe that a man who’s ego is as evident as William Barr doesn’t care about his legacy.
      We know he likes planes.
      Maybe we should consider he was referring to the “other” famous Homer?
      Kidding of course, but Barr is a deliberate man. The “Homer” reference was not spontaneous. No one can know for sure, but if Barr was researching snappy comments to use to defend negative talk of his legacy the fact it was a dog whistle was more than likely just a click away on an already open google page

  2. viget says:

    Hmmmm. The 7(c)-4 individual who is really a 7(c)-2 could be Junior, since it seems like they were contemplating a CFAA charge against him at some point for accessing that web site with stolen credentials.

    Or it could be Kushner regarding other potential crimes. There’s still that Manafort-related investigation on “saving the campaign” that we still don’t know about.

    • emptywheel says:

      Agree on both counts — though it’s not clear Jared ever formally became a subject. They were under scrutiny for Gulf State graft. So that could be the referral.

      • viget says:

        Yeah, in my heart I want it to be Kushner. That’s where the really damning evidence is.

        I feel like in the last 24-48 hours there’s been a lot of movement on Gulf state graft, obviously with Nader’s arrest. There was also a must-read NYT piece over the weekend on MBZ (h/t to Seth Abramson (I know)).

        Investigators are still examining the campaign contacts of an Israeli specialist in social media manipulation who has worked for Prince Mohammed and of a Lebanese-American businessman who acted as his emissary. Other prosecutors are investigating whether another top Republican donor whose security company worked for the prince should legally have registered as his agent.

        The special counsel’s office has also questioned Rashid al-Malik, an Emirati real-estate developer based in Los Angeles who is close to Prince Mohammed and to his brother — the head of Emirati intelligence. Mr. al-Malik is also close to Mr. Trump’s friend Tom Barrack, and investigators are asking whether Mr. al-Malik was part of an illegal influence scheme, according to two people familiar with the matter.

        Another investigation, prompted by a whistle-blower, is examining the possibility that the United Arab Emirates used cyberespionage techniques from former American operatives to spy on American citizens.

        Here is the link to the NYT piece by David Kirkpatrick.

        That seem to be at least 3 criminal investigations by my count (Nader/Joel Zamel shenanigans, Erik Prince for FARA violations, and likely SDNY investigation into Barrack for inauguration graft), and then there’s a potential counterintel investigation into UAE intelligence operators trained by former US intel folks working as contractors (that story was broken a few months ago, IIRC?). So those could be 4 of the investigations noted.

  3. MelissaN says:

    Matching the michael Cohen font (about 11.25 Times New Roman) Jerome Corsi fits perfectly at #4 and George Nader at #12. WikiLeaks doesn’t fit at 14 (although I agree it’s still probable). FWIW, Roger Stone fits perfectly at 14.

  4. harpie says:

    Marcy‘s Massive RANT-thread this morning…PERFECT:
    https://twitter.com/emptywheel/status/1136257375931969538
    6:04 AM – 5 Jun 2019

    The list of things Republicans are soft-peddling in their efforts to not turn on Donald Trump is pretty breathtaking.
    […] [really, read the whole thing!] […]
    To sum up:
    Campaign manager: working for Ukrainian oligarchs while claiming to work for Trump
    NatSec advisor: Working for Turkey while claiming to work for Trump
    Foreign policy advisors: Trying to work for RU (and Israel) while claiming to work for Trump

    • dwfreeman says:

      Something else about that in relation to Carter Page, and the contention that because he wasn’t indicted for anything makes the repeated FBI efforts to seek court authorization for his investigation now apparently specious, according to certain GOP critics, belies the history behind the original suspicion that led to interest in being spotlighted for his Russian contacts.

      In 2013, three Russian nationals were indicted by the FBI for spying in the United States. Among the allegations against them were the attempt to recruit Page as a Russian asset. At the time, he was the founder and head of a New York-based financial firm, Global Energy Capital. Later, of course, he would become an obscure foreign policy adviser for Trump’s campaign. In 2015, tapes of FBI conversations were released on three of the Russians who were arrested in the Page affair, two of whom returned to Russia via diplomatic immunity and a third was jailed for 30 months on a FARA violation. after entering the US as a private ciitizen. In the taped conversations, one of the spies called Page an “idiot” but nevertheless claimed “his enthusiasm works for me.” This is how most folks likely perceive Page. This was three years before the Steele dossier.

      And in any case, the story itself reveals a pattern of persuasive behavior that the Russians have historically used in their effort to recruit people at all levels to do their bidding, starting off with simple, harmless requests that raise no flags or suspicions, then build methodically as the relationship progresses and deepens. This is how they worked Page and then sought to string him along with empty promises as he responded to them.

      Page told the FBI he didn’t consider his contacts or conversations with the Russians notable, because all he did was pass on research or immaterial information already in the public record. In fact, he claimed he might be doing a public service in failing to cooperate in a meaningful way. Still, this didn’t prevent his Russian suitors from suggesting he could lucratively rewarded with business deals and government contracts down the road.

      And, of course, after Page was named to the Trump campaign and traveled to Russia he denied that any of his visits, connections or meetings with Kremlin-linked officials were anything more than industry research or goodwill missions. Nevertheless, after getting fired by the campaign, just like George Papadopoulos, he never gave up the idea that their might be something in it for him at the end of the Russian rainbow. And that is what the GOP critics and Republicans don’t want to look at or consider as they go about insisting the feds were off base going after the Trump campaign, relying on the Steele dossier (which actually demonstrates this same pattern of behavior with Trump and his associates that no one has credibly challenged). And if the flunkies and Manafort could be turned with offers of riches, what about Trump, who has been a Russian target for decades?

  5. Savage Librarian says:

    Hey, Rayne, talking about hate, this article sure raised my blood pressure. Maybe you could use it in your Articles of Impeachment. During the weekend of March 8-10, 2019, DT raked in $7M at Mar-a-Lago for the 2020 campaign. But, of course, he was also stoking hate and fear with all his lies. See excerpts below, where there is also a connection to Roger Stone.

    “Trump’s Mar-a-Lago transitions from society galas to political hub” – Palm Beach Daily News – Palm Beach, FL, May 10, 2019
    ……..
    ……..
    “Quite a few say I cannot vote for Democrats with anti-semitism on the floor of Congress — a lot of my people say they’ve crossed the line,” said Rabbi Leonid Feldman of Temple Beth El in West Palm Beach.”

    “Feldman said he was approached by a newly formed political action committee, the American Pro-Israel PAC, to host a day long event at the temple on May 14. The PAC was founded by Jason Sullivan, a pro-Trump political strategist and social media expert who worked for longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone.”

    https://www.palmbeachdailynews.com/news/20190510/trumps-mar-a-lago-transitions-from-society-galas-to-political-hub

    • bmaz says:

      I would like to caution that “articles of impeachment” are so completely ahead of the current equation as to be counterproductive. The instant moment is only about an inquiry to facilitate evidence gathering and witness attachment. Articles and Senate trial thereon are for a far different day.

      • Savage Librarian says:

        Understood and agreed, 100%. This is for Rayne’s project and posts. It never hurts to dream and to plan…

      • BobCon says:

        I think in addition to evidence gathering, an impeachment process would want to include hearings addressing the legal and historical background of Congressional power.

        I think it will be essential to flush out the position of the people with extreme views of executive power. One thing hearings can do is establish just how far on the fringes these people are. It won’t be hard to find conservative scholars on roughly the same side as moderate and liberal scholars to make it clear that the imperial presidency is based on fiction.

        If the House doesn’t do this, they will be ceding control to the op ed pages and TV talk shows. We’ll can’t have Bret Stephens in the Times and Rick Santorum on CNN operating in a vacuum as supposed deep thinkers. And the sooner the House does this, the better they can keep the discussion grounded in reality.

    • harpie says:

      Speaking of Rayne’s series:
      The Articles of Impeachment Against Donald J. Trump: A Draft https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/06/05/opinion/impeachment-trump-democrats-nixon-clinton.html
      JUNE 5, 2019

      […] What might impeachment articles against Mr. Trump look like? To find out, we reviewed the articles of impeachment drawn up against Richard Nixon in 1974 and Bill Clinton in 1998. Then we edited them — by removing and adding passages — to match the president’s conduct as described in the Mueller report and elsewhere. […]

      hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm……

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I agree with bmaz, above. But draft articles of impeachment like these could serve as a guide for conducting the inquiry itself. If done properly, that inquiry would consume the next year and a half. That’s less time than Mueller took to inquire into fewer things.

        By then, it will be time for the election. We’ll know who controls the Senate and White House. That will tell the House what to do with the results of its inquiry: Publish them as a guide to the public about what not paying attention can lead to. As a guide to necessary reform legislation. As an indictment for the Senate to take up and try. Or as trash for the landfill.

        Before that happens, the House should have used its inquiry to lay out to the public why it is conducting one. It was not a course forced on it by a reluctant president, who tried hard and with the best intentions, but whose personality and background made governing hard to learn and harder to do.

        Donald Trump will have forced a reluctant House to investigate him because he was gleefully and crudely being himself. And because his daily conduct is alternatingly outrageous, cruel, ignorant, abusive, and illegal.

      • Rayne says:

        LOL Gee, I wonder what could possibly have inspired such a comparison? At least NYT had an assist from a nifty graphics team.

    • Rayne says:

      Yeah. The Mar-a-Lago alone is a confluence of reasons, from public corruption to abuse of power to national security threat.

      The claims of anti-semitism are totally off base; the truth is more accurately reflected in that PAC’s name, “Pro-Israel.”

        • Rayne says:

          The wing of Israeli politics which believes it has absolute right to whatever it wants — rather like the GOP, and too much in sync with the current GOP. I’m not going to get into a pissing match about this, let’s get this straight.

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